Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 Rethinks Flight And Combat

There is much still unknown about Star Citizen [official site], the space game that’s been crowd-funded to the tune of almost $100 million (I summarised the strange situation to date here), but one of the things that is known is how its essential dogfighting works. The Arena Combat module has been around for a little while now, and while some backers are delighted at the chance to take their purchased spaceships out for a ride in it, there has been some grumbling about the flight model. Even devs Cloud Imperium Games seem to agree that it wasn’t quite hitting the high notes, as they’ve just announced detailed plans for a major overhaul.

OK, I’m going to avoid O.P.I.N.I.ON. here, as A) I only have a limited amount of hands-on experience with the Arena Combat thus far, and only own one starting ship and B) I’ve had enough emails from the SC community for one week already, thanks. So, just the facts, ma’am.

The upcoming ‘Star Citizen Alpha 2.0’ brings with it a feature called IFCS 2.0, which adds three new types of flight model: Precision, Space Combat Maneuvers (SCM) and Cruise. In addition to that is ‘a 3rd order motion control system’, the explanation for which involves several graphs and… No, I’m not going to try and summarise how it works, but instead just go with CIG’s claim that the old 2nd order system, though simpler to control, “provides a very stiff, mechanical ship movement.” The new one “will allow us to tune ships to be as stiff or as smooth as we need.”

As a consequence of this, it’s received “a nearly complete from-the-ground-up re-balance of the ship handling characteristics”, and all ships are going to feel “quite different” right out of the gates once 2.0 arrives. If I’m understanding this correctly, this both means that flight as a whole should feel better, and that there’ll be more striking variety in handling between different ships.

The three new flight models, meanwhile, change things up in different ways depending on exactly what you’re up to. Precision is used primarily for take-off and landing, and turns down max velocity while increasing control, in order that you don’t collide with asteroids and silly things like that.

Space Combat Maneuvers, which kicks in once you’ve cleared nearby objects, is touted as being “one of the biggest changes to the flight control system”, but is superficially similar to the model currently used by Arena Commander. It’s far more reactive to exactly what your ship is carrying and equipped with though, and requires your learning the various turning axis of your ship(s) in order to work out what’s fastest and/or most precise. SCM also brings with it a new Afterburner for a spot of added speed but without necessarily sacrificing control.

Then Cruise is for “longer distance travel in the same local area”, and essentially means more speed but less control – it cuts your commute times, in other words.

Further down the line is Quantum Leap, which is what you need for covering extreme distances. Oh boy.

General balance changes swirl around all of this, and there’s also an end-philosophy of it all rejiggering combat so that it’s more about “juggling different levels of risk, reward, and commitment.” It all sounds very sciencey, but it remains to be seen if this just them showing their working – historically they are very open about exactly what and how they’re developing – or that certain doors are closing on more casual players.

Sadly no release date for 2.0 is given, but there’s a wealth of info both on this page and in the below video:

Whaddaya think, then?


  1. macc says:

    I think this was the most interesting bit:

    “The switch to jerk also means that erratic actions for evasive maneuvers are nerfed naturally, since the system is now slightly slower to make contrary actions dedicated inputs, like the kind used when attempting to pull out of a slide, are largely unaffected. Third order motion is also much more natural for the human brain to internalize, so control will be more intuitive, and overshoot will be less frequent.

    With jerk available as a parameter, a new ‘stabilized flight’ behavior becomes available. Essentially. this means that by setting a low jerk value, an engine can be tuned to perform at a greater Load Rating relative to its size, allowing us to create ships like the Hull or Aurora capable of hauling plenty of cargo without also becoming the fastest ships in the universe when unladen. And, while all ships will be faster without cargo than they are fully loaded, we can set different ships to have different levels of performance loss when they take on cargo.”

    I think this is good news for joystick users. Less overshoot and less nervous movements. But because it’s a little bit slower you will have to think a bit more about your maneuvres.

  2. DarkLiberator says:

    From what I gather from reading through it, the ships will be less twitchy I think? Not sure if I’m correct about that, I barely understand the rest of the changes.

    Supercruise sounds like something you do to relax and fly across a planet.

  3. Dicehuge says:

    Typical RPS. Writing words, in such an order to communicate a message, then making these words appear on a bright rectangle in my living room. Just like all the other so called pc gaming sites these days.

