Star Citizen continues its slow march towards looking like a halfway coherent game. Rolling out this weekend is another big update, Alpha 3.5, this one focused on fleshing out the planet-side experience in the space MMO. The biggest (in the most literal sense) addition this update is ArcCorp, a planet that is also a corporation, where ships are likely held in place by the invisible hand of the market instead of gravity. Cloud Imperium Games are also overhauling the game's flight model and character creator, finally adding playable women to the game, apparently a lower priority than the first hundred premium-priced spacecraft.
While the new planet ArcCorp (and its two moons) are almost entirely covered by city, only one place will be initially open to players. The thrillingly named Area 18 Landing Zone will be the next player town region to explore, and what it lacks in flowery nomenclature, it makes up for in neon. It's a very bright and shiny place, and absolutely bristling with corporate logos and glowing future advertising. There's a new mission-giver NPC here with new jobs for players to do, and they've expanded the mission system to seed all kinds of mission types to all the quest hubs of the game.
The new character generator is designed to prevent players from making 'monsters' (sorry, McElroys), and instead asks you to pick two 'parent' characters to splice together the digital DNA of. It sounds similar to the character creator stuff in GTA Online and Red Dead Online. It's nothing too thrilling, but they've finally added women to the character creation options as well, plus a variety of parent models for them to pick from. As they've completely changed the character generation system, returning players are free to pick a new look and/or gender in this update.
Also in Alpha 3.5 is some more PvE action for the more scurrilous of space-dogs to get involved in. AI bounty hunters and security forces will go after wanted players more aggressively. The new flight model finally takes gravity to planetary flight, making terrestrial navigation a bit trickier. There's a new Star Marine (the squad FPS mini-game) map, some new guns both for pilots and their ships, a few new vehicles and another wave of performance improvements. Cloud Imperium reckon they've taken yet another load off of player's CPUs, especially in bigger firefights.
Star Citizen Alpha 3.5 should hopefully launch "this weekend" to all backers. At present, the cheapest way into the alpha is a $45 'starter pack' or $60 for the MMO side of the game plus Squadron 42, the single-player campaign that they're optimistically aiming to launch next year. You can buy via the game's official page. UK prices are 20% higher thanks to VAT, approximately £41.50/£60.