Elite Dangerous (PC) (2015)

Overview: Space flight simulation that's massively multiplayer and open world.
Today I played through the tutorial and flying the ship was unintuitive. Perhaps there are settings to control the dead zone for the mouse. The training could also use some minor improvments. When learning combat, I didn't realize until later combat that my targeting wasn't activated. I think a good tutorial would realize this. Setting a target is a huge quality of life because it enables autoaim. In any case, there appears to be a steep learning curve to space flight - one that I'm not keen on learning.* As such, I might just end my experience with Elite Dangerous with the tutorial.

Elaborating on the tutorial, the game handles the tutorial in a streamlined manner - linking one gameplay mechanic to another without any breaks. Personally, I like this for games that have simpler mechanics. For a game like Elite Dangerous where the mechanics are more complicated, a set of missions that can be replayed would feel better to me. Perhaps the game can automatically jump from one mission to the next, but I feel like higher quality missions focused on particular mechanics would work better. For example, the game's first weapon usage didn't mention the difference between the primary and secondary weapon until after it's completion. I would have replaced this with a mission for shield breaking and then a separate mission for damage dealing. In both such missions, I would have the palyer repeat the action two or three times, with some sort of variation in between. Of course, the player could skip the misison at any time. I would also provide optional missions with increasingly advanced objectives. In short, since Elite Dangerous is a multiplayer game, I would basically be crafting a single-player experience that acts like a drawn out tutorial but feels like it's own game.

Setup: The game detected my setup and set the quality of graphics to high. I manually changed it to Ultra and manually increased the resolution from 1920 x 1080 to 3840 x 2160.

Steam Game Time: launcher open for 2.2 hours / actual game time approximately 46 minutes

*I was confused between using yaw, roll, and pitch. While watching a video, I think what seems to work better in most cases is to just roll and pitch for turning. For example to turn left, roll left and pitch up. Finish the turn by returning pitch to neutral and roll right to reorient the craft in the desired orientation. Yaw feels like better suited for slower turns and/or more precise orientation purposes.
My HOTAS (hands on throttle-and-stick) arrived yesterday and I was able to set it up and put a little bit of time into setting it up and messing around with it in Elite Dangerous.

I started off with the default Thrustmaster settings and made changes as I played through various training missions. The first changes I made was switching the yaw over to the rudder. Towards the end of messing around, I switched the throttle from being forward only to full range. While the TWCS Throttle doesn't have a center position snap like the T.Flight Hotas 4 throttle, I additionally changed the reverse toggle to 0% speed. The way this works is the button can be pressed at anytime and the speed goes to 0. Moving the throttle then changes the speed to whatever the throttle position is currently at along the full range (-100% to 100%). Ideally, what feels best is to return the throttle close to center prior to engaging the 0% speed. Personaly, I like the feel of this because I'm slowing down my approach towards the center - an action in my mind which feels like how a spacecraft would work in a sci-fi setting.

Setup: T.16000M FCS Flight Pack (T.16000M FCS, TWCS Throttle, and TFRP Rudder). Elite Dangerous (as opposed to Elite Dangerous: Horizons). I plugged in the USB cable for the joystick - the manual said it would install itself. Then I installed the drivers for the throttle and after restarting my computer I launched Elite Dangerous but the throttle wasn't recognized. The Thrustmaster Control Panel was only recognizing the joystick. I was worried that I had received a bad unit and would need to exchange and wait for a new one. It took me a while, but eventually I realized I had not yet plugged the throttle's USB cable into my computer. Silly me. I closed the game, plugged it in, and checked that it was recognized by the Thrustmaster Control Panel. It was and upon launching Elite Dangerous, the default Thrustmaster control settings appeared in the game's control menu (it had not appeared before when only the joystick was connected).

With respect to the HOTAS experience, I absolutely love it. It's a huge gameplay improvement. It makes me wonder how anyone can play this game with just a keyboard and mouse. I've very curious, however, about the dual stick configuration; I already ordered a standalone stick but it won't be coming until early Feburary. In any case, the main trouble I had using the HOTAS for the first time was which buttons are which (every button on the inputs has a number). Prior to playing next time, I would make a reference sheet (either displayed on screen or on a piece of paper nearby). On a slightly different note, I had seen some button boxes and there were several moments where I really felt having a button box would be so much more fun and intuitive over buttons on the throttle or stick (e.g., a physical switch for landing gear).

Steam Game Time: 1.1 hours (sessions game time) / 3.4 hours (total game time)
+ Has a number of features which create an appropriate space flight simulation atmosphere

~ Not interested to learn the finer details of flight; perhaps requires a more in-depth tutorial system. Update: there are more training missions that can be played which are distinct from the initial tutorial.
~ Update: while the HOTAS helps in the experience, there are still a lot of buttons to assign or reassign or learn (for a first-time HOTAS user like myself)

- Keyboard and mouse does not feel intuitive; perhaps a joystick and throttle setup would be better.* Update: a HOTAS makes a HUGE difference.

*I was watching a video and the relevant accessary is called a HOTAS (hands on throttle-and-stick). In the video, the content maker was using a Thrustmaster T.Flight; the video was published in 2016. Historically, this controller sold for around $60 to $75 and once dropped to $35 (20181226)! Third party sales were similar, with occasional spikes whenever Amazon wasn't selling the product. In particular, Amazon seems to have last sold the product in July and prices have since risen to $250! Fortunately, it can still be purcased for $80 elsewhere.

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Elite Dangerous (PC) (2015)

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