Originally released as an exclusive package for the Xbox One, PC and Mac pilots on Elite: Dangerous will be able to spend their weekend enjoying space in an arena more common to the worlds of Unreal Tournament or Quake 3.
It’s called the Close Quarters Championship and no, I’m not talking about a special online tournament for Metal Gear Solid. It’s a series of online multiplayer modes for Elite: Dangerous that was previously only released for Xbox One pilots, although a new patch has now rolled it out to all users, instead of just those who had early access to the beta build.
CQC, accessible through the main menu, is a list of new modes that’s more akin to an arena shooter than a space sim, with capture the flag, team deathmatch for up to 12 players, free-for-all and more. It has a levelling and prestige system of its own (hello Call of Duty) and it’s something that Frontier hopes will catch on. “CQC will be a balanced, competitive experience, and we hope the eSports community will embrace it,” their FAQ says.
That’s a bit of a weird line to drop in a list of bullet points about the features of a new mode, but anyway. Players have access to three ships — the F63 Condor, Eagle and Sidewinder — and to make things more interesting, the targeting system in CQC is far less forgiving than the standard E:D experience. Enemies will be lost if they’re obscured by any object, be it a station wall, asteroid or whatever.
Ideally it leads to more interesting fights and manoeuvres that weren’t ordinary possible. You can pick up a string of upgrades in-game as well, which involves flying around picking up holograms (a little reminiscent of Star Wars: Battlefront, although E:D, in fairness, did it first).
Frontier’s latest patch for their space epic is so large that it doesn’t fit within the character limit for Steam announcements, but you can read the tweaks, fixes, additions and improvements on their blog. If you’ve been waiting for E:D to fill out with more content before jumping in, the inclusion of a tournament-esque PvP mode is as good a reason as any to break out the HOTAS setup.