Elite Dangerous

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Elite Dangerous
Information
VR/AR VR
Developer Frontier Developments
Publisher Frontier Developments
Director David Braben
Producer Michael Brookes
Platform SteamVR, Oculus Rift (Platform)
Device HTC Vive, Oculus Rift CV1
Operating System Windows, Mac
Type Full Game
Genre Action, Adventure, Massively Multiplayer, RPG, Simulation, Strategy, Space Sim, Space, Open World, Exploration, Sci-fi, Multiplayer, First-Person, Sandbox, Online Co-Op, Trading, Difficult, TrackIR, VR
Input Device Gamepad, Keyboard / Mouse
Play Area Seated
Game Mode Single Player, Multiplayer, Co-Op
Language English, French, German, Russian, Spanish
Rating Teen
Review Mixed
Release Date Apr 2, 2015
Price $29.99
App Store Steam
Website http://www.elitedangerous.com/
Infobox Updated 09/15/2016
Elite Dangerous is a VR App.

Review

Elite Dangerous has been out for a rather long time to relatively mixed user reviews – with consumer versions of VR headsets now out in the wild, will the game be revitalized?

Frontier Developments’ Elite Dangerous is a rather difficult game to review, especially for someone with fond memories of older multiplayer spaceship-based games, such as Freelancer.

A lot of people may bounce off due to its complexity and the rather perplexing lack of direction. While the former is perfectly fine, I feel more could have been done to help players choose the direction they want to take their game in. Indeed, there are a lot of things to do, but little in the way of helping you discover them. That is not to say that Elite Dangerous should hold the hands of its players at all time, but even series such as Dark Souls, touted for its difficulty and hardcore nature gives you more hints and direction than Elite does sometimes.

Being told you can go anywhere you want and do whatever you want can be very liberating, but, ironically, it can also feel restrictive and the game certainly suffers as a result.

What is more – the 1.0 release back in December 2014 was plainly unfinished. A lot of promised mechanics were missing and the ones that were there often did not work properly. A promised offline mode was scrapped (although you can play solo – but must be always on), much-hyped features such as the galactic economy and evolving politics were broken. All this was not helped by the fact that the learning curve was more akin to a “learning cliff”, a lot of people were frustrated, and understandably so.

Frontier Developments has, however, taken the game a long way since then, and is apparently planning much more. One of the biggest problems was indeed the lack of meaningful player interaction. Things such as multi-crew ships and proper alliances are exactly what people have been asking for. While one shouldn’t expect Elite to suddenly turn into an EVE-like affair, it remains a step in the right direction. And yet, Elite Dangerous remains a fascinating experience. Yes, an experience. Wherever the game and its mechanics might fall flat, the experience of actually flying a starship through space holds up beautifully. It would be hard to think of another game that sells this experience quite so well. From the visuals to the sound assets, everything feels authentic.

What about VR headsets then? This is certainly one of the games people dream up when they think of VR. Being in a cockpit bypasses any of the usual problems of seated VR – after all, your character is also seated. If you combine the headset with a HOTAS Flight Stick and some voice commands, Elite Dangerous turns from an interesting but flawed space game into ”Oh my god I am flying my own spaceship!”.

The sense of scale of the space stations, the vast emptiness of space, the stars and planetary bodies that you fly by and land on, the way your character’s hands on the flight stick mimic your own moves, all of these things were already impressive before – with an Oculus or Vive, it becomes the dream of anyone who ever imagined something like this back when the original Elite was out in 1984.

Elite Dangerous has occasionally been described as “Euro Truck Simulator in space” – and it is true. You could be a peaceful trader, carrying cargo across the stars, avoiding any of that dogfighting nonsense that some people seem to be into, and it would be a very similar experience.

There is a lot that remains unsaid here. None of Elite Dangerous’ mechanics are terribly deep, but the range of things you can do is quite impressive. From the way power management works, to how you smuggle illegal goods into stations, ship choices, outfitting, and do forth – to not even mention the more recent Horizons expansion which introduced the ability to land on planetary bodies.

Overall, Elite Dangerous suffers from the same problems its original 1984 predecessor did. If you are not the kind of person who likes setting their own goals, your experience will suffer. If that does not deter you though, or even if you are simply looking for trucking in space, Elite Dangerous, especially with VR, is the only game that can offer such an experience. At least, the only fully released one.

Elite Dangerous is out now on Steam. It will set you back $30 or your regional equivalent. The expansion will cost an extra $34.

Description

Elite Dangerous is the definitive massively multiplayer space epic, bringing gaming’s original open world adventure to the modern generation with a connected galaxy, evolving narrative and the entirety of the Milky Way re-created at its full galactic proportions.

