Last week, Elite: Dangerous' mysterious aliens finally went on the offensive after months of poking and probing. Now, players have figured out how to fight back, but not everybody's feeling super rah-rah-rah gung-ho about it.
Image credit: Frontier.
Over the weekend, notorious Elite player Joshua "Harry Potter" Chamberlain and his Smiling Dog Crew managed to down a Thargoid by using new anti-xeno weapons to chip away at its armour and open fire on its heart.
Since then, a handful of other players have accomplished similar feats.
Some players have responded by doing things such as posting clips from Starship Troopers (hopefully with tongues planted in cheek) about ensuring that "human civilisation dominates this galaxy now and forever", which were met with cheers of "humans must come first" and "kill 'em all".
Lingo and imagery from the movie has taken on an almost propaganda-like function in the game's community.
Other players, however, have observed that Thargoids don't attack unless you get too close to them, meaning they aren't actively hostile. Until players can better understand their motives, all-out war seems premature.
— Canonn Research (@CanonnResearch) September 29, 2017
One player-run faction, the Knights of Karma, has even instituted a peaceful policy toward the Thargoids, which they shared with other players, presumably in hopes of encouraging them to act similarly:
An especially popular line of thought that's been used to justify both pacifism and space-flower-stripping violence toward Thargoids comes from Premonition, a novel set in the Elite: Dangerous universe. In the following video, player Zm4rc0 explains that the book reveals the existence of multiple kinds of Thargoids, one of which is fleeing from a more violent variety.
He conjectures that the Thargoids currently appearing in the game are not, in fact, evil Staryu-looking motherfuckers, and might just be good Staryu-looking motherfuckers trying to escape. Alternatively, they could be trying to scrape the "bad" Thargoids onto humanity's plate, which would allow them to live in peace.
Players such as Zm4rc0 have taken that to mean that they should leave the current Thargoids alone and focus on gearing up for the "real" evil alien menace, who they figure will be along shortly. Others, however, think that if the "good" Thargoids are trying to drop their war on humanity's doorstep and ride off into the cold, dark outer space sunset, that's a real dick move on their part.
"You idiots!" replied one player to the Knights of Karma's peaceful policy. "You need to shoot the Thargoids. They're using us as a meat shield. Read Premonition."
To round out this galactic brain meme of discourse, yet another group of players has taken to analysing the Thargoids' presence in the game from a mechanical perspective, wondering if their bickering over whether or not to kill them will really mean anything at all.
"The problem is, there is currently no other way to interact with Thargoids than killing them," wrote a player named matchab on Reddit.
"So for now, if you choose to not kill Thargoids, you have basically an update with nothing new to do. It looks like [developer Frontier] wrote only one possible storyline about Thargoids. However, I will be pleasantly surprised if we obtain a way to 'vote' against war in the coming weeks."
Another player, The_Rathour, retorted that you can also "feed" Thargoids items up to and including escape pods with NPC humans inside of them, and they glow green in response, suggesting they like it. So maybe there's some means of making peaceful contact after all.
However, people in the same thread went on to point out that it sure would be anticlimactic if Frontier designed all these new interstellar war mechanics and then there was no interstellar war. This all sure seems to be headed in a very particular direction.
Then again, this is the same game that first hinted at aliens in 2015, then delayed the gratification of having aliens actually show up and fight for multiple years. Clearly, Frontier is not afraid to go against conventional wisdom, so I wouldn't consider anything set in stone just yet.