Celebrating 5 years of Elite Dangerous!

Will Flanagan


Greetings Commanders,

It feels like only yesterday that we were celebrating 35 years of Elite, and today is call for another celebration... the 5th anniversary of Elite Dangerous. Since the launch of the Kickstarter, we've seen Commanders across PC, PlayStation and Xbox come together to blaze their trails across the Milky Way.

This birthday is yours as much as it is ours, and we want to thank and celebrate each and every commander who joined us when the game first released in 2014 to the present. We've got a bunch of things to share with you to rejig your memories, or, if you're new to Elite Dangerous, provide you a recap of what's made up these last 5 glorious years!

Looking back at the last 5 years of development

We're very proud of how Elite Dangerous has grown over these last five years! As part of this celebration, we'll be taking a look back through the last five years of development.

Below is just the tip of the iceberg for what has been launched, added, improved and updated in Elite Dangerous and doesn't take into account all of the features, smaller updates and patches we've released over the years!

  • Elite Dangerous launched!
  • Throughout the year, we introduced a bunch of new features: Community Goals allowed the whole Elite Dangerous community to work together, towards goals which influence the wider galaxy.
  • Wings enabled pilots to fly together and share their rewards in joint efforts.
  • Powerplay ushered in an age of Commanders being able to pledge allegiance to one of the many Galactic Powers, battling for interstellar conquest, power and control
    • As a result of the Dangerous Games - a new player-created Power was introduced: Yuri Grom.
  • Fearless pilots embarked in gladiatorial contests in CQC.
  • New ships, mission types, beautiful Starport interiors and so much more was added towards the end of the year leading on the way to...
2015 - Horizons
Horizons brought with it planetary landings, providing commanders a new way to explore the galaxy!
  • Engineers emerged, offering their services to commanders wanting to take their modules and ships to the next level!
  • A number of additions arrived not long after, from Capital Ship Dockyards to ship-launched fighters, Neutron Stars and the lovable space whale, the Beluga.
  • The Holo-Me commander creator gave a face to each and every commander, some cool, some stylish... and some hideous!
  • ...Speaking of hideous... THARGOIDS! The Thargoids returned and resulted in the Aegis organisation launching massive-scale Community Goals to create Anti-Xeno weaponry to combat the arrival of this menace!
2018 - Beyond
With Beyond, we looked back at some of the core features introduced early in Elite Dangerous' development and refine them into what they are today.
  • Chapter One - Focused feedback from the community helped us introduce a number of revised features. We said goodbye to beige and welcomed in an array of different coloured planet surfaces. New COVAS were released to provide a different personality for your ship (we still love you Verity). The Tech Brokers and Material Traders opened shop, ensuring commanders could have what they needed... when they needed it!
  • Chapter Two - Thargoid Scouts encroached on human space - a new enemy that could buff and assist each other in combat.
  • Chapter Three - More Guardian mysteries were unveiled with the discovery of the Guardian Beacons and the creation of the Guardian Fighters, which were created to take on the Thargoids.
  • Chapter Four - Squadrons were introduced, allowing players to form a Squadron of like-minded commanders and focus their efforts in a particular area of the game. Exploration and Mining were totally overhauled with features like the FSS and planetary probes, identifying excellent mining spots and deep core mining for all the juicy goodies inside an asteroid.
  • The Starter Experience provides a safer space for cadets to earn their wings and begin their Elite Dangerous career.
  • New modules, such as the Advanced Docking Computer and Supercruise Assist, and the Pilot’s Handbook have made it easier for newer commanders to get a better understanding of how one pilots a ship in the 3300s.
  • Interstellar Initiatives gave commanders opportunities to have greater control over the narrative of the game, introducing new stations, a living Generation Ship, modules and rare goods.

Infographic - A glance at 2019!

We've also been taking a look at what commanders have been up to over the course of 2019. The amount of the galaxy explored has increased from 0.036% to 0.042%, which makes us think that we might need two Distant Worlds a year...

Let us also take a moment to remember all of those poor limpets... so callously fired towards asteroids and left as debris to wander the stars for an eternity #NeverForgetYourLimpets.


Messages from the team

Throughout these past five years we have had numerous industry professionals working on this amazing project and some of them are delighted to share their favourite moments with us!

