It wasn’t until developer Cloud Imperium began showing off Star Citizen's alpha 3.0 that I started to get interested in Chris Roberts’ baby. Sure, the ambitious plans have always sounded impressive, but only recently has it started to look like there’s a hint of cohesion, that there’s a game in there I might like to play.
In August, Roberts and co showcased all manner of exciting things, from co-op missions to plummeting down towards a planet’s surface with nothing but a hoverbike and a space suit. But now we’re able to see what the most recent version looks like outside of a controlled environment, from the perspective of a player.
The footage above was taken by Xenthor Xi in 4K while they indulged in a spot of space tourism in the alpha 3.0 test server. Unfortunately, they don’t do much aside from soaking in the sights, but what sights they are. It is, at times, unbearably gorgeous, and all I want to do is hop into a spaceship and find a lovely planet to take hundreds of screenshots of. It would be a nice escape from the chaos of Black Friday.
Xenthor Xi goes from wandering around inside a space station -- where it’s clear from the dodgy NPC animations that there’s still work to be done -- to hurtling towards a desert world, criss-crossed with canyons that look perfect for some womp rat target practice. Then he gets out and walks around. Elite Dangerous, even though it’s made some moves to change this, still feels like a game in which you’re controlling vehicles, but in Star Citizen, you’re controlling a person. At times the difference is subtle, but here it's on full display.
Since Cloud Imperium has invited a new batch of players to test 3.0, we’ll hopefully see more of the things missing from this video, like the impressive ship damage system, missions and combat.
The space sim has had a troubled development, investigated in great detail by Kotaku, and they've tried to improve things with weekly reports. These highlight what bugs are being squashed and which new features are being worked on. And to finish up 2017, the developers will be hosting a livestream in December that promises to show off more of the delayed single-player component: Squadron 42.