Elite: Dangerous to reintroduce space destruction derbies following outcry


Space can be lonely. Boring, even. So it makes sense that while cruising from one planet to the next, you'll feel the need to destroy things on the way. Perfectly human instinct, that is, but one that was recently made punishable in Elite: Dangerous.

A recent update to the game increased the severity of no fire zones. Previously, shooting other players in these neutral zones would incur fines. But where there's a will to be destructive there's a way, and players soon cottoned on that you could ram other players instead, without alerting the intergalactic cops.

Frontier Developments noticed, and implemented a punishment system for collisions in no fire zones. While a well meaning change, it also put an end to space destruction derbies – a fun, player-created phenomenon not anticipated by the devs. These emergent mini-games are arguably the marker of any successful sandbox game, and feeling peeved, players resorted to the best form of protest available to them: goat memes.

The result was this: an endless stream of goat pictures under the Twitter hashtag #EDProtestGoat . The Elite forums were swamped with them too, prompting lead designer Sandro Sammarco to respond to the goat controversy.

"I'll need to check with some clever coder folk on this, but I'm hopeful that we can have this crime not squawked with "don't report crimes against me"," Sammarco wrote. "As long as all participants use this functionality then they would be safe to race near each other - though hitting spectators would still trigger the crime."

So there you have it, online outrage wins again, but this time for good! It's worth reading through Sammarco's full notes on the forum if you play Elite and are heavily invested in the whole controversy.

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.