Four years ago, in space-exploration game Elite Dangerous, an explorer by the name of Erimus set out on a journey he called “Distant Suns.” This trip took three months and over 130,000 light years to complete, and exists now as a 13-part travel log on YouTube.
Tomorrow, January 13, Erimus will lead the expedition “Distant Worlds 2,” based on his original trek across the Milky Way, but this time with (at the time of writing) almost 10,000 fellow travellers.
GIF: Qohen Leth
“It’s a huge galaxy,” writes Erimus on the Frontier forums. “Crossing it is one of the most arduous journeys many of us have ever taken - that humanity has ever taken.” It’s not the first time the community has done such a thing—Distant Worlds first took place from the end of 2015 to the start of 2016, and at the time was the largest expedition that Elite Dangerous had seen.
Distant Worlds 2 is the long-awaited sequel to that event, and has been planned down to the most minute of minutia. There are waypoints, departure times, and in-depth role-playing opportunities that include being commanders, miners, truckers, scientists, geologists, and even tour guides for the tourists who are bound to want to come along for the ride.
The goal of the expedition is to build a space station at the centre of the galaxy, but every member of the fleet will have their own goal tied to their chosen role. The travel can be done at whatever pace the players wish, with an estimated time requirement of around two hours every five days, making sure to reach the next waypoint by the end of the weekend.
Much of the story is going to be controlled and shaped by Commander Wishblend, also known as Alison Goodman. Commander Wishblend, a British security guard who writes narrative adventures in her spare time, will be using the official Elite Dangerous Role Playing Game as the bones of her story, according to a profile in Polygon.
Distant Worlds 2 is far more than just the space version of Euro Truck Simulator. Commander Wishblend and her crew have planned for pirate attacks, NPC rescues, and staged skirmishes along the way. It will be a journey primarily built around discovery and camaraderie, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be dangerous.
On top of orchestrating what is essentially a ten-thousand-strong game of Dungeons and Dragons, Commander Wishblend has to make sure that the story is strong. People will be watching from both inside the fleet and outside, on Twitch.
18 weeks from now, the fleet—whatever’s left of it after all that—will arrive at their final location, Beagle Point. There’s still a small amount of time to sign up, whether you’re a new or old player, as long as your ship is capable of a jump of 34 light years, or you can always grab a space on a multi-crew ship as a tourist at any point during the mission.