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Upcoming Star Citizen May Threaten Elite Dangerous’ Space Domination

Concept art for the Star Citizen video game

The upcoming Star Citizen video game appears to have a leg up in a few different areas.

With the upcoming space sim Star Citizen emerging to compete with the well-established Elite Dangerous in what can be considered a brief Renaissance in space combat games, it’s only a matter of time before both of these titles come to a head. The question here is “how will they fare?”

Much to Elite’s relief, No Man’s Sky was a commercial – and legal – failure, but this might not happen once Star Citizen finally has its day. Unfortunately, the Star Citizen alpha provides only a small indication about what the game could become, but based on what we know, it’s shaping up to be a real competitor.

The truth is that, while Elite Dangerous is an excellent game, it so far has fallen short in many key areas that the Star Citizen video game promises to cover. Despite knowing comparatively little about Elite’s upcoming rival, it’s important to note that – if the game delivers on its promises – Elite Dangerous may soon be fighting an uphill battle to retain much of its player base.

Elite: Dangerous vs. Star Citizen – The Story

Although Elite Dangerous brings a great deal to the table, Star Citizen threatens to dominate a key gap. Let’s face it, many gamers love a good story – something that Elite Dangerous sorely lacks. While it may be fun and endearing to create your own narrative from scratch, some people want to see it unfold firsthand, with actors and pre-written plot lines. This is where Star Citizen arguably poses its greatest threat.

Not only does Star Citizen plan to include the “Squadron 42” campaign as a major linchpin of its product, but the entire plot is punctuated with the voices and likenesses of known celebrities; speaking of which…

Elite: Dangerous vs. Star Citizen – Live Actors

While a famous lineup of voice actors isn’t critical for Star Citizen (or any game) to threaten Elite Dangerous, brand recognition helps. It certainly got people talking in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars and could very well have a similar effect among fans of Star Citizen.

While not all of the cast features Hollywood icons, there are plenty of easily recognizable faces. Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson and Liam Cunningham of Star Wars, Leon, X-Files and Dog Soldiers respectively, will be gracing us with their presence among a long list of intriguing characters.

With that kind of lineup, it’s bound to raise the eyebrows of newcomers and longtime fans alike.

Elite: Dangerous vs. Star Citizen – The Community

While Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen are too early in their struggle for dominance to establish a solid comparison, Star Citizen promises a new MMO dynamic that Elite Dangerous doesn’t currently offer.

It would be remiss not to mention important groups in Elite Dangerous like Fuel Rats, who specialize in saving distressed players who find themselves stranded without, well, fuel. Then there’s the Paladin Consortium, whose goal is to show new players the ropes. Still, Star Citizen intends to take this to a whole new level. It promises interaction more reminiscent of an MMO, including an economy that will gradually transition from AI to something player-based. Consequently, prices will fluctuate with demand, leading to a more robust trading experience.

Working with others is difficult, considering the sense of isolation and emptiness in Elite’s unique 1:1 recreation of the Milky Way Galaxy. This feature has been a source of praise and criticism, depending on who you ask. Playing through the game with an exponentially low chance or meeting someone else helps add a certain tone, but it doesn’t seem to cut it for players who want to run into or engage each other at random. For this reason, it’s likely that the Star Citizen video game will have the upper hand for those looking for a richer multiplayer experience that goes beyond Elite’s instanced dogfights, fun as they may be.

Elite Dangerous vs. Star Citizen – The Combat

Image of gun combat the Star Citizen video gameA major threat that Star Citizen poses to Elite Dangerous is its varied combat. Unlike Elite’s current system, which exclusively favors vehicle-based space or ground combat, Star Citizen intends to feature first-person shooter elements. This is a major selling point for a lot of players.

FPS games – unlike space sims – have been a constant presence due to their high demand and easier accessibility. Not everyone owns a joystick, but console gamers and PC users don’t require extra peripherals to fully enjoy shooters. This makes it much simpler to completely experience games like Call of Duty and its variants.

For those who like both genres – or simply crave variety – Star Citizen has a serious leg-up on its rival. It’s important to note, however, that Elite Dangerous has mentioned FPS elements as an additional feature in future expansions, but we may be forced to shell out almost an entire game’s worth of cash like we did for Horizons.

Ultimately, loyal Elite players will potentially be forced into a dilemma, as they may love the idea of FPS in the game, but won’t enjoy paying extra. When the full version of Star Citizen finally releases, many might be more inclined to drop their hard-earned money on an entirely new game, rather than invest something that provides less novelty.

Elite Dangerous vs. Star Citizen – Exploration

Star Citizen may not threaten Elite Dangerous as heavily in terms of scale, but it certainly blows Elite out of the sky with its depth. In short, Star Citizen takes the approach of quality over quantity.

Image of space ship battles from the Star Citizen video gameAgain, Elite Dangerous gives us 400 billion stars in its scale recreation of the Milky Way, but even with Horizons, the game feels just as barren as the airless planets we can land on. Star Citizen, on the other hand, only features a few hundred potential surfaces to land on. But within those systems lie fully populated planets, some containing cities and hidden enemy bases where players can step out on foot and trade, buy upgrades or just generally have a good ol’ time.

