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Elite: Dangerous beta 2 goes live at the end of the month, original Elite is free right now

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Frontier Games has announced that the second beta version of Elite: Dangerous will be out on September 30, bringing with it a host of new additions and enhancements. And if you're unclear as to why that's good news, you might want to have a look at the new "Interstellar Bounty Hunter" combat video that's been making the rounds on YouTube.

The second Elite: Dangerous beta is a "major gameplay upgrade," adding new combat ratings from "Harmless" to "Elite," a system-by-system and galaxy-wide reputation system that will influence attitudes and prices, 500 new star systems to explore, a greater variety of upgradeable ship modules, new weapons, outposts, and a whole bunch more. A number of smaller improvements and optimizations have also been made, including "additional rock, ice and metal planetary ring types, a lot more music and some optional 'simulator' tutorials."

"We are excited for people to start playing Beta 2 on 30 September," Frontier Developments CEO David Braben said in a statement. "It's another major step forward in development, and the team continues to work hard towards the full release later this year."

While you wait, you can try your hand at the original Elite, which is currently being offered free as part of the game's 30th anniversary celebration. A 30-year-old game may not offer the most compelling entertainment experience ever, but free is free, as they say. If you're in the mood for something a bit more eyeball-spinning, this video should fit the bill: It's 12 minutes of a bounty hunter plying his trade in a lawless region of space, and it is spectacular.

Elite: Dangerous is scheduled to come out in early 2015, but access to the beta is available now for $75 at the Elite Dangerous store .

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.