Elite: Dangerous is an ambitious game, and on the whole is very well done. Though I would say it has been and continues to be plagued with a number of unfortunate gameplay killing problems, I expect that most of them will be taken care of post-haste.
Games generally have two major problems, both are the game designer/programmer/producers fault:
The first kind of problem is the buggy client or server, but this is a fault which we can’t really hold against them, because it’s not like there is some cadre of developers twisting their mustaches and laughing about how often the client or server goes down or disconnects. It’s irritating, but generally the pleasure gained playing the game while it’s working can offset this problem. There is also the issue of being an early adopter of a game, the sooner you get in, the more money/power/respect you’ll build up in the game so coping with the growing pains of the client and server as well as the game has its benefits.
The other problem a game can have is shitty gameplay, which is a rather broad category which spans from irritating mechanics all the way up to “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” While Elite:Dangerous seems to have minimized any serious fun killers, there are a few mechanics which just piss you off to no end.
When you couple these issues with the fact that if rand(10) < 5, the server randomly disconnects, or crashes, especially while in SuperCruise, HyperDrive, or when flying too close to a planet, the one thing that is most irritating about Elite:Dangerous is the time it takes to do things. I am not talking about travel time, that’s already bad enough, I am talking about getting shit done, and it seems to take for fucking ever. The game has a loading screen, and each station has a loading screen. What the fuck is it loading?
I hope it’s not actually downloading data when it shows that loading screan, because that would be really stupid design, I haven’t done anything yet, don’t load anything unecessary, and it would probably be better just to show the station menu so I can refuel/reload, because you have to fucking do that constantly.
I get that reloading/refueling is something you have to do on a regular basis to make it seem more real, but actually it just cuts into the fun, especially when bounty hunting, the fact you have to stop every hour when you are on a roll at a good spawn to pick up more ammo really starts to get on your tits, especially with the Supercruise -> Crash -> Could not connect to matchmaking server x 5 cycle. Once you manage to reconnect, and approach a station, get ready for some kind of weird time dialation, because the minute you approach a large body(planet, star, space junk) Gravity(TM) kicks in, slows your ship down to be slightly faster than a retarded spastic turtle, and then taunts you with a ETA timer that’s off by a factor of 20. All in all, in the best case scenario refueling and rearming takes up to 15 minutes seriously cutting into my playing time. Once you get to the station, you have to land, that’s fine, and the mechanics for that are smooth and even engaging, once you land you have to sit and wait through an unnecessary hangar entrance animation, then when you load the starport services menu, what’s that, a bird, a plane? No, it’s another fucking Loading Menu. Good god, after a couple of hours of this shit you really want to gouge your own eyes out with a rusted spoon.
I want to officially change the name of the game to Elite:Dangerou – Mostly Loading.
Bounty Hunter – AKA Police Stooge
Bounty Hunting in ANY game, ever, has always been a farce of a mechanic, it’s usually just there for the people who can’t be arsed to grind Trade, or Mining, or Exploration. Bounty Hunting in Elite:Dangerous is a grind, with a lather rinse repeat formula. You, and whoever else is there all attack one ship at a time, and you all get unfathomably large bounties. The fact that everyone gets a bounty is cool from the player perspective, but it hurts any argument to realism.
I like the Bounty Hunting mechanic in Elite:Dangerous because when you have a weaker ship, you just go in, take a few pot shots at a wanted ship and then fly around in circles while everyone else kills it, yay, Bounty Mooching is AWESOME! Well, it got me into a viper in 1 day. I quite like the Viper as it sounds a bit like muscle car.
The one major downside of Bounty Hunting in Elite:Dangerous is how quickly and easily you get a small bounty on yourself with some moron glides into your line of fire, at which point, no matter how wickedly evil the current target is, the system authorities begin attacking you, even for a measley 600cr. And I didn’t even destroy his fucking ship.
On top of having to refuel, and reload, you have to fly to a different faction station to pay off your 600cr bounty or they will destroy your 1,000,000cr ship. This leads to serious questions about crime and punishment in the game, because apparently accidentally assaulting another ship, not even destroying it, is just as bad as murdering a school bus full of children. Whatever you do, don’t walk on the grass!
Missions and Quests
Don’t expect anything innovative here, it’s still go here shoot this, or go here deliver this, or go there get this and deliver here. It’s the same old theme and variation that you expect in an MMO, or any game perhaps.
Only the Lonely
Of course, me being the social butterfly that I am, I eschewed solo play and went right for Open Play. But Open Play seems like Solo Play because I haven’t met anyone, or talked to anyone else in the game in a week, or ever actually. I am pretty sure there must be some people there, but they aren’t very social and don’t want to chat.
To many people point out the good things in a game and none of the bad things. I on the other hand start from thinking a game is shit, so that when it isn’t, I will be pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Elite:Dangerous has on many occasions surprised me. You can actually make decent money exploring, so it seems a valid profession, one I would love to pursue, except I am generally afraid of spooling up my Hyperdrive due to the crash frequency. Once that’s fixed up, I do plan to head out to the farthest reaches of space and do a bit of exploring. Never the less, there is a monotonous component to this as well, it’s a grind, it’s always a grind with only games.
Elite:Dangerous is my brand of shitty online game, because it’s also kind of nerdy. Since it’s early yet, there are plenty of opportunities for expansion, so if you want to get in now and start grinding in the hopes that they don’t nerf the fuck out of it, by all means, it’s worth the 39 quid you pay. Fuck, at least it’s better than EVE Online, so I really want to support Frontier so we can give a big “Fuck you” to CCP.