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Elite Dangerous

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  • 3 weeks later...

Elite struck me as terribly boring.

I made the mistake (?) of buying it, only to find that the core gameplay is mostly composed of tedious, repetitive content, without any depth.

Example: ferrying cargo. You can move cargo from a station to another. You load up a map of the galaxy with the 4+ billion star systems, try to find one that sells or buys cargo you want to trade, then fly your ship to a station. Although there's various kinds of cargo (some legal, some illegal), whether you're moving hydrogen or space tea, all cargo ends up being a number that has no impact on what you do besides trying to find the most profitable thing to sell (and maybe avoiding being scanned by the police).

To move the cargo itself, you have to dock to a spaceport. You communicate with the spaceport to ask for docking permission, physically fly into it with your ship, go to an assigned docking bay, line up your ship to land, and then cool little robot arms are going to move you into the station where you get to some sort of service bay. You repeat the process in reverse to undock, engage your warp/hyperspeed drive through its own (fairly simple) process, move from system to system, and eventually dock to the next place you want to get to.

This is all pretty neat on paper, and I honestly love the concept, because it's realistic.

However, it becomes very annoying and tedious the instant you realize it doesn't mean fuck all. There's no epic, overarching story to your player's actions. The world of Elite: Dangerous doesn't feel deep, or elaborate. There's barely any multiplayer, and the multiplayer feels tacked on to something that was meant to be singleplayer by design from the start. The world is huge, but you can honestly go anywhere across it, and feel like like you're in the exact same place you were in five hours ago. There's three station models, about a dozen ship models, and an infinity of procedurally generated factions and planets you have absolutely no reason to care about.

The combat is fun for a few hours - until you realize that unlocking new equipment and ships is a grind, and there's so little to unlock and optimize (though it takes forever to get to it). Games like Freelancer or Freespace sucked you in because of the epic stories they made you a part of. You could clearly identify the factions you were fighting for or against, their ships, their planets looked and felt different, worldwide events actually mattered (as there wasn't a permanent universe that required to remain relatively stable). Here, you just feel like a statistic, a tiny dot trying to amass an arbitrary amount of credit set by a game designer so you can unlock the next ship everybody has, so that you can make even more credits, for... nothing at all.

Even Eve has godawful combat (as far as the arcade factor can be considered) and a terrible amount of statistical and time-dependent grinding, but the game gets carried by the fact that its gameworld is living and breathing, carried by its players and the alliances and wars that are constantly forged, broken, waged, etc. In Elite, there's no way whatsoever for players to organize, and after 10 hours I still couldn't really figure out under which circumstances I'd be allowed to communicate with another player-pilot or not.

The game does get sold as a "space-trucking simulator", but honestly, it does none of that. It's tedious, because you get no sense of place, scale, or progression. All that you do is the same. The world never changes or feels different. You'll be doing the same missions over and over, perhaps with different numbers or with a different-looking cockpit.

It basically feels like the worst aspects of a singleplayer game and a MMO got mixed into one. It's like the devs feel like they have to work with all the restrictions of a large, procedurally generated, always persistent world, but they don't give you the chance to play with it, or affect it at all.

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