Elite: Dangerous players believe the space sim’s graphics have undergone a downgrade. Frontier Developments is listening.
Elite: Dangerous was recently patched to version 1.3, and not every player appreciated the changes.
According to a detailed thread on the Frontier Development forums, the patch resulted in a graphics downgrade, notably to the dust and fog in ring systems as well as to the galaxy map and a few other areas. Players compiled a stack of screenshots taken from various stages in the space sim’s development, and at first glance there do indeed appear to be some negative changes.
When the thread came to the attention of community manager Zac Antonaci, Frontier Developments looked over the complaints. Rendering head Greg Ryder responded, thanking the community for compiling their observations and questions.
“On the ships / galaxy map front, I’m not aware of any changes that went in for 1.3,” he wrote, but confirmed that there had indeed been some changes to dust and fog effects.
“Exposing more tweakables for an enhanced Ultra is clearly something you guys are passionate about and we’ll see where it can fit in the current roadmap.”
“This was optimised due to a pathological case of overdraw (which looked very broken in a number of cases). There have been some changes,” Ryder wrote.
“Performance and visual consistency should be improved in the general case, however it does seem that some systems are not looking as good as they did.”
Ryder said that there’s never a “perfect solution’ to this kind of issue, even accounting for differences viewing angle.
“We could have entire threads dedicated to discussions on how to light rings (and we’ve had many long discussions internally),” he said.
Nevertheless, Ryder said that Frontier Developments has “a number of open issues in our system on the look of the rings”, although he couldn’t provide an ETA on when the developer will have time to address them.
The developer also acknowledged the community’s desire to have more control over graphical performance.
“Exposing more tweakables for an enhanced Ultra is clearly something you guys are passionate about and we’ll see where it can fit in the current roadmap,” he said.
Finally, Ryder also addressed community concerns that changes to graphics are related to the development of Mac and Xbox One builds.
“The team is always striving to make things better, and we’ve found a number of things using the profiling tools on the Mac and Xbox One that have improved the PC build (thus the opposite to the fear they might lower the quality of the PC build),” he said.
“Elite: Dangerous is built to scale on PC (including 16k screenshot ability and hopefully one day 16k game when the monitors & graphics cards exist). We are certainly not inclined to downgrade the appearance of anything in the game.”