New gameplay features and content will be introduced to Elite Dangerous throughout its second season, following the release of Horizons' first expansion, Planetary Landings, in December 2015.
There are 4 expansions currently in development for release within 2016, free to all owners of Horizons.
While each expansion is titled after its headline feature - generally available to Horizons players only - they also will contain many other basegame gameplay/content improvements and additions, available free to all players of Elite Dangerous.
The headline gameplay features and content in development that will be available for free to Horizons players.
The Engineers, v2.1, released May 2016 Edit
- Greater degree of customisation and power to the ships.
- Improve and customise normal weapons and module types.
- Let you create unique equipment. src
- Loot will be found in various place in the galaxy, e.g. planetary surfaces, wrecked vessels.
- It's a reward system to assist explorers, combatants, traders, miners and bounty hunters with each having different L&C options available.
- Ability to create different coloured and powered lasers along with guns that would create malfunctions in enemy ships systems.
- Engineers are NPCs who will facilitate crafting, by providing mod blueprints for applying to weapons/modules.
- Engineers have their own characteristics, history, specialisations, rank requirements and loyalties.
- Having a better NPC relationship and higher rank will give access to better blueprints.
- ~30 Engineers spread geographically in the human bubble, located on planets, and shown on the Galaxy Map. 
The Guardians, v2.2, released October 2016 Edit
- Larger ships in the game (for example the T-9) will be able to launch and/or dock smaller vessels from their bays.
- Launched vessels can be either NPC or CMDR piloted, and will be used to fight off enemy craft, or act as scouting vessels on planets.
- If playing on your own and choose to leave your main vessel in a smaller fighter craft, your ship will fly on autopilot and defend itself.
The Commanders, v2.3, released April 2017 Edit
- Players working together to control the different functions of a ship. A multicrew ship landing on a planet's surface could have one player stay with the main vessel, another patrol in a ship-launched fighter, and another explore in their SRV.
- The maximum number of crew on a ship is 4, and uses the Wing system. This crew limit may be increased in a future Season: "We don't know how high we would go."
- 4 roles: Helm (piloting), Fire control (turrets/weapons), Countermeasures (shields, tactical), Engineering (sensors, navigation, repairs); uses an SRV-style UI interface. CMDRs can hotswap between roles, including in Solo, and it will be balanced so that a fully-crewed ship is on par with 4 CMDRs in a wing.
- No NPC Crew initially.
- Enormous range of faces and features available, including hair, selectable via the game's interface. In combination with Multicrew players be able to see each other in game.
- Faces will be visible as the visors will be retracted with pressurised cockpit, while a canopy breach will cause Visors to appear.
The Return, v2.4, coming Q4 2017 Edit
- The return of the Thargoids.
Other developments coming, but unknown as to when currently Edit
- More SRV's.
- Planet updates will include "active volcanism" and "ice volcanism". src
- Larger settlements, including cities.
- NPC ships flying around stations and the surface. NPC SRVs not this Season.
- More coming for explorers on planet surfaces.
- Atmospheric landings on Planets with Life will NOT be part of Horizons season. src
Elite Dangerous Edit
Known gameplay features, content, and improvements currently in various stages of development that may be available free to all Elite Dangerous players. These are categorised as follows:
- Scheduled - confirmed as appearing in a named or numbered expansion.
- Not Scheduled (Yet) - confirmed as appearing at some point during Horizons' Season.
- Not Confirmed (Yet?) - either repeatedly discussed or aimed at appearing towards the end of Horizons. As they are unconfirmed, they could arrive during any of Season 2's expansions, or even in Season 3.
- (2.0.05) Bug fix update, expected in the week starting 1/2/16.
- (2.1) Some loot options will be available, found in space.
- (2.1) Overhaul of missiles and mines. src
- (2.1) Overhaul of weapons system. src
- (2.1) Greater information feedback for Minor Faction interactions.
- (2.1) Information about how you can help a specific Minor Faction.
- More NPC persistence.
