The second phase of the Elite: Dangerous multiplayer alpha test began last night and it looks absolutely fantastic.
Let me be clear up-front by pointing out that I have never played Elite: Dangerous and I have no idea how good it is or someday might be. But I have played a lot of other space combat sims over the years, and as I watch this video I cannot help but think to myself, "Yes, this looks very good. Very good indeed."
The Elite: Dangerous alpha test moved into its second phase last night, introducing four multiplayer scenarios to the action: free-for-all, team-vs-team, co-operative defense of a crippled battlecruiser and "a more sophisticated 'Pirates and Bounty Hunters' mode which hints at the fluid choices and roles players will experience on a much greater scale in the final game."
That last bit has a certain ring of marketing hooey to it, but there's no denying the potential of the thing. Elite creator David Braben noted in the video that the game is still early in development and that there will be faults, but said the team is "very excited" about the progress that's been made so far.
"This is an incredibly exciting and important phase in the development of Elite: Dangerous," he said. "Player stat tracking, the multiplayer networking code and associated management are all big new systems that are being tested with Phase 2.0 plus it's the first time we'll be able to test how the game mechanics perform with significant numbers of players all playing simultaneously."
Two more major alpha releases are planned before it enters a "Premium Beta" stage. To get in on the action (which, by the way, will run you about 326 bucks), check out the Elite: Dangerous website.