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Space sim Squadron 42 is "feature-complete" and gunning for Starfield's lunch with massive new video

"This is the final phase of gameplay iteration," promises Star Citizen developer

Mark Hamill's character in Star Citizen spin-off Squadron 42, talking to somebody off camera
Image credit: Cloud Imperium

It's been 11 long years since the unveiling of Squadron 42, Star Citizen's singleplayer campaign, seven years since developer Cloud Imperium Games broke Squadron 42 off into a standalone purchase, five years since Crytek took them to court for allegedly breaching their CryEngine license, three years since Crytek and Cloud Imperium settled that lawsuit, and three years since director Chris Roberts sought to justify the game's mammoth development time to Kickstarter backers, declaring that "it would be doing a huge disservice to everyone working really hard on the project and all of you that are looking forward to it to deliver something that isn't great." Well, all that waiting has finally paid off, as Squadron 42 is now officially... "feature-complete" and "into the polishing phase", meaning that the Wing Commander-inspired space sim is almost guaranteed to release before the death of our sun.

Cloud Imperium have released a new trailer walkthrough to celebrate, which does admittedly look spaceworthy. It's a whistle-stop tour of Squadron 42 gameplay and story materials - from dogfights in asteroid belts that use a new precision targeting feature, through "OMG my CO is Gillian Anderson" cinematics, to physics-based puzzling malarkey involving a Half-Life Gravity Gun-adjacent gizmo. If I were, say, Starfield developer Bethesda, I'd be particularly worried about those planetary surface flyovers. Mind you, by the time Squadron 42 launches we'll probably be playing Starfield 2. I kid, Roberts, I kid!

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"As we move into the polishing phase, we're fully focused on optimizing and fine-tuning all aspects of the gameplay experience to deliver an unprecedented cinematic adventure," reads the accompanying blurb. "To celebrate this milestone, we have gathered our core development leadership from around the globe to share what this means." Senior game director Richard Tyrer adds in the footage that "this is the final phase of gameplay iteration before we fully transition into optimisation and stability on the road to release".

Elsewhere in the trailer there's some on-foot combat, showing off the game's Maelstrom destructible terrain system. The shooting seems pretty drawn-out, with enemies pinning you down and soaking up a lot of punishment. Further in, there's an Aliens-esque infiltration bit with the character slicing through door panels, and some promising talk of backstory development and rooting players in the world by ensuring each interaction has an associated character animation.

Roberts himself comments in the video that "when we have the locked release date, you will be the first to know," adding that "we want to make sure that Squadron 42 delivers on the promise of being this generation's Wing Commander." Or the next generation's Wing Commander, as the case may be. Or the next next generation's Wing Commander.

This last paragraph is written for the RPS writer or editor - possibly myself, possibly some other, fresher-faced soul? - writing the next Squadron 42 article, a few years from now. Godspeed, whoever you are. It's probably too much to hope that you're writing a Squadron 42 review.

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