  4. zind says:

    I’ll probably fire it up again when 2.0 drops. The main thing that’s stopped me from playing it more is just the sheer size and loading times. Meanwhile, E:D loads up in a fraction of the time and is already super-smooth. (I also found the E:D Warthog HOTAS binds to need much less fiddling with than the SC ones, and I am lazy.)

  5. BobbyDylan says:

    TBH, I’m not 100% sure. A lot of my complaints about the FM in SC is about how the flight feels. Making it less jerky sounds great but if it fixes it… I’ll see.

  6. gunny1993 says:

    The biggest problem SC has encountered and will encounter is the divide between casual and “sim” players, personally I think they should have told the “simmers” to go fuck themselves a long time ago as they’re demands are so varied as to not make any sense … yes you want realism but wtf is that? you want the course completely controlled by computers? You want to pass out every time you change direction at speed because G forces are a bitch?

    All us casual fucks want to do is fly around in space shooting shit, far easier crowd to please.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      This game wouldn’t have made it’s original funding goals if not for those people.

      • Janichsan says:

        Wing Commander and Freelancer had very arcadey flight models, so that makes me wonder how anyone could expect a super-realistic flight model from a game by the same developer and that was touted as spiritual successor to his previous works…

        • BobbyDylan says:

          Wing commander and Freelancer were very very different form each other.

          • Asurmen says:

            And neither used realism whether or not they were similar at all.

    • Siimon says:

      Agreed. The odd full-sim-but-not-really part is a bit confusing, but then again I’m waiting until the game is complete before I decide to buy it…

    • Danarchist says:

      The whole passing out while you turn thing drove me away from it pretty quick. If you want “realism” get a god damn pilots license and go fly around. This is a space game that includes faster than light travel, which isn’t “real”. Are you telling me you can travel using warp speed but you haven’t developed inertial dampeners? Do you just go gather your skin, bones, and organs from the back of the cargo hold every time you jump?

      I am glad they are changing the controls a bit though, it was the only flight sim I have ever played that was better with a mouse.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Yeah, I mean the closest we’ve come to flying a “space fighter” is the space shuttle. So little of this stuff is “realistic” at all.

      • ParasiteX says:

        As long as you have the G force limiter thing on. Then G-force blackouts should not be a major issue. Of-course you can always turn it off to push harder turns at the risk of a blackout.

      • Geekoid says:

        Please point me to were I can get a license to fly a space fighter.
        The advertised hard core physics and realism, they got 100 Million from suckers who wanted that, and not it turns out they have tapped all the market, they are going after casual player to sucker them into buy ships before release.

        The great thing about that is, the people that already have given money are emotional attached to the game, so they will make excuse for the company as if the company actual cares about them. 100 million dollars, no release, revamping core aspects of the game.

        You are all being suckered into paying for someones hobby.

        • 2Ben says:

          You’re damn right! They’ve been suckered into paying form hobby! And my friends’… And the hobby of every single SC backer actually. Err, wasn’t that exactly the purpose though?

      • screecwe says:

        The black outs/red outs were instituted to keep players from being high speed flying turrets. It’s a check and balance.

      • cutterjohn says:

        Not to mention that the grognards that want ‘realistic’ ‘physical’ ‘behavior’ also have to realize well, you’re going to have to chalk up a couple of days just to get a SINGLE space encounter over with. More to the point you’re also ONLY going to be making grand course adjustments, and weapons? HAH! at anything other than a piddling slow speed between relativistic effects, and high closing rates you’re at BEST going to be giving the ship’s computer general targetting and defensive priorities.

        BTW: the actually shooting part will be over in a matter of seconds, then you can go back to maneuvering again for another however many minutes and twiddle your thumbs some more.

        Now on zipping around a solar system, well since you wanted realism we’re not sure how you got there so quickly from that other system unless you had a cryo freezer, left your computer running for however many centuries, and then had yourself thawed out when you got close to POIs. Unfortunately by that time we had to shut our servers down decades ago…

        Now, OK they’ve gotten there. Please chalk up oh a week or so more of thumb twiddling time to ‘zip’ around a solar system or whatever.

        Yep. TONS O’FUN(TM).

    • derbefrier says:

      pretty much. CIg is attempting to find a middle ground ( easy to learn hard to master has been part of the pitch since the beginning) but yeah there will always be someone who isnt happy but this isnt special to star citizen. seems every game these days has its hardcore and casual divide.

    • Zenicetus says:

      A good balance in the design can satisfy both camps.

