Elite: Dangerous has now finished its run of Alpha releases, a set of four milestone early versions of the game made available to the most generous Kickstarter backers. It's about to phase into its Premium Beta stage, throwing open its doors to the next tier of backers and chucking them the keys to their first Sidewinder. Development is rocketing forwards at remarkable clip, with new ships, interstellar exploration, interplanetary supercruising and a full trade-fight-upgrade gameplay loop already implemented.
Frontier head David Braben is understandably pleased with how things are going so far. Here's his latest progress report, which includes a look at the highly sought after Anaconda ship, a big old craft that can barely squeeze its heft through a docking port. Also look out for the impressive rocky rings around Braben's gas giant, of which he's especially proud.
Feedback and design suggestions from Frontier's development forum are behind many of the creative choices being made in Elite: Dangerous, Braben proudly states, calling the breadth and scale of the galaxy they've so far created "a stimulus of the imagination". The current version is naturally limited but astonishingly polished. The ability to move at light speeds around systems, as well as hyperdrive jump between them, is now fully rendered as a Doctor Who style space-time tunnel, with freezing condensation particle effects marking the surreal shift from sub- to super-light velocities. It's immensely pretty and, perhaps most surprisingly of all, it feels a lot like the original Elite.
The Premium Beta begins on May 30th and can still be ordered from the Elite: Dangerous store. Prior to the Premium Beta unlocking at the end of the month, players can practice mucking about in the single-player combat missions.