If there wasn't already a terrifying amount of world in Elite Dangerous, well, wave goodbye to that small sliver of your social life not spent in a cockpit. The first part of the space sim's second season of expansions will let you fly seamlessly to the the surface of planets and land.
Planets can be surface scanned to find interesting locations and we'll be able to touch down and do some exploring in the specially designed Surface Recon Vehicle or SRV Scarab vehicle. Each world has been 'procedurally simulated' to be entirely unique, with its own gravity and locations to explore. Mineral deposits, forts, bases and crashed ships are all hidden across the solar system.
Questing for a simulation that doesn't feel random, David Braben is focussing on building each world as realistically as possible. "What we’ve done with Elite Dangerous is we’ve created rules where a solar system for example is generated from first principles. It all doesn’t just obey the rules of science but is formed by them," he says. "You get bombardments of comets and all that sort of thing. It heats up so we know the exact chemical constituency of every planet. We know the temperature, we know how much it’s radiating. We know where the volcanoes are. We know what the weather is."
Horizons will also see players working together on planets. Bases are protected by anti air guns so you can work together with those below in their vehicles to infiltrate and take out enemy fire. "We’re extending Wings so they can work with ground vehicles as well so people can co-operate," explains Braben. "They can do things like attacking surface bases, discovering them. There will be lots of things hidden beneath the surface of the planets. The beauty is it’s a huge expanse so you can scan the planet from low orbit. There are different sort of layers to it. Ultimately you can actually drive around in your own little surface vehicle that we're calling the SRV."
More SRV's will be added at a later date but Braben is excited by the unique possibilities offered to players by the Scarab. "With time there will be [more] in the same way that there are different kinds of ships," he explains. "That one folds up so you can carry it. I just love that idea of setting down, not in any particular place and going from there and doing whatever it is you are here to do."
This isn't all that's offered by Horizons either. An update early in 2016 will add looting and crafting into the mix too. Elite Dangerous hasn't been skimping on extra content and this is yet another slew of expansions to the world. "We have engaged a lot with the community. We see what people want. We’ve been very proactive when people say ‘this is an issue’ and we’ve addressed it but also we do have a long term plan for the game as well," explains Braben. "But the thing to remember is this is not just one thing. When people buy Horizons they buy into the whole of Season 2, the whole set of expansions that you get. The comparison is looking at what we’ve done on the current season - where the game’s come out, we’ve had community goals, we’ve had Wings, we’ve had Power Play, we’ve got CQC coming soon. Each of these have other things in them. They have ships and other goodies. It’s not just the headline."
Elite Dangerous Horizons will be £29.99 for existing players on PC and included with the game for £39.99 for new players. It will be released on PC first with nothing yet confirmed for Xbox One.
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