      The classic example for me is Independence War 2. It had enough complexity and “realism” to satisfy the flight sim nerds, with great 6DOF movement and semi-Newtonian physics (moderated with computer flight assist). But it wasn’t so hard to understand that a more action-oriented gamer couldn’t still have fun with it.

      Of course it’s easier to design in a singleplayer game, because like most flight sims you can have an Options screen where realism/difficulty can be adjusted between hardcore realism and casual action play. Can’t do that in a multiplayer game, where everyone has to be on a level playing field.

      • MisterFurious says:

        Nothing satisfies Sim Nerds. Nothing.

      • Cinek says:

        Hahahaha, nativity is cute.

        • Fiyenyaa says:

          Yeah, I love it when the kids sing ‘Little Donkey’. It’s always off-key, but you have to love it bless them.

      • Atrak says:

        Ahh Independence War 2, a great game many fond memories, perhaps not as many as the original Elite and Elite 2 but still an enjoyable game that was in my rotation long after it would have been considered archaic.

    • Mr_Blastman says:

      Go fuck yourself. All you filthy casuals can get out of my spaceflight game I was promised. I was promised the “best damn space SIM ever” and we deserve what we promised. That means all the stupid mouse + keyboard coddling has to go.

      • anHorse says:

        The best space sim ever would be sitting in your room not playing the game

        Because we ain’t got no fucking real world space combat to simulate

        • Mr_Blastman says:

          The best space sim ever would be one without any filthy, whiny, mouse+keyboard crying casuals.

    • herpadon says:

      It’s being marked at a space sim in their own words, dipshit. You can “fuck off” to freelancer if you don’t like it.

    • tomimt says:

      The whole “muh realism” group of gamers is overall somewhat of a head scratcher for me. They often pop up here and there, complaining about the lack of realism, despite everyone knows too much realism will ruin fun of games. There’s a fine balance between “game realism” and real world realism and I don’t really see any reason to try and re-create all the real realism in the world because games are supposed to be entertainment, not “my typical day at the office” experience.

      • Josh W says:

        I think part of what it comes down to is what realism is for; having access to a huge garage of cars and being able to tune their suspension, engines etc. to a high level of precision is not a realistic representation of average car ownership, but it is realistic in the sense that it digs into cars as something separate from human impressions of them.

        So much of the time when you find people arguing for realism (when they aren’t using a “defense by natural givenness” for absurdity), what they are interested in is a deep engagement with non-human objects. They don’t want a crafted focus on their feelings emotions and experiences, they aren’t there to have someone push their buttons and remind them of their childhood; their buttons will be pushed naturally when they are wrestling strange machines around the sky, finding out they’ve left something on and drained the battery, reading manuals enthusiastically and knowing that it’s helpful to do so.

        Other times people are interested in an experience, but a tactile experience of mastering clunkyness; this is where the real mech cockpits and the rudder pedals come in, this was the wii before the wii existed, but custom made to the type of game experience not floating generically. There’s people who like joysticks and hydras and things because it makes them feel more physically engaged with what is going on. There’s a nice kind of concreteness to having to physically master a new form of interaction.

        Then there’s the people who do actually like “office sim the game”, so long as they can select which office they start in (and probably do a bit of time dilation where appropriate) people who like starting with one car or a tiny impoverished football club and trying to start a race company or win the premier league. In that kind of realism, where the crappy adversities and lack of choices in normal life are something to overcome.

        And somewhere within or between those categories, you can find a lot of people who like flight sims.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Another side to the realism argument is the way it helps keep genres distinct. It’s how you know you’re driving a tank instead of a car in a tank combat game. It’s how you *should* know you’re flying a spaceship and not an airplane in a space game.

        Without a good balance of realism, genres blend into mush. Everything is just a “shooter” of one kind or another with a different background, and that isn’t much fun either.

  7. FeedFilter says:

    So they’re more that a year over the proposed launch date, and they just revamped the Alpha flight engine.

    Great. I mean it wasn’t perfect as it was, but, really.

    Did you know?! Of the list of five promises they listed for 2015 during the 2014 CitCon event, only half of one is presently in-game? The Planetside is in, but not in the form of their originally suggested social module (no friends list, can’t hang around in the hangar with guildmates, etc).

    link to

    • drinniol says:

      Wow, game delays. Because no good game ever came out of delays, right? They just hatch, like an egg, fully formed and ready to go out into the world and then those nasty lazy programmers get their dirty bug-ridden code-fingers all over them.

