Premium Beta (PB), version 2.02, is a very significant step forward. The most important developments, however, are what it does not include!
Yes, the new Orbis starport has been widely acclaimed for its splendiferousness, but PB2 did not add much new content or many new features. However, if you have just jumped into the Premium Beta you will find Elite: Dangerous already feels like a playable game. This is simply because Frontier have fixed most of the ‘game-breaking’ bugs, (which I highlighted in a previous post, giving my first impressions of the Premium Beta). The new incremental upgrading also means we are able to install new versions in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes.
- No more hanging on exiting supercruise! Yup, after more than 100 arrivals at space stations, beacons and other locations, I have experienced not one single problem, and have always exited supercruise within a few seconds.
- No more infinitely spinning Sidewinder! The game seems to always make a multi-player connection, without problems.
- Far fewer crashes to desktop (CTDs). I have had one or two, but nothing like the reliably high frequency of the first Premium Beta build.
- Far better frame rates in stations, due to better graphical optimizations, means less jittery movements of ships and the environment. Unfortunately, this, and ‘rubber banding’, remains an issue in asteroid belts for many, if not most, players/testers.
- I have not heard of anyone experiencing the ‘random reset bug’, whereby all progress (credits, ship, fitted weapons and modules), is suddenly and unexpectedly lost.
I was fully prepared to live with the frustrations of PB1 for a good while, and very pleasantly surprised when Frontier solved most of the serious bugs, almost at a stroke, with the swift and painless releases of the two incremental upgrades to PB2. Superb!
Attention to detail:
- Space is darker. Good… it should be!
- Gimballed weapons are no longer 100% accurate. This better balances the advantage of not having to fly as well to use gimballed weapons, and rewards more skilful flying with fixed weapons.
- Many more settings are ‘remembered’ throughout the game, rather than resetting on entering/exiting supercruise or hyperdrive. This includes power distribution, fire-group selection, power priority settings, and head-look mode. This is a much appreciated improvement to game-play.
- The HUD and UI have some nice, but subtle, improvements too. These are best seen in the videos (below), but I would like to mention some of my favorites: Addition of simple landing gear and cargo scoop indicators; Replacement of, oh so annoying, vocal confirmation of flight-assist toggle with a tasteful bleep and visual cue; Improved layout of supercruise panel.
- Deploying landing gear slows the ship. More accurately, it reduces engine power, which both limits maximum velocity and gives a finer degree of control of the throttle. At first, this felt wrong, as it occurs in space as well as in the tenuous atmosphere of space stations, so it cannot relate to ‘drag’. I have grown to like its utility, however, and now see it as a wise safety feature controlling the ship’s engines, (and, therefore, unrelated to atmospheric drag).
- Various tweaks to the sounds and visuals have generally lead to a clearer, smoother, and less cluttered game-play experience.
There are many other small improvements, and most are not things you can see in a video, nor do they jump out at you, announcing their novelty. I am extremely happy to say that, once again, Frontier have focused on getting the fundamentals of this space-sim right.
I did promise a video of PB2. Due to overdosing on the World Cup, however, I have completely failed in my aim, and, let’s face it, others are far better than me at making great videos of Elite: Dangerous. I hope to add a short video showing the changes to gimballed weapons, but in the meantime I will hand you over to the capable hands of Brumster100, Zeewolf, and Scott Manley:
Videos of Premium Beta 2:
Brumster100: “Elite Dangerous: Premium Beta 2” Another informative and detailed video from Brumster100, and the best place to start your viewing of the Premium Beta 2. Unfortunately, Brumster didn’t get the memo about the latest reset, and therefore didn’t have enough credits to test the new Hauler out; (see Zeewolf’s video, below, for a glimpse of the Hauler). Brumster also briefly describes his Eyefinity setup, at the end of this video.
ZeeWolf: “Premium Beta 2.0: Hauling the stars” A video without commentary, which showcases the new Hauler nicely. The Hauler is a relatively cheap ship with a cargo capacity of 16 units, that neatly fills the gap in cargo capacity between the Sidewinder and Eagle (4 cargo units), and the Cobra (36 cargo units). The Hauler has only one weapon mount, however, so you won’t want to be taking on very much in a combat situation… ZeeWolf, of course, does exactly that, as soon as he possible can!
It feels like Frontier have the fundamentals sorted. The mechanics of flight and combat are working well, though undoubtedly will undergo more tweaking over time. Most significantly, the ‘game’ is now playable, with the most frustrating bugs resolved.
The next big step forward will come with the release of the Standard Beta, on July 29. Much new content is promised, and rumors abound of what this will entail. As soon as I have hard facts on these developments, I will let you know!
It’s nice to see the favorable response to Elite: Dangerous PB2, over at the Roberts Space Industries Forums, further undermining the narrow view that Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen are somehow in competition, when clearly they are both games that will largely appeal to the same audience. For more details on Star Citizen and other upcoming space-sims, check out my 6 parallel universes post.