Zac Antonaci, Director of Publishing - "I joined Frontier back towards the launch of Elite Dangerous and it has truly been one of the most incredible experiences, seeing the community grow and develop over the years. They have done so many genuinely amazing and inspiring things, it’s impossible to pick just one. Some of the my favourites have been:

  • The many varied styles and purposes of Player Groups, the first Distant Worlds expedition, the Dangerous Games.
    • Raising incredible amounts for good causes through community fundraiser/streams, crazy events (like climbing up mountains!) and getting involved in 24 hour livestream.
    • The community coming together at events like Lavecon, ECM, Fantasticon, Gamescom, PAX, EGX, Frontier Expo and many more.
    • The combined effort of so many people in the community to make young Commander Holyland’s final days ones of excitement and passion.
    • These, and many more examples, are why I am proud to be a part of the Elite Dangerous community."
Lucy Bugby - Technical Artist - "This video. CMDR BurkeBlack first saw the Galactic Map with such a genuine reaction of amazement. It makes me feel great about working on this project!"​
Derin Halil, Game Designer - "The Distant Stars Expedition of 3303 had players journey to a previously unreachable star which had just changed thanks to our addition of FSD supercharging with Neutron and White Dwarf stars. The journey was a one-way trip and players all self-destructed in unison at their destination. I placed a permanent wreckage site at the group’s final coordinates and a Tourist Beacon at the point of no return for all other commanders to see. That’s what’s great about working on Elite Dangerous – working on a game that has such dedication and enthusiasm from its players and allows us to immortalise the actions and feats of those commanders."​
Lloyd Morgan-Moore, Producer - "I have a good memory; getting to meet the players who were excited about the game coming to PS4 at Frontier Expo 2017. The game wasn’t even out yet but the community was brimming with passion for the game. It was clear it meant a lot, and it was great to be able to talk to members of the community in person. The same goes for any players I’ve met. I’ve come across random people out in the public who love the game and were super happy to find out I worked on it... which is a wonderful feeling!"​
Laura Massey, QA Manager - "Elite Dangerous will always have a special place in my heart. I don’t directly work on ED any longer, but I learnt a lot about my discipline throughout my work on the project. Working on Elite Dangerous helped me to make long-lasting friendships with other members of my department and the rest of the Elite Dangerous team."​
Rich Benton, Producer - "The best part of working on Elite is the community. Even at the pre-launch phase, their support was incredible! For example, members of the community generously acquired us pizzas, and a big highlight for me was meeting some of our players at the launch party (turns out that some were, unexpectedly, from my home town)."​
Nathan Hutchinson, Graduate Game Designer - "One of my favourite moments was watching the community's reaction when they first discovered The Golconda Generation Ship, and how well they picked up on a lot of the small details that we added."​
Christopher Andrews, Server Developer - "My favourite part of Elite Dangerous is the community that has grown around the game. People who truly care about the galaxy and how it evolves. It’s both thrilling and humbling to see the reaction to each content update and story development. I can’t wait for the years to come!"​
Eddie Symons, Senior Producer - "I have some fantastic memories of working on many great additions to the game, like the return of Thargoids, deep core mining, Holo-Me, planetary landings and so much more. All of which really highlights the thing I love most about this game – that thanks to the support from our community it can still continue to grow and expand even after all this time."​
Dav Stott, Head of Online - "To work so closely, for so long, on Elite Dangerous has been the most amazing journey, and I have learned so much from a large team of talented and creative people that all pulled together to bring this game to life. Elite Dangerous is an online game, and the Online team's responsibility for keeping the various platform and game servers running smoothly is satisfying and yes, occasionally hair raising. A personal highlight is that I was allowed to implement a lot of the server simulations that underpin core features like commodities, outfitting and factions that are still going strong after 5 years and countless player actions."​
Adam Woods, Executive Producer - "My favourite memory is being robbed by Commander Xizor. We had opened up anarchy systems as part of the beta releases, and a group were blockading a port. I jumped in to see what was going on, and he stripped my shields and demanded my cargo. I gave it to him, at which point he realised who I was (my Commander was Adam Woods). "Adam Woods, as in FD??" "Oh snap, I just mugged a FD employee

Oh dear, poor Adam! A huge thanks to the team who shared their memories with us.

Now it's time to look at...

What have the community been doing?

