Elite / Frontier Frontier: Elite 2 - but flying more like Elite / Elite: Dangerous

Strange, i was getting pack engagements throughout Amiga FE2 (the Fairlight crack (tho i also bought (and still have) the boxed retail version of course, just damn that old Galcop security test)) - must be some kind of issue in the build you're playing if you're only seeing 1-on-1 dogfights..

The final promotion from 'deadly' to 'elite' was the longest trawl in my personal gaming history (years, it took... YEARS!) - but i'll never forget the moment it happened; it was a close recon mission, photographing a base that was sending out swarms of defenders, intense aerial combat (all in atmosphere), the sky chock-full of fighters and laser fire and smoking debris falling back down, and then, right in the midst of battle and completely unexpectedly, Right on Commander! Elite, signed, sealed and delivered.. (and all using just fore and aft thrusters!) A legend in my own mind ever since.. but no other gaming accolade brings or deserves a greater sense of achievement, so stick with it laddie, 100 kills a week / weekend, you'll get there..

Elite in ED is about as satisfying as clocking Wolfenstein in comparison..
 
My memory isn't bright anymore on days I played Frontier, but I remember that I had same issue with only 1-on-1 fights. I Played as Imperial and I had some 4700-4800 kills (without cheats) as I kept track on the kill count and saved always often with using filenames that included hits, like XXXX3500 etc. There was also bug problems with ships with multiple gun turret mounts: I couldn't purchase and use them at all, because of game breaking bugs. I lost interested to the game after a while, after grinding those parcel and passenger delivery missions for The Imperium enough long... Maybe someday I try again with one of these nice looking remakes.

There are probably less then 10000 hit points left to next 60K promotion and 15000 or so to the next hit counter overflow in Elite Plus (PC/DOS) and third 'Elite' promotion soon after that. When that 'Triple Elite' milestone is broken, I have serious doubts there are much motivation left to grind the game anymore like I have done. Maybe it's time to play some FE2 then.

I've lost on these matters. What is most recommendable Frontier remake version currently?
 
Strange, i was getting pack engagements throughout Amiga FE2 (the Fairlight crack (tho i also bought (and still have) the boxed retail version of course, just damn that old Galcop security test)) - must be some kind of issue in the build you're playing if you're only seeing 1-on-1 dogfights..
Hehe, Fairlight, haven’t heard that name in a while!

I do get up to 3 ships appearing rarely, more often 2, but it’s obvious something’s not working correctly because sometimes I can pop an single Osprey then click the maximum StarDreamer and even though any dropped cargo continues smoothly on its trajectory (meaning no elapsed time) another Osprey will magically appear. Same happens for the next one, which makes me think the 3 should’ve appeared together. I’ve tried using the StarDreamer in combat to see if it spawns the next ship but unfortunately that doesn’t work.

I’ve read a comment by Isinona on one of their old FE2 YouTube videos which basically says there’s a trick to getting multiple ships engaging at the same time, but doesn’t actually say what the trick is 😅 Edit: what they actually say is “The game really got interesting when I worked out how to evade pirates (note this has to be done without using top time acceleration, as you mentioned). The knock on result from evading them is that they tend to bunch together behind you. If they then catch up with you again then these sort of 5v1 battles can occur - not all the time, but quite often. I once tried to dodge my way through an anarchy system and I kid you not it resulted in something like a 15v1 battle.” Unfortunately I’m just not sure how the “evading” works!

Kudos for achieving Elite back in the day - I’ve done a few combat encounters only using fore/aft thrusters but it’s a bit too tricky with a controller, it really needs a mouse for the swift vector changes.

@Nothoria Infama - good luck for your Elite Plus goal! My aim is to get to Elite in the original 3 games (having only got to Competent or so back when they first came out) - I’ve done ZX Spectrum Elite (though I think I’m going to give the BBC version a go as well) so far, but FE2 is taking quite a bit longer, though that’s mainly down to how I’m playing.

As for what’s the best version - I’m using DOSbox to run the PC version (which is what I spent most of my original time on, though I did start off with the Amiga version) with a pair of mods (Control Mod & Password Cracker) (https://www.sharoma.com/frontierverse/patches.htm). There’s also a high-res version based on the Atari ST code and a sort-of remake called Pioneer (though I haven’t checked on that for years). The Amiga CD32 release is the most feature complete version of the game I believe. If you’re looking at FFE then AndyJ’s version is the one to go for.
 
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Yeah the last time I was playing this game I figured out it seemed to be tied to the time acceleration setting. If you're on the highest acceleration, the pirates trickle one by one. With any other setting you get multiples attacking in wings.

