Star Citizen 3.0 is a Buggy Mess and I Love It!
Remember when Windows 10 first went out? Remember how much it sucked the first time you were in game and the bloody machine decided to reboot itself to apply updates? Maybe you were one of the smarter ones than me that researched all that stuff and how to circumvent it before it happened to you. Welcome then, to Star Citizen 3.0 - The Frequently Updated! As I type, I’ve once again been thrown out of the game and prompted to update to the latest patch. Thankfully with 3.0, as I reported previously (here), the newly revised launcher is now implemented which means that (other than the first install of 3.0 at 36GB or so) updates are now massively faster than they previously were since the level of granularity in the delta patches is now significantly increased so the days of a small update meaning a many GB download seem to be behind us.
So, what can I say about the much vaunted Star Citizen 3.0 build? As many will be aware, the version has been released beyond the initial Evocati Test Flight wave of initial testers to a wider group of early testers (as well as having its NDA lifted). That much said, it has still not hit the Star Citizen public servers yet so to be clear, what I've been playing isn't the same as what will be generally released which will obviously be a much cleaner and improved experience. I’m sure everyone is chomping at the bit as much as (or even more than!) I was to get in to 3.0 but first things first. This build is definitely not ready for prime time. That much said, it’s significantly more stable than many other releases CIG have put out to early testing over the years, so that’s a good sign. I’m also writing this on a Saturday, which means that the Cloud Imperium Games developers must be deep in crunch mode to get 3.0 into shape for a wider release since I’m getting patches on a weekend.
Patch notes are behind the build in the PTU (test servers, as opposed to the public servers) and as of writing, patch notes go up to build 672282 compared to build 673332 which I’m now running.
The Good: Star Citizen 3.0 Player Cap Increased to 50 per Instance
Rumours had been swirling in recent weeks that the Evocati were testing builds with an increased player per instance cap and these rumours appear to have been borne out with CIG making it official with the wider release of 3.0 that you can now get up to 50 players into an instance. This is a significant step up and with the revamped party system allows for the possibility of some decent organisation play in the game which in years gone past has been a bit hit or miss.
It shows that CIG haven’t forgotten one of their longer term goals, that of an intelligent shard system which potentially supports a huge number of players in a shared environment, even if not on the same server itself, but the initial requirement of course had to be to increase from the 24 players per instance scenario we have been at for quite a while. Will 50 players per instance make it through to the wider release? Unclear at this stage, but this of course is what the early testing phases are all about. Hammering the servers and figuring out what the current version is capable of.
The Bad: Bugs and Bad Configurations Abound
It’s unsurprising that given this is still in early private testing, it’s buggy. There are things that make 3.0 a frustration including the fact that the mobiGlas (a kind of in game smart wristwatch which governs several of your game interactions) needs work from both a stability and usability perspective. Other bugs which I thought I had long ago seen the back of are back including falling through the floor of my Origin 350r while trying to board it at Port Olisar, rendering it unusable.
Couple this with the new Item 2.0 interaction system which works reasonably well but can be a bit finicky and occasionally doesn’t prompt as it’s supposed to, target locations sometimes being correctly indicated as being obstructed but other times not (heading to a landing zone on the dark side of a moon without watching your altitude indicator can be hazardous to your and your ships health!), as well as frame rate drops and sometimes being unable to move after closing your mobiGlas mean that this isn’t smooth sailing.
It’s not just bugs either, some of the configurations and keybindings are problematic with for example every time I open my mobiGlas in ship (a requirement these days since you select quantum travel destinations via a system map app now), the landing gear deploys. Tack on that quantum travel takes you a huge distance in a very short period of time between interest points (moons, space stations etc), but then dumps you with about 5 minutes of afterburner distance away from the actual destination you were trying to get to.
Bring all this together and what do you have? It’s definitely a build which isn’t going to be appreciated by a casual gamer who wants to jump into a ship, do a couple of missions and then log off. You can absolutely work around it but it takes time, googling, dedication and no small amount of patience. Couple this onto the fact that CIG aren’t really looking for people to “play the game” at this stage, but people to pound the system and test the hell out of it, reporting bugs with detail about how to reproduce them etc. This build is not for the faint hearted.
The Glorious: Star Citizen 3.0 is Amazing
Here’s the thing. Scratch the surface and dig a bit deeper than the bugs and the bad configs and the frame rate drops and the constant patch updates and you know what you find? The beginnings of a game.
Let that sink in for a moment. That’s right, I said a game. This feels hugely significant. A milestone and not a small one at that. A bloody great big smacked down milestone. For those of us who remember the days before satnav, a huge bloody great big sign that tells you that YES, you did take the right turn half an hour back when you weren’t quite sure and were questioning whether you should turn around or not.
I’ve spent probably a good 5 or 6 hours in it so far. In that time, I’ve not had a single crash to desktop. What I have had are some missions, I’ve been to in game locations I’d never seen before, I’ve requested landing from Air Traffic Control, I’ve made some credits, I’ve lost ships and filed insurance claims to get them back, I’ve landed on strange moons and walked around, I’ve flown the new Aegis Sabre Raven, I’ve chatted with people in game and helped them do things they’ve been trying to figure out. I’ve done all these things and more.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken a hell of a lot of work to do all of this and it’s not been smooth sailing at all. You need to figure out workarounds, tweak settings, patch, figure out more workarounds, re-spawn when you get trapped unable to move and more besides. But if you can suffer all that, 3.0 is taking shape as the game Star Citizen has always wanted to be. It feels huge and there’s a ton to do and see. As it moves through the early testing waves and gets stabilised and major bugs fixed, this is (finally!) starting to feel like it’s becoming a game and that is probably the most significant accomplishment that CIG have made. Amongst all the ships, the funding, the drama, there’s a lot to look forward to here.
For those interested in checking out Yela, Daymar or Cellin but don’t have access to 3.0 yet, you may want to check out the (free) MyRadar app which has recently partnered with Star Citizen. It’s a normal Earth-based weather app which also has these in in game locations in it. Check it out at the links below:
See you in the ‘verse.
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