      • Siimon says:

        This isn’t just “we found a couple bugs, sorry but we’re moving launch date up two weeks”. This is a multi-million dollar studio missing 90% of their stated goals, which hints at some big issues with either the game or the studio.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        This is one of the larger disadvantages of open development models: what is entirely par for course in the industry becomes visible and people who understand nothing about it come out and rage about it.

        • subedii says:

          Not to say one way or the other on this, but man, one of my favourite multiplayer games for years was Dawn of War 2.

          And that’s a game that underwent a massive multiplayer revamp several months after it launched (VERY heavily reworked the mechanics). Heck, a fair few games have done similar. Ideally though, iterating on gameplay mechanics is what happens before release.

        • rochrist says:


        • Nogo says:

          I keep seeing this ‘you just don’t like seeing sausage made’ argument, but frankly that doesn’t preclude the sausage maker from being incompetent.

          Straight up, it looks like they’ve had to scrap quite a bit of work in an attempt to integrate the various modules (god knows how they thought three different studios could just jam three different games together in the first place) and are re-consolidating the team to establish a new core that the modules can integrate to.

          That’s a delay, but not necessarily a typical one. That kind of thing can and does routinely break the back of projects.

          And frankly open development only really hurts them. We don’t even need Molyneux for this, Ion Storm collapsed for the same reason: they got locked into features they couldn’t realistically deliver and suffered under the weight of their vision.

          I’d love to see the game happen, but as is I think the best they can do is an un-remarkable single player campaign and a mostly broken, unfinished multiplayer component that all runs like a hog.

    • macc says:

      In its core it’s still the same system. It’s not a total revamp.

    • derbefrier says:

      its not complete revamp. its really just taking the very basic flight model we have now and making it more nuanced to add more depth to it. Most of the stuff in the post backers have known about for a while ( the different modes, the “jerk” mechanic etc..) but they havnet really gone this much in depth in explaining it ( as it was still being developed). We have known this was coming for a long time

    • mynameisme says:

      Gah! Where do you people keep coming from!

    • 0positivo says:

      I don’t like to make comparisons but…

      in the early backer versions of Elite Dangerous, the flight system was very very different from what it presents now. I don’t know how to properly describe it, but to make an example, you could always turn at maximum acceleration, could fly in any direction at maximum speed, and flight assist off was almost without limits. This meant that you could potentially anger the enemy ships, boost off in a direction, turn the flight assist off, instantly turn to face backwards and with some minor course correction keep yourself at the very edge of weapon range, which completely trivialized combat

      I might not personally like how the flight feels now in Elite (I don’t like the artificial limits they implemented), but it is undoubtedly a vast improvement

      This, is not really that much different

    • Josh W says:

      That list reads like 2014 = “what we are working on now”, and 2015 = “what we’ll start working on next”. If they made a dwarf fortress style vague feature list they might make people a lot happier, although of course dwarf fortress isn’t funded up front.

  8. Jeeva says:

    I’ve been loving the various design documents from Star Citizen, so far. It’s really quite nice to be able to read the thoughts / plans of developers through the process, instead of just getting a “here’s what we think you want, and y’know… it’s kinda done now.”

    All of the recent controversy (and the excellent free time on all the ships, last week) has pushed me into committing actual money – very exciting.

    • eggy toast says:

      All this spate of bad publicity as it becomes more obvious that a huge game pitch was actually a huge swindle, *that* is what convinced you to finally buy in? So if the Kickstarter had opened with “I’m Chris Roberts and I want to rob you blind,” you would assuredly have been a day 1 backer?

  9. subedii says:

    Wow. Star Citizen post comes up, and literally the first four responses have nothing to do with the actual game but instead are aiming at its community again.

    I mean I’d kind of understand it if the first post had cropped up in 3 seconds and was raging at Meer for being ignorant or something, but that didn’t happen.

    I hope I’m not getting TOO anime here, but there is a point where it becomes a bit Tsundere guys. I’m concerned you might start stalking the SC forums whilst waiting for them to notice you.

    • macc says:

      Actually the attacking of the community is getting more extremist than the die hard fanboys.

      But it seems from the news item that Alec has gotten some nasty messages for giving his opinion and that is of course wrong.

    • subedii says:

      Huh, looks like the posts got deleted. Wasn’t expecting that, usually that stuff’s given a pass as long as it’s not swearing.

  10. SanguineAngel says:

    “Further down the line is Quantum Leap, which is what you need for covering extreme distances. Oh boy.”