And people complain about buggy releases now... at least they get patched nowadays.
 
A little reminder of just how phenomenal the scale of this game is..


..this is Amiga FE2's galactic map fully zoomed out:

At this scale, each pixel represents an entire super-cluster of galaxies. Our piffling little local group, somewhere deep down in the depths of that pink dot.

The full distance across horizontally is 82 Mly, and using the wormholes, is fully traversable..

..that is to say that yes, the base game effectively shipped with galactic hyperdrive; not only can you jump between neighboring galaxies, but leapfrog across millions of them at a time, tunneling the full 25 mega-parsecs in a single humongous leap, in principle - ie. go to the local system map, fast-pan in any direction and keep going, off the edge of the galactic disc and out into the intergalactic medium, and just hold course.. until the next galaxy comes into view; per usual, a few stars near a wormhole will be within jump range, one or two perhaps sparsely populated but offering basic supplies and servicing..


The original Acorn Elite almost shipped with similar scale - the number of galaxies cut down to just eight on publisher advice.


In Amiga FE2 tho, the fractal range was only limited by the 16 bit length.. taking the concept of 'no limits' right down to the hardware.
 
Hehe, Fairlight, haven’t heard that name in a while!

I do get up to 3 ships appearing rarely, more often 2, but it’s obvious something’s not working correctly because sometimes I can pop an single Osprey then click the maximum StarDreamer and even though any dropped cargo continues smoothly on its trajectory (meaning no elapsed time) another Osprey will magically appear. Same happens for the next one, which makes me think the 3 should’ve appeared together. I’ve tried using the StarDreamer in combat to see if it spawns the next ship but unfortunately that doesn’t work.

I’ve read a comment by Isinona on one of their old FE2 YouTube videos which basically says there’s a trick to getting multiple ships engaging at the same time, but doesn’t actually say what the trick is 😅 Edit: what they actually say is “The game really got interesting when I worked out how to evade pirates (note this has to be done without using top time acceleration, as you mentioned). The knock on result from evading them is that they tend to bunch together behind you. If they then catch up with you again then these sort of 5v1 battles can occur - not all the time, but quite often. I once tried to dodge my way through an anarchy system and I kid you not it resulted in something like a 15v1 battle.” Unfortunately I’m just not sure how the “evading” works!

Kudos for achieving Elite back in the day - I’ve done a few combat encounters only using fore/aft thrusters but it’s a bit too tricky with a controller, it really needs a mouse for the swift vector changes.

@Nothoria Infama - good luck for your Elite Plus goal! My aim is to get to Elite in the original 3 games (having only got to Competent or so back when they first came out) - I’ve done ZX Spectrum Elite (though I think I’m going to give the BBC version a go as well) so far, but FE2 is taking quite a bit longer, though that’s mainly down to how I’m playing.

As for what’s the best version - I’m using DOSbox to run the PC version (which is what I spent most of my original time on, though I did start off with the Amiga version) with a pair of mods (Control Mod & Password Cracker) (https://www.sharoma.com/frontierverse/patches.htm). There’s also a high-res version based on the Atari ST code and a sort-of remake called Pioneer (though I haven’t checked on that for years). The Amiga CD32 release is the most feature complete version of the game I believe. If you’re looking at FFE then AndyJ’s version is the one to go for.
The fan consensus is that Amiga FE2 was the most polished version, if you can put up with the 320x200.. (DB has said there were 640x480 dev builds but hasn't released any yet..) - but that also means losing full manual thrusters..

Amiga FE2 also allows you to see incoming enemy ships as dots in the local system map - using the same colour-coding as the scanner to show their masses. With judicious use of stardreamer you can thus see where they're going over time - ie. how fast they're closing on you - and plan accordingly, taking evasive or whatevs; going to manual and accelerating to a high speed on a vector orthogonal to their intercept trajectory will fling 'em around a bit, and separating ships out of a pack by mass and delta-V is a key means of target prioritisation.. getting the small fighters out the way before the big guns arrive..

This long-range scanning feature is also carried over into Andy J's FFE mod, which also has various options to configure how battles begin and unfold (close quarters or max-scanner range, and eliminating any gamey artificial accelerations applied to AI ships), seemingly the only real option if you want naturalistic engagements with full FA: off for both player and AI..
 
Re. Pioneer, while it beautifully builds on the flying and navigating aspects, it completely lacks the close-quarters laser combat so essential and defining to the Elite gaming experience; which is all about managing and dealing with the threat level, the tenuous calms punctuated with the twitch-reflex arcade action of CQB with lasers and shields.

