A two-year term scenario in Elite Dangerous ended in style this month. In fact, there were two bangs in update 13: the first was the firing of a super weapon in an attempt to destroy the alien Thargoids… quickly followed by the second bang of the totally Thargoids not be destroyed and blast this super weapon into a thousand pieces.
These disastrous events, which were visible to players via an in-game cutscene, bring Elite Dangerous into its next story arc, Aftermath, as the fallout from the superweapon’s failure opens up new events and many questions for players. . What exactly was wrong? What will happen next? How will the galaxy, its factions, and players react after the disaster?
I recently spoke with members of the Frontier Developments team about the future of Elite Dangerous and what Update 14 will mean for the long-term sim Milky Way Galaxy. Naturally, they’d rather let the story unfold for the players instead of telling me every (darn) detail directly, but they did drop a few hints about the ongoing alien threat, as well as something they find themselves- same threatening.
“As we head into Update 14 and the aftermath, we’re going to really intensify the Thargoid threat to a level that Commanders have never seen before,” said Senior Producer Samantha Marsh. “I think everyone can see bad things happening. But Aftermath will continue to kick things into high gear, and we’re really excited to see exactly [how] everyone takes care of it.
“And it’s absolutely safe to say that the galaxy will never be the same,” she added.
The in-game cinematic that ended the Azimuth saga was a new way to share a story with players, but it’s not the only tool Frontier Developments will use as the events of Aftermath are slowly revealed.
“There’s also the part of Elite that’s the exploratory storytelling, and the people sort of uncovering elements of the story and piecing it together,” Marsh said. “And we love seeing the players do that part. I think it’s really amazing to see what they come up with.”
“Yeah, [we] I love putting little mysteries into the game for players to solve,” said lead game designer Luke Betterton. of what we create. So for people to piece together what this narrative is when we’re not quite upfront, for players to understand these theories, all the cogs are turning, they’re trying to figure out exactly what’s going on here. What is the next step ? It is a great joy for me.”
Speaking of threats, there’s a new one when it comes to Elite Dangerous, but it’s not of the alien variety. It comes from here on Earth. I asked the developers if astronomers – real-world astronomers, that is – making new discoveries about our galaxy had any effect on Elite Dangerous’s simulated Milky Way galaxy.
“If you’re asking if the James Webb Telescope is terrifying for the future of Elite Dangerous? Yeah it is, yeah,” Betterton said with a laugh. “If they start to see things that we then have to adapt to the game, that will be a challenge.”
“We’re not going to revise the whole galaxy if there are a lot of different new discoveries, but it certainly influences what we do,” Marsh said. “I can give you an example of something NASA renamed, I think it was a galaxy, I really can’t remember exactly what, but they renamed it because the original name, they renamed it. ‘found it a little more offensive these days. So we went and renamed it ourselves to match NASA’s new name as well.”
“I think that’s also what makes Elite so interesting, it’s [an] living and evolving game,” continued Marsh. “It has these updates and changes and it’s always evolving into something really new and unique, which is really cool.”