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Elite: Dangerous (the forth Elite game, Dangerous being a combat rating/rank in the original game). It is a massive game-universe comprising of the entire Milky Way galaxy. Populated space though takes up a much smaller area, a few thousand light years in diameter.

Sandbox concepts

The game is essentially a simulator with some other stuff tagged on. Enjoyment is entirely what you make of it.

There is no real objective apart from to become Elite. Elite can be achieved via Combat, Trading or Exploration.

There are three game modes, Open, Private and Solo. They all share the same background engine and economies will shift in the same way in each mode. The difference is entirely down to human interaction. In Solo you will never see another human in the game. In Private you will only encounter other members of your private group, whether this is one that you've created or a semi-public one like Mobius. Open you will encounter other humans who are also in this mode. Open is where the fun is, but it's also where the mentally disturbed are. You have to accept that another human will spot you and kill you for no reason other than the "lulz".

Populated space, frequently known as "The Bubble" has lots of inhabited star-systems, including Sol, where Earth is. You can dock your ship at space stations and on some planetary outposts (if you have the Horizons expansion). Stations is what defines a system in terms of interaction.

Economies, populations and services vary from station to station. Some will specialise in mining, others in high-tech sector. This means you'll be able to buy and sell different commodities at different prices depending on supply and demand. You may or may not be able to repair, upgrade or replace your ship at a station.

If you destroy your ship and you don't have enough cash reserves to buy it back, it's GAME OVER and you have to start again. You have been warned.

Further reading

There is a lot that goes on in the game that simply can't be known by being in game. To get involved with the game you need to join the community resources outside of the game, such as the forums. Be warned though, these are obsessive & toxic environments and you may land up hating everybody involved.