According to both the most recent Frontier newsletter and recent livestreams, the set of expansions dubbed Horizons will include a bevy of new features. The biggest game changer is the introduction of planetary landings and exploration. In addition to Mass Effect style planetary buggie rides, the game is also introducing a new line of ships that allow for multiple pilots.
These new multi-pilot vessels not only allow for much larger and grand battles, their size also allows the storage and use of ship-launched fighters. So fleets supported by larger capital ships in player engagements are likely to become a thing. A;though not expressly confirmed, it seems possible that AI could be hired to handle minor functions in larger multi-crew ships.
Though not directly related to Horizons, it was also announced today that in a forthcoming ‘Ships’ update (version 1.5 of Elite: Dangerous), the Viper Mk IV will be introduced. Anybody who backed the game’s original Kickstarter at “beta level or above” will get one of these ships for free.
As players will no doubt spend more time staring at the mugs of fellow pilots, Elite is also introducing a “Commander Creator” to allow players to customize their avatars.