  11. Random Integer says:

    3 years and 90 million dollars and they still haven’t nailed down their flight model? I understand they’ve promised a lot of different, interacting systems which will take some time but thats pretty much the core of the whole experience. No matter how invested you are in this project stuff like that has got to be raising some flags.

    • frightlever says:

      If the flight model was the core of the experience I don’t think observers would be having as much fun as they are now.

    • derbefrier says:

      seems to be quite the misconception that the flight model has to be fished before anything else or the game is doomed.

      • Jediben says:

        Well we’ll keep whaling on them until it’s fin-ished, no trout about it. The fan boys carp on about it being the game of their breems, but they’re just piscean in the wind.

      • Asurmen says:

        They didn’t say anything about other stuff being finished, just, you know, the Devs having the basic part of the game realised.

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s normal for a flight model to be tweaked during development. That happened several times during the Elite Dangerous Alpha and Beta period (to my deep disappointment with at least one decision, where they nerfed the 6DOF movement to encourage only forward-flight combat).

      It wouldn’t be normal to completely re-write the flight model and replace what was being used before. I haven’t followed SC that closely, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case here.

      • Random Integer says:

        Its normal, indeed expected, for systems to be tweaked during development. “a nearly complete from-the-ground-up re-balance of the ship handling characteristics” sounds like more than a tweak, it sounds like an extensive reworking.

        And yes, in a game that is supposed to be primarily about flying spaceships the ability to fly space ships is pretty important and something you should have the clearest set of requirements for.

        • drinniol says:

          Rebalance, tweak and rework are all synonyms, dude. They’re not ripping out the flight code, just adjusting some numbers and axis curves.

        • Zenicetus says:

          Regarding — “a nearly complete from-the-ground-up re-balance of the ship handling characteristics” The key word there is re-balance. It doesn’t mean throwing out the existing model and replacing it.

          It’s exactly what happened with Elite:D in the Beta period I mentioned above. It was a re-balance (aka “nerf”) of what you could do with the lateral and reverse thrusters during flight and combat, and they had to make two passes on it because some parts of the ED community objected strongly to the first changes. It wasn’t rewriting the FM from scratch.

          Hilariously, ED still showed maneuvers in the initial CGI rendered release trailer (the “Cobra flip”) that are impossible to do with the changes they made to the flight model. If they had kept the original flight model they started with, some of us would be a lot happier with it.

          • metric day says:

            No you wouldn’t, you’d find something else to complain about and shoehorn it into any discussions disparaging Star Citizen. Like you’re doing now, say….

          • Josh W says:

            Happier doesn’t mean completely satisfied, and it’s good to have people who hold games to ridiculous standards; their creators holding them to good standards is how we get good games, bar a fluke here or there.

  12. jonfitt says:

    This is one of the reasons I thought that it really didn’t make sense to drop additional money on this game until the flight model is nailed down.

    Let me clarify. I don’t think the flight model is/was bad. I’ve not tried it. But I have played many space games, and some of them just aren’t my cup of tea. They might value missile locks too heavily, or not enough, devolve into turning battles, rely too much on jousting, or a host of other things that just make combat not that fun.
    Perhaps bigger ships just flat outclass smaller ones, no matter what the claims of the lern-to-fly-good crowd says. Are you and your wingmen guaranteed to get taken out and spanked by anyone who can afford the top tier ships? Perhaps that makes it pay-to-win, not pay-to-try-different-things.

    I would reserve any judgement on the quality of a space game until that core mechanical loop is nailed down and demonstrated to be fun. Everything else, persistent universes, walking around space stations and on planets, guilds, player constructed objects, crafting, none of this matters if that core loop just isn’t that great.

  13. Geebs says:

    Alpha 0.2, surely? You youngsters and your crazy versioning systems.

    I not paid a lot of attention to Star Citizen, but given that I loved the original Wing Commander on my SNES (couldn’t afford a fancy PC back then) I would be chuffed to bits if it actually turns out good. None of the other dogfight-in-space games has been quite the same (yes I know about Freespace. Too many buttons, herr Volition).

    • Cinek says:

      Well, SC will have a flight model nothing like Wing Commander nor Freespace.

    • Cederic says:

      While I loved wing commander, tie fighter had the edge on story led space combat, and Privateer 2 remains a game I want remaking because if all they did was update the graphics I’d still play it ahead of these modern space games.

    • DrZhark says:

      All the wing commanders had a horrible flight system. It felt like you were in a bubble spinning in the center, without the sense of acceleration at all. The X-wing series on the other hand, had a superb flying system. Hopefully SC leans more towards that than Wing Commander.