Last i checked, all Pioneer could muster was marshmallow-flinging contests at beyond visual range; utter, pointless tedium that never progresses or develops into an actual dogfight..

Whereas Elite's raw elementary combat emerges naturalistically from the same basic flight physics of force, mass and motion... fixed-beam zero-G lazer-quest with fusion-powered tanks, in space..

If having slow-moving puff-balls thrown at you by a fast-moving shooting star on the horizon, whilst having only equally-slow moving pom-poms to fling back sounds like your idea of thrilling combat...

TL;DR Frontier Elite still stands without equal.. Pioneer's a fantastic homage, but fixed-beam CQB with FA: off is the heart and soul of the game.. that vital essence without which Pioneer just feels.. a bit anemic.
 
..hmm, only just noticed - and yes it's obviously a fractal fluke - but in that final frame of the large-scale structure of the universe FE2 finishes upon, our local group's out on the edge near a void between two filaments.. pretty much where modern measurements actually locate us..

About the only thing FE2 didn't seem to anticipate was hot jupiters, comforming instead to the classic Nice model of planetary migration..
 
Yeah the last time I was playing this game I figured out it seemed to be tied to the time acceleration setting. If you're on the highest acceleration, the pirates trickle one by one. With any other setting you get multiples attacking in wings.
I’ve just had a test run into Riedquat at x4 StarDreamer and, by gum, you’re right Sir! 😁

Four of the interceptions had more than one attacker, though the secondary (and sometimes tertiary) attackers went galloping past, overshooting by 20km or so. I might try mixing in some x3 StarDreamer to see if that improves their retro-thrusters. Edit: unfortunately not
A little reminder of just how phenomenal the scale of this game is..


..this is Amiga FE2's galactic map fully zoomed out:

At this scale, each pixel represents an entire super-cluster of galaxies. Our piffling little local group, somewhere deep down in the depths of that pink dot.

The full distance across horizontally is 82 Mly, and using the wormholes, is fully traversable..

..that is to say that yes, the base game effectively shipped with galactic hyperdrive; not only can you jump between neighboring galaxies, but leapfrog across millions of them at a time, tunneling the full 25 mega-parsecs in a single humongous leap, in principle - ie. go to the local system map, fast-pan in any direction and keep going, off the edge of the galactic disc and out into the intergalactic medium, and just hold course.. until the next galaxy comes into view; per usual, a few stars near a wormhole will be within jump range, one or two perhaps sparsely populated but offering basic supplies and servicing..


The original Acorn Elite almost shipped with similar scale - the number of galaxies cut down to just eight on publisher advice.


In Amiga FE2 tho, the fractal range was only limited by the 16 bit length.. taking the concept of 'no limits' right down to the hardware.
That’s honestly amazing - I had the Amiga version for about a year prior to buying my first PC, but I can’t remember zooming out that far on the Gal Map. I’ve still got my box & disks but unfortunately no A500 to play them on any more 🙂 The PC only zooms out as far as the Milky Way, unless I’m not doing something right.
Edit: just checked, the maximum I can zoom out to is 127,000 ly.

Thanks for the pointers about using the System map - the coloured ship blobs are also present in the PC version and while you can select them with the Autopilot (for comms or scanning) you can’t centre the map on them which makes it difficult to gauge approach vectors. I’ll keep at it though, a big furball will be mine!
 
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Yep that's the behaviour i remember - you have to keep checking back to see if they're getting closer or further away. In AJ's FFE you can of course select and center the map on them, zoom right in and actually see which way they're going at a glance. And again, it also features a variety of options to control how engagements begin (so you can basically choose whether to take on whole wings of AI at a time, or else just line 'em up one by one)..

It also features player wings too, so you never need go into battle alone - take a squadron of fighters with your freighter, or even a personal police escort .. assign them basic orders such as attack target or return to formation etc.

In conjunction with BUFFET you can also customise AI spawns, controlling what types of enemy ships you'll encounter, as well as their loadouts (so no more unarmed kamikaze falcons). Change all pirates to police, or all police into escape pods; give long-range cruisers and lynx bulk carriers the heavy weapons and troves of cargo they always deserved. Upgrade your thrusters at the same time as your drive (a military drive's gotta pull a good 10% more thrust, right?), add a point defence turret to your python or cobra. See a nice-looking ship parked up at a spaceport..? No one around.. you're damn right you can take it.. TWOC anything, GTA style (including lynx BC's and LRC's) - catch up with a merchant vessel, pull alongside it and 'board', taking control of the flightdeck.. offload any worthwhile kit or cargo back to your ship, leaving the ransacked hulk to float off into the darkness, or else crash it into a moon (destroy the evidence!), whatevs.. Appoint yourself local police commissioner and knock up a swat team - no, make it a small army - of tanked-up police vipers with battle weapons, then set up a posse of outlaws to come and attack an LRC, then go and intercept 'em; lead the boys in, or else sit back and watch from the rear, assign them targets or leave 'em weapons free to engage at will.. Improvise an 'escort the freighter' mission across an anarchy system.. just a taste of the kind of play that can be indulged with a little imagination..
 
