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£50 Elite: Dangerous Beta 1 goes live

Marks the beginning of the final phase of development.

Frontier Developments has launched the latest beta for space game Elite: Dangerous.

Beta 1, as Frontier calls it, costs £50 from the Elite: Dangerous online store, and includes access to all beta development stages and a download copy of the final release version.

The final release version costs £35 and will be out before the end of the year.

"Beta 1 is yet another significant milestone for the development of Elite: Dangerous," Braben said.

"It further builds out the core gameplay with the addition of many important features. Beta 1 marks the beginning of the final phase of development.

"We want to again thank all the Alpha and Premium Beta players who have contributed so much to date. We are delighted to welcome a large number of new people to the Elite: Dangerous multiplayer experience, and are looking forward to everyone's reaction to the great new features and increased scale."

It should be noted that Beta 1 does not include any downloadable content, which will be sold separately.

Beta 1, as Frontier calls it, increases the number of playable star systems in the game by a factor of 10 compared to the £100 Premium Beta, and covers a greatly expanded 38,000 cubic light-year volume of Elite: Dangerous' Milky Way galaxy.

With the greater volume comes an increased variety of celestial bodies, trading economies and star ports. There's also player-to-player communication by text and voice, friend matchmaking, private group play, online single-player and, usefully, docking computers to automate safe star port landings.

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Back at the Develop conference in June, Braben told Eurogamer Elite: Dangerous' prices were set so high in part to keep player numbers low during the alpha and beta phases of the game.

"We've taken flak for it," he admitted. "But the important thing for the alpha is, for it to be a genuine alpha, we didn't want huge numbers. Maybe we shouldn't have restricted it by price but it seemed like a logical thing to do. It seemed like a fair thing to do.

"And we're also making sure the people who backed at the higher levels are getting ongoing benefit even when alpha finished. And all the people who backed the at premium beta, which is finishing soon, as part of that they get all the expansions. So there are still benefits to these things."

Braben said the £50 beta was "closer to the price of a shrink-wrapped game - and an awful lot of the Xbox One games I've bought are that price".

"It's the way we're doing it," Braben said. "We've planned it this way for sound reasons, and part of that is going towards backing the game. We don't have a publisher here. That backing helps financially."

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