‘Elite Dangerous: Commanders’ Update Now Lets You and 3 Friends Co-pilot Interstellar Spacecraft


Elite Dangerous, the interstellar space trading, fighting, and exploration simulator, has been teasing support for co-piloted ships for some time. Today the Commanders 2.3 update launches with the Multi-Crew feature, allowing up to four friends to fly together in VR.

Update (4/11/17, 9:51AM): Following a series of beta releases, Elite Dangerous: The Commanders (2.3) launches today on PC, bringing the Multi-Crew co-pilot feature along with other major improvements. A trailer showing off the new update heads this article.

Photo courtesy Frontier Developments

According to developer Frontier Developments, the Elite Dangerous servers will be unavailable from around 9.30am BST until the new updates are live (expected around 6PM BST). The studio highlights some of the major new features:

  • Multi-Crew has been added with three new roles: Gunner, Fighter, or Helm. Matchmaking has been added for different session types and there are also separate stats included.
  • Commander Creator: with the new in-game Holo-Me feature lets you create your own commander using a variety of customisation options!
  • Welcome the new passenger ship called the Dolphin.
  • With the all-new Camera Suite you can view your commander and ship from a variety of interior and exterior angles, using a range of new camera controls. Perfect for all the videomakers out there… can’t wait to see what you make with the new tools!
  • Aside from bug and stability fixes, we’ve also added a host of new mysterious things, asteroid bases, 100 new tourist beacons, and more!

And a few VR fixes:

  • Made the schematics render in stereo
  • Added dithering support to tackle banding in VR
  • Fixes to some of the cockpit VR cameras
  • Fixed some incorrect scale assumptions when fitting the left eye image to the monitor window. The view should feel a little less stretched. In addition there will be a significant memory saving moving from 2160×1200 to 1280×768
  • Added Python ship kit VR hangar cameras

And of course there’s far more changes; you can check out the full 2.3 patch notes here.

Original Article (1/28/17): Elite Dangerous is not a VR-only title, but with support for both the Vive and Rift, and its focus on simulator-like mechanics, it does an impressive job of making you feel like a lone pilot somewhere out in a vast and lonely galaxy.

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But that feeling of lonely awe isn’t quite as fun when you look around your single-pilot ship and have only glowing instruments and flight controls to share it with.

Thankfully, the Elite Dangerous: The Commanders (2.3) update, due to launch in beta by February 26th, will bring what’s being called the Multi-crew feature, allowing multiple players (in or out of VR) to cooperatively pilot ships across different roles. Everyone with access to the Horizon Beta will be able to access the 2.3 beta.

Zac Antonaci, the game’s Head of Community, said in an update on the official forums, that the studio would be sharing more details about how the feature will work, including the new ‘Commander Creator’, which promises to allow players to customize their avatar.

Photo courtesy Frontier Developments

Ahead of those official details, some bits about the Multicrew feature are known, according to Reddit user ChristianM who has been compiling information about the forthcoming feature:

• Players will work together to control the different functions of a ship. One player could fly the ship whilst others would handle the sub-systems and weapons. Or a Multicrew ship landing on a planet’s surface could have one player stay with the main vessel, another patrol in a ship-launched fighter, and another explore in their SRV.

• Multicrew uses the Wing system and has four roles:

• Helm (piloting)
• Fire control (turrets/weapons + limpet control)
• Tactical (sensors, shields, countermeasures)
• Engineer (power distribution, repairs)

• Roles are balanced so that a fully-crewed ship is on par with four commanders in a Wing.

• The crew limit of four may be increased in a future Season. We don’t know how high we would go. Current instancing issues likely make more than 4 unfeasible for the immediate future.

• Enormous range of faces and features available using the Commander Creation “slider tool”. This option will be selected via the game’s interface. In combination with Multicrew players will at last be able to see each other, in game. Although dev-demo shows baldness, hair is confirmed.

– – — – –

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While it’s very exciting that players will soon be able to co-pilot ships together with friends, we’ve yet to see if there will be any issues with nausea if you’re using a VR headset while inside a ship flown by another player. Presently, the cockpit-nature of Elite Dangerous is an effective way of mitigating nausea in VR despite lots of movement, but when the movement of the vehicle isn’t under your direct control, it may not provide the same protection. We’ll have to wait and see once the Commanders 2.3 update launches.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Cristianfx


  • Raphael

    It’s still all very basic compared to SC. I like elite and I played the original on my brother’s BBC Micro model B but It’s fortunate that SC doesn’t have vr at this stage.

