PC Gamer can reveal the new feature at the centre of Elite: Dangerous's first major content update. Called 'Community Goals,' these collaborative missions will be introduced in the 1.1 patch—due for release in early February. I talked to Elite's executive producer Michael Brookes about what this new addition entails.
"Community Goals are a new type of story-driven collaborative event," Brookes says. "Already players are working together to influence the power struggles in our galaxy, but Community Goals are a shared objective we can generate to allow vast numbers of players to collaborate towards the same goal."
Brookes uses the example of a system dealing with a sudden famine. "A Community Goal will be created to supply the food within a set time limit, and if the players achieve the goal then they’ll save the population. And whether they succeed or fail will have ramifications for the balance of power in the galaxy."
The first Community Goals will be based around supply and bounties. "For example," Brookes says, "a faction might task our pilots with racking up a number of kills in a particular system, effectively sending massive numbers of players to war for or against particular group." He explains that these massive player migrations will have a knock-on effect on galaxy-wide economy and power structures.
Players can contribute towards the goal whatever mode they're playing. While Open Play will see greater numbers of players diverge on the targeted system, Solo Mode and Private Group players will still be able to contribute to the overall total.
Brookes also teases some of patch 1.1's other features. "Alongside a number of tweaks and bug fixes we’re adding a shiny new gas giant shader," he says. "Gas giants now use a parallax shader which improves the feeling of depth within the layers of gas. You can see giant canyons in the gases of Jupiter and high level white clouds floating over Neptune.
"We also have city lights on the dark side of planets, which is something the community and the development team has been looking forward to for some time!"
Patch 1.1 will move to closed beta testing at the beginning of February, and should be released the following week. This is just the first of many major updates for Elite: Dangerous. "We’ve dedicated a big team to a series of updates throughout the year," Brookes says, "and we’ll be adding a number of new features along the way. We’re players too, and we always want more from the game."