The end of a two-year-old storyline in Elite Dangerous came with a bang. Update 13 had two bangs. The first was the firing of a superweapon to try and destroy the Thargoids… followed quickly by the second bang, where the Thargoids were not destroyed completely and blew that superweapon into outer space.
These events were made available to players via an in-game cinematic. They bring Elite Dangerous into Aftermath, the next story arc of Elite Dangerous. Aftermath is about the fallout of the superweapon’s failure and opens up new events and many questions for players. What went wrong? What’s next? What will happen to the galaxy, its factions, and players after the catastrophe?
Frontier Developments team members spoke to me recently about Elite Dangerous’ future and Updated 14’s implications for the long-running simulation at Milky Way Galaxy. They prefer to let the story unfold naturally for players rather than telling me every detail (darn). However, they gave me some hints about the ongoing alien threat and what they consider threatening.
The senior producer, Samantha Marsh, stated, “As We Move towards Update 14 and the Aftermath, we’ll be increasing the Thargoid menace to the extent commanders have never seen before.” “I believe everyone can see the bad things coming. The Aftermath will keep that in high gear, and we are excited to see how everyone handles it.
She added, “And it’s safe to say that the galaxy will not be the same.”
Frontier Developments used the in-game cinematic to end the Azimuth Story as a way to tell a story. Still, it is not the only tool Frontier Developments will use as Aftermath unfolds.
Marsh stated that Elite also has an exploratory storytelling section. This is where people can uncover story elements and put them together. We love it when the players do that part. It’s amazing to see their discoveries.
Luke Betterton (lead game designer) said, “Yeah… [we] love putting little secrets in the game for people to solve.” One of the many things we do is a lot of narrative consideration behind much of what we create. People need to be able to piece together the narrative even though we aren’t quite upfront. Players must understand that all the cogs in this machine are turning, trying to figure out what’s happening. Is there more? It’s a great joy for me.”
Elite Dangerous is facing a new threat, but it’s not from the alien variety. It comes from Earth. I asked the developers whether astronomers (real-world astronomers) making discoveries about our galaxy could impact the Elite Dangerous Milky Way Galaxy simulation.
“If you are wondering if the James Webb Telescope can be dangerous for Elite Dangerous’ future, then yes.” It is, yes,” laughed Betterton. “If they start seeing stuff we need to retrofit into our game, that will be a challenge.”
Marsh stated that although we aren’t going to overhaul the galaxy completely if there are many discoveries, it does impact what we do. Marsh said that NASA had renamed a galaxy they had discovered. I don’t recall the exact name of the galaxy, but NASA did rename it as they felt it was more offensive than it should be. We went in to rename it ourselves to match NASA’s new name.
Marsh said, “I think that’s what makes Elite so fascinating is it’s [an] ever-changing, living game.” It has these updates and changes, and it’s always evolving into something new and different, which is cool.