    Planets with atmosphere? No.
    Get out and walk around? No.
    Walk through your ship? No.

    I mean think about how you can walk through every part of your ship in SC. That in vr would be amazing. I will continue to play elite for now but if SC gets vr back then Braben would not be able to compete.

    • Starman3482

      SC is WAAAAAAAY more a shell of a game than Elite, that’s not true at all not at all.

      • burzum

        SC is in alpha and not released. ED is out for two years and still a joke. Content wise it’s dull, shallow and a grind. It’s far away from what was promised in their Kickstarter campaign. SC and CIG are honest and very open, you get a schedule update every week. You get lots of videos and developer reports. Meanwhile FDEV? Shitty non-news newsletters, only silence but a ton of hot air and false marketing… They even screwed up their alien story riddle with bugs. I’m not impressed. I prefer waiting and get a solid squadron 42, even if it’s going to be in 2018, than an alpha sold as final product. I would not complain if ED would have chosen to stay in early access and communicate that openly but the path they chosen is the one of marketing and false advertising.

        • Starman3482

          I just got into Elite and I’m having plenty to do, I also have SC and you’re just being a fan boy.

        • HotNSpicy

          I see that some toxic fans of SC have shown up. If you don’t like Elite, then play SC a3.0 and Sq42 seeing as CIG said they’d release in 2016. Answer The Call, and buy a Polaris! That wasn’t false marketing was it…

          Looking forward to playing the many new features of Elite’s 2.3 update. And the upcoming Hellion too for that matter

          • Mei Ling

            Best thing to do is wait until the game is officially released (if it does) then compare the two and judge as you see fit.

        • Xanoxis

          Shame CIG never was on time with any feature. They were late every single possible time. SC is a joke, and is a mess compared to ED. ED doesn’t have problem with servers, and doesn’t lose fps because of that :) Please tell me how they will fix it in “next” update. Coming in 2020? Pay for next ship and it MIGHT come sooner!

      • Mei Ling

        It is a shell of a game but the reality is it’s in “Alpha” so you can’t officially compare the two.

    • Dave

      I’m a backer of Star Citizen and I love the alpha, but what you’re saying isn’t exactly true. Currently SC can’t even do 5% of E:D can do. SC is some way off a release and by then E:D would have advanced as well. It’s been well documented the ambition of Chris Roberts and the resouces the community have made available makes for a potentially epic space experience. These battles between E:D and SC are pointless and true fans of space sims will appreciate and play both.

    • Michael

      I’m sorry, what? All of those are confirmed features coming. E:D is light years ahead of SC.

      • Raphael

        Right now it’s a good space sim but in terms of coding and engineering there is nothing more complex than SC even in its current state. Elite is more functional as a game at this stage but in terms of coding complexity and features it’s nowhere near SC.

        • Joshua Johnston

          Yeah, complexity that really helped them a lot when they burned through a year of dev time and Kickstarter money trying to have different teams design the same game with zero actual planning or structure.

          SC might be a great game at some point, but when you can buy used cars more cheaply than ships in that game, it’s nuts.

        • HotNSpicy

          Features? In SC you can’t explore planets or different star systems, trade, mine, bounty hunt, faction warfare, research science puzzles, launch fighters, upgrade/modify ships, or play in instances with more than 24 players. Heck, you can’t even buy ships in the PU yet.

          • burzum

            ROFL, press button, wait, planet / system explored. Seriously Give me 30mins and I’ll implement that incredible deep exploration gameplay in probably any game. Logic is basically find game objects of type planet around player and if distance is smaller than the max range of your scanner you “explored” something.

            Mining and bounty hunting the way ED does it aren’t the most complex implementations you can have either. Go read some of the old design proposals and what they managed to get done…

            * https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php?t=6561
            * https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php?t=7196

            The faction warfare is as shallow as everything else. Hell, there aren’t even skins for the factions nor variants of the ships used by different factions nor do I really feel any consequences of my doing except seeing a percentage value slowly rising / falling.

            What research science puzzles? I haven’t played ED for some time. If you mean the fancy stuff hidden in the audio files and images, well, nobody except some die hard fans in the forum noticed this. The community goals are always the same crap, they’re basically not different from any mission or pew-pew.

            24 players in an instance, in a pre-alpha, is OKish, remember, this is not a released product. Oh, ED has just 32 as well per instance + the terrible p2p networking that is still causing trouble (go check the ED forums).

