Elite Dangerous developer Frontier is now estimating that the game's next major milestone update won't hit until late 2020. Elite Dangerous has only received two major updates since launching in 2014, though both of those updates were pretty darn impressive. The first expansion, Horizons, introduced planetary landing, multi-crew co-op, and the ability to launch fighters from your ship. The most recent, Beyond, was more focused more on gameplay and quality of life improvements.
While the next expansion for Elite Dangerous has been talked about previously, Frontier Developments has updated the release window for the next overhaul, which should hit sometime in the later half of 2020. Frontier has called the next expansion "a defining moment in the history of the game" as it takes things to the "next major era" of space simulation. What that means exactly, we don't know. But we do know Frontier has plenty of time to work on it.
As for what is to come in the meantime, Frontier has detailed the smaller updates in a forum post:
We know that waiting for a mammoth update like this one is going to feel like your 3rd run to Hutton Orbital. But don't fret, we've got plenty of updates, content, and plans happening as we progress through to this monumental milestone.
As well as the team of developers working on our next big milestone, we also have a smaller development team focused on adding to and improving the existing game between now and that time. This will take the form of regular game updates and development supported events.
Development supported events
One of the biggest changes will be the way that we create and support in-game events and activities. Starting in the coming months, we will be looking to change the way that in-game events happen. The aim here is to create ongoing, engaging, and varied sets of content that are supported by the development team which players will be able to actively engage in.
We have listened to community feedback regarding Community Goals and while they are an incredible tool, they have become somewhat routine for many Commanders. We felt that we needed to adjust them to be more event-related while taking our in game events a big step further. We will gradually be changing our community goals and their frequency, using them within a larger schedule of development-led events to help us create more improved, meaningful and engaging experiences.
As well as Community Goals, we will also be using things like new scenarios, reputation and reward boosts (such as Superpower reputation increases), BGS and global galactic changes, in-game interactions, new game assets and much more to make game-wide events that tie into the game world. The aim is to constantly create new and exciting events and campaigns for you to get involved in and shape, which will focus on and benefit different types of players.
Outside of the game, we'll communicate with you about these events, how they work and what goes into developing Elite Dangerous.
In addition to the weekly and monthly activity happening in Elite, we will also be releasing a series of updates roughly every 3-4 months. The first two of these updates will primarily focus on new player and welcoming experiences, and we will also be introducing a number of quality of life improvements for the entire player base, of which we will have more news on in the coming weeks. This will help ensure that new players are able to better progress through the game, and therefore help bring more players through to our very awesome, very welcoming community. We will also have additional game tweaks, benefits and bug fixes for all players. In the subsequent updates we will be focusing on bringing in new features, perks and content, including a range of exciting new additions to the game that will build up to this new era.
It is important to note that these updates will not take the same level of content or size that we have seen from our previous updates in Beyond or Horizons, as the majority of the development team will be focusing on the new era.
Elite Dangerous has an incredibly passionate, enthusiastic and talented community, and we're committed to supporting Elite now and for the future. We would like to take this opportunity to say, once again, that none of this would be possible without the continued support and dedication from our community – so, thank you. Keep sharing your feedback with us, and if you have any questions feel free to share them with us by posting in this thread. We'll try and answer as many of them as we can.