Elite Dangerous will receive its third major update next month. The Powerplay Update will introduce factions to the space simulator that players can join for rewards.
These factions, called Powers, are organizations with specific objectives and perks. Each controls a section of the galaxy and wants to expand their influence. Players will choose a Power and help them achieve their goals.
"If you choose to participate in Powerplay, it will add a whole new dimension to Elite: Dangerous," said lead designer Sandro Sammarco. "These powers have their own ethos and methods. How they take control of systems varies depending on whether they favour warlike or more pacifist methods. Some will conquer systems with economics, others by just sending in the troops. Either way, you can be part of that."
Once the Powerplay Update goes live, the galaxy map will show the current balance of galactic power. You'll see each faction's borders as well as their friends and enemies. The map will change each week based on the performance of the Powers.
Players perform a key role in these conflicts. They choose the next system that their Power will try to take over each week. The game will then provide them with objectives that will allow them to conquer that system when completed. An opposing faction will also have ways to foil your plans.
"One of my favorite parts of Powerplay is how the objectives match the faction's ethos," Sammarco said. "For example, if a major economic Power sends in their traders for a financial takeover against a military powerhouse, the other side may be tasked with piracy missions to destroy or loot their cargo. You can always be a trader or a miner or a pirate for your own ends, but by joining a Power you'll be afforded special rights and be rewarded for playing the way you already like to play."
By serving your Power, you'll not only help them expand but also improve your standing with them. The higher your standing, the more influence you'll have in determining the faction's strategy each week. New and experienced faction members will have plenty of perks from their allegiance, though, such as cheaper repair costs or deals on purchases.
Frontier Development's preview of the Powerplay Update mentions that factions can be wiped out entirely as well. It's not going to be like PlanetSide 2, where every army has at least a token headquarters territory at all times. The dead Powers can then be replaced by new ones.
"The initial selection of factions will rise to a maximum of twenty as players provide assistance to minor local forces; as those forces establish a foothold across a handful of systems, they may rise to become Powers in their own right," Frontier said.
The Powerplay Update will also include some other changes for the game. For example, players will be able to buy two new ships (Lakon Diamondback and Imperial Courier) as well as drones to assist with various tasks. Frontier notes that these drones will be helpful whether you like playing alone or with friends and whether you're peaceful or warlike. Higher yield mining spots have been added to make that profession much more lucrative. Also, the Pilots Federation is offering a bigger insurance payout for higher level pilots so losing an expensive ship won't be as painful. You can find the rest of the patch notes here.
Elite Dangerous is available through Steam as well as its official website. The game's only available on PC at the moment but should debut on Xbox One and Mac later this year. Frontier also says they might release Dangerous on PS4 as well.