          • Kenneth Richlin

            You can’t even fly most of the ships. Flyings the whole thing for some of us. Not Robert of course. But certainly for me

        • Samizdata

          Why does complexity mean good?

          Oh, wait, it doesn’t, unless all you have for all your pledges is a janktastical tech demo and a BUNDLE of prerecorded videos.

        • Daniel Rubel

          Who cares how complex SC is if that complexity leads to the game being forever in a state of alpha. Elite may be more simple, but those simple features are complete and functioning.

    • Michal Gloc

      Game actually released? Yes
      Single player content available today? Yes

      • Raphael

        Yes, it’s good that it’s been released. A year ago I had a very different opinion on SC. I haven’t even purchased or bought any of the spaceships but the development is so open to the public that I have been following and despite deadlines or dates slipping the game is coming together and already bringing a never before seen level of detail and realism. But in spite of this I still want to see Elite continue and improve.

        • Michal Gloc

          I backed the SC when it was in kickstarter hoping to get the new Privateer kind of geame. It does look very interesting, but I feel like it keeps adding promised features and postponing release. Especially the single player content. In the end it’s been years and I still have nothing for the money I gave. I hope it work out in the end, and not be the next Freelancer with it’s feature creep and inability to release until CR leaves.

    • Daniel Rubel

      SC is also not out yet and barely a game. Elite did what SC can’t: get released.

      • Raphael

        I think you have an over-simplistic interpretation of the facts. SC is alpha. It’s open to everyone. It’s out because it’s open to everyone. There are many alpha games on steam. Elite isn’t finished, it’s just that they released it as early access because it doesn’t have the complexity of SC. Yes it’s on steam. It’s not finished by a long way. SC like many steam games is available in alpha and quite playable. It won’t be played by me unless vr returns.

        • TheFullGrey

          No. SC isn’t “out”. It wasn’t out in 2012 when it was first promised, it’s still not out in 2017, and it won’t be out until probably 2019 at the earliest.

          Elite is far more finished than SC has been in the last, what, 6 years of development? Elite is out, it’s playable, it’s stable, and it has a much larger player base than SC has right now. Those are all facts.

          • Raphael

            Yawn. Dummy tantrum.

    • Hanny Benny

      Playable game? No
      Ship selling No.48? Yes

      • Raphael

        It’s getting more playable with each milestone release. But I won’t be playing it ever again without vr so it’s all academic really.

        I look forward to planetary atmospheres in elite. Multi crew with real people has no interest for me personally.

        • Hanny Benny

          i just hope the game comes out, before maybe Roberts die..

        • Hanny Benny

          and it makes me angry to see every few months new what-the-damn-special-ships designed instead to make a first playble version of the game!

          • Raphael

            Yes they design new ships. Instead of making a playable version? They already have a playable version. People have been playing it for many months. The issue is that we live in an entitled society where kiddies don’t want to wait for anything. Chris Roberts is putting a lot into his everything simulator. What they’ve done so far is very impressive. A new paradigm in realism. So I don’t care if it takes another few years. If it supports vr eventually I will buy. If it doesn’t I won’t.

          • Kenneth Richlin

            They do NOT already have a playable version. They have a hangar simulator. And it’s not even a very good one.

          • Raphael

            They’ve had more than the hanger for a long time. What’s with the CAPITALS? Does typing that way make your statement factual?

  • Nathan Tidy

    Least Elite is a game**TM and not a well over paid alpha test

    • Mike

      SC will destroy ED and leave the game trailing in the dust. In alpha phase alone the level of detail on the ships can’t even be compared and once planetary landings arrive it’s game over man… Plus a game package and a ship is all you need. Who’s overpaying dude..

      • HotNSpicy


      • Muttley

        I’m a Star Citizen backer (for now), but it’s becoming increasingly evident that Chris Roberts is an incompetent shyster, who is totally incapable of delivering even a fraction of what’s promised.

      • ummm…

        lol, level of detail. i can create a game for you where you can stare at a really high resolution and detailed wall if you’d like?

      • DM

        Thanks for making the rest of the SC fans look like fools with your rubbish comments. There only worse thing than a fanboy is a predictable stupid fanboy.

      • Steve Dennis

        But at the point at which Starcitizen is a product, people will have been playing and enjoying the shipped, polished, and updated ED for 4-5 years already. I’m excited for SC, and am a backer, but right now it’s still not a game.

