Horizons is, basically, a four-part “season” of expansions for Frontier Developments' heavily-armed space trucking sim Elite: Dangerous. It began with Planetary Landings in December, and will continue through three more add-ons spread throughout 2016: The Engineers, which will add a new mission system and “game-changing loot”; Guardians, promising enhanced combat through the addition of ship-launched fighters; and The Commanders, that will add the “Commander Creator” to the game and enable multiplayer ship crews.
The release of The Engineers was slated for April, and was set to mark the end of the Horizons Early Access period. However, “following a review of the development of the next stage of Elite Dangerous: Horizons,” the studio has decided to push it back until after the end of its current fiscal year. That means it won't be out until sometime after May 31.
"Over a number of years, Frontier has established an outstanding track record of meeting demanding release schedules and exceptional quality thresholds, so this delay is disappointing,” Frontier CEO David Braben said in an announcement on the London Stock Exchange website “However, it is absolutely critical for the longer-term success of the Elite franchise that we maintain our absolute commitment to quality. Despite this temporary setback, the Board and I remain very excited both by the potential of the Elite franchise and the progress that Frontier is making as it transitions to self-publishing."
Frontier Community Manager Zac Antonaci said in the Elite Dangerous forums that the studio now hopes to have the Engineers beta released sometime in May. “We’re sorry to keep you waiting, but the Engineers is a truly colossal update and this additional time is being used to ensure that the new content is of the highest quality possible,” he wrote. “We take great pride in all of the content we produce and we firmly believe that giving this additional development time is the right thing to do for the game, the studio and the fantastic community of players.”
Braben said much the same thing on Reddit, writing, “What it means is that 2.1 [The Engineers] is pushed out by around 6 weeks. This is to push the quality up, which is a good thing for the game. It’s ready when it’s ready. It does mean you’ll have to wait a bit longer, but it will be worth the wait." In a separate post he pointed out that while no major updates are planned ahead of the Engineers expansion, “there will still be minor updates. These are not going to stop.”
We spoke recently with Braben about the new, standalone PvP combat game Elite Dangerous: Arena and the future of Elite Dangerous, including a bit about what we can expect from The Engineers when it goes live. Here you go.