On Saturday the first Frontier Expo took place. It was held at “Here East” in the Olympic Park in north London near to Stratford. The expo showcased Frontier’s past games, many of which I personally was unaware of, and featured heavily the existing games of Planet Coaster and Elite: Dangerous, as well as promoting Frontier’s new IP which is the Jurassic Park Evolution game, scheduled for release next summer; probably to coincide with the release of the next feature film.
When I arrived at the venue there was a queue outside arranged around the large Cobra scale model we’ve see before at the launch party. There was also a Jurassic Park explorer on display and the Chief Beef character from Planet Coaster was “working the crowd”.
Once inside after a security check, we took a lift upstairs and were greeted with a “goody bag”. The more expensive Founders tickets got a bright orange gloss-card bag, while the rest of us got fabric bags (I think the Founders dibbed out there). The bag I received contained a cool galaxy map mouse-mat, a Planet Coaster water bottle, digital game codes for Planet Coaster and Elite: Dangerous DLC, a T-shirt, some artwork postcards for both games and a really amazing large card print of a scene from Jurassic Park Evolution.
The Expo was held in two halls, with a third side hall devoted to 3rd parties and refreshments. These included Lave Radio, Hutton Orbital Radio, the Special Effects charity and Spidermind Games. There were also a number of well know Streamers in the streaming room and I think I might have spotted a few Hutton Truckers.
The main hall and secondary hall both hosted presentations throughout the day, I will included URLs to these streams as soon as they are available, so you can watch them – take the time, as they are all very interesting. Also in the main hall there was a diorama of dinosaurs as a backdrop to Jurassic Park Evolution trailer running and the two Frontier exhibition stands - one with the console version of Elite on it and the other with the PC version of Elite.
There was a section of PCs all devoted to playing Planet Coaster and attendees could all sit down at these workstations and play the game. There unfortunately wasn't a playable copy of Jurassic Park Evolution at the expo... early days!
While the events of the day were interesting and it was certainly great to catch up with those commanders who I haven’t seen, some since the premier event in 2014 and others who I have never met before, like the contingent of French and German commanders who helped with the translation of my blueprints (great to see you guys!). The Elite community is a fantastic bunch of people and I could probably fill my blog with a long shout-out to all the people that I met there just on Saturday.
The Juicy Bit
Thing that most people will be interested in was the talk given at 5pm when Frontier announced what they will be doing for the coming year for Planet Coaster, the launch of Jurassic Park Evolution and the big “and finally” which was what’s next Elite: Dangerous, which they have subtitled “2.4 And Beyond”!
What was made very clear, was that the coming year’s releases will be free to anyone that has already bought Horizons, so that means the coming years-worth of DLC is basically inclusive!
Starting with a teaser video, which included the Thargoid scan making a green laser sweep over the audience (very cool Frontier), the presentation got off to a great start.
The first feature announced for Elite was wing missions, which is something that the community, my own gaming group of Dead Men Walking included, really wanted to have so that our group complete missions together.
Frontier also stated that better trade data would be available in game.
They announced that one of the changes they are making to the gaming engine was improved planetary tech, which in simple terms means more variety on planet surfaces, with better textures and better landscapes. A greater variety were demonstrated by showing some slides of different types of planet which looked very impressive in the flesh.
Then they teased some new weapons. No details were given, so feel free to speculate!
Frontier announced new narratives for the game meaning new story lines to take players in different directions; They also plan to continue the Guardians storyline and the new narratives to come will have a lot of crossover with this and the ongoing Thargoid narrative.
A behind the scenes video (which I haven’t yet seen published online) gave us a peek at the Frontier offices and the design of new ships and weapons that will be coming to the game, all of which looked very interesting.
Frontier then stated that the game will be receiving “a lot of new ships”, some of which they showed us - some of which we caught a glance of (in the previously mentioned video) all of which were completely new ships. See left-hand screen below; what ship is THAT? (Krait on right).
Now my prediction that the Type-10 Defender would be a variant of the Type-9 proved to be correct. Shown in the teaser video from several different angles, you could see that the Type-10 is a militarised Type-9, which clearly has a lot more engine power!
Credit to @EliteCast for the excellent Type-10/Type 9 comparative screenshot.
They’ve also narrowed the hull with flight-deployed winglets. The vessel shown appeared to have a ship kit fitted (spoilers!!!).
