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    Elite: Dangerous, adds even more wonders to this phenomenal world

    With such vast scope for exploration it's weird that, up until now, Frontier Developments’ Elite: Dangerous hasn't been so accommodating towards budding travellers. Sure, the space itself is there, and this is arguably one of the most ambitious and rich games ever made, but its mechanics haven’t rewarded you for risking your neck in an anarchic uncharted system. Yet…

    With the release of the second beta, Frontier has added several major improvements and a laundry list of small tweaks about a light year long. This includes exploration mechanics, offering rewards for players who want to find new systems to scan them for valuable data, which can then be sold for a tidy sum depending on the information you’ve gathered. It’s a wonderful invitation to venture into the unknown, bolstered by a gorgeous new map that makes navigating the 500 star systems now in the game much more engaging.

    There are also new stations, including orbital posts, with docking pads on their exterior. New ships, weapons and upgrades also feature, and the game’s extensive UI has received overhauls too. There’s even hours of new music to keep you company on your jaunts into the unknown. The fact that the in game economy has been completely revamped makes for a much more gratifying trading experience, and the UI only serves to get you up and running with varied mission types as quickly as possible. Even though everything in the game now costs more, the fact that you earn much more per trade or bounty hunt makes it feel like you’re progressing at a more satisfying pace, despite the higher price tag on the goodies.

    Trading standards
    It feels more well rounded and refined. It’s no longer just a case of either ‘go out and kill this many dudes’ or ‘ferry fish between one station and another’ which the original beta often felt limited to. Now it’s very much more about a list of fun and engaging things you could be doing, so pick and choose between them and you’ll be rewarded for each. The structure is always offering distractions that are easy enough to get involved in but challenging enough to still offer a harsh but fair learning curve.

    The addition of a ranking system also adds context to your actions, and gives a visual representation of your place in this incredible world. Release is still a month or so off in the distance, but Elite: Dangerous is already remarkably great and getting better with every hyper jump it makes.

    1) The system map now offers information on each system, including star categories, types of asteroid fields and the habitational information of planets. This one is an ‘Earth-like’ gem.

    2) If this was an unknown world you’d have the option to scan it for data on its habitat and resources. This can then be sold to the highest bidder, providing you get there first.

    3) The ship UI has received various overhauls, and everything now pops with even more sheen. The same goes for station interfaces, which are much more intuitive to use.

    4) Beta 2 expands the playable space from around 50 systems to just over 500. The Milky Way spreads out beyond you, containing over 400 billion stars the amount featured in the final game.

    5) Frontier big-cheese David Braben has said he wants player interaction to be rare. Comms with real players won’t happen that often.

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