It’s been a while since we’ve reported on Star Citizen but as is usual, the anniversary livestream which Cloud Imperium Games do to commemorate the launch of the kickstarter campaign took place last night and also as is usual, CIG didn’t disappoint.
Ask people what Star Citizen is about and you’ll get incredibly varied responses. Some say it’s about visceral space dogfighting, others will say it’s about exploration, in fact it’s quite possible that you could ask ten different people and get ten different responses, the thing is though, they’d mostly be right. But whether you want to make your way in the universe via piracy, bounty hunting or completely non-violent means, most will agree on the definition that CIG seemed to settle on a while back.
Star Citizen is a First Person Universe. So generally most gameplay styles which have some degree of player interest are likely to make it into the game sooner or later. Although the game is in alpha and only has a small piece of one system playable at the moment (aside from the arena modes), there is persistence and an ability to play the game as a “good guy” or “bad guy” to some degree and earn credits. The game still has a long way to go though so if you’re looking for a polished experience, Star Citizen isn’t for you yet.
Now to the juicy details.
Star Citizen 2.6
The next major (0.x release) build of Star Citizen will be 2.6 and is currently expected to launch this year. As is usual with a major release, there is a mix of new functionality and new ships included in the build.
Coming in 2.6 we can expect the following:
Drake Herald (info runner, new ship)
Origin 85X (small runabout, new ship)
Drake Caterpillar (pirate transport, new ship)
Star Marine! The much anticipated FPS arena combat mode of Star Citizen. Akin to Arena Commander but on foot/EVA. We’ve had some rudimentary FPS capabilities in game up until this point but this has all taken place in the persistent universe and potentially carries consequences with it (ammo costs money, dying means potentially losing a ship at a space station etc). Star Marine allows you to jump right into FPS action without having to worry about such details. Additional animations and functionalities for FPS also come with 2.6 besides just the arena modes of the game. Below is a video released showing the Star Marine play from the livestream with the first non-staff community members to get their hands on it!
Arena Commander also has been updated to include ammo packs for those who run out of ammo in game if using ballistic weapons.
The overall game has had a ship balance pass with ship speed being the main focus of this release. Most ships have apparently had speeds reduced somewhat, we’ll have to see how this shakes out in game upon release of 2.6.
Also coming in 2.6 look to be some new variants of existing ships which appear to have the first elements of a ship skin system in place. The livestream showcased some of this and it’s something which backers have been clamouring about for a long time.
Check out this preview video of the ships which are coming in 2.6
Ships are one of the primary things people are most interested in when it comes to Star Citizen. Although we are well past the “ship as an avatar” space sim here given the first person nature of the universe, this is still first and foremost a space game. As such, everyone will need some kind of ship.
Capital ships however are special things. These huge beasts start at 155 metres long for the smallest (The RSI Polaris Corvette) and go up to 1km long for the Bengal Carrier, potentially even larger for the UEES Retribution. Remember, these aren’t just notional items, these are fully built out environments which you will be able to serve on and walk around.
The original capital ship was the Idris corvette which is the primary ship you will initially serve on during Squadron 42 (the single player campaign in the style of a modern day wing commander), however throughout the design process, the corvette was discovered to be too small to handle the requirements of the storyline and so it grew and grew until it became a frigate. As such, the Idris has been in development for quite a while and we now learn that it is virtually complete with only one room remaining to be finished (the missile room apparently). This is an almost 240 metre long ship which we’ve seen some snippets of but in the latest teaser we see a lot more.
Additionally, we also see a lot more of the Javelin destroyer and the Bengal carrier, both larger than the Idris. These ships look to be coming along nicely and I for one can’t wait to board one in Squadron 42 when it comes out! Check them out below.
New Concept Ship
The long awaited Esperia Prowler concept ship was also unveiled during the livestream. This is effectively a troop dropship/boarding ship which is the first one we have seen to have originally been a Tevarin ship. The Tevarin are the games 4th non-human species (the others being the Vanduul, Xi’An and Banu) and the only ones who are effectively part of the United Empire of Earth. As a reminder, concept ships are subject to change significantly before final implementation in the game.
Check out the behind the scenes of the concept art for the new Esperia Prowler:
As usual, there is some degree of controversy with Star Citizen. The project is now well past its originally scheduled release date. Of course that has to be tempered against the fact that scope grew massively in the first couple of years (the project went live end of 2012 so really got up and running in 2013 as they built out the studios in the first two years) and the community demanded a continuation of stretch goals until CIG stopped offering more stretch goals at the end of 2014.
What it means is that the scope now is huge. AAA games take years to develop, even for existing studios. Most of the community seems content to wait for the finished game and I for one applaud that mentality. If you want a finished game, go buy one from your DRM platform of choice. If you want to be part of a development process, warts and all, get onboard with Star Citizen. A lot of the base gameplay mechanics are in place and can be experienced for yourself. Remember, all ships will ultimately be obtainable in game, all that’s needed to play is a base game package with a starter ship.
Considering that the game continues to rake in ever more funds from people sharing the dream, a bet against them seems a long shot. CIG continue to release new versions (despite having a track record of being late) and it’s clear to most by now that the game is getting made. To date, CIG have amassed almost $132m from over 1.6m backers. The dream still seems strong.
Interested in space sims? Check out https://robertsspaceindustries.com/ for more detail. Additionally, if you're in the UK or Europe, you may want to check out the BritizenCon fan event which CIG attended last year and currently has tickets on sale here.