LifeisXbox’s Elite Dangerous: Odyssey review | Enter 3307: Having just passed your Pilots Assessment and thus obtained your commander’s license, you look at the sidewinder Mk.II loaner you just got handed the proverbial keys to. You’re on your way to be an Elite! The soft hum of the ship’s holographic display panels comes to life as you throw a look to your left. The navigation list displaying the nearby celestial bodies, both in the system and “Beyond”.
With distant stars and untold Horizons now within your grasp, you decide to quickly nip out and head for the bar, you spied some bottles of Indi Bourbon behind the bar counter earlier, a fitting start to your new life amongst the stars.
Today we’ll be taking a look at Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, which is developed and published by Frontier Developments.
We played Elite Dangerous: Odyssey for roughly 150 hours on PC. This game is also available on Xbox One and Playstation 4. The expansion will be available on these platforms in Autumn 2021.
What we liked!
- Audio | For the usually quiet vacuum of space, Elite Dangerous Odyssey’s soundscape is a sight to behold… Or maybe sound to behear? From the expertly crafted roaring of the federal corvette or Alliance Chieftain’s engines to the soft purr of the sidewinder’s lateral thrusters, every ship has a unique and identifying sound that won’t bore you hundreds of hours in. Weapons and modules, both for ships as on foot, have been given the same treatment and ooze with passion for the craft. New to Odyssey is a large number of voiced lines you’ll hear from the NPC’s around you. While the dialogue and recording quality is about what you would expect from what I described previously, it’s the way these are manipulated that shows the great attention to detail. While out and about in an area with an atmosphere you’ll hear the slightly digital feel comms bring with them. Or when in a large inside area you can hear the echo of NPCs discussing one of their 7 or so scenario-specific voice lines. Pair all that with a killer soundtrack composed by Dan Millidge (Odyssey) and Erasmus Talbot (base game & Horizons) and your ears will be begging for more.
- Tutorial | Absent from the Odyssey alpha was a tutorial to familiarize players with its slew of new mechanics and playstyles. On launch, however, we were all pleasantly prompted upon our first time starting the game to run through a brand spanking new fully voiced tutorial. While I won’t go into the details of this little pocket of story you get served, it does a really good job of walking and talking you through the core gameplay mechanics you will encounter in and around planetary settlements. You won’t get to keep the stuff you’re given to run through the tutorial, however, but it will arm you with the knowledge and bravado to start running missions right out of the gate. Another plus side to playing Odyssey’s tutorial is that it takes you to some really stunning vistas, giving you the feel of a real spacefaring CMDR.
- Visuals | Elite Dangerous has always been a visually pleasing game. Killer realistic-looking yet slightly stylized graphics is something we have enjoyed since day one of launch back in 2014. This is not only about the resolution of the textures, it also extended to the detail of the models. The ships in Elite Dangerous and its Horizons update already showed a lot of intricate details, but they really upped the ante with Odyssey. When you stand underneath your ship you clearly see the bolts on the hull, see where the individual plates are welded together or where they emblazoned as the ship with the logo of its manufacturer. The textures of planetary surfaces have also been taken for a new coat of paint, and now showing a lot more details from small rocks & pebbles to salt lake level smooth surfaces.
- Immersion | Elite Dangerous has always been one of those games to just submerge you in its worlds, and Odyssey follows that trend. From the dirt that gets on your visor as you run across a rocky moon, to the details in the mysterious sounds of witchspace as you zip through a hyperspace tunnel. The single best example of these immersive design elements I can give would be: How can you tell that a ship is landing or flying very close to a building you’re in? The answer: the whole building will audibly shake a little, and some dust might fall from the ceiling or off the walls. You probably won’t notice this during a firefight, but if you’re scavenging an abandoned settlement this might be a nice “raiders incoming” warning.
- Suits and tools | Where for the past 7 years we here all wearing the standard-issue Remlock flight suit, Elite Dangerous Odyssey provides us with several suit options to best fit the task at hand. Starting with my favourite is the Maverick suit. This is the most original, but also most chaotic of the bunch. Adding onto the base suit are mostly mismatched shoulder pads and knee caps that have clearly been scavenged somewhere and bolted on because they looked like they would do the trick. Coming standard with every Maverick is an Arc cutter. This tool will cleanly cut away various panels and safety latches in and around settlements to give you easy access to the subsystems or tasty goodies they protect. This suit also has the biggest backpack, so it’s perfect to alleviate settlements of their valuables. Next up is the Supratech Artemis Explorer suit, boasting a clean and sleek design, this is what you will want to wear when researching alien plant life. And research them you can, with the genetic sampler tool that comes with the suit. This tool had the timing-based minigame removed from the Alpha and has yet to receive anything in its stead. It’s fine as-is for now, but I do hope they’ll add another minigame in the future. And lastly, we have the Manticore Dominator suit. As the name might suggest, this one is for dominating your foes wherever you might find them. Boasting the highest defence off them all, it also allows you to carry 2 primary weapons. You might have guessed, but this suit gives off a very militaristic vibe with lots of rough edges and form following function. It is also worth mentioning that you can use the cosmetic pieces of each suit over the base of another. Thus allowing you to look like you’re wearing an Artemis while giving you the staying power of the Dominator.
