Right now, Elite: Dangerous could effectively be renamed Space Trucking Simulator 3300. Yes, there's combat, but the beta's existing systems feel more suited to serenely travelling between the stars to profit from an incredibly basic economy. That's a consequence of the game's still-early development status, and, through Frontier's regular newsletter, they've been explaining what we can eventually expect. The latest update details interstellar exploration, and it sounds like a mighty fine career for adventurers and pirates alike.
We've been hunted across Chernarus. We've tangled with a vengeful god of (modern) warfare. Tomorrow, we scramble for glory in the cold reaches of space.
The latest PC Gamer UK team livestream will take place on Wednesday the 20th of August from 3PM BST to 5PM BST—click that link to find out the time in other timezones. We'll be playing Elite Dangerous in a custom scenario that we've come up with ourselves, supported by the devs at Frontier.
It takes a lot to make me pay attention to Star Citizen's funding total. It's like how if a black hole was inexorably growing at the edge of the solar system, you probably wouldn't check its progress towards the ultimate consumption of your reality. Not on a daily basis, at least.
Still, $50 million is the sort of milestone worth making note of. Unfortunately, we can't, as the game's crowdfunding total sped straight passed that number and into the paradoxically less notable $51 million. The game both raised and exceeded $50 million over this last Gamescom weekend, all thanks to the reveal of new videos and the sale of new ship package micro-transactions.
You can be anything in Elite: Dangerous. A fearsome pirate. A daring adventurer. A galactic explorer. But I’ve decided to be a trucker. See, combat is not my strong point, and most enemy encounters end with me warping away like a massive space-coward. So I’ll be making my living in Frontier’s huge galaxy as a trader. It’s a perfectly legitimate way to play the game, and although not as exciting as dogfights and bounty hunting, is weirdly compelling in its own uneventful, slow-paced way.
“There are over 100 billion star systems,” Elite creator David Braben tells me when I ask if that number could possibly be true. “In fact, it’s closer to 400 billion. It’s a very silly number anyway.” Elite: Dangerous is the modernised sequel to the classic freeform space sim, and there’s no faulting developer Frontier’s ambition. The game sees you, a rookie pilot, set loose in a vast celestial sandbox with 100 credits in your space-wallet and dreams of achieving the ultimate pilot rating: elite. How you do this is up to you, whether you become a trader, a pirate, a smuggler, and many more jobs besides.
Braben compares his vision of the Milky Way to the California gold rush of the 1800s. “When there was a gold rush in San Francisco in 1849, many of the people who made money didn't mine a single piece of gold. What they did was take a cargo of spades and things like that, and sold them at stupidly inflated prices. Our galaxy will be continuously evolving. You might get the occasional gold rush, which changes the status of a particular place. Players will be running in to try and get some of the gold that’s been discovered in some outlying system. But what else will happen is that a whole raft of other things will be in demand. The need for food and equipment will skyrocket.”
Indie developer Digital Eel has released the third of its roguelike space adventure Infinite Space series, Sea of Stars, to Steam Early Access. A single-player strategy game with turn-based movement but real-time combat, the move to Steam follows the developer's developer successful Kickstarter funding campaign from 2013.
You will never step foot on Mars. Let that slightly depressing feeling that you were born in the wrong time sink in. Now cheer up and take comfort that you at least have the technology to play pretend in a videogame. Bohemia Interactive has released the first portion of its manned mission content for Take On Mars for current Early Access players.
Bohemia Interactive’s Take On Mars already lets you pilot various Rovers and Landers on the red planet in its Early Access form. It's next big content update, however, will go one step further, challenging you to put a person on Mars. Well, a videogame simulation person, at least.
B-R5RB isn't an impressive name. It sounds like the dopey robot sidekick in a desperate Star Wars cash-in, or an experimental cream for an embarrassing rash. It's neither of those things. Instead, it's the location of the now biggest battle in EVE Online's history, one that comes exactly a year after the immense Battle of Asakai. Fought throughout the night, more than 70 Titans - EVE's ginormous megaships - have fallen, meaning damages total trillions of ISK. And what was the cause of such massive galaxy-shaking destruction? Somebody forgot to pay their bill.
