Elite: Dangerous free update adds new ships, weapons and space mysteries today

The free Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter Three update was outlined at a community gathering at Gamescom 2018 last week. It's out today, and it adds new weapons, new ships, new mission types, new story details, and new high-level engineers.

Executive producer Adam Woods showed off some of the new features to excited players, including a new Alliance ship called the Crusader, and three hybrid fighters enhanced with Guardian tech. Woods says that "The Crusader matches the Chieftan and the Challenger in combat ability and manoeuvrability, however this has a ship-launch fighter bay."

The three new fighters are the Trident XD7, armed with plasma repeater weapons; the Javelin XG8, armed with a shard cannon; and the Lance XG9, armed with the gauss cannon.

The Elite: Dangerous armoury will also be expanded with new guns and missiles.

General outfitting: Large dumbfire missile, large seeking missile, large torpedo launcher, and the turreted version of the large multi cannon.

Human tech broker: Small shock cannon, available for turret, gimble, and fixed mounts.

Guardian tech broker: Small plasma launcher (turret and fixed mounts), small shard cannon (turret and fixed), and a small gauss cannon (fixed).

In addition players will be able to research new technology with the help of high-level engineers at the evolving fringe settlements of Colonia. "That's a place that's very special to lots of people," says Woods. "I know you guys have done a lot of really interesting things out there, and we've tried to support you where we can."

Woods explains how you need to win approval with the engineers before you can access their best tech. "You'll have to work with some of the current engineers to get out there, and when you do there's a real community feel.

"The more you work together through a recipe, they will upgrade their grades all the way through. Get together, craft with them, and you'll get the high grades of the weapons and the modules that they have."

It wouldn't be Elite: Dangerous without some mysterious alien shenanigans, so there will be new Guardian sites to investigate. If you enjoy teaming up for Wing missions the update also adds a couple of new planetary mission types.

The update is free, and will go live at some point today. Meanwhile, enjoy these shots of the new ships. The claw-shaped fighter is especially sweet.