Elite: Dangerous developer Frontier has just announced the major feature of the space sim's next update. It's called Powerplay, and it will let players participate in an ongoing battle of conquest.
It revolves around Powers—organisations or characters with specific philosophies, preferences and perks. Some may be war-like, while others may prefer economic control. Each will own a sector of human-occupied space. Through the Powerplay system, players will be able join up with a chosen Power to have a hand in their struggle for... well, even more power.
The Frontier newsletter explains how it will all go down:
"In Powerplay, every week is a fresh opportunity to expand and defend your Power's galactic influence. All week long players can perform actions to undermine enemy control over systems, fortify your territory against rivals attempting to undermine you, or prepare unoccupied systems for conquest. Systems prepared for takeover will become zones where duelling Powers can attempt to expand their borders."
It's a dynamic sounding system, and appears to be exactly what Elite: Dangerous was needing. Shifting control of sectors gives some much needed stakes to those who make an allegiance. In addition, it sounds as if over time players will be able to both destroy and create new Powers:
"The initial selection of factions will rise to a maximum of twenty as players provide assistance to minor local forces; as those forces establish a foothold across a handful of systems, they may rise to become Powers in their own right."
It's possible to defect to a different Power, Frontier says, but that could lead to its own consequences—including having former allies hunt you down. It's a cool sounding meta-layer to Elite's existing actions. You can find more details in this week's Frontier newsletter.