So far Frontier has talked a lot about combat in Elite Dangerous' upcoming Odyssey expansion, but not so much about how it'll affect other activities out among the stars. That's changed a little now though, with the developer outlining a few of the ways another of the space sim's core disciplines - exploration - will be affected come launch day.
The most immediate change to exploration will come in the number of landable planets available in Odyssey, with Frontier anticipating around a 20% increase based on its own tests in a limited number of regions. Scale that out to Elite Dangerous' entire procedural galaxy, however, and the number of traversable worlds will increase to "billions".
Notably, however, not all planets will be fit for disembarkation. Frontier confirms players won't be able to leave their ship to go a-wandering if the temperature and gravity of the environment outside is so extreme as to be completely unsurvivable.
And while we still don't know if Odyssey will introduce any other specific exploration enhancements beyond the ability to scan local flora for sellable data while roaming a planet's surface, as revealed previously, Frontier did use the rest of its latest Q&A to shine a light on the expansion's new First Footfall system.
Working in a similar fashion to Elite Dangerous' existing First Discovered By and First Mapped By tags, First Footfall preserves the name of the very first Commander to set foot on a planet for posterity, so players can stamp their mark on the galaxy. In fact, First Footfall accolades (which are recognised at a planetary level rather than for individual points of interest) will be displayed on the system map alongside the two aforementioned achievements.
According to Frontier, planets and moons in human-occupied systems - as well as certain bodies of historical significance - will already have First Footfall claimed when Odyssey launches. However, with over 400 billion star systems in-game, there'll be plenty of other destinations for players to seek out in order to secure that First Footfall accolade.
And in case you're wondering, should multiple players land on the same planet at the same time, they won't all receive recognition for a First Footfall discovery. "In the same way that Buzz Aldrin made way for Neil Armstrong to be the first man on the moon," explains Frontier in its Q&A, "the control to disembark is for an individual Commander and there will always be someone first down the ladder".
Elite Dangerous' Odyssey expansion is now expected to arrive "late spring" on PC, following a delay announcement last month, and it'll be heading to consoles in autumn.