For those of you new to these dev updates my name is Michael Brookes and I'm the Executive Producer on Elite Dangerous. This week's news has focused on the upcoming Xbox One release of Elite Dangerous, and in this update I will take a different angle on the news and talk about what the Xbox One release means for PC and Mac players.
The most obvious news is the addition of CQC (Close Quarter Championship) to the game. This is a visceral and fast paced PVP arena combat mode within the game and while it’s something we’ve had in mind for some time it’s such a natural fit for the Xbox that it will be one of the very rare times that a feature does not appear on PC or Mac first. However, we are aware that there is an appetite for arena based combat on PC and Mac, so CQC will be coming to those platforms for free before the end of the year.
Controls are an obvious difference between consoles and PC/Mac, and we needed to adapt the game so that it could be played with just a controller. However we also wanted to make sure that the controls were not simplified into a lesser game. The game on Xbox One is the same game on PC and Mac, so we’ve added a layer of context controls to the Xbox One version. Which allows greater access to the in-game controls than the current controller implementation. Having played with the new method, it is much more accessible and ideal for those not using HOTAS or keyboard and mouse. It's also a win for those playing in VR. The controller is already a popular choice on PC/Mac so this new method will be brought across, and offered as an additional controller option.
One advantage to developing on consoles is that you have a static hardware target... this can be a boon for profiling and optimising the game. As with the Mac release some of those optimisations are specific to the platform, while others are more agnostic and are beneficial across all platforms. Not only does this improve performance for lower end machines, but is likely to help with higher end machines.
Bringing the game to a new platform means revisiting existing systems in the game and so allowing another pass for tweaks and fixes to the game. Any such changes made during the Xbox One development will naturally come across to the other platforms.
The most obvious benefit comes from the income. We have chosen not to go down the route of subscriptions or 'pay to win', but we do need income to support the game, and so far most of that is coming from adding new customers, so it is in all our interests to get more people playing.
PC remains an important priority for us, indeed it is the lead platform for development. While we're not talking about some of the major new future additions coming first to PC and Mac just yet, you can expect news on this 'soon'!