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I was almost murdered by a moon in Elite Dangerous last night

Elite Dangerous Big World
(Image credit: Frontier Developments)

Things take their sweet time in space. Planets drift lazily around their stars with orbits that last months, or years, and even moons take their sweet time completing their rotations. Look up at the moon, and you'd struggle to notice it inching its way across the sky.

Anyway, here's the view from New Africa's terrifying 900km/h moon, Mitterand Hollow, a hunk of rock that almost killed me in Elite Dangerous last night.

I spotted the nippy little moon while making my way through that Elite sightseeing guide Andy K spotted earlier this week. Now, I can't stress enough that these gifs aren't timelapses—Mitterand Hollow really does move this fast, an Outer Wilds planet transplanted into Elite Dangerous' more methodical galaxy.

Landing on it requires a bit of Outer Wilds daring, too. Normally, landing on a planet in Elite means slowly aligning your trajectory and keeping a steady speed as you approach a relatively static target. But as you can see, I'm having a hell of a time keeping up with the damn thing.

Instead, I'm basically forced to play chicken. Now, I'm used to being killed by rockets, or lasers, or a bad landing, but I've never expected to be smashed apart by an entire moon. Even so, I park myself in its path, and wait. It briefly hits my blind spot, and I slowly accelerate, hoping to meet its velocity in orbit. 

The UI shakes violently. My poor Diamondback lurches. I fear for the worst. But when I open my eyes, I'm alive, and my ship is now caught in the small moon's gravity well. I can make my descent.

Of course, I was never in any real danger. Elite Dangerous isn't really equipped to kill you with entire planets, and so instead catches your ship inside the gravity well of any planet that comes your way. That also means that, should you leave your main ship in the path of Mitterand while nipping off in a fighter, you risk the moon snatching your ship from under your nose—as one poor pilot found out.

The fun doesn't stop once you've achieved sub-orbital flight, mind. See, while eclipses only come every few decades for us here on Earth, New Africa blots out the sun at a cracking pace. Every two minutes, the lights go out.

Once you've gotten past the horror of trying to land on the thing, though, the view is spectacular. The sun goes out, and the stars are replaced (if only briefly) by the man-made specks of light on New Africa's surface. It's dizzying, a stunning reminder that Elite's galaxy is alive and in motion, even if that motion is often imperceptibly slow.

While some of the destinations on my sightseeing trip have been stunning (abandoned generation ships, sprawling facilities built on the edge of pulsars), others have been a total bust. But I'll never forget the nightmare of trying to land Mitterand Hollow. 

In fact, I plan to come back when Odyssey lets me plant my feet on its cursed, high-velocity soil.

A one-time dog sledder, pancake flipper, alien wrangler and indie darling, Nat now scours the internet looking for the hottest PC gaming news. Destined to become Scotland's first Battlemech pilot.