Space RPG The Mandate had already deployed a full flotilla of trailers to escort its Kickstarter to completion. Now that the significant stack of funding has been safely transported home, we get to see something a bit different: a pre-production look at how the game's ship boarding combat will work, complete with troop placements, tactical decision making, and Rudyard Kipling.
Last month, we told you about the fourteen space games we were most excited about. Unfortunately, that list contained X Rebirth, which by all reports, has betrayed that excitement. We will mourn that loss as its dragged to the airlock and shot into the starry void. Of the remaining thirteen, Rodina is one of the biggest unknowns. Citing everything from Star Fox to Morrowind as influences, the indie space adventure lets you travel to the surface of its procedural planets without so much as a loading screen. Its creator, Brendan Anthony, has now set co-ordinates for launch, providing a release date of December 13th.
Apparently there are some new consoles being released, which would explain why the multi-format sites are running around like excitable puppies. While they paw and maul the new PlayBoxes and X-Stations, we can relax a little, and lap from the steady stream of PC news. Slow, intractable, and about spaceships: it doesn't get more PC than EVE Online, which is teasing its upcoming Rubicon expansion with a rather fetching cinematic trailer. Also, I want a puppy now.
The last alpha footage of Space Engineers focused on creation, and how the volumetric-based physics sandbox enabled construction, engineering and maintenance. Luckily, if sounds too much like work, there's going to be plenty of destruction as well. Here's the game's "crash test" trailer, showcasing what happens when you fling spaceships into asteroids, space stations and other, bigger spaceships. It comes ahead of a Steam Early Access release, due later this month.
It's as if game developers collectively decided that they were fed up of PC games not being about space. So now, a lot of PC games are about space. At least, the ones that aren't roguelikes are. Space Engineers, for example, which is a newly announced physics-based sandbox game about being an engineer. In space. You've probably worked out how they decided on that name.
It was back in April that Notch revealed he was putting his space sandbox prototype 0x10c "on ice". Since then, it seems, the freeze has only deepened. During a recent TF2 livestream, the Minecraft creator answered a question on the status of his next game, saying, "Nope, there are no future aspirations for 0x10c". He went on to say that, if another member of the Mojang office wanted to pick the game up, they could. Instead, it seems like the game's fans will be taking it upon themselves to fulfil the promise they saw in the concept.
I must admit, in all the excitement, noise and hot tablet integration of E3, I completely missed Bohemia's Take On Mars. Consequently I'd just assumed its title was a direct challenge, and we'd finally get to punch that smug red jerk right in the crater. Amazingly, that's not the case. Instead, we're being giving the chance to sim around its surface in mobile Rovers and stationary Landers, completing scientific objectives. In fairness, that sounds even better.
If you cast your eye back to the Kickstarter greats of 2011, you'll remember Lifeless Planet. The fledgling action-adventure-mystery of Russian spaceman paraphernalia on what is supposed to be an uninhabited planet was incredibly intriguing, even back then in its early alpha stages. Now that the Lifeless Planet is hurtling towards release, it's got a gameplay trailer to show how far it's come.
Odyssey, EVE Online's 19th free expansion, has just released, and to celebrate CCP have launched a plethora of screenshots and an amazingly evocative trailer, featuring the ultimate in star-faring pep-talks. Of course, all it's really telling us is: "Space is brilliant!" But we can forgive that, because space is brilliant.
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The year is 2053; the world is on the brink of financial and social collapse. It started innocuously enough. Star Citizen - Chris Roberts' multiplayer space sim - took to Kickstarter, making a healthy $2,000,000 from backer pledges. But the money kept pouring in through the game's website at Roberts Space Industries. By the end of April 2013, Star Citizen had raised a staggering total of $9,062,402.
It's not a PC game as such, but it does involve your PC and there's an element of competition, here's something to occupy a few hours of free time between now and the end of May. Take those sharp powers of observation and image analysis you've honed through play and put them to some sort of productive use.
Join the hunt for Hubble's Hidden Treasures. You can help to find new galactic objects, make some of those of colourful 'artists impressions' pictures of nebula that grace box art and maybe win an iPad too. Not bad for what is, to all intents and appearances, a browser based game. It'll help kill time until the next Mass Effect 3 DLC comes out.