So, after a hugely successful Kickstarter, months of beta testing and the odd controversy, Elite: Dangerous – the sequel to one of the most loved games ever – has finally launched and is available for download.

And the developer is taking no chances on catching last minute Christmas purchases either: aside from the 400 billion stars to explore which are mapped out in the game, Frontier is kicking off a story sequence involving intrigue and Machiavellian plots in the Empire faction of a style not even the most dedicated beta player will have tried yet.

And there’s more. As an incentive to play every last waking hour over the next few weeks, Frontier is also offering up a bounty of £1,000 (R18 3100) each for the first players to achieve the top “Elite” ranking in each of the Exploration, Trading and Combat skill sets. No mean feat, considering the actual criteria for progressing a rank is always hidden from the player and getting to Elite in the Combat tree will likely take tens of thousands of kills.

And yet more. The first player to hit Elite in all three wins a massive £10,000 (R183 100) bonus just for playing. Although you can’t win that if you’ve already claimed one of the other prizes.

I’m downloading the release as I write – although am unlikely to achieve any of the money prizes since my highest rank in all the beta was “Mostly Aimless” – appropriate since I tend to just fly around without doing much. Do let us know your thoughts over in our Elite: Dangerous South Africa forum though.

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.