Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Beauty is (ship) skin deep

ship skinsShip skins are a cosmetic item in Elite: Dangerous, but until ship names or more decals arrive, they are currently the only way to personalise your space craft.

The paint job of your ship is a way to express your personality and your ships function.

With the last update our XBOX players got the chance to start skinning their ships and last night Frontier added a new batch of “squadron” skins to the store. Then promptly removed them due to a problem – the life of Frontier support is always an eventful one!

But do the skins we have meet demand? Why aren’t there skins for every ship? This is something Frontier can sell, so why are they so slow to bring out skins for ships?

Using Inara.cz ship ownership statistics, I put together a graph (approximate) of what ships players own out there. It may come as a shock to some, but the Asp Explorer is the most popular ship! Combat ships are low on the list, with the multi-role ships and trade ships being the most loved.

ships owned

Now if you compare that to the ships that have been granted paint skins in the store (I cannot count the special edition skins, including the Black Friday paint, as you cannot buy these) you’ll see the proportion of skins offered for some ships (Cobra) is HUGE, while other ships still have no skins at all. In fact, apart from the Cobra Mk IV, all the ships added since 1.4 don’t have any skins available in the store.

skins in store

So, last night a new batch was added and aside from a single skin pack for the Viper Mk IV, all the other “Squadron” skins packs were for the usual suspects – Anaconda, Python, Asp Explorer, Cobra Mk III, Sidewinder and Type-9??!

Inara.cz also has data on which ship pilots choose at their “main ship”. This is more interesting, because it shows what ships pilots are selecting for every-day use. Now while these numbers are taken from a snapshot, Inara has over 13,000 commanders’ information, so I would think it represents an accurate picture of the game.

main ships used

You can see here the Federal Corvette and Federal Assault Ship are both popular, but neither have any skins in the store. Comparing use to ownership, the Anaconda leaps out as a very popular main ship. Same goes for the Vulture.

So if Frontier are reading this, can we have skins for the post 1.4 ships? It’s in your financial interest. Concentrate on FAS, Corvette and Cutter as these have had the least love. Please.

All the dirt on 1.6

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the Horizons content click here

Elite: Dangerous 1.6

Galaxy map

  • Named bookmarks. Select a system and pick a name.
  • Filter for political states of systems. War, Boom, Bust etc.

Visual changes

  • Visual effects for weapons fire now scale with the class of weapon. Bigger gun = bigger flash.
  • Improved graphical fidelity of asteroids in rocky and icy rings.

More weapons in larger classes

  • Large multi-cannon (Class 3).
  • Huge multi-cannon (Class 4).
  • Huge beam laser (Class 4), which fires four beams in rapid cycle.
  • Huge pulse-laser (Class 4).


  • Missiles are getting a small increase in shield damage and splash damage (which damages modules and hard-points).
  • Missiles do not penetrate hull, so unless you target Power Generator, they will disable a ship rather than destroy it.
  • Missile guidance has been improved.

NPC changes

  • Improvements to skill level.
  • Security ramming fixed.
  • "Roll of death" fixed.
  • Higher security systems now have stronger security response.
  • NPCs can use Engineers modified weapons.
  • NPCs will no longer keep approaching you about a mission.


  • Missions are now affected by a system’s political state. i.e. war would generate weapons smuggling and assassination missions.
  • Completing missions will build reputation with minor factions and will introduce you to higher people with that faction.
  • Minor factions will now be represented by individuals with avatars.
  • Pilot federation rank will determine who you deal with in a faction and how they behave towards you. Your reputation also influences who you deal with.
  • Navy missions for Federation and Empire are being overhauled.
  • Your reputation with a faction will be visible on the mission board.
  • Criminal factions will offer more illegal missions than other factions, but all factions will offer some illegal missions.
  • Difficulty and rewards for missions are affected by the CMDR’s rank. New players won’t be asked to assassinate an Elite Anaconda.
  • Mission rewards won’t just be credits. In Horizons, you may receive materials needed for Engineer modifications. Other rewards are not yet revealed.
  • Missions follow a new set of templates for 1.6/2.1 with branching and multi-part missions. This affects Naval Ascension missions as well.
  • Mission branches will affect rewards. Mission timers may change on different mission branches and time may affect reward.
  • A new rank of "cordial" has been added between Neutral and Friendly for factions.
  • Missions may be given out in space by a faction representative.
  • Mission brief will list any equipment required, such as interdictor or scanner.


  • Ships can now scan Nav beacons to get system map without a discovery scanner.
  • Exploration data obtained in this way from Nav beacons cannot be sold.
  • Unidentified Signal Sources are being changed.
  • Nav beacons contact information on locations of salvage and other signal sources to assist missions.
  • There is a new approach mechanic for Points of Interest.

Station outfitting

  • A more graphical tiered interface.
  • Statistics on each module.


  • Stations now have a traffic controller who hails incoming ships.
  • Each commander is addressed uniquely by the ship manufacturer and first three letters of their CMDR name. e.g. "Lakon Alpha Romeo India you have permission to dock"
  • Hostile commanders will be warned that they will be fired upon.
  • The voices used by stations vary around the galaxy.
  • The communications inbox is used more. Mission related messages will appear in your inbox in super-cruise as well as normal space.
  • New commanders will be given a welcome mission in their inbox. This is optional.

