Head Into the Known With Elite: Dangerous

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What if a game let you visit every known star, planet, and other astronomical body in our galaxy? What if, in addition to those 160,000 destinations, it also let you visit around 400 billion other star systems, extrapolated from current scientific knowledge about space? What if all that space was arranged in scientifically accurate scale? And what if that game let you travel anywhere in our incomprehensibly vast galaxy in your own ship, trading or mining or fighting or just exploring?

What if you could play that game right now?

You can. Elite: Dangerous is one of the two games now available for download through the brand-new Game Preview on Xbox One. That means you can download the entire galaxy right now for free – and play for an hour before deciding whether you want to continue with the Game Preview on Xbox One version.

But understand, an hour is not nearly enough time to get a sense of the scale of this enormous game. Elite is very much an open game, where your experience is limited only by your imagination. Want to go head-to-head against other players, blast their ships and scoop up their loot? You can do that. Want to become a bounty hunter, tracking down criminals for cash? You can do that. Want to outfit your ship with a mining laser and huge cargo hold and go mine for precious minerals in an asteroid belt? You can do that. Want to become a space trader, buying low and selling high at space stations on opposite sides of the galaxy? You can do that. Want to just head off into uncharted space, scan new stars and planets, and sell the information back in the civilized portion of the galaxy? You know, you can do that too.

You can do a lot.

But it’s not easy. Though Elite shortens trips through space with faster-than-light travel – and, you know, puts you in command of a space ship – it’s a surprisingly realistic experience. Getting around requires time; docking your ship requires skill; making money from trading requires business savvy; combat requires quick reflexes and careful systems management. A few false moves and you can find yourself drifting in space with no life support: moments away from death, a resurrection at the last space station you visited, and a hefty bill for a brand-new ship. But it’s a game that rewards dedication with an experience few other games can offer.

And now, it’s a game that’s offering a brand-new experience for Xbox One owners. Though the game has been out on PC since late last year, at E3 Elite debuted a competitive mode that will be exclusive to Xbox One when it arrives: close-quarters combat. CQC mode takes most of those painstakingly realistic elements of the main game and sets them aside, allowing players to instantly drop into head-to-head arena-style matches with borrowed ships and weapons. Existing separate from the main game, CQC features combat in and around vast structures, where a slip of the controller can send you smashing into ductwork like a TIE fighter trying to chase the Millennium Falcon into the Death Star. But CQC offers its own rewards, too, bestowing upgraded gear upon successful combatants.

The addition of this mode allows Elite to offer something of the best of both worlds: a quick-fix space shooter for action fans, and a vast and realistic experience for sim fans. Now, CQC mode is still at least a month away, and the final release date for Elite: Dangerous is still up in the air. But thanks to the Game Preview on Xbox One program, you can begin your space adventure right now.