Elite Dangerous' final alpha phase landing May 15th, contains "over 400 billion star systems"
I'm no expert on numbers, like the guy out of Numb-three-ers, but even I know that 400 billion is a really big number. Like, really big. In addition to being the number of The Beast's second cousin, Alan, 400bn is also the number of star systems that will feature in Elite Dangerous' final alpha phase. Alpha 4 "genuinely contains over 400 billion star systems,” Frontier Developments state in the most recent newsletter, star systems that will “[move] correctly; spinning, orbiting each other in an incredible astronomical ballet.” Alpha 4 will go live on May 15th, if Frontier can stop waxing poetic about the wonders of space in the meantime.
"We are also modelling interstellar molecular clouds," Frontier continue, "and though some of the detail in these (particularly for nebulae) will come after Alpha 4, wherever you are, the ‘night sky’ is accurate. Beyond our galaxy, perhaps surprisingly we do still have a ‘skydome’ - but it is now a staggering 100,000 light years away, containing all the other galaxies, including the Magellanic Clouds."
Alpha 4 "sets you free in a 200 cubic light year volume of space in the Milky Way galaxy, far from Earth". You won't be able to fly to Earth, incidentally, but as you presumably live there, you're probably not too cut up about that.
On May 30th, as previously mentioned here, Elite: Dangerous will enter the first phase of its Premium Beta, which will ship to all backers who stumped for the appropriate reward tiers. The rest of us will have to wait until the end of the year, when Elite is set to be loosed upon the universe for real.