Who's ready to temporarily abandon exploring the vast, inky black recesses of the Milky Way in favour of bombing around crater-strewn planets in an extra cool space buggy? Good to know. You'll be pleased then that the beta for the first part of Elite: Dangerous' forthcoming mega-expansion starts on November 24th.
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Planetary Landings is the first wave of this new content, and the beta news came via developer Frontier Developments CEO David Braben, who was speaking to the community while livestreaming a section of the Horizons expansion on YouTube. Aside from letting the release date slip from his intergalactic bag of treats, Braben also showed off juicy gameplay from the Planetary Landings beta.
While on the surface of one of those giant magic balls in the sky (I hear they're called "planets"), Braben drove the game's new surface recon vehicle. That's SRV to us cool kids in the know. Though the sprawling planetary action may appear daunting in scale, Braben says the beta's bases are actually smaller than the main game's standard orbital platforms. Still, this is Elite - if you can't handle size, get out of the ludicrously large space kitchen.
Other noteworthy topics to come out of the livestream include the game finally getting official guild support (though Frontier Developments are simply calling them 'groups'), the addition of schematics to help players navigate around, and the confirmation that there will be more than one alien species in the expansion.
Back to Planetary Landings, and considering we're all so used to being resolutely stuck in the game's wonderfully absorbing (if lonely cockpits), it'll be fascinating to see how all this crater-roaming SRV action affects the overall experience. The full Elite: Dangerous - Horizons expansion is due out this winter, and will cost you $45/£30 depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside on.