Martin Carr reviews Elite: Dangerous…
Elite: Dangerous should come with a health warning. This game is not designed for the novice. Ported over from PC with no graphical compromise and minimal lag, Frontier has offered up an open world experience Xbox One style. That it comes with a list of YouTube based training tutorials, which are essential viewing, does not bode well for those in search of instant gratification. Tediously time-consuming for the uninitiated and doubtless identical to a seasoned veteran. Elite: Dangerous runs the risk of wearing out its welcome before rookies even fire up their Sidewinder.
Get beyond them however and things do improve. Launching you into a perfectly replicated Milky Way saturated with beauty. Where Elite: Dangerous begins to reward your perseverance. Not only does space begin to represent a huge galactic sandbox, but graphical enhancements make its exploded gas clouds and nebulous seascapes almost tangible.
However, after you stop being overawed by the scenery something becomes painfully apparent. After only a short time monotony begins to seep in as the lack of engagement and limited mission parameters take over. Now I’m not saying Elite is a bad game. It has breath-taking ambition, is visually arresting, but remains rigid in routine and sparsely emotive over time. Whether that is down to any one element is debatable, yet it remains a fact.
With political factions dividing up the universe, coupled with regions free from any form of ruling structure, Elite does not lack diversity. What it feels like to a certain extent however is clinical in execution. Because the open world structure supposedly influenced by real-time decisions, remains strangely static irrespective of choices made. Others have rightly said that it needs to develop these areas whilst keeping the free roaming element intact. Aside from that Elite remains a unique gaming experience, expanded on Xbox One to include an arcade element.
CQC Championship is divided into Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag, categories familiar to even the most naïve gamer. Where Elite differs is in the $100,000 first prize, which Frontier have put up for an outright winner. It pits online players one on one to improve rankings, gain new ships and tool up for real money. Something that sits at the beating heart of this intergalactic smack down.
Obviously they are trying to please everyone, knowing that the success of Braben’s original had little to do with Deathmatch standoffs and big money prizes. There will still be those who buy Elite because of the original, but they will have their own agenda. What CQC Championship offers up therefore is the flipside to that coin. A one on one fight to the death with a winner takes all global edge. Does it work; yes. Is it bloody good fun; you bet your bad boy booties baby. With a variety of power ups, truly mind-blowing visuals and the knowledge that real players are after your blood, CQC Championship more than plugs a gap. What I will stress again however is the need to learn those controls, because otherwise it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. And trust me you want to be the one holding that artillery.
So my opinion for what it’s worth is simple. I will keep coming back to Elite: Dangerous for months. As they add more abilities it will morph into a game of greatness. Similar to its predecessor but with a shiny new suit and tie combo. For those prepared to invest the rewards will be many and varied. If on the other hand you prefer a quick fix, offering gratification on a more moment by moment basis, CQC might be more you’re bag.