September 25, 2023


Unlimited Technology

Elite Dangerous abandons console development: No DLC, no “content” updates

If you'd like to explore these wilds on foot in <em>Elite Dangerous</em>'s 2021 <em>Odyssey</em> DLC, that's no longer an option on console. And for existing non-DLC players, the news gets worse.
Enlarge / If you’d like to explore these wilds on foot in Elite Dangerous‘s 2021 Odyssey DLC, that’s no longer an option on console. And for existing non-DLC players, the news gets worse.

Frontier Developments

On Thursday, console players of the seven-year-old space sim adventure Elite Dangerous were dealt a massive blow. Instead of getting word that the series’ 2021 Odyssey DLC expansion would finally arrive on console, they were instead told that the game’s versions on Xbox and PlayStation would no longer receive any substantial gameplay updates, DLC or otherwise.

Frontier Developments director David Braben broke the news by saying that the game has had two completely different codebases in operation for some time: one for PC, which supports Odyssey, and one for consoles. This week, Frontier made the decision to “focus on a single codebase” so the studio can “move forward with the story of the game.”

As a result, existing Xbox and PlayStation owners of the game will only receive “critical updates” from here on out, while all “new content” will land exclusively on PC.

In an early 2021 announcement, Braben told series fans that work on Odyssey‘s console version was ongoing, albeit delayed by issues stemming from the pandemic. Even so, he set expectations for an eventual console release (at the time, “fall 2021”) by describing “a focus on making Odyssey as incredible as it can possibly be for all our Commanders, regardless of their platform.”

“No” to current-gen, “maybe” to cross-save

Shortly after this week’s announcement, Frontier staffers took to the game’s forums to answer fan questions. That’s where they confirmed that there are no plans to make a version of Elite Dangerous, with or without DLC, tuned for more powerful current-gen consoles like the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X/S.

In slightly better news, Frontier is “exploring” ways for existing console players to transfer their interstellar progress from consoles to PC, but the studio hasn’t indicated how that might work. Currently, console players must log in to a Frontier-specific account to play on either the Xbox or PlayStation, which suggests that the studio might be able to neatly extract console players’ save data. But those Frontier-specific logins do not currently support cross-platform play of any kind, and they don’t even offer the nifty backup features of cross-save play (meaning that you can’t land on Jameson Memorial Station on Xbox, stop the session, and pick up on the same station on PC).

The fork in Elite Dangerous‘ codebase formally began with the May 2021 launch of Odyssey, a standalone expansion that asks the game’s players—who typically launch into space, sit in extravagant cockpits, and explore the galaxy as cargo-shuttling, weapon-firing pirates—to get out of their spaceships and walk around. The DLC’s shift to an on-foot, first-person shooter, which does not formally support VR in the same way as its forebear, has so far failed to charm Elite Dangerous’ core playerbase, as a series of passionately written, brutally detailed reviews on Steam make clear.

Many fans may not feel an impact in the short term, so long as they’re happy tooling around space with their console friends list and focusing on the massive core Elite Dangerous experience, which has been beefed up by Horizons-themed expansion content over the years. But for those who liked the idea of an Elite-themed FPS on console (or those who fear that they’ll miss out on the game’s next major non-FPS content update), today’s news is a bummer.

Source News