Alpha Dog: Star Citizen Update Triples Its Playable Ships

The latter half of December belongs to Elite: Dangerous, but despite being perfectly gracious about that, Chris Roberts’ rival space game Star Citizen has made a play for a little pre-Christmas action. Its Arena Commander playable module has had a big, fat ‘1.0’ attached to it, and apparently triples how many ships you can burn money on fly. It’s billed as “the most significant update” yet to the playable aspect of Star Citizen.

Arena Commander is the official name for Star Citizen’s dogfighting alpha, (which you have to pay for separately if all you did was buy the game. These times!) which has been out for a while now. If you want to meaningfully play (or simply eyeball the various spaceships you’ve bought) the game that’s raised $67 million in player backing and add-on sales, the Arena Commander is basically your only port of call right now.

The 1.0 version triples the playable ships, which is important because it’s the first time that people who’ve dropped money on some of the gazillion spaceships available as DLC get to actually look at what they’ve bought. The 1.0 release also offers a redesigned cockpit UI and a new lobby system so you can show off your ride to mates. Oh, and there’s a manual available for it too.

Despite the fancy number attached to it, “today’s release of Arena Commander 1.0 is a beginning, not an ending” apparently, and it’s been squeaked out a little earlier than hoped because the devs wanted people to have it before the world goes into Christmas shutdown.

I should give Arena Commander a shot at some point, but it really is hard to make time or mental space for two space games at once. First world problems and all that. Anyone else given this a spin yet? Should I throw off spaceship monogamy in favour of a more libertine, spaceship polyamorous lifestyle?

33 Comments

  1. 2late2die says:

    Maybe not you Alec, but somebody should. All I see is reporting on the “big updates” and how much money SC made. Yet there’s a real product out there that’s pretty darn fun if you enjoy space combat. Of course it’s not the final game and I’m not expecting a review, but it would be nice to see real coverage of SC development in progress. Arena Commander has gone through several major revisions that really changed the dynamic of the game. And of course it had, and will have, issues – but that’s the nature of a product in development (of course we all know too well, many final products as well).

    Now, you may have a policy about not reporting on “early access” games or something, because the experience you describe may not be valid the next week, or some such, but I think in case of SC it’s different, because of the level of access backers get. It would be almost like “behind the scenes” – except more often than not those articles come out after the game is released, whereas here you have a chance to do them as the development is ongoing.

    • subedii says:

      I’ve been hard pressed to keep “in the loop” about Star Citizen happenings, but I’ve found “Tales of Citizens” to be helpful now that it’s started broadcasting again.

      Funnily enough, I only really know about that youtube show because I used to be heavily into “Tales of Heroes” (which was the show Bridger used to do for Company of Heroes).

      link to youtube.com

      Personally I just logged into my account for the first time in a long time, and was surprised to find a fish tank in my hanger. Kind of put me in mind of Mass Effect 2.

    • Shadow says:

      Another thing that worries me about Star Citizen reporting is that the articles keep implying/joking about “burning money” on ships, pointlessly protracting the erroneous connotation that you need to pay real money to access the game’s ships. You just save some in-game credits and, I think, get lifetime insurance on that particular vessel. And the primary aim of such transactions has always been backing the game’s development: the ship itself is a bonus.

      I don’t want to start an SC vs. E:D fight, but I’d say it’s less heinous than a paintjob shop with exclusive (cosmetic, but still) items you can’t procure through in-game means. However, it has earned SC a certain degree of unjustified notoriety.

      • derbefrier says:

        yeah its probably not widespread info yet but in the next couple patches we will be able to earn credits in Arena Commander to purchase weapons and I believe the ability to buy or rent ships. Selling ships is how they are funding the game some may not like it but it is what it is. theres just something about making lots of money that makes people uneasy for some reason and the gamin press as a whole just cant seem to move past that.

      • K_Sezegedin says:

        The ‘problem’ with Star Citizen’s funding model is that its essentially become a pay-to-win scenario. Despite the developer’s goal that the final product not be pay to win, as it stands you can buy ships for real money in a genre where the only measure of power progression is through better ships and weapons.