Yep that's the behaviour i remember - you have to keep checking back to see if they're getting closer or further away. In AJ's FFE you can of course select and center the map on them, zoom right in and actually see which way they're going at a glance. And again, it also features a variety of options to control how engagements begin (so you can basically choose whether to take on whole wings of AI at a time, or else just line 'em up one by one)..

It also features player wings too, so you never need go into battle alone - take a squadron of fighters with your freighter, or even a personal police escort .. assign them basic orders such as attack target or return to formation etc.

In conjunction with BUFFET you can also customise AI spawns, controlling what types of enemy ships you'll encounter, as well as their loadouts (so no more unarmed kamikaze falcons). Change all pirates to police, or all police into escape pods; give long-range cruisers and lynx bulk carriers the heavy weapons and troves of cargo they always deserved. Upgrade your thrusters at the same time as your drive (a military drive's gotta pull a good 10% more thrust, right?), add a point defence turret to your python or cobra. See a nice-looking ship parked up at a spaceport..? No one around.. you're damn right you can take it.. TWOC anything, GTA style (including lynx BC's and LRC's) - catch up with a merchant vessel, pull alongside it and 'board', taking control of the flightdeck.. offload any worthwhile kit or cargo back to your ship, leaving the ransacked hulk to float off into the darkness, or else crash it into a moon (destroy the evidence!), whatevs.. Appoint yourself local police commissioner and knock up a swat team - no, make it a small army - of tanked-up police vipers with battle weapons, then set up a posse of outlaws to come and attack an LRC, then go and intercept 'em; lead the boys in, or else sit back and watch from the rear, assign them targets or leave 'em weapons free to engage at will.. Improvise an 'escort the freighter' mission across an anarchy system.. just a taste of the kind of play that can be indulged with a little imagination..
I didn’t realise there were so many extra features in AndyJ’s mod - I’m looking forward to playing it but I reckon I’ll be best part of another year with FE2 yet to go.

I had a quick go on UAE with the CD32 to Amiga conversion of FE2 - enemy ship behaviour appears to be the same but it was nice to hear the better sound effects once again - oh the Scirocco wind 🙂 Weird seeing wind farms and power lines on Mars, though!

I zoomed out on the galaxy map far enough to start seeing the “galaxy grid” cluster, I honestly can’t remember doing that back in the ‘90s.
 
Well, I’ve finally done it! After just over a year of playing, 435 save games (only saving at Stations & Planet Ports), twenty seven years after I bought the game, and eleven and a half in-game years...
06EC8501-4DD1-4C4E-914C-227CA068D32F.jpeg

...I’ve finally got half-way to Elite 😅

Bounty hunting across the Old Worlds has certainly bumped up the amount of kills I’m getting but my play style isn’t really conducive to swift real-world time progression - every docking/landing so far has been Engines Off (bar 3 due to bugs, where the “relative to” frame of reference wouldn’t change to the Station, making it impossible to dock with) and I only use the autopilot to get me to my target planet, where it drops me within a few tens-of-thousands km’s at about 120km/s.
I’m still getting the occasional moment of stark beauty from FE2, reminding me why this space geek enjoys it so much 😁
EA8E1076-34EC-4EE4-9E0D-DB632DC2C950.jpeg
 
Watching Drew's stream this weekend, he mentioned a good little pun that I bet hardly anyone else had noticed in the game manual (I'd certainly not in 27 years) - the address our Cmdr starts off at is Fish Processing Plant 3142 - Fish Pi :D

There's also the "Phlaschgyt" 1MW Pulse Laser and the 5MW "Phlaschbugher" version. The extreme G-forces we experience in the game are counteracted by the "Silastoplaston" pilot's seat - surely an evolution of Elastoplast sticky plasters. We don't fly around the cabin because we're stuck good and proper to the seat :) I think I'll have to re-read the manual with a punner's eye!

Anyway, here is a video of today's trade run which includes a bit of Engines Off combat with my usual Classic Elite control method but not using the Thruster mod during combat:
Source: https://youtu.be/HQPNcNKwXUk
 
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