Explore the surfaces of planets in 'Elite: Dangerous' beta

'Horizons' beta arrives with Europa planet surface gameplay and HTC Vive support.

The expansion pack for Elite: Dangerous, the one that lets you go planetside and explore the surface of places like Europa, is out now. Sort of. The Horizons Planetary Landings beta, teased in a video released last week, does exactly what it says assuming you've pre-ordered Horizons itself. Everyone else needs to wait for the official release sometime before year's end. Driving the all-new Surface Recon Vehicle, players can discover signals, crashed ships and mineral deposits, vastly expanding the range of gameplay. Creator David Braben recently showed off the expansion in a demo (below), and said that certain features, like textures and frame rates, might still have issues.

As a reminder, Elite: Dangerous is an open world space exploration game in the style of (still unreleased) No Man's Sky or the (also still not released) Star Citizen. The galaxy is based on the real Milky Way, giving players a 1:1 scale world with billions of stars to explore. On top of the new gameplay, the Horizons beta also ushers in HTC Vive and Steam VR support. Gameplay on the headset was first announced in September, and the Vive itself is set to be released in limited quantities by the end of the year.

TImothy J. Seppala contributed to this report