Starting with only a small starship and a few credits, players do whatever it takes to earn the skill, knowledge, wealth and power to survive in a futuristic cutthroat galaxy and to stand among the ranks of the iconic Elite. In an age of galactic superpowers and interstellar war, every player’s story influences the unique connected gaming experience and handcrafted evolving narrative. Governments fall, battles are lost and won, and humanity’s frontier is reshaped, all by players’ actions.

400 Billion Star Systems. Infinite Freedom. Blaze Your Own Trail.

A Galaxy Of Wonders
The 400 billion star systems of the Milky Way are the stage for Elite Dangerous' open-ended gameplay. The real stars, planets, moons, asteroid fields and black holes of our own galaxy are built to their true epic proportions in the largest designed playspace in videogame history.

A Unique Connected Game Experience
Governments fall, battles are lost and won, and humanity’s frontier is reshaped, all by players’ actions. In an age of galactic superpowers and interstellar war, every player’s personal story influences the connected galaxy and handcrafted evolving narrative.

Blaze Your Own Trail
Upgrade your ship and customize every component as you hunt, explore, fight, mine, smuggle, trade and survive in the cutthroat galaxy of the year 3301. Do whatever it takes to earn the skill, knowledge, wealth and power to stand among the ranks of the Elite.

Massively Multiplayer
Experience unpredictable encounters with players from around the world in Elite Dangerous’ vast massively multiplayer space. Experience the connected galaxy alone in Solo mode or with players across the world in Open Play, where every pilot you face could become a trusted ally or your deadliest enemy. You will need to register a free Elite Dangerous account with Frontier to play the game.

A Living Game
Elite Dangerous grows and expands with new features and content. Major updates react to the way players want to play and create new gameplay opportunities for the hundreds of thousands of players cooperating, competing and exploring together in the connected galaxy.

The Original Open World Adventure
Elite Dangerous is the third sequel to 1984's genre-defining Elite, bringing gaming’s original open world adventure into the modern generation with a connected galaxy, evolving narrative and the entire Milky Way re-created at its full galactic proportions.

Features

System Requirements

Windows

Minimum

  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: Quad Core CPU (4 x 2Ghz)
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GTX 260 / ATI 4870HD
  • Storage: 7 GB available space

Recommended

  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K Quad Core CPU or better / AMD FX 4350 Quad Core CPU or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GTX 770 / AMD Radeon R9 280X
  • Storage: 7 GB available space

Mac OS X

Minimum

  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: Quad Core CPU (4 x 2Ghz)
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GTX 260 / ATI 4870HD
  • Storage: 7 GB available space

Recommended

  • OS: Windows 7, Windows 8
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770K Quad Core CPU or better / AMD FX 4350 Quad Core CPU or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GTX 770 / AMD Radeon R9 280X
  • Storage: 7 GB available space

Setup Instructions

See also: How to Setup Elite Dangerous in VR

Getting Started

First and foremost, make sure that you know how to put on the headset properly! Dial in the correct IPD and set eye relief at the proper distance. Check and adjust fit for maximum clarity, sharpness, and comfort every time you put on the headset.

Download and install ED Profiler. Use it to select a VR profile and HUD preset without having to edit any config files.

Settings depend on your PC, though, most of all on its graphics card. NVIDIA users can use GeForce Experience to see recommended settings for "Elite Dangerous: Horizons VR" in the game optimizer and create a VR profile based on that with EDProfiler (that's what I did - here's my profile for NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti).

EDProfiler also comes with two VR-optimized GUI color presets ("Dr. Kaii's Spiritual Teal" and "Grnbrg's VR Green"). These make text much more readable without ruining NPC portraits (since there's only one GUI color palette, so it needs to be optimized accordingly, i. e. "avatar friendly").

I also always activate SteamVR's Night Mode (available inside VR via Settings on bottom right of VR Dashboard, first page, top checkbox). This dims the headset until 5:00 AM or until SteamVR is restarted, so it unfortunately has to be reactivated manually each time. It reduces glare, god rays and eye strain by reducing the overall brightness. If necessary, you can compensate by raising Gamma a little in ED's graphics options.

Also set "Dashboard/Interface Brightness" to minimum in ED's graphics options or ship's functions (right panel). Makes text much more crisp and legible.

For optimum resolution, raise "HMD Quality" in the game, not the in-game setting called "Supersampling". Or just use SteamVR's own supersampling (RenderTargetMultiplier - until it can be configured within SteamVR without editing config files, use OpenVR Advanced Settings, which is an essential SteamVR tool that you should have anyways for all its other benefits), which is multiplied with HMD Quality, but affects other games as well (personally, with my NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, I've kept HMD Quality at 1 and set RenderTargetMultiplier to 1.4).

When using ED's HMD Quality or SteamVR's RenderTargetMultiplier > 1, consider turning in-game Anti-Aliasing off. Both are a form of supersampling which is an anti-aliasing method, so additional anti-aliasing is likely redundant and only reduces performance with little to no visual gain.

