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Elite: Dangerous - Horizons 2.2 update, "The Guardians," is now live

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The Elite: Dangerous - Horizons 2.2 update, also known as The Guardians, and the 1.7 update to the base game are both set to go live today, and in fact should be patched in by the time you read this. I say "should be" because it's a long process: The servers were taken offline at 10 am BST/5 am EDT today, but Frontier Developments community manager Zac Antonaci warned that the upgrade process could take in excess of eight hours to complete. 

The big hook in the Guardians update is the addition of Fighters, which can now be launched from ships equipped to carry them. Fighters can be flown by NPC pilots, or you can grab your stick and give it a yank yourself if you're more of the hands-on sort. For my money, though, it's the new "Surface Features" that are really intriguing: That includes geological features like geysers and fumeroles, but also "biological entities" and "mysterious things," which are no doubt related at least in part to the alien crash site that was discovered back in the summer.

New content in the 1.7 update, for those who haven't sprung for the Horizons season pass, includes passenger modules of various sizes and quantities, and of course the passengers themselves, who range from tourists and business flyers to minor celebrities, political prisoners, criminals, and heads of state. There's also a slew of bug and stability fixes, tweaks, changes, and new content.   

It's a big update by any measure, so I won't be posting the full patch notes here, but you can dig into them on the Elite: Dangerous forums if you want the full breakdown. Frontier boss David Braben also took part in an AMA on Reddit a few hours before the update went live, which you may find informative, and if you've got a couple of hours to kill, you can catch the recorded "Release Celebration" stream below. 

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.