Elite: Dangerous review (Xbox One version) – GamesRadar (blog)

Crossplay

The Xbox One version of Elite: Dangerous takes place in the same universe as the PC/Mac one. Players will never meet face to face, but share the same economy and galactic power structure. So if Xbox One players manage to shift the power of a particular system, PC and Mac players will feel the effects – and vice versa. Hopefully future updates will allow both sets of players to fight, or cooperate, with each other more directly. I’d love to be able to form a wing with a friend playing on their computer.

Deciding how
you’re going to make your mark on the galaxy also extends to your choice
of ship. There are around twenty to choose from, and they all have
their own distinct personalities, uses, strengths, and weaknesses. Your
first ship, the Sidewinder, is a reliable all-rounder, but you’ll want
to upgrade as soon as you have the money. Credits are everything in
Elite: Dangerous, and you’ll want to earn as many of them as possible,
as quickly as possible.

Ships range from nimble, combat-geared
fighters like the Eagle to the Hauler, a chunky space-van that’s not
much good in a fight, but has a large cargo hold. There are fearsome
battleships like the Anaconda and luxury yachts like the Orca.
Long-range explorers like the Asp and high-end military ships like the
Imperial Clipper. All of them have unique interiors, sounds, and
handling models, and they’re a joy to fly, thanks to a responsive,
precise flight simulation.

Combat in Elite: Dangerous is like
being in the thick of a Star Wars space battle. Dogfights are tense,
exciting wars of attrition as you circle your opponent, pecking away at
their shields, before pummeling their exposed hull until they explode in
a ball of fire. Succeeding in combat is all about positioning, power
management, and predicting the enemy’s movement. From one-on-one duels
to giant space battles around capital ships, combat is always thrilling.

Your
ship has a lot of functions – from starting your engines to lowering
your landing gear – but everything is cleverly, intuitively mapped to
the Xbox One controller. Power can be routed between different systems
to give you an edge. Boost your system power and your shields will
regenerate faster; dedicate all your power to your weapons and you can
fire for longer without them overheating; or send everything to your
engines to increase your top speed.

This sounds complicated, but
it’s really just a matter of tapping the D-pad to distribute resources
around the ship. Multi-button inputs deal with the problem of there
being fewer buttons on a controller than a keyboard. Holding down on the
D-pad and pressing X lowers your landing gear, for example.

Combat
could be a simple matter of defending yourself from pirates; or maybe
you’re the one doing the pirating. Or it could be something altogether
grander. You can swear your allegiance to a faction in Elite and fight
in an ongoing territory war. Systems are constantly won and lost, and if
your side is victorious, the rewards include credits, new ships, and
otherwise unobtainable weapons.

But it’s entirely possible to
play and enjoy Elite: Dangerous without firing a single shot. There are
other ways to make money. You could become a miner, harvesting asteroids
for precious minerals. Or a courier, ferrying goods between systems.
You can buy resources at one station, then sell them to another that’s
in dire need of them for a massively inflated price. Well-designed menus
make trading, picking up missions, upgrading your ship, and selling
exploration data with the controller easy.

Or you can be an
explorer, which is how I spend most of my time. As you travel the
galaxy, you can scan undiscovered planets and stars and sell the data
back at stations. And with 400 billion systems, there’s plenty to go
around. If you’re the first player to discover something, it’ll be
tagged with your name. But if someone’s been there before, you’ll still
earn credits anyway. If you want to see some of the galaxy’s most
stunning sights, and get paid for it, this is a great career to pursue.

You’ll
need patience, though, because travel in Elite can be excruciatingly
slow – even though you’re moving at many times the speed of light.
You’ll spend a lot of time in supercruise mode, travelling between
stations, which is long, drawn-out, and uneventful. You occasionally
have to adjust your speed so you don’t overshoot your target, and
sometimes pirates will yank you out of it, but mostly you just sit and
wait for the tiny dot in the distance to get larger.

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