If you hadn’t noticed, the space sim from developers Frontier Developments, Elite Dangerous, has finally released on the PS4, almost three years after it launched on PC. Boasting that it offers, “400 Billion star systems and an ever-evolving narrative,” you can experience all that this game has to offer either alone or in a very robust multiplayer environment. As a starship Commander, you take control of your own starship and can fight, explore and travel throughout an expansive cutthroat galaxy. Keeping your ship upgraded with the best weapons and equipment is paramount as you explore the galaxy, fight off pirates and smuggle, trade and mine your way to prosperity. You have to do whatever it takes to earn the skill, knowledge, wealth and power to stand among the ranks of the Elite.
Back on Jan 9, 2015, my esteemed colleague Nick Christophi wrote a review for the PC version of the Elite Dangerous. If you want to read his take on how the game panned out back then, you can read his review here. Nick scored the game a 7.0/10 and I have to agree with him on that. While there are some improvements to gameplay on the PS4, this version of the game is basically the same game that Nick reviewed so I stand by his score. For this review, I just wanted to highlight the features and issues that stood out to me.
The first thing that I immediately noticed about the game is that it has an incredibly steep learning curve. It took me going through the tutorial lessons multiple times because I just couldn’t wrap my head around how the game worked. There were just a few tutorials and some tutorial videos that you could watch but I felt that there should have been more to flesh out the nuances of the basic game procedures a little bit more. There wasn’t a lot of guidance once I got through that beginning training, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you don’t like a lot of hand-holding, this is the game for you because it is up to you to blaze your own trail right out of the starport.
One of the issues with the game that Nick pointed out that resonated with me was the fact that he though that flying around the galaxy felt lifeless and lonely. I have to say that as I began playing, I had that same feeling, however as I got into getting from place to place, the galaxy started to fill out a little more and there weren’t too many long stretches of time where I felt like I hadn’t seen another soul for a long time. I think that is obviously due to the fact that more people have had a chance to pick up the game as well as the fact that there has essentially been updates to missions and activities to make them a more polished and accessible experience. Whatever the case may be, there is a good balance between the times where you are alone and the times where you will encounter other players. Sometimes you just want to pillage an outpost without the prying eyes of look-ee-loos.
There are a few performance issues that this game has on the PS4 such as how the framerate will drop when you come out of hyperspace or if you are trying to drop off your wares at a particularly busy space station. That is something that a future update can remedy so it isn’t a deal breaker. One other thing that stood out to me is how intricately detailed the inside of your ships cockpits are. Being that you spend a lot of time looking at the HUD, it goes to reason that Frontier would ensure that this was something special to look at. Just one look is enough to see that the developer has put in a lot of time perfecting even the smallest detail.
The freedom of exploration and the vast area that you have to explore is what Elite Dangerous is all about. If you don’t want to explore new galaxies and share your findings with other players, you can engage in trading and grow your bank account or you can get into pirating and just take what you want from unsuspecting traders. The choice is up to you. If you want to do a little of all of those activities, the game doesn’t punish you for switching it up every once in a while. This game offers the freedom to go anywhere and do anything that most games that make this claim just don’t quite live up to.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
To boldly go...
Challenge - 9.0/10
Gameplay - 5.0/10
Design - 8.0/10
+ Almost too many galaxies to discover
+ Visuals are stunning
+ Freedom to go anywhere and do anything
- Some framerate issues at times
- Lack of a more robust tutorial