Even though Gamescom was a little subdued this year, there was still a decent amount of exciting news to come from the annual game fair. If you’ve been a fan of Frontier Developments’ popular space sim then you’ll probably welcome this year’s announcements with open arms. From passenger liners to fighter deployment, FD’s feature list for Elite Dangerous: Guardians is looking to be an enticing reason to return to the depths of space.
Once update 2.2, Guardians, makes its way to the live servers, players will have the option to check out the Passenger Lounge. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a cosmic bus driver, your dreams will come true at this futuristic transport terminal. Fortunately, you’ll be transporting more than snot-nosed teenagers from home to school and back. The passenger contracts you can select from contain opportunities to ferry refugees out of war torn systems, medics into said war torn systems, or perhaps you could lend your transportation services to some less savory citizens with shady plans. If your interstellar cabby needs aren’t sated with this, you can invest in luxury transportation and usher the rich and well-to-do around the galaxy in style.
If you do plan to invest your time into hauling citizens from planet to planet, the new Beluga specialized Passenger Liner is for you. The giant ship comes with several modules that allow for multiple passenger cabins. The whale is relatively well armored, fast, and has options for a number of mounted weapons. Once you’ve got your Beluga equipped and ready to go, you can begin looking into VIP passengers, but, as you might expect, these people will have particular tastes you must accommodate, and they will probably cause problems if you don’t have their favorite wine. However, even normal passengers won’t sit around long if you dawdle or engage in too many fire fights. Fed up travelers can and will leave your ship (even using your escape pods), and if this happens, don’t expect to get your pay.
Fortunately, in conjunction with the new Passenger Contract system, Frontier Developments is also introducing an updated Route Plotting feature into 2.2. With the new system, you’ll be able to filter through many more options and find the proper route to your destination. These filters also include an expanded list of tourist type attractions that your VIP passengers may request you visit. That’s right, if transporting bratty rich kids wasn’t enough, now you can be a tour guide and show them the sights while they wreck your travel cabins.
Snide comments aside, the inclusion of passenger hauling and the improved routing system, which allows you to be highly selective in filtering your travel path, are both welcomed additions to the game. Whether you plan to bother playing tour guide or not, the addition of these features expands the game’s immersion and allows for new playstyles to emerge organically.
The Guardians update will also implement some new combat features, if the peaceful life isn’t for you. Specifically, I’m talking about launching your own Battlestar Galactica style fighters during the heat of battle. Some of the game’s bigger ships will soon be able to create and deploy dogfighters, provided you have the resources required for the task. Also, it’s not just the pilots you hire who get to have all the fun. Should you so choose, you can give “command” of your main ship to a pilot and hop into the cockpit of a fighter, yourself.
All three different fighters: the Imperial Fighter, Federal F63 Condor, and the Taipei, can be equipped to suit your needs. If you need more customization options, visiting the crew lounges at various ports will give you access to fighter pilots. These pilots each have their own stats, rank, and bio which will add an extra layer of decision making when deciding who to hire and who to kick to the curb. Furthermore, pilots have the ability to increase their combat effectiveness during their time with you. Similar to games like X-Com, if these pilots die, they’re gone; if you’re ship is destroyed, they’re gone. Undoubtedly, their inclusion in 2.2 will add extra incentive to stay alive and provide a sense of loss when you screw up.