Comparing 2 Juggernauts: Elite Dangerous vs Star Citizen
I grew up as a part of a generation that used both Star Wars and Star Trek to fuel our imagination when it came to space and the exploration of the great unknown. We needed that imagination, too, especially when it came to the very first “space games” we played and their primitive graphics, but those games had charm and depth and we loved them. Today, when we compare titles such as Elite Dangerous vs Star Citizen, we can barely comprehend how far the pc gaming has evolved.
The initial grand space games on PC’s were titles such as Elite (1984) and Wing Commander (1990), the prior being an actual space simulation years, if not decades before its time, while other provided amazing and hitherto unseen graphics experience of 3D spaceship combat. These games grew into series that shaped the entire genre and influenced many future titles that tried to emulate them. Fast forward some 25-30 years and we have two titans that struggle for the space domination. Could anyone foresee that one of them will be Elite Dangerous, the fourth installment of the Elite series, and the other Star Citizen, a space simulation created by Chris Roberts, the man who started the very Wing Commander series?
Elite Dangerous Space Adventure
Following in the footsteps of its predecessors, Elite Dangerous has a seamless galaxy, built on 1:1 scale relative to Milky Way, with dynamic society and economy where every player can freely choose what to do and how to write their stories. There are no classes, no skill levels; only the abilities of the player and the ship’s quality determine the outcome. One can be a trader, smuggler, pirate, explorer, mercenary or several of these roles combined. The emphasis is on the hands-on approach of older titles from the series, attempting to make all the combat engagements feel like you are in the very middle of the combat.
You can choose to play solo, with friends or in open play mode. Interestingly, if you choose solo, you still need to be online and play on the servers, you simply don’t get to interact with other players. In open play, you join an instance that can hold up to 32 players with an auto-matching system that puts players of similar skill level together. This is one of the downsides of this game since a single instance/server for all players is extremely beneficial for games that strive to achieve the true sandbox appeal.
Star Citizen in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Chris Roberts founded Cloud Imperium Games in 2010 and set out to build the most ambitious space simulation the world has ever seen. By watching the scale of the project, one might easily conclude that Mr. Roberts is a megalomaniac of a unique kind. But one thing is certain; when he decided to circumvent the traditional publishers and search for investors by starting a crowdfunding project it became obvious that he managed to set the imagination of millions of fans on fire. The influx of money quickly grew beyond all expectations, surpassing one set goal after another, to the amazement of everyone involved in the project as well as outside observers. Roberts announced that if he had $23 million dollars, he wouldn’t need any outside financing. That goal was easily reached and surpassed by the end of 2013.
At the beginning of 2018, the financing of Star Citizen has surpassed $175 million. It is now in the Guinness Book of records as the largest open crowdfunding project of all times, without any serious contenders in sight.
Star Citizen aims to become a space simulation where players can fly around in ships across the galaxy, pretty much do whatever they want, including going out in a space suit and having shooter PvP sessions. So far, Star Citizen sounds like it wants to be everything in space games you could ever possibly imagine or want to do, but so far only fractions of playable content have been released.
Elite Dangerous vs Star Citizen Comparison
Release: When it comes to the comparison of these two games, the first thing that comes to mind is the crucial difference – state of the game, to be precise, its release. Elite Dangerous started with development in 2012 and has been released by the end of 2014. Star Citizen has started development in 2011 and is still not released, even though it was initially scheduled for release in 2014! Sadly, Chris Roberts has earned a reputation for delaying the titles he worked on since 90’s, so this is not coming as a great surprise to many.
While Elite Dangerous is trudging along nicely and getting frequent updates and fixes, many describe Star Citizen as one of the greatest scams of the gaming industry, mostly since they earned such incredible amounts of money on a mere promise and then failed to deliver.
Micro-Transactions: Elite Dangerous gives the players ability to buy some paint jobs for their crafts, and that is pretty much about it. Star Citizen, on the other hand, was always full of micro-transactions, from buying currency to ships, and has recently added the possibility for players to buy out virtual land plots of 4x4km for $50 or 8x8km for $100. According to the developers, “there are billions of kilometers” of land to be bought.
Longevity: Elite Dangerous has modest plans and intentions and seems to be intended to last an average lifetime of such a space sim. Star Citizen, according to Roberts, is supposed to last at least for decade after its release, preferably longer. They are building an entire universe that will never let its players out of it.
Scale: Elite Dangerous was described on several occasions as a game with great breadth, but shallow depth. Overall, it seems to aim at people that want to hop into the world, play for a couple of hours alone or team of friends and then go back to real life. Star Citizen fully intends to grab the players and suck them into their world, giving them endless possibilities with different venues to explore. Many fans are in fact scared of Roberts and his tendency to keep adding more and more features to the game before the old ones have been properly implemented. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Star Citizen becoming the most extensive MMO game of the next decade.
Focus: In ED, you are the ship, even though since recent expansions you can observe your avatar on it and perceive the unscripted universe through the cockpit. In SC, the focus in on your avatar, so that you can both fly ships as well as engage in FPS PvP. Also, next to open space and limitless freedom, Star Citizen also offers a story-based, single-player campaign called Squadron 42, which is supposed to be the “spiritual successor to Wing Commander.”
Deciding between these two titles is not easy, so it is no wonder that majority of space sim aficionados have purchased and played both. In the end, it ultimately comes to your own preferences. After spending years playing EVE Online, the concept of Star Citizen is extremely appealing, but as many like me know, this game will probably turn into a second job. Alternatively, perhaps Elite is not so dangerous after all.