On Foot activities, formerly tentatively referred to as "Space Legs", is a feature introduced in Elite Dangerous: Odyssey that allows the player to take direct control of their in-game avatar and explore the game without needing to pilot a ship, Ship-Launched Fighter, or Surface Recon Vehicle.
On Foot activities allow players to interact with the galaxy in new ways, and also add two related Pilots Federation ranks to master. For the first time in Elite Dangerous, players can disembark from their ships inside ports and on planetary surfaces to explore and engage in combat. Undertaking On Foot activities requires managing new equipment, and new items classified as Components, Goods, and Data offer new ways to profit and unlock upgrades.
- Main article: Mercenary
Mercenary work focuses on practically all instances of On Foot combat. This can range from accepting missions involving objectives at settlements, which can involve both legal and illegal actions, to signing up with Frontline Solutions as a hired gun for a warring minor faction, to investigating remote points of interest and scavenging valuables from wrecks or smuggling caches. As the player kills more personnel and completes more missions, they advance their Mercenary rank.
On Foot missions can be shared with all players who are in a Team by selecting the "Share" button on any mission transaction panel. Team members can individually accept or decline a shared mission invitation. Sharing a mission limits the rewards for participants to credits, reputation, or items, while the mission host retains the option to select an influence reward. If a mission involves obtaining a specific item, that mission item will be automatically moved the mission host's inventory when boarding a ship or departing the mission area. If a team member is critically injured and is holding a mission item, they will drop that item, allowing other team members to collect it and continue the mission.
- Main article: Exobiologist
Exobiology focuses on identifying and cataloguing alien flora found on planetary surfaces using the Genetic Sampler tool. Upon assembling a complete organic sample from partial samples of the same species, that complete sample can be redeemed at Vista Genomics for credits. The first player to log a particular species in a galactic region will receive discovery credit in the Codex. As the player documents more alien flora, they advance their Exobiologist rank.
- Main article: Concourse
Concourses are public common areas found at most ports, including Stations and Surface Port facilities. Players can disembark from their ships after docking and take a lift directly to the local Concourse. The Concourse is the only way to access certain services that are exclusive to On Foot activities:
- Apex Interstellar Transport - Local and interstellar shuttle service.
- Frontline Solutions - Sign up for local Conflict Zones.
- Pioneer Supplies - Buy, sell, and upgrade pilot equipment.
- Vista Genomics - Redeem organic samples obtained with the Genetic Sampler.
Points of Interest
A new series of Points of Interest designed around On Foot and SRV activities present additional opportunities for combat and scavenging.
- Active Power Source
- Artificial Structure
- Conflict Zone
- Crash Site
- Distress Beacon
- Impact Site
- Irregular Markers
- Minor Wreckage
- Surface Excavation
To carry out On Foot activities, players have access to a selection of weapons, devices, and other personal gear. While On Foot, players also use a specialised HUD and the InSight Hub personal info interface. Handheld Weapons and suits can be upgraded using Components, Goods, and Data, and they can also be Engineered.
There are different types of NPC personnel that can be encountered at settlements or points of interest. Their role determines which weapons and tools they are carrying, and what level of security authorisation they have at the settlement where they are stationed.
Disembarking from a ship for On Foot activities is only possible on planets that fall within certain parameters. Ships cannot land on planets that have an atmosphere denser than 0.1 atm, and players cannot disembark onto planetary surfaces if the planet's gravity is 2.7 G or greater, if the external temperature exceeds 700 K, or if the player's ship has a broken canopy. If a planet has a surface temperature greater than 700 K where it is lit by a star, it may still be possible to disembark there by landing on the dark side, where the temperature may fall to a safe range. Be aware that when crossing from the dark side of a planet to the light side while On Foot, the player will begin taking damage if the temperature rises above 700 K.
The first Elite 4 concept art in issue 95 of Edge magazine (March, 2001) included an early stage model of a female character with a weapon.
Since the 2012 Kickstarter campaign there has been concept art of extravehicular activities. This ranges from people walking in a station to first person combat and ship repairs. There is a 3D blockout of a station with a 3D character holding a weapon. Docked ships are loaded with cargo and flying drones carry cargo containers.
It has always been a core vision of David Braben that the player is a person in a real futuristic setting, not just a ship. In the Elite Dangerous Development Plan video (December 14, 2012), Braben talks about walking on planets, in ships, other people's ships, stations, vehicles and being a big game hunter with animals. The ships have been designed with interiors in mind. Multicrew and Holo-Me are the foundation for On Foot functionality.