- New locations | This’ll stretch rather wide, but I love the locations you can visit in Elite Dangerous Odyssey. There are a full 18 more settlement layouts present from alpha period, making for a total of 27 types of bases you can come across. Now pair these with the stunning new atmospheric tech that Odyssey introduced and you can come across places that feel like you’re in a small, be it high-tech, town in the old cowboy midwest.
- Weapons | In the 7 years Elite Dangerous has been live already we have had lots of weaponry for our ships. From your starting sidewinder with 2 laser pointers, the meme-worthy 7 Multi-cannon (read Gatling gun) Federal gunship, to Anacondas using highly experimental railguns from a presumed long-dead alien civilization and everything in between. All in all, we have 33.5 different weapon types for our ships (counting the mining lance as a half weapon), but on foot, we have to make do with only 11 guns. 8 primaries and 3 secondaries. These weapons mimic the ship weapons in their kinetic / laser / plasma damage types. Unchanged from the preview, Lasers are great against shields, and kinetic ammo works best against the human underneath those shields. Plasma is equally effective against both but travels at a fairly dodgeable speed, so is best used up close. I do like the weapons, as they all have a nice look, but there’s just not a lot of them, which is what has me put them in this category. If / when more varied types of arms become available this might be moved back into the liked category.
- Frontline Solutions | WAR! What is it good for? In elite, earning you moderate amounts of money, but that’s beside the point now. Conflict zones, as available for ships, also translate to on-foot wars between factions. So how does an eager CMDR join the fight? Well, there are 2 ways you can get into the action. One is to fly your ship to a settlement two factions are fighting over. Once you approach you’ll be able to join the fray and wreak or have havoc wreaked upon you. Other than that, you can choose to make use of Frontline solutions. This service is available in every major port and will taxi you to the battlefield of your choice. So far so good right, enjoy the ride as you swiftly get deployed to your nearest conflict zone. Up until here, I think it’s a great service, my issue lies in when a battle ends. The dropship you came in will then hoover you back up to drop you back at the station you came from, basically wasting your time with a flight back to port. I think it would have been both more fun and time-efficient if you were given the option to move to a different battlefield in the system since there will often be multiple places at war. It’s not a dealbreaker, but would be a nice, immersive, way to stay in the action should you so desire.
What we disliked
- Optimization & Bugs | This part will become less and less relevant as time moves on and they optimize and patch the expansion. But where I said in my preview that the alpha was very stable, it was stable for an alpha. At launch, this was improved upon very little sadly. I will say that I got lucky, however. I’ve got a beefy system, it can handle a lot, but even then only rarely managed to push towards 60 FPS in the beginning, and even now as we approach the end of a roadmap of fixes I still rarely get to punch above 60 while near the surface of a planet.
- New UI layouts | As has been the case for most of Elite’s major updates, the menus you use to access the services of space stations and ground ports received an overhaul. This time not only visually, but also functionally. While I’m not averse to new, I am when it breaks a perfectly functional system. The ship outfitting menu was especially bad, seeing various CMDRS I know sell-off modules they worked hard to upgrade due to the sheer confusion in how to navigate the new outfitting menu. The suit loadout menu was also very confusing at launch but has seen some big improvements in the last update. Taking out a lot of needless clicks. Special mentions also go to the Galaxy and system map: which now have a lot cleaner design, but with no labeling to any of the icons unless when highlighted. Meaning it takes a lot longer to look for the relevant information which is a lot more spread out now.
How long to beat the story | The story of ED:O unfolds in real-time and is confirmed to run until 2022 at least.
How long to get 100% achievements | We won’t know until the expansion arrives on consoles.
Similar with | No Mans Sky, Star Citizen, Everspace, X4
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Hey there. Thomas is the name, Sci-fi, action and (J)RPG’s are the game. I strongly prefer co-op over PVP games. Whenever possible, you may find me run wild at a convention in western Europe. Certified anime enjoyer.