According to the newest Elite: Dangerous newsletter (number 86), Frontier’s intentions for the PC/Mac beta of update 1.4 (CQC) are to get it out in the next couple of weeks.
That’s not yet finalised, but gives a reasonable idea of what type of window they’re aiming for.
Producer Michael Brookes suggests this beta will be handled a little different to prior releases. “We will focus on stability and major fixes rather than try to tweak everything in one go,” he writes. “This provides a path to a more stable 1.4 release”. The stated aim here is to avoid “the flurry of minor releases after a major release”.
Though the Close Quarter Combat (CQC) mode is the main event in 1.4, as with any major update there will be a number of other changes and fixes to the main Elite: Dangerous game.
These include non-specific “network optimisation” and fixing of certain connection issues, as well as the ability to switch off the shader cache check on start-up.
Game-wise, there’ll be a fix for fighters sometimes not spawning from an NPC capital ship, and some causes of “unnecessary NPC chatter” have been figured out. That’s in conjunction with a greater variation in overall NPC chatter, and the ability for NPCs to interdict other NPCs while in supercruise.
Brookes’ update ends with a warning about the upcoming Oculus SDK 0.7 release: “Players using Oculus Dev Kits should continue to use the 0.5. Oculus Runtime for Elite: Dangerous. Upgrading to the upcoming 0.7 release will not be compatible with our game”.
Reading between the lines of “without that SDK in hand, we cannot guarantee future compatibility”, it sounds as if Frontier haven’t yet been given the necessary access to 0.7 to make the game compatible at this point.