First Encounters

From Elite Wiki
Frontier: First Encounters
FFE small.jpg
Developer Frontier Developments
Publisher Gametek
Latest version 1.06 (Shareware)
Release date(s) Easter 1995
Platform(s) DOS

Frontier: First Encounters (most commonly abbreviated FFE) is the third game in the Elite Series by Frontier Developments. It builds substantially on its immediate predecessor Frontier and until the release of Elite: Dangerous was the last word in canonical Elite.

The game was originally released early, under pressure from the publishers Gametek, which led to an extremely buggy game. A patched shareware version can now be downloaded with most of the bugs fixed.

Features include:

  • Newtonian modelling for both ships and interstellar bodies.
  • Fully modelled stars and planets.
  • Ships from both its predecessors, as well as some new ships.
  • A set of journals representing the news as seen by each of the major powers. Many clues to the hard-coded missions can be found within these journals.
  • An overall plotline, which can be affected by the player completing the hard-coded missions. Not being mandatory, this can be ignored by players who prefer the freeform nature of the game, or can be completed for fame, notoriety and substantial material rewards.
  • A series of videos of people on the BBS requesting the randomly determined missions. They are renowned for their bad acting.

Analysis & Critique

It is worth perusing the analysis & critique over at Frontier as they apply equally to FFE (which inherited the issues discussed there). A list of bugs will be found in the links under quirks! Many of these have been ironed out by the Third Party enhancements below - and also by E:D which introduces other issues instead!

Third party enhancements

The overall popularity of First Encounters was greatly increased by the release of John Jordan's JJFFE, which allows First Encounters to be run natively in Windows.

During the summer of 2006, Kolijoco released a version of JJFFE called GLFFE, which uses an OpenGL 2.0 renderer, and includes new control console graphics - allowing FFE to be played in high resolution full screen.

Nic's Mod lowers the GLFFE's requirement from OpenGL 2.0 to OpenGL 1.2 and introduces some useful features, including a doubling of all planet resolutions.

Most recently, another refinement of FFE known as FFED3D has emerged onto the scene, featuring considerably improved graphics while still remaining faithful to the original game. This program is generally regarded as the definitive version of FFE.

Finally there is Pioneer which started in 2008 and is still (2021) being developed: link below.

More detail present on this wiki



Landed in the Laiobe system, as seen in the AndyJ version of FFED3D


The Elite gaming family


These sites cover both FE2 & FFE