        Now, I’ve got the Aurora package and I’m sure I’m not alone, – but am a bit leary of jumping into the game proper in a few years and competing against folks who’ve bought better hardware.

        Perhaps the in-game credit feature you mention with Arena Commander will help matters.

        ‘Course that would mean I actually have ot play the thing! I’ve had it on a few times and couldn’t quite make heads or tails of it, doesn’t seem quite as intuitive as Dangerous.

        • Solgarmr says:

          Now you can trade the audora in for a mustang which is a heck of a fun to fly, and when weapon progression comes into play (you can equip 4 guns total then) should be able to stand on its own against other ships.

    • macc says:

      I fully agree. While it’s understandable they go very in-depth on E:D (which is good because ED is great). RPS seems almost ignorant about the development of SC.

      There are some very interesting developments going on in AC like the ESP system which makes flying with a joystick/HOTAS a blast. That’s interesting stuff to report about.

      Too bad RPS can’t go any deeper than the money.

    • Cinek says:

      RPS crew is apperently too busy trading in E:D to try Star Citizen. o_O
      And as said – rich = evil, so regardless what Star Citizen is – it must be evil and not worthy as detailed review as the Elite: Cinderella.

  2. derbefrier says:

    Its a great patch. The new ships are cool. The flight model feels better than ever. We finally have some decent control custiomzation options. The sound had improved a lot(though admittidly not on Elites level yet) some nice improvements to the hud, missile system, and the heat signiture system is now implemented. Its finally starting to feel like a proper space sim rather than a rough proof of concept alpha. There have been a few bugs and some server issues but overall 1.0 is a fucking fantastic patch.

    Also the new knockout mechanic is great. If you bump another ship or asteroid, or if you are flying with your safties off you can litterally knock youself out. Your pilot goes limp and slumps over panic ensues. Also you can now choose between leading and lagging sights and some other things I am sure I haven’t noticed yet. This was a huuuuuuge patch.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Control customisation? Finally! Time to give it another whirl, it was breaking my brain learning new button configurations after playing E:D and Freespace 2.

  3. smisk says:

    I haven’t gotten a chance to play 1.0 yet but just reading the patch notes I’m pretty amazed at how much that they were able to cram in, it’s really starting to take shape!

  4. KillaB420 says:

    I only played the previous versions of AC sparingly due to time, logged in to 1.0 and had a blast getting my ass kicked in my Super Hornet. You really do feel a difference in the flight model and controls for the better. In pre alpha AC had more features than MWO at launch, and I can not wait for next year, when there is even more to come.

  5. DarkLiberator says:

    Been loving my 300i, though the AI keeps kicking my ass. Makes me rather determined to get better at flying.

  6. macc says:

    Ships are NOT DLC. You can just get them in-game for no additional costs. Selling ships now is only for crowdfunding. Too bad RPS only focuses on the money, there is pretty interesting developing going on in the background if you care to follow the monthly reports and stuff.

    But yeah 1.0 is a major improvement for the controls compared to the initial release. Great base to build further on.

    And polygamy is good. ED is a blast as well.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Is it a terrible grind though? I was on the misinformed court here, I thought ships were bought with real money.

      • derbefrier says:

        keep in mind nothing is set in concrete yet but Chris Roberts has said from the beginning he wanted to avoid long unnecessary grind. thats not to say big multicrew and capital ships wont take a little while to save up the credits for but from the way chris talks when asked about it I would expect something reasonable for the time put in.

        Also When the game officially launches they will no longer sells ships for cash. Selling ships for real money is for fundraising only. After the game launches you will have to play the game and buy with with in game credits. You will be able to purchase in game credits with real money but there will be a cap on how much you can buy say per month(dont know if the limit has been decided yet either). Also keep in mind this is a skill based game. Having the biggest most expensive ship is in no way a guarantee to win anything.

        • Cinek says:

          Brace yourself for a long grinds. On forums someone made a clculation on how long it’d take to grind for Idris, the cheapest capship in the game, based on the information we have – result was roughly a month of playing 8 hours a day. It was bound to happen – noone would inject cash into the wallets of CGI if everyone could get ships they wanted from the store in a few days of gameplay.

