Somewhere in the depths of the Milky Way, near the Witch Head nebula, is a pretty unremarkable star system called *deep breath* Witch Head Sector IH-V C2-9. And it's here where I, a lowly space explorer, made history. Not the kind of history people will ever write or care about, but still. History.
The Odyssey expansion for Elite Dangerous launched yesterday, and its biggest new feature is being able to, for the first time, leave the safety of your ship's cockpit and walk around on foot. This means it's now possible to have your own Neil Armstrong moment and make first footfall on another world, which will be credited to you for as long as Elite Dangerous exists.
I've wanted to do this from the moment Odyssey was announced, and so I set out today to make my (tiny, imperceptible, futile) mark on the galaxy. I've never managed to be the first Elite player to discover or chart a planet, but Odyssey hasn't been out for very long, so I figured this was my chance to boldly stroll where no one has ever strolled before. This is my time.
Last time I played Elite, at the end of last year, I abandoned my Asp Explorer somewhere in the Barnard's Loop nebula. So I start my search there, hopping between systems and searching for a ball of rock to call my own. I find a few good ones, but whenever I try to walk on the surface, the temperature is too high and I'm not allowed to leave my ship.
This happens about ten times in a row, until I eventually get frustrated and trigger the self-destruct sequence on my ship so the game relocates me to a more populated region. I respawn in Shenve, located in the Witch Head nebula, and pick a random unpopulated system nearby to jump to.
I drop out of hyperspace in Witch Head Sector IH-V and cruise the system for a bit, before spotting a planet orbiting near the colossal blue rings of a gas giant. It's landable and the surface temperature seems low enough for my pressure suit to handle, so this seems like a good candidate for first footfall.
It's called Witch Head Sector IH-V C2-9 7 A, which is a terrible name for a planet. Who's gonna remember all that? As I approach, it looks like a moist ball of clay, criss-crossed with dusky purple canyons and spattered with craters. Not exactly the galaxy's prettiest planet, but at this point I've been searching for a planet to make first footfall on for almost 5 hours. I'll take anything.
As I approach and prepare to land, I'm suddenly grossed out. The surface is disgusting. It's pink and moist and kinda slimy looking. It's actually just the way the light is reflecting off the rocks, but combined with that pink, fleshy hue, it's like looking at a gruesome close-up photo from a medical textbook. Thanks, I hate it. Do I really want my name attached to this?
I land my ship near a large crater and, for the first time in this cursed play session, the disembark option on the holo-HUD isn't greyed out. I step out onto the surface of Witch Head Sector IH-V C2-9 7 A and there's a tense second before I see a message flash up on the screen: "First footfall confirmed!" I'm officially the first person ever to walk on this planet. Nice.
I explore for a while, using my jetpack to leap around in the low gravity. It's a pretty bleak planet. No starports, no weird alien flora, no visible volcanic activity, no Starbucks. It's definitely a cool feeling being the first to do anything, but it's not long before I get bored of this flesh desert. I climb back into my Asp and blast away to somewhere a bit less repulsive.