Elite Dangerous (2014), the interstellar space trading, fighting, and exploration sim, has received a major new update, 2.4, The Return, which brings frightening new enemies to the virtual galaxy, as well as a number of fixes to the game’s VR mode, and improvements to the avatar system.
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. The VR aspect of the game got more interesting thanks to the prior patch (2.3, Commanders) which for the first time allowed up to four players to co-pilot ships together, and introduced a character editor, allowing players to define the look of their avatar.
The latest update, 2.4, The Return, which caps off the broader Horizons expansion, heralds the return of the Thargoids to the Milky Way galaxy, deadly space-faring aliens of which little is known. Even outside of the game’s lore, developer Frontier Developments is playing coy with the ultimate purpose of the Thargoids, though a new cinematic released with the update gives an idea of what you’ll be up against:
For now they’re seemingly unstoppable enemies, but it seems players are destined to advance their armories and explore new tactics to defend humanity’s grip on the galaxy. A release from the studio reads:
Today humanity’s dreaded enemy will return in an ongoing Elite Dangerous story arc enabled by Elite Dangerous: Horizons 2.4 – The Return, continuing the Horizons season with ongoing story events that will see commanders thrust into battle against the Thargoids for the first time in gaming’s modern age, bringing a new and deadly dynamic to the Elite Dangerous galaxy.
In coming months the Thargoids’ influence will be felt throughout Elite Dangerous, and players will be forced to develop new tactics and technologies of their own to counter the Thargoid menace, or see humanity’s grip on our sectors of the galaxy recede.
And here’s the part where we show you the pretty new pictures:
In addition to the Thargoids, there’s a big list of both new features and enhancements (full patch notes here) in 2.4. For VR players, the most intriguing are new avatar items for more customization (including eyewear, outfits, 12 new hair styles) and fixes to the avatar system. There’s also fixes for the Multi-crew co-pilot experience, and a number of VR specific fixes:
- We have made some adjustments to mouse behaviour when viewing the Holo-Me menu in VR so that it matches other UI screens
- We have disabled the bloom effect when using the VR graphical presets by default, as it could be a bit hard on the eyes
- Fixed a tiling issue that occurred when taking high resolution screenshots when using VR
- Adjusted a variety of outfitting cameras across a range of ships to work better when using VR
- Fixed an issue whereby the HUD target reticle was displayed inside your cockpit in one eye when using VR