Frontier still has a few wrinkles to iron out before the anticipated June launch of Elite Dangerous' long-promised Fleet Carriers, and to assist in the process, the developer's second beta test - this time open to players on console as well as PC - will begin next Monday, 11th May.
Fleet Carriers - described as "mobile starships and trading hubs" that accommodate up to 16 players - were initially planned to launch as part of 2018's Beyond update, but have been the recipient of numerous delays. Now, however, with one successful beta out of the way, they're finally on track to arrive next month on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.
Following that first PC-only beta, Frontier announced it had made some important changes to Fleet Carriers based on community feedback. The most notable of these was a dramatic, and extremely welcome, reduction in upkeep and running costs for the new vessels - which could total as much as 25 million credits a week initially - by 85.5%.
Other tweaks included debt threshold adjustments, and a reduction for jump preparation and cool-down times. Frontier also promised it would add Universal Cartographics as an optional Fleet Carrier service and double Tritium fuel efficiency when beta two arrived.
All of that will be ready for testing next week, and there are some previously unannounced changes coming too; Fleet Carrier owners will, for example, be able to access shipyard and outfitting without enabling the full, credit-draining services. Additionally, players will now receive a full refund when Fleet Carriers are decommissioned as a result of prolonged debt, although a static fee will be subtracted for those that decommission voluntarily.
Frontier's second Fleet Carrier beta will run from 11th-26th May, and those wishing to participate, whether they be on PC or consoles, can get more details on its website. The developer notes that Fleet Carriers' usual 5,000,000,000 credit purchase price will be reduced to one million credits for the purposes of testing during the beta.
All going well, Fleet Carriers should enter the live game in June, which will likely be Elite Dangerous' last major update of the year. On Friday, Frontier announced its still-mysterious Next Era update, described as a "defining moment in the history of the game", will no longer meet its anticipated December 2020 release date, and will now arrive early next year.