Elite Dangerous: Horizons
Now, Horizons is technically just an expansion, however, purchasing it gets you the whole base game too (I’m hoping that selling each expansion for £40 doesn’t become a habit for them, or at least that greater discounts are offered to folks who already own them).
I’m in a love-hate relationship with Elite Dangerous, in my prior review, I slagged it a bit for not respecting my time, and for giving you surprisingly little to do in a to-scale model of the entire bloody Milky Way. But c’mon! It’s a to-scale model of the entire bloody Milky Way, while it’s not lovingly hand-crafted it’s a triumph of software engineering. Elite games have always been WAY before their time technically, and this is no different.
I think, to be fair to the game, I was absolutely looking at it the wrong way though, there’s LOADS to do when you learn to play it, and it has that wonderful Dark Souls-like system of not really telling you how to play it, and rewarding you for exerting your abilities, or PUNISHING YOU SAVAGELY for overexerting them. It’s absolutely the best space flight sim that’s available, and if you’re the kind of boring bastard who thinks Eve Online is good, you can even play it in boring ways like just running endless trade routes for money.
Horizons adds a sizeable chunk of new stuff, most of it isn’t even in space. A smartly implemented system now allows you to land on a lot of planets, and perform tasks down there from searching for missing persons to sabotaging planetary installations for wads of cash, and you do all these things in your very own moon buggy. It’s tonnes of fun, even if it does feel a bit like a side-show to the main space bit.
Most importantly, since I reviewed it, Elite: Dangerous has had several major updates to make it more understandable, better balanced (including increased difficulty on some tasks that really should be difficulty) and an all new arena combat mode where up to eight players can duke it out in multiple and varied fighter ships in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag.
And to top it off, all of the above works marvellously well in co-operative play, so it’s my top pick for “games to play with an old friend who you kind of miss playing games with”.