The first of the two new ships that were shown to us was the “Chieftain”, which is a Lakon Spaceways designed ship produced for the Alliance, which makes it the first alliance vessel in the game, which has a passing resemblance to the Pelican dropship from HALO. We were shown a 3D rotating textured model of the ship as it will appear in game, and while there’s been some speculation as to the size of the vessel, we were given no statistics of either vessel, so it will be quite difficult know for certain this size of these ships (other than the Type 10).
The second ship shown was in its early design stages and they only had an untextured model to display, however the ship will be very popular with fans of the 1984 Elite, as it is a legendary fighter from the original game the “Krait”.
Using captures from the videos, I have been able to speculate the approximate size class of the two new ships. Please bear in mind this is not much more than an educated guess, so don't go buying curtains based on my measurements, okay?
The sneek peek video shows a Cobra next to the Krait, so scaling the image after a bit of perspective correction, the Krait would be 42m x 51m (height unknown) making it similar in size to an Asp Scout.
One thing very noticeable on the animated render, is that the Krait has two crew positions either side of the main cockpit and clearly shows a fighter bay behind the cargo hatch, making it both an SLF capable ship and a multi-crew ship!
UPDATE: Using perspective editing I took some (rough) measurements from the video render to compare with the earlier top-down screen grab and found the Krait *might* be larger and squarer than I first estimated. Based on a 18m launch bay and 5m cargo hatch, the ship is 62m long and 62m wide.
That would make the Krait between the Asp Explorer and Fer De Lance in size, so the cost could be anywhere between 6-50M CR! We won't know, until we have more about the ships core internals. One thing from the render is the clearly visible Class 3 hardpoints on the front underside. However, there are no other visible hard-points top or bottom, so would this make the Krait a Vulture XL? The lack of weaponry would have to be balanced with something (more than a fighter bay) so is the Krait super-fast and agile? We'll find out.
The Chieftain is a Lakon ship, which kindly have the same cockpit configuration, so based on that, the ship is quite a big one!
Comparing with a Type-9, you can see that while a little narrower, the Chieftain is a good 10m longer. That makes this ship in the same size class as an Anaconda.
After getting hold of some better quality bitmaps, I redid this based on the size of the cargo hatch (which is universal) and the ships comes out much smaller, a little larger than a Federal Gunship. But it does appear to have six Class 2 hard-points and two Class 3 hard-points.
Based on my revised size estimates and what can be deduced from the pictures shown, we have two medium sized combat vessels. One aparently armed to the teeth, but with no fighter bay and the other with minor armaments and a fighter bay and some possible X factor we don't know about yet.
Frontier announced that they would be bringing GalNet Audio to the game. This means no more text-walls for galactic news. Instead each article can be played as an audio track, from the looks of it while flying the ship (i.e. out of menu).
Another big game changing and exciting announcement made was that of Squadrons. Squadrons will be in-game player groups with in-game membership, and admin tools. The squadrons will be able to purchase in game Capital ships for their group, designated as a “Carriers” which will be exclusive to the members of the squadron. I would imagine (purely speculating) these would be a specific class of megaship with large, small and medium landing pads on board. Either way this is something that gaming groups (my own included) have been crying out for.
As promised 2.4 is going to see some major revamps to existing game mechanics and core gameplay one of those being a revamp of mining, offering new mining tools for both extraction and detection of minerals and metals and the ability to carry out operations like asteroid blasting and deep mining.
Frontier showed us a concept art (which I think I’ve seen before) of a snowy planet surface, they have said is that they are working on a new lighting model and new planet surface types with localised ambient effects, like fog. The concept art was set as a target for the developers to match for the in-game graphics.
Exploration is going to be getting a major revision, with more tools for exploration - many new items are out in deep space, outside the bubble, that have yet to be discovered and Frontier are also adding a Codex for explorers to log their discoveries. Frontier described the exploration changes as having “new anomalies and content to discover out in the black”.
Lastly part of the 2.4 teaser video showed off a new class of Thargoid ship – the red Thargoid!
I’ve not covered any of the Planet Coaster or Jurassic Park Evolution as these are not Elite-related, but both presentations were amazing and while I already own Planet Coaster, Jurassic Park Evolution is now on my “Must have” list.