Star Citizen: Release date, news and features rumours

The most crowdfunded project in all of time and space, Star Citizen is shaping up to be a massive space-sim tour de force. Combining space combat, on-foot FPS combat, trading and drinking a beer in a space pub too, the world of Star Citizen is one you could easily lose yourself in. Pair that with renowned developer Chris Roberts, the man behind the beloved Wing Commander, and Mark Hamill providing his well-loved voice and we’ve got every bit of confidence this ambitious game will be a massive hit.

Of course, it hasn’t actually released yet, so far we’ve been treated to the game’s Alpha version, with little tidbits being added as and when they come available. It’s a beast of a game, and requires a beast of a PC to run it too. Now’s a better time than any to upgrade your PC though, with some impressively affordable GPU’s hitting the market right now.

Find out the best desktop PC’s you can buy in 2016[1]

That being said, we’ve rounded up every bit of information revealed so far about Star Citizen, so you can acquint yourself before setting foot into a wider universe.

Star Citizen: Release date

Given Star Citizen’s modular design and entirely fluid launch schedule, every part of the game is likely to arrive earlier or later than originally anticipated.

Based on rough estimates, the final, finished game was supposed to arrive at the end of 2016, but considering we’re fast approaching the tail end now, that’s looking pretty unlikely.

Star Citizen space combat

If you’re desperate to get into space, there are plenty of ways to do it without waiting for the inevitable full retail release, though.

What is Star Citizen?

The development team behind Star Citizen has a seriously ambitious plan for the game, so much so that it’s difficult to pin down exactly what it will be when it finally arrives. Part space combat dogfighter, part MMO, part epic single player campaign and part expansive open world, Star Citizen should be all things to anyone remotely interested in sci-fi and space games in general. The plan is to eventually launch a full retail version of the game, which players will only have to buy once in order to play forever.

There are no plans for a subscription model, and although there will be in-game micro-transactions, the developer has pledged that everything available to buy can also be earned through gameplay. It was envisioned as a PC game, and the developer doesn’t have any plans to launch on current or next-gen games consoles, although there is a possibility of Mac and Linux ports in the (distant) future. As Star Citizen is based on CryEngine used to power Crysis 3[2], you’ll need a fairly powerful system to run it at full graphics settings; an Intel Core i7 2500 with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 should be ideal for playing at 1080p.

Star Citizen: Alpha and subscriptions explained

If you weren’t one of the early birds that supported Star Citizen, either through the Roberts Space Industries website or on Kickstarter (which only raised a small percentage of the massive £50 million+ total), it can be a little tricky to understand exactly how to gain early access to the game.

Officially, everything playable right now is in a “pre-Alpha” state, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for it to be finalised to start playing.

Star Citizen concept art

You’ll need to head to the Pledge[3] section of the official website and choose a game package to get started; there are plenty to choose from and prices can skyrocket depending on the size, performance and hold capacity of the ship you opt for. You want one that includes Arena Commander access, and the cheapest is currently the Mustang Alpha SC – a personal transport ship that includes a copy of the game, a personal hangar, digital manual, 1,000 in-game credits to spend on upgrades, a digital download of Squadron 42 when it launches and 3 months of ship insurance. You aren’t limited to single-seater ships either; although smaller, more nimble machines might be better suited to dogfighting, sometimes you need serious weaponry to deal real damage.

The Constellation Andromeda is one of the largest ships currently available for early access customers to pledge for, and at £330 a piece it’s also one of the most expensive, but it is designed to be manned by multiple players and can be fully loaded with bombs and turrets. Insurance, just like in real life, protects your ship and cargo in the event it gets destroyed. For a set amount of in-game cash, it will be replaced if you have an accident or get destroyed in a dogfight.

The idea is that it will form a part of the in-game economy, which will also include paying landing fees and trade tariffs, resupplying your ship with fuel, hiring help, making upgrades and buying cargo. Risk levels will be assigned to different star systems so you know where you are covered and where your policy will be invalidated. If you fly an uninsured ship and it gets destroyed, but don’t have enough in the bank to immediately replace it, you’ll have to fly missions for third parties and NPCs in order to earn enough credits to buy a new one.

Although there are subscriptions available through the Star Citizen website, they aren’t necessary to play and simply earn you bonuses like a monthly digital magazine detailing development, cosmetic items to put on display in your virtual hangar, and after twelve months of membership exclusive access to work-in-progress sections of the website. It’s purely for serious fans or anyone that wants to help out with development costs, so you can play without a monthly payment if you choose.

