Despite sometimes seeming like a shared hallucination, it's harder to deny that Star Citizen exists in some tangible capacity today, as it's currently free for all to try. To wrap up their appearance at Gamescom, Cloud Imperium Games flung open the hangar-bay doors to the cold and hostile void of space. And by that, I mean the general public. Those wanting to take a poke around the wildly (over?)ambitious space sim MMO can do so from now until Monday, August 27th at midnight PST. Be warned that you'll need a beefy PC. You can sign up for the 'free-fly' event here. Expect bugs.
While it's been a few months since I last checked in on Star Citizen, I admit that there are some genuinely impressive parts to it. Despite choppy performance (especially when around other players), being able to seamlessly move from on-foot FPS gameplay to spaceflight to planetary landing is impressive. The fan-made video below shows off a messy fifty-player rumble on a desert planet. Though you can see it creaking a bit even in this clip, you can spot the immensely complex damage model in action, with parts falling off ships and laying smoking on the ground.
This trial weekend gives players several days of free reign to do what they want into the MMO side of the game in one of three ships, pictured up top. There's a mining ship, a cargo hauler and a multi-player gunship, plus a hoverbike for planetary exploration. Free players also have access to two minigames - Arena Commander (a solo/co-op dogfight survival mode) and Star Marine (on-foot FPS combat). Sadly, the part that I'm most interested in - story-driven campaign Squadron 42 - isn't included in this event, but the MMO side does at least contain some scripted missions.
The game is currently up to version Alpha 3.2, and this page has an overview of what they've recently added. Mining, mostly, which I personally have no interest in, but it might be tempting for EVE Online regulars.
Star Citizen is free to try until Monday, August 27th at midnight PST. If you're interested, you can sign up here, and you can find the (steep) minimum system requirements for the game here, including at least 16 gigabytes of RAM.