During the anniversary livestream, we took this auspicious occasion to reprise our Featured Commanders segment, celebrating a snippet of the amazing things achieved and orchestrated by you, our wonderful community, over the last five years. With such a massive galaxy, we didn't have enough time to show everything that the community has done over the years, but we tried to show off some of our most recent top picks. If you missed it, you can check it out below:


We've had the pleasure to attend a number of Frontier Community Meets as well as player-organised events such as Fantasticon, Lavecon and ECM. It's been great fun to meet with the community, play games, chat about Elite Dangerous, raise money and have heaps on fun meeting our commanders face to face!

In-game, there have been hundreds of events, large and small, where commanders have flown together united in a common cause! Whether that is throwing oneself into the carnage of a buckyball race, or circumnavigating the galaxy in 80 days... or, travelling to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in a pilgrimage of exploration and wanderlust. It's been amazing to watch and be part of those events.

This year, we saw approximately 14,000 Commanders take part in the player-organised Distant Worlds 2 expedition (first conceptualized in 2017 at Frontier Expo). A fun anecdote for those who jumped on the first day: all of the commanders who jumped on the first day crashed our servers! Fortunately, Lead Server Developer Dav himself was one of those expeditionary members and ready to revive the server hamster! The event was covered by Polygon, Kotaku, Rock Paper Shotgun and NEW SCIENTIST, and even received attention from astronaut, Chris Hadfield.

Player Groups

There have been an so many fantastic Player Groups and Squadrons that have come together over the years to accomplish amazing feats and create fun for all denizens of the galaxy. Although we didn't have the time to mention each and every group during the stream, we want to take this opportunity to thank you all for coming together and creating wonderful memories and friendships together. If you now cry out "FOR THE MUG", help new players, or even repair and refuel other commanders, we thank you for being involved with one another, and being absolutely outstanding to your fellow commanders.


Not only has this game brought people together, it has also helped to create a platform to raise the awareness of individual commanders, Squadrons, and Player Groups, whose unbelievable efforts have raised money for numerous charities. While we're unable to determine the full extent of these efforts, Elite Dangerous players have raised over £63,000 for charities in the last couple of years. For a gaming community to have such an profound impact on those in need charities is something you can all be truly proud of!

Honourable Mentions

Over the past five years, we have had a lot of great things happen within and around Elite Dangerous. But sadly, we have also had some losses. We'd like to say o7 to every commander who has touched our hearts in the last five years, and who has sadly passed on. You're gone, but never forgotten. You're remembered by your wingmates and the galaxy itself.

Community Goal and Competitions

Celebrate in-game by signing up for the Year’s End Festivities in Reorte Community Goals!
  • Imports for Year’s End Festivities - Deliver Animal Meat, Fish, Fruit and Vegetables, Beer, Lavian Brandy, Anduliga Fire Works and Eranin Pearl Whisky to Davies High in the Reorte system.
  • Security for Year’s End Festivities - Deliver Bounty Vouchers to Davies High in the Reortesystem.
    • Start Date - 12 December @ 15:00 (UTC)
    • End Date - 18 December @ 15:00 (UTC)
By taking part in the Anniversary Community Goal, Commanders will be awarded a cargo-bay full of credits and the... Cobra Mk III Iridescent Gleam Paint Job (pictured below!)

FAC - Paint Job - 900x506.png

Finally, as we said at the beginning, this birthday is yours as much as it is ours!

We wanted to take this opportunity to look back at all the amazing things that have happened, from the studio, and the commanders who make this game a wonderful space to be in. We couldn’t have come this far without you, and we thank you so much for your past, current, and future support. We look forward to sharing many more stories, and having more adventures with you out in the black!

Would've been a great opportunity for an update on this roadmap from 2014:

We do intend to release small, free updates after launch, but expansions that include significant new features and content will be charged for separately. For example, our current roadmap is to add (in no particular order):
  • Landing/ driving / prospecting on airless rocky planets, moons & asteroids
  • Walking around interiors and combative boarding of other ships
  • Combat and other interactions with other players and AIs in the internal areas of star ports
  • Accessing richly detailed planetary surfaces
  • Availability of giant ‘executive control’ ships to players

Could be a great way to reinforce the community's trust in the dev team. But the great tacticians in FDev's management team think complete silence is a much better way of rewarding the community for their long time support.

Happy 5th Birthday!
I enjoyed the live stream, and it has been a wild and wonderful 5 years.. One person is/was missing though and that was the great maker himself David Braben.

I am surprised that Fdev didn't have a sculpture of a melting ice planet, with a model carrier orbiting it in his place to show his continued support :) ;)
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