Image credit: Frontier.

Earlier this week, Elite: Dangerous’ players found themselves struggling with a moral quandary. They’d figured out how to kill aliens, but they weren’t sure if they should. Now, though, they’ve been hit with a curve ball: the aliens are growing wise to human weapons and tactics.

It all began yesterday, in the wake of a new patch. Players noticed that their anti-xeno missiles, currently the only way to bring down Thargoids, were suddenly significantly less effective against Thargoid ships. Specifically, I’ve seen people say that they’re now 50 times less effective. So basically, they do nothing. Developer Frontier explained why in a lore-friendly news post.

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“Preliminary reports indicate that although the AX missiles were inflicting significant damage on the Thargoid ships’ ‘heart’ modules, they are now proving less effective,” read a ‘Galactic News’ update from Frontier. “We believe this is due to the Thargoids developing a resistance to the compound carried by the missiles.”

The post also noted that Thargoids’ tactics are changing. They’ve learned how to lock onto ships that have deployed countermeasures, and they’ve begun dodging missiles instead of mindlessly advancing forward like outer-space zombies. Lastly, the drones they deploy have become more accurate, which is bad news for small ships. In short, these Staryu-looking motherfuckers have evolved into Starmie-acting motherfuckers. Good luck, humanity.

Image credit: Frontier.

It’s an interesting development in this ongoing Elite saga, but so far the player response has been pretty negative. Many see it as a glorified weapons nerf, in large part because their weapons literally got nerfed. Rather than upping Thargoids’ resistance to anti-xeno missiles, Frontier made anti-xeno missiles less powerful across the board—instantly, no less. It’s a decision that, for some players, strains credulity.

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“[Frontier] did this completely bass ackwards in my opinion,” wrote a player named Marshmelloz on Reddit. “They reduced damage values on the missiles, rather than increasing Thargoid resistance to them. And they did it instantly too, rather than slowly making the Thargoids take more and more missiles to kill until we realized they were actually adapting. This just feels like [Frontier] gave us a fun new toy and then before most of us got to play with it, they smashed it to bits with a hammer.”

For a lot of incensed players, that last bit is especially key. Thargoid encounters are brand new, and players are still adjusting to them. Heck, some haven’t even geared up enough to join the war effort yet.

“People also have a legitimate reason to complain about the timescale,” wrote a player named Midonsmyr in another thread on Reddit. “We’ve had these missiles for a week. Not everyone has had a chance to use them, we’re still refining how to. This is a portent for how the arms race will go, and lots of people won’t really want to participate if this is the pattern we’ll continue to see.”

For now, though, it’s on players to get another leg up in the human vs alien arms race. This involves collecting alien tissue using special research items. Ultimately, that’ll lead to the development of a new, more powerful weapon, a process that prominent Elite YouTuber ObsidianAnt outlines here:

ObsidianAnt goes on to criticize Frontier for the way it handled the anti-xeno weapons change, but adds that because of new Thargoid tactics (and perhaps more excitingly, alleged sightings of an entirely new type of Thargoid), this is clearly more than a glorified weapons nerf. “Of course, this is just a simple case of wording,” he notes, “but at the end of the day, it does have an effect on how people perceive the unfolding events.”

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So it’s cool that Thargoids are adapting and evolving, but maybe they could cool their jets a little? Or whatever weird, fleshy flower appendage they have instead of jets.