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Jack Gardner

Gaming News:Star Citizen's Alpha Enters 3.0

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Roberts Space Industries has been working on Star Citizen since the success of their Kickstarter campaign back in 2012. After five years, the framework of their ambitious space MMO seems to be falling into place. For the better part of the past year, Star Citizen has been sitting in alpha version 2.6, which allowed for limited travel around a space station testing ground that laid out some of the core principles that would be present in the final game. 3.0 drastically expands the scope to include a collection of moons and a planetoid with various outposts, wrecks, and space ports along with more mechanics and opportunities out in the 'verse. 

The 3.0 update introduces trade as a functional mechanic that was impossible in 2.6. Players can now purchase goods that are physically stored in their ship and transport them to different locations in to try to corner the market. Of course, that also opens up the opportunity for less scrupulous players to become the fledgling universe's first space pirates. Outside of habitable settlements, where weapons are disabled, anything goes. The final vision of Star Citizen will offer players the chance to become bounty hunters to track and capture or kill lawbreakers, which will hopefully balance out piracy.


Of course, if players are making money then they need something to spend it on. Players can buy new parts for their ships, fancy handheld guns, snazzy new jumpsuits, or new casual clothes. All of that relies on 3.0's new shopping system that allows all of those goods to be purchased for the first time. 


The addition of navigable moons represents the first public steps of Star Citizen toward its end goal of a universe full of planets to explore. The moons are each distinct, offering different environments, locations, and opportunities. For the first time, players will be able to set foot on the surface of an alien world and perhaps find ruins worth scavenging or missions to complete. These locations consist of Cellin, the moon of dormant volcanoes, Daymar, a desert-like moon, and Yela, an icy rock floating in the black. A new landing zone has been added on the planetoid of Delamar called Levski, a ramshackle, converted mining colony teased in previous Star Citizen promotional videos.  


That doesn't mean 3.0's launch has been smooth. The patch caused many players to struggle with the game's memory requirements, rendering it unplayable for some who had found 2.6 to be manageable. The game is certainly still in an alpha state so, while it shows a lot of promise and has become one of the largest crowdfunding operations in history, take all of its potential with some grains of salt and temper your expectations. 3.0 is not even close to what the final version of Star Citizen will be - you can just see some of the foundations being laid. A lot of optimization still needs to be done.


3.0 stands as the first of Roberts Space Industries' scheduled quarterly releases. From now on, the game will be updated at the end of every quarter of the year with new features, ships, and locations. The latest version comes with a new launcher that allows future updates to be downloaded without downloading the entire game over again, streamlining the updating process for Star Citizen's space-faring fans. 


A lot of other minor improvements are included with 3.0 and you can read about them in the full change log on Star Citizen's website.


There's no solid release date for when to expect Star Citizen to exit development, so the final product is likely still years away from completion. That being said, it's pretty amazing to see a project so ambitious to keep making progress. Who knows what surprises Roberts Space Industries has in store once the basic mechanics and universal building blocks are finally settled into place?

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