Two Elite: Dangerous players have managed to reach the top of the galaxy. “It is the very top,” said one, who goes by the name Dr Kaii. “There are no stars above at all.”
It was all thanks to a mistake in the beta of the game’s upcoming Guardians update. Recently, Elite’s developers added plumes of energy to white dwarves and neutron stars that were meant to give a small 25 percent boost to warp drives. “Nothing game-changing,” explained Dr Kaii in his video about all of this. “Not worth it at all in terms of travel or exploration.”
In reality, however, intrepid testers discovered they got a 300 percent boost. It was huge. In theory, it opened up entire new regions of space, ones previously untouched by the grimy, non-developer masses. Some saw an error waiting to be corrected, but Dr Kaii and his exploration partner Erimius saw an opportunity. So they charted an elaborate course... to the top of the galaxy.
Here’s Dr Kaii’s account of it (via Rock Paper Shotgun):
It was not an easy journey. Things like radiation and fuel shortages nearly doomed the enterprise before it ever reached new heights. Ultimately, though, they made it 1,884 lightyears above the galactic plane. They hit a ceiling. There were no stars—only a few distant dots that represented other galaxies.
Reaching this place was never supposed to be possible. At least, not with this method. Shortly after players noticed the massive boost, Elite’s head of community management Zac Antonaci explained, “Unfortunately there was a number mix up, which has made the boost way more powerful than was intended. The actual boost benefit, which should be in Beta 2 will bestow 25% extra range, still a significant benefit.”
Players, though, pushed back. They hadn’t just found a cool trick that let them paint fire decals on the sides of their ships and Go More Faster-er. They’d uncovered a whole new way to play a game that, by many accounts, hasn’t lived up to its lofty promises. Explorers had new routes to consider, new challenges to overcome, new puzzles to solve.
“[It is] just what the exploration community needed,” said Dr Kaii, “something new, a new way to go about exploration, something that adds risk and challenge. Please see this for the gem that it really is.”
For now, the big boost is still in the beta. It remains to be seen what’ll happen when the Guardians update drops. Explorers like Dr Kaii and Erimius hope this is just the beginning of a wild new era. For those who’d like to follow in their footsteps, Dr Kaii has a message:
“Now many places are unlocked,” he said. “But if you go, you can’t come back. Will you still go, just to do what I did? Share a video, share the system map, share some screenshots? Will you do it to go down in history? Or does putting your name on it mean so much?”