Today, Frontier Developments launched the third beta phase of their open-ended PC space sim Elite: Dangerous. The Beta 3 update adds a bunch of welcome new features, and likely gives an even better sense of what the final game will be like.

The Beta 3 comes pretty close on the heels of the sizable Beta 2, which I actually barely had time to check out, despite sinking a couple dozen joyful hours into the first beta. I've pasted the full list of updates below. A lot of these sound good, but I'm most excited about multiple ship ownership. Finally, I can own both a dogfighter and a long-haul freighter!

Per Frontier, here's what's new in Beta 3:

  • Player-driven interdiction. Players can now interdict NPC ships, pulling them out of faster-than-light travel back into normal space along with the player.
  • Philanthropy missions added.
  • Fuel scooping from stars added. Keep a close eye on your temperature gauge as you refuel from the blazing surface of stars.
  • Asteroid mining added. Cut metal and rock from asteroids using the mining laser.
  • New ships added: Imperial Clipper and Federal Dropship.
  • Multiple ship ownership. Long requested by the community, players can keep multiple craft docked at starports, allowing for reserve ships dedicated to combat, exploration, trading and more.
  • Additional ship images added to loading screen .
  • Status panel now shows faction reputation.
  • New in-game controls to allow rapid switching between display screens.
  • Outpost landing pads now reflect low gravity environment.
  • Play area expanded to over 2,400 systems and 869,000 cubic light years of playable space.
  • Improved galaxy map, with partial name searching, range display and route finding.
  • Planet visuals overhaul. Planet surface types, liquids and atmospheric colours now reflect their chemical composition.
  • Planets display volcanic features and complex craters can create dust ejecta. Crater frequency is dependent on atmosphere thickness.
  • Ice planets now have fracture features.
  • All planets now have dynamic ice caps and liquid levels.
  • Asteroid belt clusters added.
  • Nebulae added, visible in the sky and the galaxy map.

Some of that sounds pretty great. I'll have to carve out some time from the other fall games to go play, if only to go fuel-scoop off of the surface of a star. Frontier says the full game is coming "in Q4," which means late 2014 or early 2015.

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