Elite Dangerous has been out for quite a long time now. It even received a massive expansion in the form of Elite Dangerous: Horizons. So why does Elite Dangerous: Odyssey exist and is it worth playing as a newcomer or as an Elite Dangerous veteran?
To answer that question, we need to talk a little bit about what Elite Dangerous actually is. Elite Dangerous is a massive, multiplayer space flight game with an entire in-game galaxy to explore. Elite Dangerous: Horizons added even more content to the already solid base game by allowing players to land on some planets and explore their surfaces with a reconnaissance vehicle. The base game and the expansion allowed for players to do numerous different things such as exploring, combat, mining or trading.
Some players however wanted even more freedom to do things. They wanted “Space Legs” or the ability to walk around space stations and bases and ultimately planets themselves too.
Enter Elite Dangerous: Odyssey. The problem with this however lies with the fact that Odyssey is currently a buggy, broken mess and severely lacking content which would otherwise make it worth purchasing.
Upon acquiring Elite Dangerous: Odyssey in fact, I couldn’t even launch it without searching the internet first to find a way to enable it to show up in the game’s launcher. Once this was finally solved by some quick discussion forum troubleshooting, I launched Odyssey and was immediately thrust into a tutorial mission of sorts. For those who haven’t played the original Elite Dangerous and Elite Dangerous: Horizons, having an actual tutorial available that guides you through the basics is highly appreciated. This base game is incredibly complex and will take you hours to learn how to play.
Players in Elite Dangerous: Odyssey will take on the role of a nameless soldier on a mission to an abandoned outpost in search of some data. Within the first few minutes you’ll be taught how to move around, shoot, open doors and use some tools to interact with the environment. It’s all fairly basic standard first person shooter material to be quite honest. Your suit also happens to have an energy meter which you need to keep an eye on and you’ll be able to launch yourself with a powerful jump thanks to the low gravity environment.
Players will soon cut open some panels, recharge some doors and hack the data terminal for the information they came for. Suddenly the outpost gets attacked and things escalate quite quickly. This is where the first person shooter combat kicks in and sadly, Elite Dangerous: Odyssey’s shooting could use a lot of work. It just feels so stock standard and rather, barebones. Especially if you’ve played faster paced first person shooters that exist on the market. Players will have to shoot through enemy shields first before swapping over to a kinetic weapon to deal physical damage to their enemies. You can also throw grenades and enable a shield to protect yourself. It’s really fairly simple compared to flying a ship and engaging in ship to ship combat.
Once you’re done with the tutorial missions, you’ll board a ship and will have to sit through a short travel session while you are taken to a planetary base in a far away system. Bafflingly, you cannot get up from your seat and walk around the ship. Upon arriving at the planetary base, you can then take a space taxi somewhere else, buy your first ship or launch your own Elite Dangerous campaign save and continue playing. For newcomers, this tutorial mission is a simple way to introduce them to Elite Dangerous but leaves out key gameplay material in that it doesn’t teach you the real intricacies of flying a ship or the rest of the complex game systems and mechanics associated with doing that.
I opted to launch my own save and wandered around Ohm City in LHS 20. Getting out of your ship is easy since you simply disembark and end up in the docking bay. From here you can take an elevator up to a hub of sorts where you can obtain more missions or buy items. Walking around and soaking up the atmosphere of the new environment was fun but there just wasn’t enough to explore. The hub area is rather small and despite the station obviously being insanely massive, there weren’t many things to do or see at all.
Players will be able to buy new equipment such as new weapons and a new spacesuit and will also be able to take on missions from specific citizens they encounter in the hub area. These missions however are all fairly straightforward and generic in what they entail. This being combat missions or smuggling missions interspersed with some planetary biology scanning missions.
Therein lies the core problem of Elite Dangerous: Odyssey. You will dock at a station, disembark, pick up a new mission from someone, fly out to a location, land, disembark, fight your way through some clunky enemy forces with remarkably bad aiming, complete your objective if you’re lucky and return back to hand it in and score some credits or upgrades. It’s a very similar grind to what was in Elite Dangerous: Horizons with regards to getting new technology for your ship however this time it’s with ground based gear upgrades or credits. Disappointing to say the least.
Also, if you die, you’ll have to pay a fine and respawn elsewhere in the game world which tends to be literal light years away from where you were last seen. Thus further infuriating you as the player since you’ll then either have to pay for a space taxi to take you back to where you were, or fly out there yourself, wasting real world time jumping between systems just to try the mission again. The credit rewards for the missions are also incredibly lacklustre given the amount of time they take. You could make literal millions in a few minutes doing trading or fighting off wanted foes with your ship, so the rewards for the on-foot missions need to be severely ramped up.
Elite Dangerous: Odyssey also has a lot of performance issues. There were constant frame drops throughout playing and the game has a lot of textures and other in-game assets that take forever to load on planets. It’s ridiculously bad to the point where I cannot recommend anyone play Odyssey if they want to explore planetary surfaces. They’d be better off just launching Elite Dangerous: Horizons and exploring with a Scarab instead. The planetary bases themselves are fine but a lot more variation is definitely required to keep things from becoming stale fast.
The existing playerbase will most likely stick to the actual space missions while the ground-based on-foot missions and content are improved. Newcomers will have to spend a significant amount of time getting up to speed with the game’s mechanics and as such, are advised to play with a friend so that they don’t get lost or confused too much.
At this point in time, Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is severely lacking in content that its competitors have done a better job with. If you want to actually walk around on a planet surface, explore a lot, discover some alien biology and then take to the stars, rather play something similar like No Man’s Sky. That game will surely keep you far more entertained than the repetitive grindy, performance plagued Elite Dangerous: Odyssey will right now.
If you still want to play Elite Dangerous: Odyssey do bear in mind that this DLC needs a lot of work to make it a success. It’s ultimately Elite Dangerous: Horizons with added on-foot missions and even more repetitive grinding. Is it actually fun? Somewhat, yes. Is it worth playing right now? Not exactly unless you’re willing to team up with some friends and squad up for some planetary missions with lacklustre rewards. The combat needs to be spruced up significantly and a lot more work needs to be put into the planetary and station environments to make this an actual DLC worth purchasing.
Developed and Published by Frontier Developments plc
Available on the following Platforms PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Reviewed on PC via steam which can be purchased here for £29.99
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