Space is just as rich, with derelict ships, random encounters, space stations and a slew of other great surprises that will hopefully prevent the boredom that is a chief complaint among those who play or have played Elite Dangerous.

Final Thoughts

The Star Citizen video game certainly poses a strong threat to Elite Dangerous – if it delivers on all of its promises. Keep in mind, though, that most of what’s been said here is based on speculation and – perhaps – wishful thinking. Make no mistake, Elite Dangerous is an awesome title, and it nailed many things down perfectly. But this is the video game world, and we gamers simply wouldn’t benefit if companies didn’t constantly try to one-up each other. For the time being, all we can do is wait and see what the future holds for space sims, new and established alike.

Featured Images: Cloud Imperium Games / Roberts Space Industries International

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22 Responses

  1. Jonny

    Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous, while they are both space games, they will be very different. Star Citizen and Squadren 42 will be seperate entities now as well.

    The main Star Citizen game probably won’t be out for a year from now. We have no idea what Elite Dangerous will look like then either, so it may be better to wait until Star Citizen is released before comparing the game.

  2. DaveTheJackal

    Was NMS a failure? From what I saw, even when people were claiming it was dead 2 weeks after launch, it had player stats on steam which rivalled ED at launch.

    1. CMDR Ingrin

      2 months after release NMS averages 1/4th of the daily active users of ED, which hasn’t had an update during that time period. ED should have its next update by next week, so I imagine the disparity will only go up.

  3. Cmdr JazHaz

    This is a complete NON-STORY. Yes Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous are set in space. They are very different games though. They are not in competition. Both games are trying to do very hard things indeed. I will say this I’m an ED man, having played all the previous games in the series. But I welcome SC. Both games will be played by lots of players. ED will eventually feature pretty much everything that SC promises. And for many players like me who have bought Lifetime Expansion Passes, will cost nothing.

    1. Cmdr JazHaz

      And as for the criticism that ED doesn’t have a story. It does. The story runs through the background, concerning Galactic Politics between the Federation, the Empire and the Alliance. You are just a small cog in the story, not the one player that will save the Universe. However players as a whole have a huge influence on the story. Without the players influence, Denton Patreus would have been the new Emperor, however Aylissa Duval go there instead with the backing of thousands of players. This was much to the surprise of David Braben the CEO and Founder of Frontier Developments.

        1. anon

          Most of the control on the background story happens through the community goals. So if you want to have an influence on how the story is shaped, that’s where you want to be.

          1. Winston N. Weaver

            SC and ED have a lot in common already, they both started at the same time, that have varied and amazing looking ships, ED players can effect the games world, SC players will be able to do the same once they add more solar systems in the 4.0 update, Both have an initial buy in for the larger game, and do not have a monthly subscription to be able to play the game, however ED’s expansion do cost money to grab them, their just really cheap, and it is yet to be seen if SC’s will start doing that, right now I’m playing ED on xbox one, and it is a really fun game, though I don’t like that I can’t get out of my ship, but I know you can eventually, I’m building a Gaming Computer to play both games on, I’m just more excited about SC atm…

  4. CMDR Star-Lord_Prime

    Notice that they PROMISED. So their words are worth as much as No Man’s Sky developer words were. Remember that we can PLAY ED right now and do whatever the hell we want while getting new content all the time. What can you do in SC? Oh fly around? check. Can you fly to Sag A* and back? no? Oh wait in ED you can! “Well can you land on atmospheric planets in ED?” No. not yet but at least we know it’s closer then release date of SC! Look. ED and SC are completly different games. It’s like comparing apple and peach just becouse they are both fruit.Also you should look closer at ED it does have amazing story only that you’re not involved in it if you don’t want. Read some galnet news ffs.

  5. Cmdr/Citizen Hankuspankus

    I play both games and Star Citizen is still in early Alpha with many crashes , bugs and low frame rates blamed on net code. It has improved but for me it has many years of development and refinement before it will be a game rated by critics as a AAA game . I have played Elite Dangerous from launch and it has consistently improved features and the new 2.2 Guardians update is the best upgrade of the game so far with ship launched fighters and other refinements. Elite Dangerous is available on Steam and X Box with Virtual Reality support . When I launch Star Citizen as Administrator I always get a the message from Windows 10 `Unknown Publisher` and from my own experience using Apps and software there is some kind of issue with Patents or Software licensing.

  6. Cmdr F.

    Completely agree with the above The idea that there is any merit or relevance in a comparison (beyond feeding the trolls) is a little misguided. I suppose it gives writers something to do. SC will be a great game (hopefully) but as I sit down to play it, I can guarantee that I won’t be thinking “wow, this is so much better than ED”. They are just too different.
    These two games have been instrumental in the re-vitalizing of space games, furthermore they have both been demonstrations of fan-power. Who needs a big software company when we can crowd-source fund our own – we should be hyping them both up! For those reasons I admire them both a lot.
    Trying to figure out ‘which is best’ is a subject which will have everyone going round in loops over and over again. The trolls will love it…. We’ve heard it all before and we’ll be embarrassing ourselves if we enter into the debate again.

