Three days into the Elite Dangerous: Odyssey Alpha, and the mood around the space sim's next update is a little sour. Now, Frontier has addressed two major issues with the early test—though it perhaps fails to address some of Odyssey's more fundamental problems.
Writing in an initial feedback post on Steam last night, Frontier addresses blowback to the game's budget taxi service, Apex Interstellar. The studio is aware that having Apex as the only traversal option exacerbates issues, along with the sheer scale of the massive solar system used for testing. But the root of the problem, in that it sucks to spend most of your time twiddling your thumbs as someone else flies around space, is something Frontier is looking to solve.
"There’s no doubt that the time spent during these trips is less engaging than Odyssey’s other features, given the currently limited options for interaction during the journey," Frontier explains.
Short term, the studio hopes to move the Alpha start point to a more central location and make it clear when a mission will send you on an extremely long trip. But it also sounds like Frontier want to improve the interactivity of the flights themselves, mentioning an "increased number of loadout and cosmetic customisation" to use during the flight.
I have some ideas of my own, of course. They mostly involve cramming the shuttle full of obnoxious tourists. But don't expect taxis to simply get faster—the developer is (rightly) very clear that turning the system into a glorified fast-travel would be a massively destructive move.
Frontier also responds to criticism that on-foot combat is incredibly punishing right now. While I hadn't noticed it, PVP combat is apparently rife with criminals blasting pilots with little penalty—with stronger punishments supposedly in store for these murderers. What I have seen, however, is that even Threat 0 missions feature absolutely brutal NPCs, and Frontier plans to "reassess" how mission difficulty is communicated up-front.
It's reassuring to see issues addressed so quickly into the Alpha's lifespan. But Frontier's response doesn't hit at some of the more underlying problems affecting Odyssey. Stations are still lifeless spaces full of dead-eyed Pixar characters, and the current loop of taking long flights to undercooked missions is simply a miserable way to play.
Hopefully, these problems are alleviated when the Odyssey alpha opens up, and these features are given greater context within Elite's wider galaxy.