Frontier has a roadmap with small, free updates in addition to expansions with significant new features and content which they intend to release. It mentions EVA in no particular order:
- Walking around interiors and combative boarding of other ships
- Combat and other interactions with other players and AIs in the internal areas of star ports
Newsletter #32 confirms the following: "We plan to continue to significantly enhance the game via further expansions after the launch date, using the same incremental development philosophy that we’ve used so far. Major new features will include planetary landings and even walking around inside ships, stations, and planet surfaces with time."
"We also plan to allow you to get up out of your seat and walk around your ship. You can see the level of attention and thought that has already been given to the ship interiors."
"Of course walking round your ship will be nice, but it is the just springboard for a very significant expansion of gameplay – you will be able to experience the inside of starports and interact with other players and AI characters, and even board other people’s ships in space and take them by force, as shown in this concept piece. Of course this will be further expanded to include walking around on the surfaces of planets too."
An interview on 13 June 2014: "Pryrios: When you say we will walk inside ships and stations, are you thinking in first person view or third person view over the shoulder? If it's third person view, are you planning on doing some character creator to make different characters for players?"
"David Braben: First person."
Development plan on the Kickstarter page (December 2014): "You will be able to walk around the spaceport, you will be able to see gold being loaded into someone else's ship, you will be able to sneak in and hide in amongst the cargo. All of those things are phenomenal game play opportunities where that ship might actually be the ship of another player, so just think where that all ends."
On 12 March 2015, David Braben said "as you can walk around inside your ships, things like leather upholstery are also things that we can do. It’s not a pay-to-win thing but actually makes your ship more shiny."
On March 20, 2015 Braben was asked about the long roadmap ahead and he said (at 5:20): "Well I'm very excited. I've said over a long time I'm very excited about some features that we will do down the road including things like landing on planets, walking around inside your spaceship, getting out of your spaceship, all of those things I think are very very exciting and obviously those are in the long-term roadmap."
On May 26, 2016 during an AMA with David Braben, this question was asked "Is there a small team doing any preliminary work on atmosphere landings / walking (in stations etc) currently being looked at? As it is almost there for walking in station..." Braben said "Yes. We have ongoing work on planets, including atmospheres, planetary life, walking about and lots of other very exciting things for the future."
On 08 April 2016, Braben reiterated that walking around will be a future update. He said: “There was a lot of discussion prior to and during the Kickstarter project as to whether you should be able to walk around in your ship. We looked at that in great detail. Ultimately we decided the arbiter has to be, ‘Does it make the game more fun?’ Because it’s a lot of extra work and it brings in more constraints. It’s something we will do, but it’ll be in a future update because we need so many things on a human scale for that to be additive and enjoyable.”
On March 10, 2017 during a Q&A at PAX East, lead designer Sandro Sammarco said "Space Legs" was way off in the future: "How will Telepresence and Multicrew work in the future with Space Legs and EVA gameplay? 'Just to set the record straight, Space Legs and EVA gameplay, that's way off in the future. That's a goal. I've talked to David and it's always been part of his core vision for what Elite really is, even from way back in the day, it's always been about you're a person in a real futuristic setting, not just a ship. However, I think it's also fair to say Space Legs is effectively dovetailing a whole new game into Elite. We take steps towards it, it's our end vision, but we're not there yet, we're... it's a long way off. And when it does, by the time, if we get there, if we manage it, I'm sure we'll have the time to sort out any consistencies that need to be sorted out."
On April 11, 2017 during the The Commanders Release Livestream (at 10:10), Braben confirmed that space legs is coming and is planned, but it's not imminent. A person in the chat asked "Will we get space legs at some point? If yes don't say when, but answer with long, medium or short." Braben said: "It's coming, but obviously it's not imminent, but it is coming and it is planned."
On 11 April 2017, Braben's closing statement of a Reddit AMA: "The future for Elite Dangerous is very exciting, including a whole raft of incredible features, yes including 'space legs' but so many more things too. We have such a great community, and we're really glad that you guys share our passion and support us."