Small ships

  • Thruster upgrades for Class 2 and 3 thrusters.
  • This makes smaller ships faster.
  • These will cost "in the low millions".


  • Ice rings can now be mined.
  • There will be ice mining missions.
  • Ice rings contain new materials – some of which will be needed for Engineers

It came from EGX 2015

egx_thumbWell, this year’s EuroGamer exhibition is over and I sound, well quite sinister! Vocal cords are shot and I have a voice like two miles of rough gravel.

It was four long, but excellent days. We had the show itself, and afterwards a few nice meals out around Birmingham with the other Elite Ambassadors and a few guys and girls from Frontier.

At the show the stand was set up with two long tables with four Xbox One’s per side on one (8 in all) and ten PC’s on the second table – eight for players and two for streaming. All running CQCC.


I’m not a console fan. At all. I don’t get on with the controllers. I use the X52Pro joystick at home and I’d never played anything on an Xbox One, so when I was picked to operate the Xbox stations, I thought “this’ll be a challenge”. But after playing a few rounds of CQCC I got the hang of it and while nothing beats the X52, I found the Xbox conversion of Elite to be very good. Visually, it’s almost identical and plays very smoothly.

We had a separate queue for the Steam VR PC running an HTC Vive and this was always busy. The ambassadors showed players the controls and described the HUD functions and we kept the queues moving in batches of eight players for each match on both platforms. I have to say though, the PC was the most requested platform. The XBOXs weren’t idle by any means, the queue was just shorter. The Vive was amazing. I have a DK2 and while the resolution isn't that much higher on the SteamVR, it makes a big difference. No "screen door" at all.

On Friday we got to hear about the Q&A panel announcements a while after they happened and I will write another article on what came out about “season 2”. Exciting stuff.

Bobble. Heads. Confirmed. (I've pre-ordered my DB bobblehead)

Yogscast crashed James Vigor's livestream (see photos here) and LaveRadio's Ben was around the stand at different times interviewing the crowd (and having a few games of CQCC).

There was a prize raffle, which everyone that played entered. On Friday it was one lad who had been dragged along reluctantly by his friends. He liked the game so much, he kept coming back, then bought the game and won the Victors raffle going home with an XBOX One. The winner on Saturday had initially put his raffle entry into the wrong bucket, but someone spotted his mistake and he won an XBOX as well. The best one for me, was on Sunday, a young man who’d never played Elite on the XBOX had a try and won his first round, so he came back again and won his second game. On the third game, a few Elite Ambassadors had joined as well as Adam Woods, Elite Dangerous producer from Frontier. These guys are competitive. He beat Adam by 50 points! (Not that Adam would have gone in the raffle anyway) and an hour later his was name drawn from the Victors Raffle and went home with an XBOX one.

How can you top that? Elite at number 1 on the Steam charts of course!

Thanks to Zac, Rob, Aaron, Jess, Alison, Kenny, Rob and Robin from Frontier for taking care of us Ambassadors an keeping us fed and watered over the four days. A great bunch of people.

1.4 Close Quarters Combat Championship Update


cqcc_smallAfter the various announcements so far at GamesCom 2015 we know a lot more about the forthcoming CQCC add-on to Elite: Dangerous and the other content being added.

We've heard a lot about it and that it will be a (short) Xbox One exclusive.

When is being released?

September, first on the Xbox and then on the PC a day or two later. The Beta for 1.4 has been confirmed for September 1st!


What else is in the update?

  • Player factions are being added to the game. Groups of players can have their own faction and homeworld and (if they want) work up influence to make themselves a Power.
  • The mission system is getting some love.
  • Legal salvage missions are coming, so you can grab booty on the right side of the law.
  • Delivery, courier and smuggling will gain long range variants that can set destinations from tens to hundreds of light years away for long haul missions.
  • A new variant on the massacre mission will have higher numbers and greater time for a more sustained strike against the mission target.
  • An even more hazardous extraction site has been added to provide a more dangerous environment.
  • Changes to the background simulation are being made around systems changing from war / civil war states and also around population and political stability based on population size.
  • Frontier has confirmed that assets from CQC will be included in the main game.

What new ships will there be?

The Imperial Eagle

A variant of the Eagle with a larger power generator, higher straight line speed, a medium hard-point on top and a less agile flight model.

Federal Dropship Mark II "Federal Assault Ship"

An improved combat model of it's predecessor. A more agile flight model and two medium plus two large hard-points (instead of four medium and one large) this is at the expense of some internals space.

Federal Gunship

And finally the Federal Gunship which will have two small hard-points, four medium hard-points and one large hard-point. This will be a large ship and with those seven weapon hard-points, will be the second best armed ship in the game after the Anaconda. While similar to the dropship in shape, it has delta wings at the back, more like a Vulture and what appear to be folding fins at the front. Much has been made of the large hatch visible on the underside. It looks like the Anaconda's landing bay hatch.


