Frontier Developments has officially hit the launch button on Elite Dangerous: Horizons' Planetary Landings, along with a free Ships update for current owners unwilling to splash out on the expansion.
Announced back in August
, Horizons brings the ability to land on selected planetary bodies to Elite Dangerous - finally bringing it to feature parity with its 90s predecessors Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters. Technically an expansion, the title has been launched as a standalone package which includes the base game and all previously released content - a move which has angered those who had already purchased the base game or participated in its crowd-funding campaign, despite the promise of a £10 discount from its £39.99 launch price and an exclusive ship model for existing users. The promised features of Horizons are, however, being released piecemeal: today's launch includes the Planetary Landings functionality, with additional features - including crafting, unique player avatars, and multi-crew ships - to be added as free upgrades throughout next year.
For those not upgrading to Horizons, there's some small comfort in the form of an Elite Dangerous 1.5: Ships launch which also goes live today. This adds new missions and scenarios, increases the number of flyable ships to 30, and adds support for Valve's SteamVR platform. Through this, Frontier has confirmed, out-of-the-box compatibility will be available for anyone picking up an HTC Vive virtual reality headset at launch next year.
Elite Dangerous: Horizons is available now, priced at £39.99 for immediate access to Planetary Landings and access to the additional Horizon features as and when they are released. A 'beta' tier, priced at £49.99, is also available, offering earlier access to the as-yet unpublished features.