This May, Elite: Dangerous is getting a massive update that redefines a lot of its core experience. Powerplay introduces a set of new factions to the game that players can ally with and complete missions for. Each faction can expand and spread through the galaxy, and the more dominance it has, the better the rewards for those allied with them.
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Participation in Powerplay is optional, but it sounds like you’ll be missing out on a vast, exciting new experience if you don’t sign up to one of the various factions. Each is fully fleshed out with lore, figureheads, and motivations, and represent Elite’s key pillars of combat and trade. Powers are a combination of traditional Elite personalities such as Aisling Duval, Torval, and Denton Patreus, and brand new characters.
“You could choose a Power for any number of reasons,” said Sandro Sammarco, Elite’s lead designer, in the Elite newsletter. “Maybe you’ll pick one who dominates a regular trade route you like or one that offers the kinds of missions you like to fly. Maybe you’ll pick one whose politics you favour or maybe you’ll just side with one who’s about to go to war with your best friend’s faction!”
Week by week the most influential players in each Power will be able to dictate what actions are taken to expand their hold on the universe. “Players choose which system their Power targets,” Sammarco said. “At the end of the week the target will be chosen and objectives will be created. If your Power tasks you to conquer a system, there will always be an opposing mission for the other side.
“If a major economic Power sends in their traders for a financial takeover against a military powerhouse, the other side may be tasked with piracy missions to destroy or loot their cargo. You can always be a trader or a miner or a pirate for your own ends, but by joining a Power you’ll be afforded special rights and be rewarded for playing the way you already like to play.”
A new upgrade to the galaxy map will show off the boundaries of each Powers’ sector, adding a grand strategy boardgame-like element to Elite.
Joining a Power will give players access to specific buffs and perks, and victory in the Powers’ goals will unlock new ones. These perks can drastically alter how the game plays. For example, the Pilots Federation will waive any penalties for engaging other ships during a time of war, so within Pilot Federation sectors you can open fire on any rival faction without incurring bounties. For those with lax trigger control, this sounds an absolute blessing.
Powerplay gets more involved the more effort you put into it, with dedicated pilots helping shape the goals and future of the power. But it looks like even the most casual Elite player can still benefit from the perks of signing up to a power, even if it’s just a few more missions that suit your style of play or a stack of extra credits.
Powerplay goes live in May, and will come as a free patch to Elite: Dangerous.