Elite: Dangerous shows off more of its long-awaited on-foot planetary traversal

Elite Dangerous’ long-teased atmospheric landings – and on-foot planetary traversal – will finally become a reality when the space sim’s major Odyssey update arrives next year, and developer Frontier has offered a closer look at the sometimes dusty, sometimes icy expanses players will be able to explore as part of its latest developer diary.

Atmospheric landings have been discussed in relation to Elite Dangerous even before the game’s release back in 2014, with Frontier’s David Braben outlining his hopes to eventually see “interesting things, cityscapes, even animals, life, trees” on planets during its original Kickstarter campaign. Some eight years later, vehicular landings are possible, but the opportunity for players to leave their ship and step foot on distant worlds is yet to materialise.

That changes next year, of course, and Frontier has now shared a few additional details of the sights curious explorers can encounter once the Odyssey update arrives. Those hoping for the diverse flora and fauna of No Man’s Sky’s fantastical biomes, or even the spectacle of Star Citizen’s city planets, might want to get their expectations in check, however. Based on Frontier’s latest developer video, Elite Dangerous will initially only permit player to disembark – and enjoy “that Neil Armstrong moment” – on the rather barren wastes of rocky and ice planets.

The good news is they’re very pretty desolate landscapes, as far as desolate landscapes go, with Frontier’s video showing off some lovely golden sunsets to pep up the endless stretches of brown and white; the developer also promises massive overhauls to Elite: Dangerous’ existing planetary generation system in Odyssey – adding the likes of mountains, canyons, ridges, seas, and basins – to make for more interesting vistas than those currently present in-game.

These aren’t completely lifeless planets, either, and keen-eyed explorers – enclosed in their suits, with the sounds of their own breath for company – will be able to scour the “really quite dangerous” surface for the scant vegetation that’s able to thrive in the light atmosphere. Frontier says it’s designed its flora to look plausible and familiar, but still alien, and players can extract genetic data to trade at star ports, adding it to their codex in the process.

Frontier’s latest video doesn’t elaborate on the kind of activities players will be able to indulge in while out of their ships come the arrival of Odyssey – although gunplay has been confirmed in previous reveals – but there’ll no doubt be plenty more information to come as the update’s early 2021 release on Xbox One, PS4, and PC approaches.