As a console player since the game launched on PS4 in 2017, I've recently spent more time thinking about Elite Dangerous than playing it. It's a game that stays with you – the fond memories take hold hardest. This is a brief message to FDev and anyone willing to listen, appealing to what I feel is the aspect of ED that kept us coming back, and keeps the game in our subconscious:
Elite Dangerous is so amazingly tactile.
I think that's the word for it. The feeling when your ship undocks and suddenly you're at the mercy of all these forces at work. Regardless of whether you fly FA on or off, that moment when you retract landing gear and maneuver out of the slot – ready to blast off to your next adventure – that's a moment we've cherished since the very first time we realised it was all up to us.
The unique heft and response of each ship; the sound design that drives home the weight and severity of every step. The feeling of liberation when you choose to boost and prove (to no one in particular but yourself) that you're in full control. The transition from the cramped and ordered station interior to the vast exterior beyond the slot.
I enjoy No Man's Sky. I've at least enjoyed watching footage of Star Citizen. But I don't believe either of these games come close to capturing that feeling of solidity, structure and handling that Elite has managed and kept so consistent over the years. I'll never forget the feeling of taking off; of embarking on a new journey and being given full control. There's just something about the level of stability and polish in ED that has given it so much appeal; and I think this is easily exemplified by the act of take off.
I'm really sad that consoles will never see Odyssey or any further iteration. I'm relieved that console players will at least be able to copy over progress to PC. But upon thinking on it lately, I came to the understanding that regardless, I'll always come back to this game in some form or another, purely due to the expert craftsmanship of such core experiences. And whenever I do, it'll be just like riding a bike.
My only plea is that Frontier don't lose sight of this, and can continue to work such magic into the gameplay loops that keeps us learning and engaged. I wager that we're all mainly here to enjoy flying spaceships, and immerse ourselves in an authentic sci-fi world, and ED has captured the magic of this better than its contemporaries. I hope Frontier can provide going forward,