Part of the starmap in the original Elite, from 1984. Only go to Riedquat if you fancy dying, a lot.
At the moment the game, which is playable by those who backed the title's Kickstarter campaign, consists of a series of linked missions spanning around a single light-year, allowing fighting and docking but not much more. The new alpha release will add 400 billion star systems and the simulated space will increase to 100,000 light-years, effectively containing our entire galaxy. The game will accurately simulate the position of the stars relative to one another, including some nebulae and dust clouds. The game will remain limited in what can be done within this space - at the moment you can't visit Earth, for example, and the actual flyable space will be limited to a 200 light-year-wide stretch of the Bootes constellation - but it goes some way to showing the full potential of the game.
The starmap from Elite: Dangerous (concept art pictured) is a bit more impressive.
Several weeks after the release the fourth alpha build, the game will enter beta status as the last game systems (likely to involve missions, the economy and more varied AI enemies) are slotted into place. The game appears to be on track for a final release before the end of the year. Releasing the game in September would be appropriate, as that would mark the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Elite.
Meanwhile, on 15 May Gollancz will release three tie-in novels for the game in the UK.