    For my part, I play ED and can’t wait to play SC too. I am pretty sure I’ll love them both.

  7. CMdrDUI

    Yes, there is a story unfolding in the background, but ED isn’t story-driven in the sense that most games are. The narrative in ED is more a by-product of player activity, but there’s no actual story with acts and stages or specific characters that the player directly interacts with.

  8. Common Sense

    Why stoking the fires? Why make everything a competition? If SC is released, and if it lives up to the hype, it’s still a different experience. And that’s if it gets released – we’re comparing a released game to speculation about an unreleased game here and expecting to make a serious review. Much like all of the hype grave train passengers that brought up No Man’s Sky before shitting on it when it didn’t live up to the expectations they themselves created, you guys are just looking for cheap clicks.

    Instead of trying to pit games against each other, Alex Saez, as you so eloquently mention in your last paragraph, how about you report on genuine issues that occur in the video games industry? If you want to compare ED to SC – hell, if you want to judge SC on its own merits – why not waiting until SC is released before making such bold statements as “Star Citizen goes for quality over quantity”? The truth is, you don’t know that. I’m sure there’s plenty to say about SC beyond baseless hype, both good and bad, sad thing this article does so little research on Star Citizen it has to slam another game to talk about it.

    Good thing we SC and ED fans aren’t as hell bent on hating each other’s guts for choosing the “wrong” game. Start fairly reviewing on those “one-ups” and on both ED and SC instead of writing non-stories to stir up trouble. God damn cancerous article.

  9. Alex Saez

    Thank you all for the great feedback. It certainly wasn’t my intent to flat-out pit fans of one series against the other. I love ED and play it regularly, so I’m quite familiar with it. Some of the gameplay, however, doesn’t quite do it for me, and I see SC as potentially filling in those gaps. That’s all I was trying to say, that SC is a sort of “gap filler” for me. But that’s subjective, of course. In no way am I claiming to be right or wrong on this one.

    As stated earlier, I freely admit that the article is speculative, but my aim was to spark discussion. I’m not in any way trying to stir up trouble or anger anyone – to each his/her own, after all. I wrote it as a comparison because that’s what was going through my mind. I agree that both ED and SC are shaping up to be excellent. Again, thanks everyone for weighing in.

  10. squirrely_wrath


    forthcoming; about to happen.
    “the upcoming election”
    synonyms: forthcoming, coming, impending, future, imminent, approaching, looming, ahead, in the pipeline, in the offing, on the horizon, coming down the pike

  11. Ginsu

    Here’s my Question, Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous started production around the same time, people knew about both for more then before they were announced, how is Star Citizen Emerging when it’s been playable in some fashion or another for 4 years?

  12. Klaus Reims

    Please don’t project competition where there is none. CIG and Frontier are not trying to compete with one another. Both studios have a documented History of being very supportive of one another. If anything it is ED players who diss Star Citizen for not being released yet, but even that is very miniscule.

    1. Alex Saez

      Hi Klaus, I understand where you’re coming from and this is my fault. I shouldn’t have used the word “threat” when issuing my comparison. This article seems to have come across as incendiary in some way, but that was never my intention. When I played the alpha, I found myself comparing it to ED, simply because that’s the game I’ve primarily been playing. I conveyed those thoughts here, but apparently it was too forceful. I appreciate the feedback, and I’ll keep this in my mind going forward.

  13. Boogeyman

    Star Citizen’s focus is on trade show demos and pleasing the fans at citizencon. The playable alpha hasn’t changed much over the past year. There has been a huge argument that SC is going to “wipe the floor” with everything and be the “best damn everything simulator” since it’s initial Kickstarter. Progress has been slow and deadlines have been missed. I don’t find the Alpha much fun, it’s like a cut down Arma in space mod. Their best bet is to focus on SQ42 as the MMO game looks like it’s barely figured out after five years of development. ED has nothing to do with it, that’s a solid entry into the Elite franchise which is what they pitched back in 2012 and released in 2014.

  14. TheOrigin

    To write ED vs SC is simply wrong. The author might have missed the fact that Chris Roberts himself PROMOTED the crowdfunding of ED by that time. They was never a “versus” mood, it was a friendly coexistence from the begin. At least if you have a look at both developers who are friends. What the community made out of it is a complete different thing.



    1. Alex Saez

      Hi TheOrigin. I understand what you’re saying 100% (thanks for the links). The only reason I wrote it from a comparison perspective was because I found myself comparing both games when I tried the SC Alpha. I think it’s great that both developers are getting along, but from a business perspective, competition will always be there, whether it’s intentional or not. As I said in a previous comment, I shouldn’t have used the word “threat,” as I inadvertently ended up conveying a conflict.

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