Elite's Alpha 4 is here, beta starts May 30th

Elite: Dangerous
Development on Elite: Dangerous is moving right along, as evidenced by this week's release of the space sim sandbox's Alpha 4 client. The latest patch represents the final Alpha phase, and it "vastly expands scale, scope, and depth over previous alpha versions," according to a Frontier press release.

Elite's already massive universe just got bigger, and the devs have released two additional travel methods to assist with traversing it. Hyperspace jumps are now a thing as is super-cruise for accelerated in-system jaunts. Alpha 4 also introduces inter-system trading via a dynamically evolving market.

[Source: Frontier press release]

Cambridge, UK. 16th May 2014. Frontier Developments plc (AIM: FDEV), the leading independent game developer with studios in Cambridge UK and Halifax, Nova Scotia, yesterday released of the final phase of the Alpha development process of its forth-coming Elite: Dangerous game, Alpha 4.

Alpha 4 vastly expands scale, scope and depth over the previous Alpha versions, being set within a 200 cubic light-year volume containing five star systems centred around the Boötes constellation: Eranin, Dahan, i Boötis, Assellus Primus and LP 98-132.

They include spectacular sights such as an unusual quaternary star system and ringed gas giants, and are part of contested space between the Federation and Independent systems. Additionally IP 98-132 is an anarchy which is rife with pirate activity.

Two additional methods of travel make their full debut in Alpha 4; super-cruise for accelerated within-system travel and hyperspace jumps for travel between systems. There are also new ships available to pilots, including the Anaconda.

The five Alpha 4 star systems are themselves set within 400,000,000 star systems of the Milky Way galaxy, all of which are moving correctly; spinning and orbiting in an incredible ballet. Whilst exploration is currently limited to the five Alpha 4 systems, the 'night sky' is accurate wherever you travel.

Trading between systems is introduced for the first time, using a sophisticated market that dynamically evolves according to local supply and demand. Because the markets take into account buying, selling and capacity changes that take place across the galaxy, an individual's actions - such as stockpiling or attacks to restrict supply - can be used to shift pricing for their benefit.

Elite: Dangerous Alpha 4 offers total freedom as you trade your way through the star systems, pirate, hunt for bounties, and become immersed in exploration and combat with a choice of ships and weaponry.

David Braben, CEO of Frontier, said:

"Reaching the final phase of the Alpha process is a significant milestone for Frontier and for the development of the game. The already huge volume of space and richness in Alpha 4 is an exciting foretaste of the infinite freedom and sheer visceral adventure that is available from Elite: Dangerous."

On 30th May Elite: Dangerous moves into a new phase of Beta testing with an increasingly complete game. Premium Beta starts on 30th May, and participants can already immediately download single player combat experience. Additionally, pre-orders of both the Beta and final game are available now, and upgrades are available for those who have have already pre-ordered the standard Beta or the final game here.
This article was originally published on Massively.