Elite Dangerous Odyssey release date announced

Elite Dangerous Odyssey Players Walking On A Planetary Surface
(Image credit: Frontier Development)

The Elite Dangerous Odyssey release date for PC is now officially set for May 19, 2021, letting commanders all across the galaxy step out of their cockpits and explore planetary surfaces on foot for the first time. 

Odyssey, currently in its Alpha Phase 3 after a successful rollout of Alpha Phase 2, introduces several new gameplay dynamics that dramatically expand the Elite Dangerous experience. 

While the interstellar flight, space combat, commerce, espionage, and vehicle-based experiences remain largely unchanged – save for some noticeable graphical improvements – integrating relatively seamless on-foot gameplay adds an additional layer of depth to the game for those who want to explore it.

These include on-foot salvage, support, and espionage missions, combat missions in various conflict zones between warring factions, and exobiology and first-footfall exploration to supplement the main game's exploration career.

The game can be pre-ordered now through Steam, the Epic Games Store, and FrontierStore.net, both as a standard pre-order for $39.99/£29.99/AU$56.95, or the deluxe pre-order for $54.99/£39.99/AU$78.95, which includes the official game soundtrack and access to the ongoing Alpha Phase, which ends on April 30.

What to expect from Elite Dangerous: Odyssey

So far, We've been enjoying the Elite Dangerous: Odyssey Alpha Phase, but it is definitely a different kind of gameplay experience than the base game, even with the planetary-vehicle-focused Horizons expansion.

Some might find that Odyssey is a step too far for them, which is understandable. One of the appeals of Elite Dangerous is the solitary immersion of trucking through space, star system after star system, with only your thoughts, background music, or Galnet audio feed to break up the nearly meditative silence of deep space.

Throw on the best VR headset you have handy and pull out your HOTAS flight stick and throttle setup, and you have arguably the closest simulation of a space-faring future for humanity that you will ever play – so long as you never leave the cockpit of your ship or Scarab SRV.

Screenshot Of An Elite Dangerous Odyssey Conflict Zone Fire Fight

(Image credit: Frontier Solutions)

Elite Dangerous Odyssey is definitely not that. It's a fairly straight forward FPS experience whose interface is reminiscent of games like Dues Ex, though stripped of the narrative complexity and bleak, Blade Runner aesthetic.

The settlement and space station-based social hubs are more or less the same no matter where you go and the NPC humans that populate them are fairly generic. You won't feel like the same immersion that you get from inside the cockpit where you could really feel like this is what it would be like to be a merchant on an interstellar Silk Road.

What it does do, however, is expand the scope of the Elite Dangerous universe another level. Where as the game had literally billions of planets to discover and explore in an SRV, these were all absolutely lifeless rocks broken up only by the occassional automated turret defenses that would blow you to hell if they caught you hacking into a base's network infrastructure for an espionage mission.

Now, at least, these planets are more interesting and worth visiting, either directly through missions and conflict zone activity, or on your own as an explorer charting the unknown. The salvage and sabotage missions add a stealth-action component to the game that is a genuine innovation to Elite Dangerous' gameplay formula and the conflict zone firefights expand on the faction civil war dynamic of the game that brings more depth to the mercenary career trajectory. 

Throw in the new suits and personal weaponry and the expansion is the most significant evolution of Elite Dangerous yet. And, its there if you want to engage with it. If not, the space trucking and dogfight simulator remains as is, so those who prefer the solitude of the black can continue to play their trade as before. 

It remains to be seen how well everything is integrated once it's released, but if you are a casual fan to a devoted player of Elite Dangerous, definitely keep an eye on the calendar. 

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).