        • burzum

          I could continue.

          I’ve baked this STILL unfinished, incomplete and shallow game called Elite Dangerous. After release their servers were fucked up for days around Christmas. People are still complaining about the shitty network, the P2P implementation. FDEV even fucked up their great alien ruin riddle with a bug. Missions were a joke until 1/2 year ago and still are shallow and totally not related in any way to the systems. The great so called background simulation is a piece of crap. Who the fuck is going to ship 8 tons of bio-waste around and paying millions for it? Why the fuck wants a system with a famine state 4 tons of tea? Yes, TEA. I would expect a well paid 80 food cartridges contract. The simulation is not really a thing you feel while playing nor does it make any sense. Now, years after release, we’ve got mining bases that look different, but it’s easy to spot that the arrangement matches a station 1:1 so I doubt the underlying code took that long to do… At release it was not possible to fly with friends, this took ages until they implemented it. If FDEV would call this early access and keep expanding it, but charging 60€ for the released thing that was 1:1 the same as the last beta and then charging yet another 40€ for each “season” that was thought take one year and now 2.3 is released and we’re still waiting for 2.4, the last part of the season that should have been done in 2016. So much for the delays… Have yet all ships got damage models? Last time I’ve checked only the Anaconda had a proper damage model and looked like what was shown in the Kickstarter images when heavy damaged. The game feels like they managed to pick the worst parts of a single player and MMO title into one game while ignoring the good parts.

          For SC, it’s alpha, they tell you it’s alpha, you don’t have to spend 60€ to get SQ42 when it’s released, and there is PLENTY of info each week from the devs. Yes, I’m running out of patience when it comes to SQ42, but honestly, I prefer waiting till 2020 and getting a solid product then instead of a company lying, doing false advertisement and hyping their incomplete product when they get the most basic features done.

          I liked both titles, but FDEV really managed to let me down as fan of the Elite franchise with this thing they call Elite Dangerous. I wish they would have sold the brand to some more capable development team.

          • Kenneth Richlin

            So, the most important part of the game is the background sim? which does often make no sense? Feel you on the missions being bugged, but that’s all they are. Honestly the consistant and pervasive sim aspect of the game does and should take a back seat to what the game is realy about – piloting.

        • Kenneth Richlin

          Yes. I’ve already lived out a dozen lifetimes piloting in the other, unfinished but INCREDIBLY PLAYAYBLE full simulated universe. Sure, you NEVER LEAVE THE COCKPIT but that’s the game. Walking around doing MMO stuff is all window dressing and SC is nothing more than a hangar simulator.

      • Kenneth Richlin

        I got a rear admiral account paid $400 for it over two years ago. Wait, is it closer to three now? My word. anyway want to buy it?

    • Raphael

      See your statement shows that you don’t actually know anything about the development of SC. Both elite and SC are unfinished but the developers have taken different routes. SC is also playable now and that over-payment you childishly mention is being used to create the most complex space game ever. I’m a fan of Elite so I really want it to continue and keep up but realistically that will be harder as SC expands. 3.0 is going to be big for SC. At least elite has the advantage of excellent vr. Robert’s has been promising to get vr working for a long time now.

      • HotNSpicy

        Roberts has been promising a lot, including release timetables which almost all have been missed by months/years. 3.0 is now guessed at late 2017. As reported by many VR sites, VR support was supposed to be a priority in early 2016 – it doesn’t even support TrackIR.

        SC will be a good game when it releases in 2019/2020, not the 2016 as stated at BAFTA 2015. Speaking of which, where is Sq42 seeing as it was slated for 2015? http://i.imgur.com/ATz7UWL.jpg

        But this is all off-topic: why are you repeatedly bringing up SC in the comments of an ED article?

        • Brad

          It does support Track IR as of 2.6.2. However, I’m with you about VR. Very disappointing. After playing ED in all it’s VR glory, I don’t know that I can go back to playing a space sim on a monitor. I really don’t believe they will ever support VR at this point. They’re way past the point of no return as far as design goes, let alone any technical issues.

      • Kenneth Richlin

        I know all about it, I get a newsletter every 4 weeks telling me about more stuff they haven’t done. Whereas, in ED, I’ve been playing the full mass market release…. for over two years. Yes, I got into SC first, sunk $400 into some cool ships… that I’ll never fly. They’ve got 70 million dollars brah they are all RETIRED there’s no game get over it!

