Frontier Developments has shared more details of Elite Dangerous’ next significant update, which is primarily focussed on delivering a more welcoming experience for beginner players, and launches on Tuesday, April 23rd.
Imaginatively titled the April Update, Frontier’s latest content drop introduces a new Beginner’s Zone, where newcomers are free to take flight and familiarise themselves with Elite Dangerous’ idiosyncrasies without fear of attack from PvP-frenzied pros. New players will have access to the area – alongside a selection of easy, introductory missions and reduced re-buy costs – until they earn their first Combat, Trade, or Exploration rank.
Additionally, there are two new ship modules available to all players, both designed to assist with some of Elite’s trickier flight manoeuvres. The new Advanced Docking Computer, for example, not only automatically lands a player’s ship at a station, it’ll undock too. Gone will be the days in which you carefully navigate a station’s access slot, only to be greeted by a fellow Commander ricocheting dramatically off a nearby wall.
There’s also a new Supercruise Assist module which, once activated, will automatically maintain the correct speed and approach required to reach a selected destination, even dropping out of Supercruise at the optimal time – meaning the awkward loops of shame that invariably occur whenever players overshoot their target will likely become a rarer sight. Supercruise Assist will also, apparently, help players remain safely in a planet’s orbit.
The Advanced Docking Computer will be fitted as standard on all newly purchased smaller ships post-update, and the Supercruise Assist module is standard on ships of all sizes. And it sounds like both modules should be available from Outfitting too.
Furthermore, to ensure that Commanders have room to equip the new modules, smaller ships will, post-update, gain two additional size-one Optional Internal slots, while everything else gets one additional Optional Internal slot. These will be applied retroactively to all ships.
Elsewhere, April’s update brings a range of quality of life improvements, including adjustments to the cockpit navigation panel, improvements to trading screens, and a new Pilot’s Handbook, offering hints and tips on flying. However, existing players will likely be most interested in the new Interstellar Initiatives which, as previously announced, will replace Elite Dangerous’ increasingly stale Community Events.
Interstellar Initiatives consist of a series of in-game activities and will last around a month, with phases altering as the narrative progresses. They might even have a lasting effect on the galaxy.
Last month, Frontier announced that Elite Dangerous won’t be seeing another “major milestone” update until the latter half of 2020. Until then, it plans to release smaller-scale updates approximately every 3-4 months. At the time of its announcement, the studio revealed that the first two of these would predominantly be focussed on “new player and welcoming experiences”. And here we are now.