In space, no one can hear you scream. It’s a vast, infinite cosmos filled with staggering, mind-boggling things that are unfathomable to our brains. What’s beyond the furthest discovered reaches of the universe? There’s more of it. There’s more of it, and it never ends. There are few games that manage to capture the truly insane expanse of space, and Elite: Dangerous on the Xbox One is one of them. You’ll miss shots, pass by your destination, crash into things and get involved in wild firefights. And that’s before the actual game even begins. Elite: Dangerous offers players a unique proposition – traverse a galaxy filled with 400 billion stars, all of which have some form of trading, fighting or both going on. In the midst of it all, you’ll find vast swathes of nothingness. If it’s this difficult to get to distant stars in a game, what hope do we have in real life?
Elite: Dangerous has been out for a year on the PC, and has now made its way to the Xbox One. The keyboard is undoubtedly the better input device for this game because you have to manage a massive control scheme. So, while Xbox One players still have the opportunity to journey around the same expanse of stars as their PC counterparts, they’ll have the tougher task of navigating space with a gamepad. The developers have managed to redesign the control scheme so it’s not a total bust if you’re playing the game on a console. You’ll have to manage your landing gear with the D-pad, for example, and several in-game menus can be brought up by pressing R3.
When you’ve got a map that’s nearly infinite, it makes sense to have exploration be the focus of the game. You’ll spend a large amount of time mastering the art of flying your craft through space and visiting incredible locations throughout the cosmos. The graphics are fantastic, and convey a sense of melancholy and anticipation while you’re making your way across infinity. Occasionally, you’ll come across a cloud of asteroids or a fallen star, and they look glorious. The visual effects in Elite: Dangerous sometimes take a toll on the frame rate, but at least there’s no visible graphical downgrade on the console. The most enjoyable parts of Elite: Dangerous are the ones where you’re just drifting through space, contemplating existence and marveling at what you’re seeing on screen.
The game provides players bulletin boards which showcase cargo locations, mining spots and allow you to pick up transport quests or fight alongside one of the NPC factions. Eventually, you might fall in love with bucking the system and becoming a space pirate. Open world games like Elite: Dangerous have plots, but they’re secondary to your experience of the game. You dictate how the game plays out and what stories you get to experience. You might eventually tire of drifting from one location to the next, dealing with NPCs, but at least piracy keeps things fun. If you’re a collector, you might enjoy the act of trading and exploring, building up a Jay-Lenoesque array of ships which include ones that specialize in mining, battle or exploration. The game has a thorough upgrade system that makes it fun to travel the galaxy looking for different parts.
If you’re the kind of person who likes fast, frantic action, Elite: Dangerous isn’t for you. The game asks you to enjoy the slow, measured pace that things play out in. the Xbox One version features the Close Quarters Combat Championship mode, which is basically a multiplayer mode that includes deathmatch, team battles and capture-the-flag. In these frenetic situations, you’ll enjoy having the gamepad at your disposal.
Elite: Dangerous hasn’t yet reached its full potential. The multiplayer modes have only just been added, and surely, the developers are hard at work creating new features and gameplay modes to keep players hooked. Sure, things might get a little dull once in a while, but hey, it’s infinity.
Elite: Dangerous isn’t for everyone. It’s a complex, multilayered game that puts the universe within your reach. It asks you to be patient as you learn the various systems that are built into it. You might be clumsy with your craft for the first few hours. You may not know how the trading works or which ship you should get. But that’s the beauty of the game – it asks you to empty your cup and stick with the process. Through its premise, Elite: Dangerous takes you farther and deeper than most other games of its kind. That star you see twinkling as you gaze it at it from your window every night? Well, in Elite: Dangerous, all you have to do is fire up your ship, set your target for the stars, and blast off.
Game Review Score: 7.9 Out of 10