Bugs and blah and crashes and blah and not perfect and blah. I’ve seen many of these issues mentioned across the internet since the release of Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, and yeah, they are pretty justified in all fairness. So what has the new experience meant to me?
I love Elite Dangerous, purely as it does that thing videogames do better than any other medium out there. It takes you to places way beyond your own imagination. I mean, sure, you can see the far reaches of space in Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, Stars in Their Eyes and whatnot. But those are passive experiences.
Getting your hands on a flight stick, even a cheap one and piloting a spacecraft is an exhilarating experience. Despite many pretenders to its thrown, Elite Dangerous is still the number one experience, in my humble opinion. It was true of the 1984 David Braben original, and it is still true of Elite Dangerous, which is nearly 7 years old at the time of writing.
I feel I barely scratch the surface of what Elite Dangerous has to offer, as I usually just potter about, but the fact it allows me to do just that is just wonderful.
With the recent turnaround in fortunes for No Man’s Sky, it seems being able to get out of your ship is the new frontier for space adventure style games. So with the Odyssey update, Frontier Developments have allowed us to do just that. To mixed results, unfortunately.
With Elite Dangerous, I felt like I could do anything, be anything and create my own story and simply exist in the many galaxies on offer. The universe was mine to do with as I please. Here though, the thought of being able to explore on foot is tantalising for sure, but the reality is that it feels a bit too restrictive.
There does seem to be a focus on combat, which is all well and good, but for me, Elite Dangerous has never been about combat. I like that it is there, but I don’t want to be funnelled with it, which I felt here. I mean, for the most part, it is fine. We’re not talking Call of Duty levels of FPS polish, but it does a serviceable job.
I am more interested in the other things I can do. Trading, researching, etc. It is there, and it is enjoyable for me, but it feels a little half-baked. You can become a biologist and go around scanning lifeform samples to gather information, which I found really relaxing. However, it really started to feel repetitive and ultimately unrewarding. I know much of Elite Dangerous is based around repetition, but it feels so satisfying, whereas it felt a little bit meh in Odyssey.
Piloting my craft in Elite Dangerous often felt exhilarating; the cold far reaches of space are beautiful, despite vast areas of nothing. It was a spectacle with each discovery. So it remains utterly disappointing that the world of Odyssey feels so bland in comparison. It feels like a game made over a decade ago. NPCs are largely uninspired, always in the same places, and everything feels way too static. It would remind me of Fallout 3 in many ways if you were to go back to it now. It like a game from the early 2010s without many modern QoL updates.
Yes, the NPCs are there to give you your missions and add some flavour to the experience, but in the case of Odyssey, the flavour is very much a bag of Smith’s crisps before you add the salt sachet.
Odyssey, unfortunately, was such a let-down that I was fearful it would sour my feeling for Elite Dangerous itself. Fortunately, the base game is still an absolute joy. If Odyssey is staying in a hotel bed for a weekend, then Elite Dangerous is like crawling back into your own bed and wrapping yourself in your duvet.
Frontier Developments have made apologies for the state of the Odyssey update and I will be sure to check it out again down the line.
Elite Dangerous Odyssey from Frontier Developments is out now on Steam for £29.99