IDEA: Beyond was QoL improvements, but ED needs Risk vs Reward rebalance and Campaign Story

PROBLEM

ED players perceive a grind in this game because of Two main problems:
  1. mismatches in Risk vs Reward and
  2. barriers to engaging in their chosen tasks (combat, trading, exploring) in the game (expensive ships / rebuys / faction requirements / engineering).


CONCEPT IDEA

ED can fix this by rebalancing RvR and allowing players to fast-track into their chosen way of experiencing ED (which can be changed later or experienced from a different perspective / initial occupation to extend replayability.

Many people buy ED for different reasons, some want to play ED as Space Trucker, or as a beautiful space sim and explore planet surfaces or systems with black holes, and others just want to put holes in other ships / aliens. Allow players to immediately engage in their chosen specialty through a campaign story mode (like an origin story), including picking a faction if they desire or being unlawful, vastly improving engagement.


*Faction vs Independent, Lawful vs Unlawful methods. (Navy ranks for data missions? ? No risk and no engagement here just boring grind). Make me care about being a part of a Navy, or Mercenary company, Trade guild, Exploration/Science / Spying outfit, etc.

Choose an initial origin story for quick immersion/engagement in one of the 3 main occupations (can engage in all later but speed the first choice):

Example ideas (but not limited to):
  1. For Combat: initial access to Tier 2 (hypothetical) combat ships with discounted weapons and armor when you join a Navy (lawful route) or a mercenary company (unlawful).
  2. Traders having initial access to Tier 2 trading vessels with lower commodity prices (think merchants guild discounts from past games, and possible focus on repairing stations or being a smuggler).
  3. Explorers (immediate access to high jump range / fast ships / best scanners/sensors) could continue mapping the galaxy like now, or act as spies on other factions (make silent running interesting for something other than a simple banned Liquor/slave run, infiltrating, or act as researchers against current Thargoid threats (Navy) or facilitators of Guardian technology advances (independent opportunitist / capitalist).


Task-Specific Ships can facilitate this initial specialization and provide customization opportunity later as players engage in more tasks.

The current ships should have certain modules built into them based on their intended roles that do not require space or activation. For example (but not limited to):
  1. Combat ships should have rapid Kill Warrant/Manifest scan automatically instead of requiring a keypress or module. (Upgraded from the normal automatic scans
  2. Likewise, Explorers should have fast / long range scanners built right into the ship.
  3. Traders should have access to ships with master limpet controllers, no need for 10 different types of bull controllers (be that crazy miner, or rescuer or salvager, whatever by buying the types of limpets you want to use).


As Occupation Rank builds in an Occupation
Have more guided occupation narrative story and missions unfolding and more job-related benefits as ranks in that Occupation increase, or players can simply ignore story progression and opt for a completely sandbox experience going wherever their wanderlust takes them.

Story Progression
Main story is the current threat narrative (Old = Faction vs Faction, Current = Thargoids, Guardians? Future = ?). As rank is gained in a certain occupation / faction / mercenary company, trigger new section of occupation side-quest story. Allowing players to get a quick foothold in one initial occupation and continue going, or change their minds if they get bored, picking up where they left off in each story. Eventually you can do all 3 occupations if desired, or just go hard in the paint on one if that's the main reason you bought Elite.

After Occupation Rank-based missions, GalNet seems like a perfect way to additionally guide players to use their chosen occupations in a way that contributes to the main story narrative.

Quality of Life:
Engineering and Materials trading in Beyond is a great step forward, but I currently find the C&P system is more of an invasion into the lives of PVE players instead of a successful prevention of ganking / seal-clubbing.

Players need permanent access to the Interstellar Factors via the Contacts panel in their ships, which would prevent ships (especially without fuel scoops) suddenly being stranded without the ability to dock or payoff fines/reach other systems. This change alone would help alleviate the overzealous death sentence of minor fines becoming way out of proportion/punishing to players. I can do more on my couch in 2018 with my Credit Card and Amazon than Elite can do in 3300+????

Go ahead and tell players to "Git Gud" while being such a useless hardship and watch your player base say they're done wasting their time with this game. This game has more hidden mechanics for new players to navigate and research on their own that it is commonplace to see threads all the time talking about people Googling "How to *blank* in Elite Dangerous?" more than actually playing the game...That is the epitome of an overly-burdensome, fun-sapping "game" design. People should value their time more and concentrate on tackling the challenges in the story/game not in overcoming the grind mechanics for some sense of misplaced "sense of accomplishment" (the EA model).

PowerPlay needs changes

PP is a such a missed opportunity, but currently a complete pain with virtually no reward. Have the above mentioned types of benefits permanent.

So many players do not engage in Powerplay because the benefits are horrid, and if they take a break from their second job (i.e. Elite) to take care of their real job / family, they lose their merits or ranking. Keep ranks and benefits permanently, allowing players to feel reward for time investment.

Don't give a salary that could pay out while someone isn't playing at all, give meaningful discounts or access to ships, weapons, modules, instead which facilitate the completion of meaningful chosen occupation / faction appropriate missions.



Step 2: Risk vs Reward (RvR):

Either way this must change. RvR is a core gaming concept since the beginning of games, where the highest risk activities bear the highest reward rates.

Sadly this is the opposite in ED, where the current highest risk activity and current narrative (Thargoids) is also one of the lowest payouts.
Instead, mind-numbingly repetitive tasks with LOW TO ZERO Risk (ferrying passengers, commodities, or data, killing defenseless skimmers) are some of the most efficient ways to gain credits and save time (even some post-nerfs) with major goldrushes involving multiple efficiencies in the BGS involving a combination of:
  • ease of mission availability (with/without board flipping)
  • high intended/unintended payouts
  • ease of finding targets
  • mission stacking/tasks counting towards multiple missions
  • and more..<insert new currently undiscovered mission efficiency here>.


Multiplayer

Use multiplayer to increase difficulty (risk) and and therefore rewards of the above rank-based story / benefits progressions. I know this is attempted in Wing missions, but being able to cooperate in Rank-based Story/Occupation missions would be a whole other level of immersion and engagement. Wing missions in their current form represent just Grinding with FriendsTM.


Anecdotal Story
This past XMAS, I hatched a plan to get my 60+ y.o. dad who loves racing and flying in RL into Gran Turismo Sport, which is a much more affordable and safer simulation experience vs RL costs and physical risks. He can't handle a PC complexity, but after buying him a PS4 Pro, Wheel/pedals and TV, he races on GTS everyday without fail, unless out of state on a trip. He recently asked me about Elite Dangerous since I play it, so I told him how ED works and various game mechanics (I pitched him the game in order to gain a wingman), and his response was: "Oh, in that case, I don't want to waste my time."

The Old man is waiting for Ace Combat 7, so he can rapidly engage in combat and a storyline to justify it without having to engage in a complex grind that requires hundreds of research hours and 3rd party sites to understand. He would never waste his time with a game with this kind of new player punitive C&P system nor the current credit grindest.


TLDR

The game needs a Risk vs Reward rebalance to alleviate grind and improve player engagement through Quality of Life improvements and initial/continued player Rank-base Origin/Occupation story in the current narrative (Thargoids or Guardians, etc). Eliminate the need to grind in the first place, don't play wack-a-mole chasing the latest BGS anomaly. Game needs story-writers to promote engagement, not economists.
 
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