Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 has been released to the public, featuring the first small-scale iteration of the promised “persistent universe”, multi-crew ships, and zero-gravity FPS combat.
Alpha 2.0 comes with most of the features that were promised at CitizenCon in October, most notably the first iteration of the persistent universe. It has a huge play area “one million kilometers square and two hundred thousand kilometers high”, with three stations centered around the gas giant Crusader: a safe “armistice zone” called the “Port Olisar transit hub”; the PVP battleground “Security Post Kareah,” which spawns FPS weapons; and the shady “Covalex Shipping Hub”.
Friend of the site Scott Manley looks at Port Olisar, and gives his impressions of the new update.
Players start at Port Olisar, where they can group up using the new party system. Players are then able to spawn their ships using the station’s consoles, which deliver their craft to the landing pads above. Now that multi-crew play has been implemented, groups of friends have a couple options for shipping up before flying out: they could all cram into one Constellation or Retaliator, manning turrets and shield-monitoring stations a la USS Defiant; load out individual Hornets and zoom off together as a wing; or go their separate ways and explore solo.
There are a variety of sites to explore. In addition to the aforementioned main stations, there are also Cry-Astro stations for repairing and restocking fuel and ammo, an asteroid field with salvaging opportunities (where NPC pirates and security regularly duke it out), and communication arrays that can be repaired in Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA, or otherwise jumping out in a spacesuit) to discover new sites and complete missions, some of which have voice acting.
It would take a long time to get to these sites at normal Arena Commander speeds, however, so the update also adds new flight modes: Precision mode for take-off and landing work, Space Combat Maneuvering for space combat, and Cruise for getting up to top speed fast to travel longer distances in a straight line. There’s also the Quantum Drive, which is used to warp to points of interest. It takes fuel, so remember to top up, or you may eventually find yourself stranded. Lost, in space.
The flight model has also been updated to include “jerk”, acceleration of acceleration, with the aim of making maneuvering less floaty. So far, the mix of this new factor, the new flight modes, and old agility parameters on certain ships like the Cutlass has caused some consternation that flying feels a bit like skating on ice.
Image credit to /u/jagadiosa on reddit
With multi-crew functionality, you need multi-crew ships. To test this feature, two big ships have been made available to all players in this update: the Constellation Andromeda Multi-Function Freighter and the Aegis Retaliator Bomber. These ships have many consoles and turrets to which crew may apply themselves, and large spacious interiors to ambulate through. In all of the ships with walkable interiors, there is now internal gravity that can be on or off, and when it’s off you’ll see some slick zero g animations. The Anvil Gladiator and Drake Cutlass have also had multi-crew features enabled.
Additionally, the developers have also added the first ship variant capable of electronic warfare to the game: the Avenger Warlock, which is equipped with an EMP module that disables all ships in a bubble around it (including the Warlock itself), in a way that might be useful for jousting or piracy. In the future you will be able to swap this module out for other Avenger-compatible modules, but for now you are locked to the variant you choose.
Image credit to /u/mercenarieee on reddit
It is easy to get the impression that this is the update that the Star Citizen pledge-base has been waiting for. This conclusion is supported by the uptick in pledges that pushed the funding total over the 100 million USD mark yesterday. It also shows in how eagerly the users are actually picking up and playing the game again, discovering and posting about events emerging from this nascent sandbox.
For example, Grand Theft Spaceship is definitely a phenomena to be aware of. The developers have said that they will implement some kind of lock for your spacedoors in the future, but until then, when you park at a station and head inside, you run a fair risk that your ship won’t be where you left it by the time you come back out again. There is an eight-minute timer on any ship you spawn at Port Olisar before it can be boosted by whoever gets to it first, but even this does not prevent inventive spacemen from sneaking in through a turret mount and stowing away.
That particular tactic takes advantage of a bug, and as with any alpha release, there are plenty of bugs to be found. A helpful forum thread gives workarounds for many of the more frustrating ones. However, according to data one user collected on his own playing, the version of Alpha 2.0 that was pushed to live seems more stable than most of the previous iterations that were tested on the PTU. That said, when players find bugs, they can now post them to the “Issue Council”, a new section of the website that acts as a bug tracker.
At the time of writing, Star Citizen has raised over $100,118,057.