Star Citizen vs. Elite Dangerous
There is a great deal of buzz around two games right now, both promise very similar things, but deliver them in their own unique ways, both are still early in development, but have each released an early beta of their games to their early backers.
Star Citizen in development by Cloud Imperium Games is a crowd funded project that has managed to raise (at time or writing) more then $44,800,000 to create an open world space sim built on cryengine 3, it is said to be the most successful kick-starter campaign to date. The development process is open to the community and the fans input seems to be driving the development behind the game.
Elite Dangerous of Frontier Developments was similarly backed by a crowd-funding, was started in 2009 and has slowly come to light recently and has begun to provide some serious competition to the better publicized and more popular Star Citizen. It too promises to create an open world space sim that players can fight, build, trade and pirate across its vast universe.
Both games have a similar premise then, but each has approached their subject from a different angle. Elite for instance offers a vast open procedurally generated galaxy based on scientific data of the known universe. Players will be able to travel freely to any star in the known galaxy and even into the unknown dark areas that our current technology cannot reveal, which has been mapped using scientific predictions. This means billions of stars for players to explore, with future plans to add planetary exploration in future updates to the game.
Star Citizen on the other hand is planned to be a hand crafted universe, where players will still have a vast amount of systems to explore, but will pale in comparison to Elites vast and almost infinite number of systems. What star citizen promises to deliver is a much more intimate experience, players will be able to walk around worlds and stations from the start and will be an integral part of the game. Though the systems themselves will be linked by jump gates, exploration will still be possible.
What separates Elite and Star Citizen most is their flight model and combat pace. Star Citizen promises to deliver a fully physics driven system based on accurate thruster placement and damage models. Arena Commander, Star Citizens early access game released to backers is fast paced and chaotic, enemy ships will zip past, rotate on their axis and while using their momentum to keep travelling forward rotate to fire their forward facing guns at you. Its a scene right out of Battlestar Galactica, and that’s how the combat feels, realistic and brutal and very rewarding, when you manage to execute that perfect manoeuvre and get that perfect kill its genuinely exciting.
“Its a scene right out of Battlestar Galactica”
Elite Dangerous on the other hand feels exactly like space sims of old and is almost glacial in comparison, ships roll and manoeuvre relatively slowly, its comparable more to star trek in feel and pace if Star Trek were to have fighters. Even the basic fighters have beefy shields and take some time to wear down, which makes the combat more forgiving. Elites skill is less in the ability to out-fly your opponent then it is to manage your power systems. Shields, weapons and thrusters all run on a limited supply, choosing the right system to boost or sacrifice is going to be the mark of a skilled pilot. Being on the tale of your enemy your less likely to need power to recharge your shields so redirecting that power to weapons and engines should be your priority, as soon as his buddies show up to get you off his tail, you need to rethink your plan and redirect your power to your shields and high-tale it out of there.
So far I’m not keen on the ship design Elite has to offer, sticking too close to its predecessors games blocky and simplistic shapes, where as Star Citizen offers designs that feel like real fighters. Star Citizen also offers fully intractable interiors right now and wondering around the interior of your ship makes it feel like home. It gives a sense of ownership even though I haven’t even take them out of the hangar yet (my ship isn’t yet available to fly in the dogfight module), perhaps when Elite offers the chance to leave your ship I will feel more attached to my vessel, for now though I have very little sense of what it looks like from the exterior barring viewing it in the hangar bays customisation mode and glimpses of other players out in the verse.
Both early access betas are very different from one another, both betas are enjoyable glimpses of the final games they will grow into. They share the open universe space sim genre but feel very different. Until Star Citizen offers the full beta with the open world features and the trading and exploration system there will be little to compare beyond combat, unfortunately that is still some way off. Elite has the advantage of time over Star Citizen so it will be some time before we can draw a full comparison, and though Elite is thoroughly enjoyable, Star Citizen looks to be something special it promises nearly everything elite does and more, and that shows through with the huge community that’s grown around it and the fact they managed to raise $44,800,000 from crowd funding, only time will tell if Cloud Imperium can deliver.