Cloud Imperium Games has released its quarterly update of the alpha version of its Star Citizen science fiction game universe, adding caves where players can mine resources.

The Star Citizen Alpha 3.7 Into the Depths patch goes live today for all players who have signed up for the game, which has raised $236 million from 2.37 million fans via crowdfunding to date. Each quarter, as the game marches toward its launch, Cloud Imperium is releasing new features for test players.

The latest Star Citizen Alpha adds significant new gameplay features including cave environments, first-person mining, and player inventories.

The massive cave systems will enable players to engage in mining for valuable minerals and explore a subterranean level for Star Citizen’s vast planets and moons. The system will provide for continuous procedural generation of caves within future playable updates. The resources can be used to accumulate wealth or to trade for goods.

“The most obvious improvement that we’ve implemented caves, which works as a procedural cave system,” said Sean Tracy, technical director of content at Cloud Imperium Games in the company’s Los Angeles studio, in an interview with GamesBeat. “Internally, we generate these, and we’ve got infinite variations of them.”

He added, “And then within those caves, it’s not just a walking simulator. It’s not just a place to go to walk around. There’s actually some stuff to do in those caves. You get to do FPS mining. Basically, it’s a mining tool, but we call it the multi tool. So this tool is something that is sold in the shops in Star Citizen.”

In Alpha 3.7, players will scan planetary bodies from orbit to identify caves, and then land to begin their spelunking adventures.

Chris Roberts, CEO, Cloud Imperium, said in a statement that the Face over IP (FOIP) allows players to drive their avatar’s face as well as to diagetically add the player’s voice into Star Citizen, combined with players now being able to share missions and their rewards.

What’s new

Star Citizen Alpha 3.7

Above: Star Citizen Alpha 3.7

Image Credit: Cloud Imperium Games
  • Caves: Adding another level of exploration to planets and moons, the addition of caves includes tech that will power the creation of future modular locations, VFX and lighting. “What was interesting about the caves is they’ve been coming for a little while now,” Tracy said. “And it’s a good example of what we’re calling staggered development. Essentially, there’s some things that take three months to do and some that take six months. These caves have a huge amount of area to explore.”
  • FPS mining: Players can buy the all-new Greycat Industrial Pyro multi-tool equipped with a mining attachment, which can find small deposits of minerals in caves, on the surface of planets, and in asteroid fields. Once activated, they can fracture and collect highly valuable mineral shards to sell for profit.
  • Harvestables: Various locations across the Star Citizen universe now contain items that can be harvested, picked up, and used, consumed, or sold as commodities.
  • Commodity inventory: This personal inventory system allows players to store various commodities, including items bought from kiosks or stores and harvestables discovered in the environment.
  • Player Interdiction: Using the new RSI Mantis, outfitted with a Quantum Enforcement device, players can pull both NPC and player-piloted ships abruptly out of quantum travel. Once caught by the Quantum Snare, a dampener prevents the target from fleeing.
  • Mission Sharing: This enables players to share missions with members of their party, allowing teams to see, track, and complete objectives together while sharing the rewards.
  • Ship Rentals: Allows players to rent ships from selected shops via in-game currency, increasing player choice and ship accessibility.

New vehicles and weapons

Star Citizen Alpha 3.7

Above: Star Citizen Alpha 3.7’s RSI Mantis

Image Credit: Cloud Imperium Games
  • Banu Defender: The first flyable ship from the Banu alien race, the Defender uses combined technology from species across the galaxy, including a number of alien components new to Star Citizen.
  • RSI Mantis: Set to debut on the October 10 birthday of the Star Citizen crowdfunding campaign, the Mantis is the game’s first interdiction ship. Interdiction means the Mantis can pull nonplayer character and player-piloted ships out of quantum travel, while creating a distortion field that prevents them from fleeing. The Mantis is lightly armed and should be used by players traveling in groups, since they can’t always predict what it will “catch” in its quantum “net.”
  • Aegis Vanguard Harbinger: The UEE’s long-range fighter/bomber, the Harbinger model converts the Warden’s escape pod into a bomb bay. The Vanguard features extended range and a relatively small profile, enabling it to strike where carrier-based ships or larger strategic bombers cannot.
  • Aegis Vanguard Sentinel: The Aegis Vanguard Sentinel is an electronic warfare ship designed to “fight smart” rather than taking enemies head-on.
  • Hedeby Salvo Frag Pistol: Slow-firing and heavy-hitting, this pistol can fire charged shots with a flat, shotgun-style blast.
  • Kroneg FL-33 Laser Cannon: These high-damage, long-range energy weapons are for the ship pilot looking for versatile weapons at medium and longer ranges.

Quality of life fixes and more updates

Star Citizen Alpha 3.7

Above: The “new” face of Star Citizen.

Image Credit: Cloud Imperium Games
  • Arena commander improvements: The Arena Commander experience gets an overhaul, with particular focus on rebalancing the Pirate Swarm mode to make it more challenging, with several new boss-fights, and new rewards players accumulate over time.
  • Character customizer v2: This features iterations on the facial blending system and significant updates to the user interface.
  • Human AI combat v2: This includes improvements to the AI’s initial reactions to various stimuli (such as seeing an enemy, hearing a sound, etc.), with systemic transitions into those behaviors from normally scheduled activities. Also, AI combat behavior has been refactored to include multiple tactics that can be evaluated and selected according to the situation.
  • AI dogfight combat v2: This is a new AI profile for “average ship pilots,” including behavior and skill differentiation by faction (pirates, law enforcement, etc.), to create a more diverse and varied combat experience for players in PVE gameplay.
  • Flight improvements: The all new “proximity assist” feature automatically detects when players fly close to obstacles and will slow the ship’s accelerations down and allow for softer, more fine control and landings. This feature is “intelligent” and based on player-context, automatically activating when needed to ensure players are still able to fly at high speed while low to the ground.
  • Weapon attachments v2: Personal weapons are getting more customization, including new attachments to guns such as suppressors, compensators, and under-barrel gadgets. This feature will allow for customization of the player’s FPS arsenal in real time.

Founded in 2012 by Roberts, Cloud Imperium is working on the Star Citizen massively multiplayer online gaming universe, as well as Squadron 42, a single-player campaign set in the universe. The latter is expected to ship in the summer of 2020.

As we’ve noted before, some gamers and media are skeptical about whether the game 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.


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