In August, Frontier Development announced that massive Fleet Carriers with the ability to travel great distances and serve as refueling and refitting stations for smaller ships would be added to Elite: Dangerous in December. That plan has now changed, however, as Frontier has shifted its focus for the remainder of the year, and beyond, to fixing bugs.
The shift in priority followed the release of the September Update, which apparently introduced a number of new bugs to the game. "We realise that some of the issues had an impact on your ability to enjoy Elite Dangerous. The team have been working hard to address the most critical issues and have already released a series of patches and updates to bring those fixes in as quickly as possible," community manager Will Flanagan wrote.
"However, we know there's more to be done. You've asked for more focus on existing bug/fixes and issues, and for the community to be better integrated into the development process and testing for these upcoming updates."
To make that happen, future updates "from now and into next year" will be focused almost exclusively on fixing both new and longstanding problems with the game, rather than incorporating new content. Those updates will be rolled out every three to four months, and will be preceded by a public beta. The first update is expected to begin beta testing in December, and barring any big problems will go live in early 2020.
"As a result of our updated plans, we have made the difficult decision to defer the release of Fleet Carriers," Flanagan wrote. "We are now planning for Fleet Carriers to be released in an update in the second quarter of 2020, rather than in December 2019 as previously stated. This will grant us additional time to refine the feature as well as focusing time on addressing existing reported issues.
"It will also ensure the state of the game is in a better position to introduce Fleet Carriers, that will provide Commanders even more opportunities to interact with the Milky Way. We understand that this delay will be disappointing for some players, but do know that this decision is one that we do not take lightly, and is made with the best interests of the community and game at heart."
Flanagan also touched on the next "major paid expansion" to Elite: Dangerous, which is expected to be out by the end of 2020. Everything is apparently on schedule, but Fronter won't be ready to actually revealed anything about it until—hopefully—sometime in summer 2020, after the Fleet Carriers update is live.