  14. MJones says:

    They’ve started work on it then? Cool.

  15. chodenreich says:

    If anyone decides to buy this game, don’t forget to use a referral code. We both get free stuff in-game! Here’s mine: STAR-V4M9-3CV4 or you can use this link: link to

  16. Marblecake says:

    I’m really sorry to hear that Alec got some flak from apparently sensitive members of the SC community for his previous article. I personally thought it was a very balanced take on a game in development that inspires…let’s say…passionate reactions.
    And it appears I’m not alone in this:
    link to

    • heretic says:

      Thanks for the link, most of the people on the forums seem quite level headed (except for a few but don’t know if they were trolling).

      Didn’t realise how much hate SC raised in people, the first few comments here are real angry (which I feel is quite unusual for RPS? Mods maybe sleeping :P).

      Just finished watching the Double Fine documentary, they got a lot of hate too, not sure what it is about this that makes people extremely polarised.

      • heretic says:

        I guess when you invest a lot of money in something you can lose sight of reason (fanboys of all sorts), but I really wonder why people who didn’t invest any money feel so strongly about it as well! Same with all those people wanting to see Tim Schafer fail…

  17. NephilimNexus says:

    You didn’t honestly thinking that sticking to the facts would save you from the trolls, did you?

    These people don’t care about being correct, only in being right.

  18. racccoon says:

    Oh my just keeps rethinking and rethinking..its a total shambles of crap thoughts.

  19. Unsheep says:

    It is impossible to do something of this scale and NOT have some kind of controversy, given the way the game was funded. Had the game been financially backed by a EA or other there wouldn’t be much talk of a controversy.

    When gaming media and gaming critics behave like the paparazzi we will automatically get all kinds of conspiracy theories and exaggerations. It is better to keep cool and see what happens.

  20. bangy says:

    In other words, they’ll be using a system akin to Elite: Dangerous.
    I can only imagine what kind of game THOSE guys could’ve made for 100 mill.

    • Mr_Blastman says:

      Elite is already amazing. With 100 million? They would win the internet.

    • Neobone says:

      Because Elite uses a Air/Space hybrid system, the new flight system of SC is a space only system much more complex than the Flight System of Elite.
      You should maybe read the Thread on the RSI site.

      • Cederic says:

        Yeah but we all grew up on Elite. Roll and pitch, none of this fancy newtonian nonsense or weird shit like yaw. Hell, is yaw even a word?!

      • sf says:

        I think you don’t know much about Elite.

      • sf says:

        I do love it how Star Citizen fans just CANNOT bring themselves to acknowledge that ANY aspect of ANY other game is better than their darling. So predictable.

        • Neobone says:

          Yeah, like Elite fans…
          The difference is, it based on facts not on fantasies.
          You cant say “they’ll be using a system akin to Elite: Dangerous.” when they use a flight model in SC which not based on an airplane flight system.
          And not just that, when a maneuvering thruster is damaged in SC or your ship is loaded with cargo, then has this an effect on your flight model, nothing of this happens in Elite.

  21. Blue_Lemming says:

    Elite has Flight Assist, which allows the “dogfighting war planes”, switching it off gives almost Newtonian flight(as much as anyone could want). link to

    • Zenicetus says:

      Not exactly. Flight Assist Off during the early Beta period allowed the same speeds in all 6 degrees of movement.

      Then the devs decided that too many people were taking advantage of things like flying in reverse with the faster fighters and shooting forward with long-range sniping weapons at the slower ships. They wanted people flying and fighting mostly in a forward direction, air combat style.

      So they heavily nerfed the available speed when thrusting in reverse (compared to forward speeds), and also nerfed the lateral sideways and up/down thrusters, but not as much. That wasn’t popular among a fairly large segment of the community, so they adjusted how severely the speeds were nerfed, but still ended up with thrusters that didn’t allow as much speed in reverse or laterally as you can get when flying forwards.

      Personally I dislike the change, assuming it’s still in the current flight model. Not because of the reversing exploit, but in the way it limits the kind of sideways and up/down sliding that makes a fight between spaceships interesting, and different from air combat.

      Also, like almost every other space game, it’s not anywhere near Newtonian as long as there is a speed cap on your ship. That’s something most space games do to keep combat close and eliminate “jousting” tactics. But it’s often overdone (IMO), and kills the impression of speed. That’s another whole discussion though. :)