Elite Dangerous' legendary Thargoid menace has embarked on the next stage of its apparent plan for galactic domination, attacking space stations and causing utter devastation.
This escalation of events in the Thargoid storyline is one of the most exciting in-game developments since Elite Dangerous' narrative-focussed 2.4 update launched earlier this year. Indeed, it's notable enough to warrant its own trailer.
One of the earliest reports of Thargoid attacks on human facilities came from community member Commander GluttonyFang, who posted a video exploring the aftermath of an alien strike on The Oracle Orbis Starport in the Pleiades Sector IR-W d1-55 system. Up until now, Thargoid encounters have largely been limited to random interdictions from hyperspace, and aggressive engagement with players only when provoked.
These new station attacks are given a more interactive element through Elite's passenger missions. Commanders will occasionally be requested to embark on perilous rescue attempts to devastated stations, shuttling survivors to nearby relief vessels.
Could the galaxy be heading toward all-out invasion and warfare? It might be a while before we find out; Elite's Thargoid storyline has so far unfolded at a glacial pace, and although it's far too early to write-off the 2.4 narrative, it would be fair to say that its promising start - a masterfully orchestrated reveal for the Thargoids, followed by violent escalation when 2.4 arrived - has long since stalled, snagged on the endless delaying tactics of developer Frontier's beloved massive-scale Community Goal fetch-quests.
It's certainly been interesting to watch Thargoid events play out, even if their integration with the core Elite Dangerous experience has so far been a little underwhelming, but any future narratives would certainly benefit from pacier deployment of key story milestones.
Still, there's no denying that Frontier can deliver an eye-catching set-piece. Elite's first Thargoid contact is still chilling to watch nearly a year on, as are community discoveries of alien machinery on long-dead planets, and of ghost ships drifting through space. Elite's space station attacks are just as well-orchestrated, equal parts thrilling and terrifying. And hopefully now that the Thargoids are on the warpath, 2.4 will finally pick up the pace.