Star Citizen: Modules

Star Citizen was designed as a modular title, with the development team working on one aspect of the game at a time and drop-feeding content to Kickstarter[4] backers and early adopters. The first release was the Hangar Module, which lets players explore a virtual starship hangar and walk around their personal craft in first person.

You can jump in and inspect the cockpit, plus see all the mechanical features and electronics in action. You’ll eventually be able to see all your cargo, organised into something like a warehouse, rather than simply open a menu to see a number symbolising your material wealth.

Star Citizen FPS

This initial release was followed by the Arena Commander mode, otherwise known as the dogfighting module. It lets pilots take their ships out into space and pit them against AI opponents or other players to see who has the better dogfighting skills.

It also includes the option for free flight, with no enemies to worry about, and the single player Vanduul Swarm mode for fighting information with AI-controlled wingmen. Plans to add a racing mode are slowly coming to fruition, with some bare-bones functionality in place already to help you find out which of your friends or clanmates have the fastest ship. Fans got their first look at ‘Galactic Gear’ to coincide with the launch, a Top Gear-inspired trailer showing off one of the new racing ships in all its glory, while in-depth details of the latest update were released via the RSI monthly status report[5].

So far, the standout game mode is Capture the Core, a riff on the typical capture the flag mode normally found in first person shooters. Now with the additional challenge of moving in three dimensional space, players must capture an enemy core then transport it to their team’s energy stockpile. It’s currently available to all Arena Commander-eligible backers.

A private match function was added in a recent update too, letting you pick exactly who to play against if you only want to dogfight with friends. We’ve also been treated to the excellent “ship boarding” first-person shooter module, even though it isn’t available just yet. Not only does Star Citizen do space combat incredibly well, it’ll also be taking a stab at shooters too, with proper on foot combat and squad-based shooter experiences.

There’s also the Persistent Universe module too, which is expected to arrive after the initial single player campaign once that arrives. The social module will let you visit other player hangars, as well as hang out in a bar with your virtual avatar, visit shops to upgrade your ship, and traders to sell your cargo to, and the Persistant Universe module will tie everything together in one massive world.

Star Citizen

Typically, planets will be places for players to repair their ships, sell cargo, trade with other players and pick up missions. The demo shows very detailed environments, open social areas and shops, with huge amounts of incidental animations, non-player characters and explorable locations.

We’re expecting to learn more about progress on the various modules directly from the developers through regular blog posts and trailer reveals – be sure to check back in the coming weeks for the most up to date information.

Star Citizen: Single Player – Squadron 42

Originally a crowdfunding stretch goal, Star Citizen’s single player campaign was funded when the overall total exceeded £29 million. Playable offline, with no need to connect to the internet in order to play, it looks set to expand the Star Citizen universe with a comprehensive backstory and a huge number of missions for pilots to attempt.
Video of Star Citizen Extended Trailer – Squadron 42 [Cry Engine 3]

According to the official Roberts Space Industries website, Squadron 42 is an elite unit of the United Empire of Earth Navy. Having become notorious during the second Tavarin war for turning problematic pilots into an effective (yet difficult to control) fighting force, the Squadron is well-known for its unorthodox approach to military manoeuvres, battle plans and space combat.[6] Anyone that enlists with the 42nd Squadron may earn UEE Citizenship, which is why players should be keen to sign up – it will unlock bonuses in-game, including quicker police response when being chased by space pirates.

There will be other ways to gain Citizenship without enlisting, so conscientious objectors will still be able to become a part of the UEE through other means, although these have yet to be finalised.

When it first arrives, Squadron 42 will include around ten finished missions, with others due to be added at a later date.

There are currently four chapters, each with ten missions each, planned in addition to the original introduction chapter, so there should be plenty of content for players that aren’t interested in dogfighting online.

References

  1. ^ best desktop PC’s you can buy in 2016 (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Crysis 3 review (www.expertreviews.co.uk)
  3. ^ Roberts Space Industries – Pledge (robertsspaceindustries.com)
  4. ^ Kickstarter – Star Citizen (www.kickstarter.com)
  5. ^ RSI Monthly status report – September 2014 (robertsspaceindustries.com)
  6. ^ This Day in History (robertsspaceindustries.com)

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