Elite: Dangerous pilots discover a strange alien crash site

The May 2015 discovery of alien artifacts in Elite: Dangerous led many players to believe that the aggressive alien Thargoid race would soon be added to the game. That didn't happen, but the mystery did deepen considerably this past June when unknown, EMP-discharging probes were found to be hiding what appeared to be a map within a burst of strange, alien audio. Today, as described by the Elite: Dangerous Reddit, an even bigger discovery was made.

The post, by HuttonOrbital, breaks down how the crashed alien ship was found in fairly granular detail, but the short version is that Frontier Developments kicked off an in-game “treasure hunt” with various clues embedded in its Gamescom livestream. That led players to space stations containing further clues in local news reports, and from there to three commanders—a trader, a bounty hunter, and an explorer—each offering a riddle and, when solved, a clue. 

Those clues led to a moon in a star system, a search of which ultimately turned up the wreckage. There's still a question about what it actually is, whether it's a Thargoid vessel or something else entirely, but that mystery will have to wait. Elite: Dangerous executive producer Michael Brookes confirmed in the Frontier forums that the ship “is the objective of the hunt,” and that nothing new will be added until the 2.2 "Guardians" update that's set to arrive in October. That's maybe a tad disappointing, but on the whole the players involved in the hunt don't seem to mind. There's too much elation, and speculation about what will come next.

The willingness of Elite: Dangerous players to pursue this mystery for so long provides an interesting counterpoint to Overwatch players who are already growing tired of Blizzard's Sombra ARG. There's no doubt that some space jockeys threw their hands up in frustration ages ago, and plenty of Overwatch sleuths are still on the Sombra case, but it's hard not to see these drawn-out teases headed in two very different directions. 

Are the studios doing things that much differently, or is there perhaps just a difference between fans of online shooters and those who prefer the solitary confines of space that makes one group more suited for such things? That's not a criticism of either, but we're all drawn to different games for different reasons, and so it only stands to reason that we'd enjoy—or not—these patience-testing teases, too. 

Numerous images of the crashed ship have been posted on the Frontier forums and Reddit, some of them quite breathtaking, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun dug up a video of the site that's embedded below—the good bit starts around the 2:00 mark.

Andy Chalk

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.