          • FlipMooMonkey says:

            At the moment it’s all guesswork and conjecture.

            Chris himself has said before on 10ftc that they haven’t narrowed down on how long it will take to earn the amounts of in-game credits needed, or indeed the credit prices for the ships.

            He’s thrown around the odd idea based on what he feels is right but has always followed that by saying they won’t know for certain until the Economy is up and working in the PU alpha/beta where people can play-test it properly and the right balance between fun and realism can be found.

          • krisk7 says:

            Either you enjoy the game or you grind. It’s a matter of attitude. What if you get the Iris? Will you consider enjoying the game or will you grind for a Javelin? Anyway one month to earn a $1200+ ship that can be used by 10+ players seems very optimistic to me.

          • Snakejuice says:

            Personally I think this is a good thing, it would be pretty stupid if it took a couple of hours to get a capship so everyone would be flying caps..

  7. kael13 says:

    There’s been a whole bunch of new bugs and performance issues introduced in 1.0 but… There’s also a lot of cool new features. I think in a couple of weeks after Christmas it’ll be lots of fun.

    Damn is the game immersive; I don’t think I’ve physically ducked as I dive under an asteroid with full downward thrust in a game before.

    The new missile launch system is very cool indeed. My 325a is one snazzy ship. It’s responsive, but also has weight and inertia to the maneuvers. The flight model is just so much more interesting than ED.

  8. 0positivo says:

    The biggest thing for me, is that even in my lowly Aurora, i’m having a lot of fun! It does also help that all the people that had the hornet trainer, now fly around in their puny civilian trainer, which funnily enough mounts half the amount of guns my space FIAT Panda can carry!

    Oh, the sweet, sweet revenge…

  9. nojan says:

    seriously? what’s this site’s beef with star citizen , did they rob you of your money?! every time I read something about star citizen in this site it’s cynical and snarky! and ” it really is hard to make time or mental space for two space games at once” really? but you have time for all the crap ubisoft puts out?! I backed both elite and star citizen but the articles seem always hostile toward SC , i thought journalism was unbiased, oh wait it’s games blogging … never mind;)

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Um, dude it’s like 2+ years from release, I think it’s ok to allow Elite:Dangerous it’s time in the sun which also, if you read the posts, got plenty of stick for a lack of stuff to do in Brendan’s diary. Star Citizen is literally a tech demo at the moment, calm down and be patient.

      • nojan says:

        duuude! i own both elite and star citizen and both are awesome , i’m not saying that why they’re writing about elite i’m saying that it seems everytime they write about star citizen they slam it for no reason , also star citizen is more like a playable alpha than a tech demo:)

        • Rindan says:

          They are not “slamming” it for no reason. They are voicing healthy skepticism. Star Citizen will get its time in the sun when it comes out of the shadows. The talk around Elite Dangerous was all skepticism until ED put out a playable game, and then everyone shut up. The same is going to be true for SC. They are sitting on enough money to make an AAA game and have timetables that span years. The video game reporting industry is filled with brain dead enthusiasm, a little cynicism is healthy.

          Relax. It is no skin off of SC’s back. When they pump out something worth looking hard at, rather promises and tech demos, everyone is going to take a second look. If it looks promising, they will get ED treatment. Until then, it is fine if you keep the faith, but don’t act all hurt when other folks see the collection plate getting passed around and roll their eyes at the promise of a second coming.

  10. FlipMooMonkey says:

    I don’t think actually playing two different Space Sims will be as difficult as you think it will be. Playing Euro Truck Sim doesn’t preclude you from playing F1 201(insert your number of preference here!) even though they’re both ‘Driving Sims’.

    Please note I’m not trying to draw direct parallels between the space/automocar games given as example here, simply suggesting that perhaps the odd bout or two of frenetic dog-fighting fun could break up the long space trucking sessions.

    I think the only thing that might throw you slightly is that SC’s joystick setup is much more yaw centric, whereas ED’s leans more towards pitch.

