Revealing the news in a recent, Braben claimed that offline play would be "unacceptably limited and static" compared to the planned dynamic online experience.
To clarify; while you can still play a solo game, you'll need to regularly connect to the game's servers to update the changing economy and various other overarching systems.
"Going forwards, being online lets us constantly both curate and evolve the galaxy," Braben writes, "with stories unfolding according to the actions of commanders. Exploration is also a key factor, too, and it is important that what a single player explores matches what other players explore whether single or multiplayer – a complex, coherent world – something we have achieved."
"Galaxy, story, missions, have to match, and it does mean the single player has to connect to the server from time to time, but this has the added advantage that everyone can participate in the activities that can happen in the galaxy. A fully offline experience would be unacceptably limited and static compared to the dynamic, ever unfolding experience we are delivering."
That might be the case, but it's a bold move to drop a featureby Frontier Developments during the game's crowd-funding phase only a month or so before release. The greater portion of those who are planning to jump into the game's open sci-fi universe will presumably have a reliable connection, but there's plenty of people out there who don't.
And as we've seen with SimCity 2013, forcing players to go online can be actively harmful to a game's reputation. Elite: Dangerous is a different beast to Maxis' game, sure, but studying the, it seems customers and fans are no less disappointed with the decision.
Elite: Dangerous drops this December 16.