Between listless combat, lifeless NPCs and a tedious transit system, we've been a little down on the Elite Dangerous: Odyssey alpha so far. But while phase 2 arrives with a heavy focus on first-person shooting, I'm optimistic that opening up more of the galaxy will finally give the land-loving expansion room to breathe.
Phase 2 of the Odyssey Alpha introduces Conflict Zones, 12v12 deathmatches occurring wherever two factions are butting heads. Teams are composed of both players and NPCs—and while you can drive your own ship to the fight, signing up for a fight at a station will let you ride a dropship in with the rest of your team.
It's a more structured way to engage with Odyssey's ground combat—a feature that has so far felt extremely flimsy, and not just because of the scattershot mission design. But team deathmatch isn't what I come to Elite: Dangerous for. Fortunately, Phase 2 also comes with an expansion of Odyssey's galaxy (opening up a 20 light-year bubble) and finally lets us get back behind the wheel of our own ships.
Apex Interstellar has its charms, sure. But the taxi service being the only way to traverse Odyssey so far was a chore. Now, every player will be gifted a Cobra MKII to nip around on—toppling Apex's monopoly on travel and, more importantly, letting you land anywhere on any landable planetary body, regardless of whether it has landing pads. Testers will also be given 300,000 credits to get started, and a new starting system has been picked to provide an immediate change of scenery.
Future phases of the Odyssey Alpha will open up the galaxy further, and eventually let you take a copy of your current commander into the pre-release test server. Odyssey is set to launch properly later this spring. Hopefully, it'll have found a more satisfying place within the Elite Dangerous ecosystem by then.