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Powerplay update makes Elite: Dangerous a lot more interesting

Game of zones.

Space game Elite: Dangerous will soon get factions players can join, developer Frontier has revealed.

I have the Power!

The Powerplay update brings Powers to the game. Players can work for one of these Powers, gaining perks, reputation bonuses and credits as their dominance of the galaxy grows.

Each Power is either an organisation or character with a figurehead, and each dominates an expanse of human-occupied space.

"If you choose to participate in Powerplay, it will add a whole new dimension to Elite: Dangerous," said lead designer Sandro Sammarco.

"These powers have their own ethos and methods. How they take control of systems varies depending on whether they favour warlike or more pacifist methods. Some will conquer systems with economics, others by just sending in the troops. Either way, you can be part of that."

When the Powerplay updates goes live next month players will find a new tab on the galaxy map that shows the current state of galactic control. You'll see Power borders, systems under control as well as neighbouring enemies. The map will change on a weekly basis as the Powers battle for control.

During a week players can work to undermine enemy control over systems, fortify their Power's territory or prepare unoccupied systems for takeover. Systems prepared for takeover become zones where duelling Powers attempt to expand their borders.

Then, at the end of the week, a target is chosen and objectives are created. If your Power asks players to conquer a system, there will always be an opposing mission for the other side, Frontier explained.

"If a major economic Power sends in their traders for a financial takeover against a military powerhouse, the other side may be tasked with piracy missions to destroy or loot their cargo," Sammarco said.

"You can always be a trader or a miner or a pirate for your own ends, but by joining a Power you'll be afforded special rights and be rewarded for playing the way you already like to play."

The more space your Power controls, the farther you can travel, trade and fight under your Power's protection and benefits. Every Power has a rank of its own, and if you have a high rank, you have more votes and more control over the Power's actions each week. So, those who get stuck in will have more of a say in what happens.

Joining a Power grants players better deals, cheaper repair costs, reduced fines and increased values for exploration data. Some Powers offer reputation bonuses for their followers, potentially fast-tracking pilots to faction-exclusive starships.

Players can even help create new Powers. The feature will launch with an initial selection of factions, but this will rise to a maximum of 20 as minor local forces grow to become Powers.

Also of note: you can defect. But if you do so, you may become wanted by your former friends. Tied to this, Powerplay means you now have license to attack anyone from a rival power in your own territory without incurring a bounty. "We're giving players a reason to engage in PVP against supporters of other factions, and a chance to feel like part of a team even if you prefer to play alone," Sammarco added.

Powerplay is the third major content update for Elite: Dangerous, and will be a part of the game's launch for Mac and Xbox One.

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Elite: Dangerous

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Wesley Yin-Poole


Wesley worked at Eurogamer from 2010 to 2023. He liked news, interviews, and more news. He also liked Street Fighter more than anyone could get him to shut up about it.