I was initially a kickstart sponsor for Elite Dangerous. I actually backed out of that with Frontier's support [they refunded the £500 I had submitted] when, one week before release, they announced they were withdrawing stand-alone gameplay.

My personal circumstances changed about Christmas 2016 [I had been "off the net"] and that allowed me to actually play the game. So I've got about 550 hours in the game now. I'm an Elite Trader, half way up Explorer ranks and just embarking on my combat career.

I've recently watched a YouTube video (by ObsidianAnt) in which he describes the changes to the Explorer role that will come with the big update to ED due before year end. In simple terms, Frontier are going to make it significantly harder to make progress as an Explorer. For example, today the "Advanced Scanner" will detect all planetary bodies, moons and asteroid fields in a system with a single "ping" - with the new system that all goes out the window and, in order to detect planets, you need to enter the system and slowly and carefully scan for gravimetric distortions that might indicate the presence of a planet.

Net effect? It's going to take an awful lot longer to detect planets and thus an awful lot longer to progress in the Explorer role.

I make this detour into "detailed land" to illiustrate a point - Frontier seem to be taking a game that is already infamous for it's "Grind" and increasing the amount of "Grind" required by a considerable factor. ED has incredibly beautiful graphics and some pretty good game physics and gameplay and for the most part it's an awful lot of fun. Unfortunately it is critically flawed by being so shallow - there is very little to "do" in the game, and advancement is a tortuous grind.

So, despite the fact that I've got ~ 650 Million Credits, fly an Anaconda and also own a Python, an Asp Explorer and a Cobra Mk III, despite having done quite a lot, it currently feels as though the game is giving nothing back. The original Kickstarter videos were so full of hopes and dreams for the game and the sad fact is that what Frontier are currently doing feels a lot like wallpaper over cracks.

Let's be fair, Frontier have done a brilliant job on a tiny fraction of the budget that Roberts Space Industries... The thing I'm finding personally frustrating is that all of their development effort really seems to be geared towards players who want to game on line as part of a faction. Maybe that's the way the PC gaming market is going, but whilst I have no objection to that in principle, it saddens me to see that it seems to have to happen at the expense of the single player experience.

It will be very interesting to see how future developments adjust the direction and focus of the game. I wish I wasn't thinking thiis, but at the moment Elite Dangerous feels a lot like, "Defeat snatched from the Jaws of Victory" ...

Sigh...