Cloud Imperium and its affiliated Roberts Space Industries raised $46 million in venture capital in December and $229 million from 2.3 million crowdfunding backers to date, and that has helped the team deliver quarterly updates of Star Citizen (a massive online game) as it marches toward a launch in the summer of 2020 for its Squadron 42, a single-player, story-based game.
The scope and the time involved — as well as departures from the team — have made some gamers and media skeptical about whether it will ever ship. In response, CEO Chris Roberts has disclosed how the company has spent its money and built a team of nearly 500, who are delivering updates on a regular schedule.
The newest Star Citizen release adds a legal system (which will get player characters in trouble if they break laws), a black market economy, new space stations, new missions, and flyable ships.
“Star Citizen has always been about player choice and playing the way you want to play, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lawless universe,” said Chris Roberts, CEO and game director, in a statement. “The new law system brings a much more systemic approach to law and order throughout the Star Citizen universe; different locations and factions can have different rules which will be enforced by AI or even other players as the crime becomes more serious. It’s yet another step on the road to a fully breathing dynamic universe that reacts to and is shaped by the players actions.”
Quality of life
This release also includes dozens of “quality-of-life improvements.” The law system codifies 19 laws across multiple jurisdictions, both planetary and beyond. Those who break the law in 3.6 will also be confronted by non-player character forces tasked to take down those who embrace the criminal lifestyle. Also debuting in alpha 3.6 are missions that encourage players to skirt or challenge authority and tackle the long arm of the law head-on.
In Alpha 3.6, legal infractions range from minor infringements addressed with fines to major offenses resulting in a “kill on sight” order. Players with an active crime stat can run, leave the jurisdiction, pay off the authorities, or head to one of several new crime stat hacking locations.
There, they can use a hacking tool to remove their crime stat and return to civilized society unharmed. However, time is a factor, as players with active crime stats become the target of counter-missions that task other players with stopping them. Additionally, the new black market economy provides a “safer” path for players to dispose of illegally-acquired goods through disreputable vendors in the universe.
The universe also has ship-purchasing kiosks, making nearly all of Star Citizen’s 90-plus flyable ships and drivable vehicles available for purchase inside the game, with in-game currency.
You can now use Face over IP or simple VoIP calls to “hail” other ships, giving players another way to connect with each other, team up, and communicate across the massive universe. Additionally, FoIP and TrackIR now power “free look” via head-tracking technology, allowing players to control their in-game first-person shooter controls by moving in real life.
New space stations
To cope with the constantly expanding playable space, new space stations are now sprinkled throughout the Stanton system. These massive space stations feature docking pads, shops, and other points of interest to explore.
- Hover Mode: Hover mode automatically activates near planetary surfaces at low speed. When engaged, ships swap to VTOL thruster mode to level them out and ensure a safe landing.
- Vehicle Item Degradation and Misfires: Items such as powerplant’s and thruster’s performance now degrade through heavy use, overheating and damage accumulation, leading to misfires. In addition, all vehicle weapons now support visual degradation.
- Ship Shield System: Shields have been reworked to add major differences between manufacturers and classifications to provide a difference in feel and value between equipment.
Updated ships and new weapons
- Anvil Ballista: This surface-to-air missile equipped ground vehicle features long-range scanning and radar, plus the firepower to control the skies from the ground.
- Aegis Vanguard Warden: a hard-charging bulldog of a fighter craft that features extensive forward-mounted weaponry designed to tear through enemy shields and armor.
- Kruger Intergalactic P52 Merlin: ideal for racing, local recon, and fast combat, this snub fighter ship is designed to be transported aboard a larger ship. With a centerline-mounted Gatling cannon and Lightning Power engine, it’s fast, maneuverable, and packs a punch.
- Kruger Intergalactic P72 Archimedes: This sister craft to the Merlin is a snub fighter featuring an extra intake and lighter hull to deliver exceptional handling and boost capabilities in a sleek package.
- Behring s38 pistol: this standard sidearm is in widespread use across the Empire for both citizens and law enforcement officers, with functionality that minimizes recoil while enabling quick semi-automatic fire.
- MaxOx Neutron Repeaters ship weapon: this weapon is designed for close-range ship combat, featuring a twin-barrel system firing neutron projectiles at a rapid rate.
- Klaus & Werner Lumin V submachine gun: even when constantly on the attack, the gun’s design provides low recoil and a tight spread, while firing single energy bolts or bursts of five shots at a time.