    • Bill Koenig

      I have been a backer of SC since March of 2013 and I literally just got my refund processed this week. I’m not sick of the wait – that part is totally fine. I am beyond sick of what they are turning it into… namely, not what was promised. The ship combat feels like an FPS shooter game in space – you can literally CLICK on the ships you are shooting at to kill them thanks to “interactive mode”. That my friends is Freelancer which is *not* what was promised – we were told we were getting Wing Commander.

  • Erroll

    This is a feature for a small percentage of users. What we need are npc crew…

    • Asclepiux

      They want to test the multi-crew mechanics with players and balance them properly, and then build an AI to use them. Instead of wasting dev time to make an NPC crew that uses mechanics that haven’t been tested.

      Don’t worry, they’ll come.

  • Essus

    I like all the stupid comments trying to compare SC and Elite: Dangerous. :D :D
    Guys if you do not want to play ED shut the fuck up and leave us allone with our great game!!

    • (quietly plays Empyrion in the background)

    • Kenneth Richlin

      Yeah at least we have a game. You have a forever alpha

      • Raphael

        How old are “we”? I play elite too which makes your “we” rather facile.

    • Icebeat

      why the ED’s fanboys are so annoying?

  • ✨EnkrowX✨

    Interesting, maybe I’ll reinstall to check this out.
    Now if only the ships weren’t so shallow, the combat was good, the locations were unique, and progression wasn’t an absolute grind with the same boring missions.

  • MosBen

    Will we be able to play with a small group of friends in our own universe? I’m not at all into PVP or MMO, but being able to PvE with a small group of friends sounds like it could be fun.

    • Kyle Biggs

      That is currently possible, and will likely stay in place. You just create your own ‘group’ from the main menu, and you’ll only ever encounter human players that have been added to your group (and NPCs obviously).

      • MosBen

        But Elite doesn’t have much in the way of a story that a group could play co-op, right?

        • Chris Feakes

          No there isn’t a fixed campaign, the story is emergent. For instance right now the prevailing story lines are related to uncovering mysteries surrounding alien races and their tech, building a human colony near the centre of the galaxy, and investigating a sort of Bermuda Triangle in space. There are constant minor plot lines emerging between different in game factions, but it’s all open ended and fairly non-linear. All of this stuff runs parallel whether you’re in open play, a private group, or a solo game.

        • Kenneth Richlin

          Individual players and player groups build their own narratives through the gameplay. like, my guild and I just conquer stuff for our faction… when I’m playing alone I have my own agendas I pursue

      • MosBen

        Thanks for the response, btw. Basically, all I want is a way to play Privateer with 4-6 friends and nobody else.

        • Kenneth Richlin

          If those 6 friends are on the mobius server you’ll likely not run into anyone else. there’s other private servers for small player groups

  • UberNiK

    If I have to rebind all of my HOTAS buttons one single more time…

    • Kenneth Richlin

      Put em in your preferences directory to save them between updates…


    You people crack me up. You rant about a game that does not exist vs a game that does exist. I would not talk about the alleged game, S.C. until it is in my hands. The bitter memory of NMS is still fresh in my mind.

  • Brad

    I tried flying in someone else’s ship in VR during the Beta and experienced no motion sickness. But it was a pretty big/slow ship. If it were a cobra or similar it may be a different story.

  • Raphael

    “we’ve yet to see if there will be any issues with nausea if you’re using a VR headset while inside a ship flown by another player. ” – some people are gonna spew even if you sit them down in front of an empy cube in vr.

    I have sat in the F15 in DCS world via flight recorder playback. So long as there’s 6dof average person will be fine.

    • Kenneth Richlin

      YES but the SCV’s… the little buggies you ride around on the planets…. hurl city if you try to drive one of those in VR.

      • Raphael

        They were designed to be driven in VR. I’ve bounced around many hours in them.

      • Andrew McEvoy

        Aye for some this is true Ive heard. Myself I’ve no issues I love ripping around in my SRV feeling completely immersed! Love it

      • Thomas Longberg

        I drive them around every time I play, and it works fine as long as I don’t go full on rally mode. Drive like an old lady and you’ll be fine ;)

      • EOTWAWKI

        I did get nausea when I first started to ride around. I kept at it and after a few days I no longer get nauseated. It was the same as in Dirt Rally. Just keep driving and when your brain accepts the fact you are not really moving, it should pass

  • Kenneth Richlin

    This update is all window dressing… the game was already a killer seated VR app before… Anyway come wing with me in game I am CMDR outlier