- (2.1) Faces for specific NPC contacts like mission givers, in 2.1.
- (2.1) The NPC contacts a CMDR will interact with depends on their reputation with the contact's Minor Faction.
- (2.1) Improvements to graphics and visuals.
- (2.1) Lots of mission changes.
- (2.1) NPC AI difficulty increase for higher ranks, to better use weapons, PIPs and combat strategy.
- (~2.1) Networking and matchmaking improvements. src
- (~2.2) Galaxy Map Bookmarks.
Not Scheduled (Yet) Edit
- Fully-chained missions - different types of missions in a sequence, e.g. delivery following an assassination. src
- Improvements to mission generation, which is dependent on the current station's market. src
- New military, ranking and Powerplay missions. src
- Military mission revamp, into more like a career.
- Finding traces of The Missing - early 24th Century explorers - src and mysterious colonies in deep space. src
- Story reasons for Piracy & Bounty Hunting.
- Things related to Thargoids and other non-Thargoid species.
- More Community Goals to expand the human bubble.
- More differentiation between systems and stations, e.g. rundown station in a poor system.
- Community Goals to create new and upgrade planetary ports and settlements. src
- New structures, based on CQC assets. src
- More CQC multiplayer maps. src
- More ships, some of which will be very large trading ships. src
- Paying off ship insurance/rebuy costs by liquidating assets. src
- Ferrying multiple ships from one station to another. src
- New FSD and engine upgrades for faster travel. src
- Instancing and matchmaking stability improvements.
- Big improvements to Powerplay, involving non-pledged CMDRs, and the relationship with Minor Factions.
- Player-Group sponsored Minor Factions will have the opportunity to become a Power.
- Better population modelling and effects for Minor Factions.
Not Confirmed (Yet?) Edit
- Exploration log. src
- Orrery view in system map.
- Planets with visible-from-space weather systems. src
- Co-ordinates for mission targets. src
- Improved NPC communications. src
- More astronomical phenomenon, especially comets. src Comets are already in the simulation, but gameplay is being designed for them.
- CQC Racing. src
- Power specific skins. src
- Some crafting options.
- Large improvements to the API. src
- More Powerplay missions, variety and rewards, and rebalanced Powerplay interdiction and spawning, with home systems becoming significantly safer.
- In Powerplay, each time a CMDR earns a Merit they also earn a Favour, which is a permanent resource and does not decay. During a Powerplay Cycle, a CMDR could "spend" Favours to trigger an individual rating’s benefits until the next Cycle. Favours are worth significantly less than Merits.
- Ability to toggle Powerplay status to be active or hidden, through either an option/decal/skin, with a cooldown before you get the benefits.
- Ability to "up" or "down" vote a system involved in Powerplay action, as a contextual communication of attack/defence ideas.
- Outside of Powerplay, CMDRs can pledge as a Freedom Fighter to one System, to fight against Powers attempting to control that System. Freedom Fighters could be valid targets in any System controlled or exploited by any Power that shared a Major Faction with the one being attacked.
- More dovetailing between Minor factions and Powers, beyond the existing Government vs Ethos effect, which will also be changed to scale instead of a set 50%.
Features previously noted above that have either been released or postponed until after Season 2.
- (2.0.05) Bug fix update, expected in the week starting 25/1/16.
- ↑ Horizons Might Finally Fill Those Empty Seats - iDigitalTimes
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 EGX 2015 Developer Session: David Braben Reveals The Future Of Elite Dangerous
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Dev Update Thread, 21/1/16 - ED Forums
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 On The Horizon #7, 15/12/15 - Youtube
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 David Braben AMA, 15/12/15 - /r/elitedangerous
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 On The Horizon #4 - YouTube
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Answers From The Devs, 15/1/16 - ED Forums
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Dev Update Thread 28/1/16 - ED Forums
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Dev Update Thread, 7/1/16 - ED Forums
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Dev Update Thread, 14/1/16 - ED Forums
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Powerplay: Ideas From The Devs #3 - ED Forums