It’s been two-and-a-half years since Frontier Developments first announced it was working on the mysterious “next era” of Elite Dangerous – one which would, it promised, deliver a “defining moment” in the history of the game. That, we’d eventually learn, meant the advent of perhaps one of the most requested features in the seminal space sim series’ near-four-decade-long existence – the ability for players to leave their ships and stomp across the galaxy in first-person – and today marks the day this once-enigmatic new expansion, now officially titled Odyssey, finally appears.
But how did the journey toward Odyssey’s PC release begin? As Piers Jackson, game director on Elite Dangerous, explains, “You probably need to wind all the way back somewhere into the ’80s and really look at [original co-creator David Braben’s] vision for this. I think it’s always been the case that, at some point, he wanted to get out of ships and walk on planets. So this is a long burn, shall we say, to get to that point.”
It’s a dream that countless Elite Dangerous players have shared over the years, and it’s hard to overstate the thrill of finally, after four decades of cockpit confinement, being able to plant your feet on solid ground. “The thing that really took my breath away,” recalls lead designer Gareth Hughes of his first time outside his vessel in Odyssey, “was just the sense of scale when you get out on foot. You got a little bit of that sensation when the SRV gameplay was added with Horizons but being able to see the scale of the ships, the scale of the settlements that we’ve made in Odyssey, the pre-existing settlements and ports, it’s amazing just to look around and soak up exactly how big all this stuff is.”
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