Thoughts on Elite Dangerous: Odyssey

So the alpha for Elite Dangerous: Odyssey started about a fortnight ago and I’ve been playing it fairly often since. First off, wow, this alpha is unoptimised. Walking around on a planet runs at 15fps at 1080p, even though all my graphics settings are set to the lowest possible. Hopefully this is just going to be an alpha quirk.

Despite that, though, it is actually pretty fun. Phase 1 was a little bit rubbish – no ships, just taxis and missions where you had no idea what you were doing. But now that Phase 2 of the alpha lets us use the combat oriented suit and actually learn how combat works in the ground-based Combat Zones, I now actually understand how to play the bloody missions and actually enjoy them instead of immediately dying. Combat especially is really fun, it’s a solid first-person shooter with fun gunplay that integrates pretty well with the existing mechanics of the base game. Combat Zones use a capture points-style game mode which helps concentrate the players in the CZ into specific areas for them to fight. Getting dropped out of a Vulture into battle is pretty cool, too.

The land-based missions that can be done are also quite cool – there are variants of existing mission types like assassinations and exterminations, but there are also new types like settlement shutdown and recovery missions. There are multiple ways to approach the mission, usually boiling down to going in stealth or just running in and hope you can run back out alive. Either way seems to usually end in my death though.

Today (I want to say tomorrow, but it’s 02:33 as I write this…) Frontier is apparently releasing phase 3 of the alpha, which focuses on exploration. Not sure what that includes, but it probably has something to do with the new Exobiologist rank… I’ll be sure to lag around whatever cool places people find and post on the forums, I guess. I can’t wait until we get to see the properly atmospheric planets, as currently the only ones we have access to have really thin atmospheres. They’re pretty nonetheless, but the planets with the blue skies as shown in trailers look really beautiful. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s going to appear in the alpha.

Unfortunately the alpha currently has a number of bugs, many of which I’m sure the devs are painfully aware of. Namely, there’s a pretty bad bug where interacting with a terminal or NPC while running can cause you to start gliding and clipping through walls, and if you’re unlucky when you exit that interaction you’re suddenly blasted into deep space several dozens of kilometres away from the starport you’re in. I’ve had this happen a couple times, once requiring Frontier support to rescue me. Some of the new UI changes look nice, but have flaws: the galaxy map misses many minor feature and some information is less immediately visible and hidden behind another button. The new outfitting interface especially is a mess. There’s also some… general weirdness, like AI pilots getting stuck randomly, or corpses just lying around in starports and not being acknowledged by NPCs.

Overall, though, Odyssey is pretty cool and I’m definitely excited for it. (I mean, I ought to be, I paid £40 for the deluxe alpha pre-order ). I do hope the issues it currently has can be resolved in time – Frontier’s targeting a release date of late spring, which is awfully close…

The omnipresent Sleepy Pete would say hi if he weren’t so tired from having to be in every starport at the same time

Anyway, I’m off to bed now. Goodnight

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