Elite for the XBOX is good news, right?

funny_gif_collection_19What’s the fuss about? We’ve known for a long, long time (since March) that a console version of Elite would surface, since there’s a market there and Frontier are not a registered charity, so why the vitriol and outrage?

Well, probably for the same reason a parent gets angry when they see their child is playing on a console when their homework isn’t finished.
Elite: Dangerous isn’t finished yet, but Frontier appear to have moved on to platforms new. For some people, that’s a signal that they've been forgotten. They feel like Frontier have walked away without finishing the game.

I don’t think that’s the case, but because Frontier have been very tight-lipped about their future plans, people fear the meaning of this announcement. To misquote some green bloke:-

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to questionable forum posting..

What do we really know? Not much. Which is the problem.

Well, as I’ve said above, Elite isn’t finished. I’m not talking about the Planetary Landings or Ship Exploration expansions which we know we won't be seeing "SoonTM", but the core game.

  • Ships previously promised and teased are still missing (Panther, Dolphin, Corvette, Beluga, etc.).
  • PowerPlay is (IMO) at a “first draft” state and needs some work.
  • Elements of the game are unbalanced and need review (i.e. Wing combat bounty).
  • Elements are totally missing, such as passengers; without which what is the point of the Orca?.
  • Exploration needs love, mining still has kinks. Private groups are dead if the player who created them stops playing (no way to set another commander as a group admin).
  • Variety is missing. With procedural generation I expected to see not just a different collection of planets in each system, but a variation in station exteriors and interiors everywhere I went. Currently we see generic station 1 or white station with pink holographics on very rare occasions – and that’s it; beautiful, but the same. I had hoped to see stations with dirt, damage and junk outside. I expected to see rich wealthy systems with more neon, bright, tidy interiors with lots of Orcas running VIPs around and in poor systems or mining colonies, I would expect to see dark and dirty interiors with variations in litter, graffiti, faulty pads etc. with lots of type-6’s and type-9’s ferrying goods.
    If I drive 25 miles, I’m in France where they speak another language, drive on the other side of the road and drink coffee so strong you get heart palpitations drinking it. In Elite, I fly 240 light years and the only difference between the interior of the Coriolis I left and the Orbis I arrive at, is the name-plate. Even the pads are the same uniform blue-green colour!
    We need variety. The promise of procedural generation fulfilled.
  • There is no group identity – Wings are transitory and there are no clan tags or playing in Open Play under a group name; you cannot even name your private group (why?). These are elements present in most multiplayer games, and have been for a very long time, so are not unreasonable to expect.

Anyone who’s ever watched any sci-fi like Firefly or Star Trek would expect to see certain elements in a space game that are currently not present in Elite. In 1984 we had Thargoids aplenty, but in 2015 we have three types of signal source, with very predictable content. Where are the salvageable wrecks? Where are the comets? Where are the abandoned ships? Where are the flotillas? Unmapped outposts? Pirate outposts in asteroids like those teased long ago? So much possibility as yet gone unrealised.
We have USS’s but they are random, not procedural so if I find canisters floating near Leesti, I cannot direct my friend with a cargo scoop to go there, because they are not really there, being entirely transient within a single player instance.

You could argue that none of this is essential, but the lack of these things shows.

I have a lot of faith in Frontier and I believe that we will see a lot of these things. When though, is the million dollar question?

So if people get riled at “Call of Spaceship Duty” for XBOX, while I’m not one of them, I sympathise with their frustration rather than ridicule it.

PS4 will get Elite but consoles won't interact with PCs

over-the-fenceThe claims of XBOX exclusivity were greatly exaggerated.
It seems the PS4 version will follow along after the XBOX version in due course.
But it has also come out that the PC Elite community won't be able to pew-pew with their console cousins, mainly due to the constrained and limited nature of console software updates in Microsoft's and SONY's walled gardens.

David Braben, speaking in an interview with games website PC Games N said “I think the challenges for us, which sort of fights against it, is we’ve also said that we’ll continue to do updates across all platforms, and what we didn’t want was PC updates to be held up for whatever reason, like if there’s a delay on another platform."

It's pretty clear that if the PC community were told an update was on infinite hold while SONY or Microsoft signed off on the console version, the news would go down like a cup of cold sick.

Another day and another platform

xbox-logoFrontier have announced the XBOX One version of Elite: Dangerous.

Is this good or bad? Well, from my point of view, it’s like hearing there’s going to be a new MacDonalds burger available in France. Good for them. The question is “will they be using my beef to do it?”

In all likelihood, it shouldn’t make any difference, as it’s the Cobra Engine being ported more than anything – the game content is already created. PS4 players will miss out though, as this is going to be an XBOX “exclusive” (except it’s on the PC and soon the Mac too – so exclusivity means “PS4 excluded”).

Frontier have said “Elite: Dangerous on Xbox One will be the complete and authentic Elite: Dangerous experience. It will not be "dumbed down". We’ll be working with an all-new audience, but that doesn’t mean a change in direction for the game, and nor does it mean slowing development on the PC version.”

The trailer for the XBOX version is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAwmbvRJkzM