The latest Beta phase for Elite: Dangerous, the upcoming space simulator from Frontier Developments, has gone live. Players who stump up £50 for beta access will get an array of new content including missions, ships, and visual and interface improvements, all in an expanded universe now containing around 2500 fully-realised star systems.
New gameplay additions comes in the form of a philanthropy missions system, the ability to intercept others passing through local space, and the ability to source fuel from nearby stars should you find the tank running low in the deepest, darkest, depths of space.
Elite: Dangerous is based upon the Milky Way galaxy itself, and so far the team at Frontier Developments has added a total of around 2500 systems, with 500 new ones coming in that update. Just to put this into perspective though, Frontier is aiming to have 400 billion star systems ready in Elite: Dangerous when it officially launches.
Big changes have also occurred for several visual aspects of Elite: Dangerous. Planets in particular have been upgraded; atmospheric colours now reflect the chemical composition, as does the type and colour of the surface, ice caps and liquid on all planets are now dynamic, while volcanic and icy planets will also get added detail. Pilots will need to take a bit extra care out in space now though as asteroid belt clusters will now be floating out in the deepest reaches of space.
There are two new ships added - the Imperial Clipper and Federal Dropship. These have been added alongside an update which allows for players to own multiple ships.
To play the new version of Elite: Dangerous previous players will have to click on a news article contained in the old launcher and download a new launcher from there as the original launcher will no longer work. Frontier has warned that there may be a few teething issues with this 3.0 update but has promised some smaller updates over the coming days to fix any problems that may arise.
Elite Dangerous is expected to launch later this year on PC. Although the latest update vastly expands the system it’s still a long way from the expansive universe containing 400 billion star systems that the game developers promise, so we wouldn't be too surprised to see this slip into 2015.
Have you forked out the cash for beta access to Elite Dangerous yet? What do you make of all these improvements, do you think Frontier's going to be able to get Elite: Dangerous ready for a 2014 launch?