Elite and Frontier spawned an entire subgenre that’s just now beginning to orbit the sun, powered by fuel sourced from Kickstarter. But in the 20 years prior to Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen, David Braben reckons space games simply stopped being about frontiers.
Instead, freedom became the preserve of other settings - of games like GTA.
“I think games set in space became quite niche,” Elite designer Braben told TechRadar. “They lost sight of what was the key element of Elite and Frontier - freedom. The true successors to Elite and Frontier were the Grand Theft Auto games. For me, the setting is secondary to the feeling of freedom.”
In the Elite: Dangerous alpha, says Braben, players have already begun seizing that freedom. Some vigilantes have started patrolling asteroid fields in Sidewinders, waiting for others to kill miners - before collecting the bounties on their heads.
“The success of the Elite series has always been based on the freedom that players are given,” said Braben. “It’s all about individual choice in an open world - you don't select ‘pirate’ or ‘bounty hunter’ or ‘trader’ from a list, you simply do what you want and events will unfold accordingly.”
Elite: Dangerous’ beta is currently priced at £100 - but it’ll be reduced to £50 and then £35 before its eventual release this year. Does it appeal to the same part of you that likes to play GTA, do you think?