    Whether its yourself Alec, or someone else on staff, it would be nice if someone stepped into the breach and braved the foreign lands(voids?) of Arena Commander. Fortunate timing too because they had a website update with the patch release and have a press section: link to robertsspaceindustries.com

  11. kaffis says:

    Not to jump on the dog pile, but perhaps if you did try to make some room for two space games, you could comment on the loads of cool new features added this patch that are really breaking ground in the simulation space, like simulating emissions signatures dynamically, the introduction of a whole new diagetic HUD layout, and adding new, distinct missile types. Or the less ground-breaking but still notable improvements in usability like the improvements to the flight model and control mapping. I mean, the process is very open, so it’s not even a matter of snagging interview time or trying to confer with a PR henchman to report on this stuff.

    Or, you can continue to just pen a few paragraphs about how much money it’s raised and maybe look at the top line on the accompanying press release.

  12. Arglebargle says:

    So, only a year and a quarter later than originally proposed. I expect that to be par for the course. A long and bumpy road. Probably worth it if the game comes out as described. If….

    For me, it’s all about distrust for the man at the helm. Roberts claims to be the Wizard of Oz, but he’s really a questionable humbug. But he is making loads of money, and that’s success in the modern world. Maybe the crew that’s been assembled will be able to push through something laudable, but the only person I know of who’s worked there has already quit due to the terrible work environment.

    • Solgarmr says:

      Yeah the star citizen team is hard pressed to just keep on going, patch after patch, overworking ’emselves. I can imagine the stress they’re going through. Don’t like the thought of people working themselves to death over christmas just so I can play Arena commander bit earlier.

      But its damn fun to play right now, i don’t regret a single cent I’ve backed.

  13. socrate says:

    The only big thing that turn me off about my SC contribution is that it wasnt supposed to be pay for power or Pay to win….but people are just buying ship left and right….and yes they have tons of money…but not much to show for it and elite as mining and other stuff to do already…i really hope its not all about dogfighting and that this pay for power will be stopped in some way,although i did have fun on the race thingy it was a really nice change even if im not a fan of racing the change of pace made it really really entertaining.

    Thats a big problem with the community i found everyone seem to want just combat…if everyone does the same thing i really think it will kill it for me

    • FlipMooMonkey says:

      You don’t have to worry too much about this.

      If you’ve seen any of the latest ship concepts there is a plethora of non-combat ships scheduled that were picked by polling the community, these were picked out of selections of ships that included both combat and non-combat roles and the non-combat ships won by a staggeringly vast margin.

      In the works are dedicated salvage ships, repair ships, hospital ships, mining ships, public transport ships, fuel refinery ships, lots of different cargo ships, data theft/runner ships, luxury yachts for transporting VIPs in style and comfort as well as science/exploration ships by the bucketload(the most popular “career” by far when polled, outstripping all the pirates and bounty hunters).

      Here’s a selection of the ships that aren’t built just for combat, though not all of them have art yet:
      Salvager link to robertsspaceindustries.com
      Explorer link to robertsspaceindustries.com
      Mining link to robertsspaceindustries.com
      Trade Clipper link to robertsspaceindustries.com
      Fuel Tanker link to robertsspaceindustries.com
      Data Runner link to robertsspaceindustries.com
      Luxury Yacht link to robertsspaceindustries.com

      The only reason everyone seems so combat focused at the moment is because that’s the easiest thing to have people test and get sorted out of the way at the beginning while tweaking the flight models as a large number of ships can take part. Working on something niche that would only be used for one or two ships is a big waste of dev time this early on when it can be added in just before the full persistent universe is released and the full range of systems are more fleshed out.

      • Rindan says:

        I really want SC to succeed. Running a salvage, runner, or yacht is so hot that just thinking about it gets my panties are soaked. I really want one of these space MMORPGish games to give me a living universe with a diversity of roles. I think that Elite’s flight mechanics are fantastic, and its visual style is nearly perfection, but its “do stuff” systems simply suck. Elite is still evolving obviously, and SC isn’t even peeking around the door yet, but so far no one has nailed the “stuff to do” part of the space MMORPG.