Frontier Developments has offered Elite Dangerous players with access to the game's troubled Odyssey expansion a bit of an early Christmas present, finally introducing a new ground vehicle option - the two-seater Scorpion SRV - for the first time in six years.
Elite Dangerous' first SRV (that's Surface Recon Vehicle, in case you were wondering) arrived as part of the game's Horizons expansion back in 2015. Horizons added the ability to land on planets, and that first SRV, the single-seater Scarab - released long before the Odyssey expansion introduced on-foot traversal - was an integral part of the puzzle, giving players the ability to travel outside their ships.
Six years went by with no new options for buggy fans, but that's all changed with Elite Dangerous' latest update. As of today, players that own the space sim's Odyssey expansion on PC will be able to purchase the new Scorpion SRV - only available from military economies - which provides a two-seater alternative to the original Scarab.
Frontier says the Scorpion is designed specifically for supporting infantry during ground-based combat and is intended to be used co-operatively, with one player in the driver's seat and another manning its weapons: the rapid-fire Surge Repeater, which increases its accuracy and rate of fire the longer it's being operated, plus the Aculeus Launcher.
As for the rest of today's Odyssey update - its ninth major post-launch release - it's another whopper. On the features front, there's also a new multi limpet controller and a chance of running into mission providers at settlements, but those additions are positively dwarfed by the sheer number of bug fixes and improvements to performance and stability the update brings.
That's not really surprising, however, given the disgraceful mess the £30 Odyssey expansion was in when Frontier management opted to shove it out the door back in May (the release is still desperately trying to claw its way back from a Mostly Negative user rating on Steam), but it's at least reassuring to see improvements being made - even if the unwieldy patch notes of each subsequent release suggest the update launched at least six months too soon.
Perhaps not un-coincidentally, Frontier was forced to admit sales of Odyssey were "more muted" than it had expected in a trading update last month, and there's still no sign of a console release on the horizon. Odyssey was initially due to launch for PlayStation and Xbox toward the end of this year, but Frontier announced it would be postponing the console versions indefinitely after the expansion's disastrous reception on PC.
"We know that the work that we do to improve players' experiences of Elite Dangerous Odyssey on PC will benefit other platforms in the future," Frontier told players at the time, "but the dates and details of the console platforms are going to change."
Will you support Eurogamer?