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Elite Dangerous' major Next Era update has been delayed into 2021

Fleet Carriers still expected in June.

Elite Dangerous' still-mysterious Next Era update, which developer Frontier previously described as a "defining moment in the history of the game", will no longer meet its anticipated December 2020 release date, and is now expected to launch early next year.

Frontier broke the news in a post to the Elite Dangerous forum, explaining that "during this uncertain period, we've... had to re-examine our longer term roadmap and make some adjustments". The developer - which has transitioned to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic - said the decision to move its Next Era update into 2021 wasn't made lightly and "has been made with both the team and the game's best interest at heart."

Frontier has so far revealed little in the way of specifics regarding the Next Era update, other than that it will be a "major new paid-for release... which will dramatically expand gameplay" and will include "significant new features to appeal to existing commanders, whilst being specifically designed to be a compelling, attractive and welcoming entry point for new players."

Thankfully, despite the newly announced changes to Frontier's development schedule, Elite's remaining 2020 won't entirely be a barren void appropriately reminiscent of space. This year's remaining big addition will be the game's much-delayed Fleet Carriers, originally announced to release in 2018 and now, finally, expected to arrive June.

Fleet Carriers underwent the first of two planned betas at the start of April, and a second - which will be open to players on PC and consoles - is due to take place in May. Frontier's update suggests this second beta will still go ahead as originally planned, with the developer saying, "Everything is still on track to bring Fleet Carriers to the live servers in June."

And while 2020 may now be a little quieter for Elite than originally expected, its passionate community remains as engaged as ever. Earlier this week, I spoke to one group of players which has been lending its services to help others beat the space sim's grind during lockdown.

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Matt Wales

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Matt Wales is a writer and gambolling summer child who won't even pretend to live a busily impressive life of dynamic go-getting for the purposes of this bio. He is the sole and founding member of the Birdo for President of Everything Society.