Tweaks to Settings to Achieve the Best Quality and Performance

Steam: Elite Dangerous - Properties: Ensure that "Enable the Steam Overlay while in-game" and "Use Desktop Game Theatre while SteamVR is active" are OFF.

SteamVR Settings (via right-click menu of SteamVR tray icon): Performance: Allow asynchronous reprojection ON, Allow interleaved reprojection OFF! Developer: Direct Mode ENABLED, Enable Always-on Reprojection ON! Restart SteamVR for changes to take effect.

If you customized SteamVR, I suggest you reset Background, Environment, Base Station, and Controller to default. Elite Dangerous is a demanding game, you don't want such customizations (that you normally won't see anyway while playing ED) taking up precious resources in the background.

Setup Controllers

I'm a fan of the X52 (Pro or normal) since it's the same joystick the in-game model is based on. With the proper control setup and placement, your in-game hand will mirror your real one exactly, greatly enhancing immersion/presence.

I've made sure that the bindings match the in-game buttons as closely as possible so when I push a button on the real stick, my in-game representation pushes the same button on the virtual stick. I achieve amazing presence that way, it really feels like I'm inside the cockpit and piloting my spaceship myself (instead of merely remotely controlling the pilot).

I have bound pretty much all important actions on the HOTAS, thanks to Elite's built-in shift-button support (i. e. binding button combinations). That way I have no need to use a keyboard for anything except chat or galaxy search.

Later I replaced the X52 throttle with a Thrustmaster stand-alone throttle which I like much better. It has an analog stick for thrusters and more buttons/hats which are also placed better, and not such an annoying detent (I added my own velcro center detent).

Make sure to enable full throttle range in ED's control options if you want your virtual throttle to mirror the real one. Except for supercruise, where there's no reverse speed, real and virtual throttle will then match.

(Addendum: Personally, I'm not using the throttle to control speed anymore, I actually went even further and turned Elite Dangerous into a real workout by controlling the throttle with an exercise bike that works as a game controller... Yes, my spaceship is now pedal-powered! ;))

Set up like that, ED in VR is pure bliss! Especially if you fly a ship with a panoramic canopy, e. g. Keelback or Asp (get one ASAP), or something intimate like a ship-launched fighter. And remember that VR gives you "space legs" in a way, so don't just sit there, get up and walk around your cockpit or stand next to your seat while hovering in front of a white dwarf, during long-range flights within a system or when auto-docking. Those are some of the best VR experiences I ever had (and I've been into it since 2014 with Oculus DK2, now with HTC Vive, it's even better)!

Solutions to Few Annoyances

If driving the SRV makes you sick, turn on the comfort options in ED's graphics options: "Reduce Camera Shake", "Vehicle Motion Blackout" and "Vehicle Maintain Horizon Camera". Especially that last one makes a huge difference in how comfortable planetary driving feels in VR.

Galaxy/System Map: I have no problem using it in VR since it's nicely mapped to my HOTAS. However, it's vital to pivot the map a bit before using it, only then will you see where the selection cursor really is in 3D space.

Oh, and remember you can press Ctrl+V to paste into the search box. I like to plan my routes online and copy & paste the destination instead of typing it in (even bound Ctrl+V to a button on my HOTAS).

Tools that Will Improve Your VR Experience

OVRdrop

Put any window into your cockpit as a virtual screen that can be placed anywhere within the cockpit. Some use cases are watching your favorite movies/series or clips/streams during long trips or while grinding credits, bringing up a web browser or text editor for taking notes, planning routes or checking prices, or displaying a webcam that's aimed at your keyboard. Although there's another solution for typing in VR:

Virtual Button Box

Get a virtual keyboard into your cockpit that you operate with the motion controllers. Works like OpenVRDesktopDisplayPortal, i. e. you place the keyboard in a fixed position inside the cockpit, e. g. below the radar, so it's always in the same place (and auto-hides when not in use).

VoiceAttack

Control your ship like a proper sci-fi commander with your voice. I recommend using it in conjunction with one of the HCS voice packs, my favorite being Verity (the ship's actual voice since it's spoken by the same voice actress as the ship computer's).

Actually I also bought Astra which inclues a so-called "Multi-Crew" profile (not to be confused with ED 2.3's Multicrew feature) that provides compatibility with multiple voice packs at the same time, including EDDI. This uses text-to-speech to let your ship AI give you lots of useful information verbally (e. g. system state, bounties collected, etc.) and even optionally act automatically upon state changes (e. g. if your shields go down, shield boosters can be disabled temporarily, so they recharge faster).

This isn't VR-specific, of course, so I'm digressing - and it's pretty advanced so you really need to check it out for yourself to learn about the possibilities and how to use them. But it's so useful and doesn't get mentioned very often, that's why I wanted to bring it up to let you know about this.

Images and Videos


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