On October 4, 2017 Zac Antonaci said "Spacelegs (as the community are dubbing them) is something that David B and the development team are very excited by and it’s certainly high on the list of features they would like to make. However, as we’ve mentioned before, “Spacelegs” is something further down the line. After 2.4 we’ll be focusing on the core gameplay experience so it’s not something that we will be announcing at Frontier Expo. I do have to say though, I truly hope that the community are excited by the content being revealed at FX."
On January 27, 2018 Sandro Sammarco said "The team and I all see Space Legs as the feature we will love to add and are at the top of our specification, but it's something that will not happen in the Beyond season. We will talk more about it later."
On August 31, 2018 Zac Antonaci posted an important community update with relevant information: "A while ago, our development went from pre-production into full production on our next major milestone of Elite development. What that means in the simplest terms is that the team are actively working on the next major landmark which takes us into our next era for Elite. We aren’t going to be ready to talk about or announce any details for quite a while yet, it is early in the development and there is still a long way to go, but I can say that this is something that will be scheduled to release a considerable time after the final update in the Beyond series. We will have more details on exactly what this means and how the era will roll out after the release of Beyond – Chapter Four, but this does mark some exciting next steps and a continued commitment to the long term vision for the game and our community."
When Wolvie said "Thanks for the update Zac, it's good to hear some honest comments as things have been quiet for several months on the Focused Feedback. I'm a Beta Backer with Lifetime Expansion Pass and have always seen Elites development as a journey not a race, I'm looking forward to what comes next."
Commander Chronicles: Lift-Off
On June 26, 2018, Frontier released the cinematic video Commander Chronicles: Lift-Off. This was the first demonstration of pilot walking animations using the Elite Dangerous engine. A Commander is shown walking across a station Landing Pad, then using a lift to enter a Krait MkII. He enters the cockpit, where two other Commanders are waiting, sits in the primary pilot seat, and then controls the ship as it lifts off, departs the station, and jumps into hyperspace.
Mission Pack leak
In October 2018, a few mission pack videos with standing and talking NPCs were discovered in the public test server movies folder.
There is one video with sound, which has an apparent mission-giver swaying back and forth, offering you an assignment you may be interested in, saying you should make your way to their command ship. There are also several silent videos of the same mission-giver seated talking to a camera briefly.
On June 3, 2020, Frontier Developments announced the game's second expansion, Elite Dangerous: Odyssey, would release in Q1 2021. Among other key features, Odyssey included On Foot functionality, at the time referred to by the community and unofficially by the developers as "Space Legs", a name coined over the years for the highly-anticipated feature. The pre-alpha trailer for Odyssey showed three Commanders in armoured space suits with weapons walking on foot across an arid terrestrial world with a presumably non-breathable atmosphere. The Commanders arrive at a small surface structure just as an Anaconda touches down in an adjacent landing zone. Odyssey was released on PC on May 19, 2021.
- Frontier Forums: Odyssey Update 5
- Elite 4 - Issue 95 of Edge Magazine
- The Future of Elite: Dangerous
- Elite Dangerous LIVE from PAX East part 2! (at 68:04)
- Elite: Dangerous Development Plan
- Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #29
- Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #32
- Live Chat David Braben - No Such Webpage.com (2014-06-13)
- Elite: Dangerous Development Plan (hosted on Kickstarter page - Dec 2014)
- Interview: David Braben On Fan Anger And Expectations
- Elite: Dangerous - David Braben Interview, Gamereactor, 5:20
- Ask Him Anything: David Braben, co-creator of Elite, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and Frontier's head honcho
- The Making of Elite: Dangerous - Kotaku (8 April 2016)
- Elite Dangerous 2.3 - The Commanders Release Livestream at 10:10
- Ask Him Anything: David Braben OBE, FDev CEO
- Master Brabens' closing statement from the Reddit AMA today. 11/4/17
- Frontier Expo ED Speculation (October 4 2017)
- Elite Dangerous Beyond – Chapter One : Notre interview de Sandro Sammarco, Lead Designer (27 January 2018)
- Elite Dangerous 2018 Roadmap (Regularly Updated)
- 31 August 2018 Forum Post Zac Antonaci
- Wolvie Forum Post 31 August 2018
- Zac Antonaci Forum Post 31 August 2018
- Commander Chronicles: Lift-Off (26 June 2018)
- Videos in the Beta Files - October 2018
- Frontier Forums: Elite Dangerous: Odyssey Announcement
- Frontier Forums: Elite Dangerous: Odyssey PC Launch Date