"If I was making Wing Commander today, Star Citizen is what I would do." - Chris Roberts
Star Citizen: Squadron 42 was announced as Chris Roberts' first video game project on the 10th of October, 2012 after a decade away from the industry. Chris Roberts is the creator of games such as the Wing Commander franchise and StarLancer. A reason for returning is that he finally felt the level of tech has evolved to a point where a game such as this can be fully realized without too many compromises to the conceptual vision. In this new online game, players will be able to take on roles and duties within a huge space empire in order to earn their citizenship. You can, for example, become a merchant or sign up for military duty, effectively joining Squadron 42. Star Citizen is described as more of a first-person action focused game compared to a game like EVE Online which is more strategic on a macro level.
Star Citizen's visuals are based on a heavily modified version of CryEngine 3. It is intended to push the limits of the PC platform. The developers have stated they want to prove that video gaming exclusively for the PC still has an audience and a big enough market to exist among the various consoles, handheld and free to play markets. The polygon count with regards to the level of detail in the game is approximately ten times higher than what is common for today's console games.
Crowd Funding Initiative
Star Citizen / Squadron 42 was successful in reaching its initial pledge campaign funding goals and holds the record for being the highest ever crowdfunded game. It is currently being further funded directly from the developers website. The pledge packages contain a selection of ships to pilot, ranging from small trading vessels and fighter craft up to large multi-crew freighters reminiscent of the Millenium Falcon from Star Wars. These ships will take time to purchase in-game, but are being offered as an incentive for early backing of the game. Also included are multiple levels of citizenship for the player's character, which defines your place in the social class within the game world, as well as physical rewards and extra in-game currency to begin with. Those who are interested in making a pledge to support Star Citizen can reach the official backers page here at Roberts Space Industries.
Gameplay is divided into two main components. The online persistent game universe is called Star Citizen. Squadron 42 is the singleplayer (w. optional co-op) component.
- The military path is more akin to the Wing Commander campaigns. The player opts to join the navy and is recruited by Squadron 42. You will be faced with a mission structure similar to most singleplayer games, with briefings and an engaging story as the main attraction. When you've served your time, the game opens up into the persistent universe, allowing you either to stay on with the military or move on to other endeavours. Although the military path can be played exlusively in singleplayer mode, friends can join the game for online cooperative gameplay via a drop-in feature. They can become additional wingmen and tag along for assistance with particularly tough missions. Chris has stated on many occasions that he was directly inspired by Dark Souls, and that is the main reason why a similar feature has found its way into the game.
- The open path starts you off without any ties to the military, and promises a more varied mercenary-like experience where you are your own boss, choosing how you earn your place. Everything has to be earned in the game, and someone's civic status is very important in this large, but unstable empire. In this mode the game is described to be an online multiplayer Freelancer/Privateer experience.
Any combination of joystick, HOTAS, gamepad, mouse and keyboard are supported for character and ship control. The game will also have built-in support for Oculus Rift and TrackIR.
The universe, and all the characters and happenings within it is integral to how the game plays. The game aims to simulate the entirety to allow the players some extra level of immersion. Player statistics will be tracked and saved throughout the game. Information such as how much money you have, your civic status, the ship you fly will all be preserved for next time you load up the game. A virtual economy system will play an important part of this game's universe, and it is said to reward non-military achievements as well as heroics in combat for example through the exploration and exploitation of space.
- Social hubs are fixed places like the highly secure and regulated space sectors in the vicinity of Earth, the core system of the empire. There you will be able to see and meet other players who play in this same large universe. A hub in a less secure sector will have less rules and regulations, but will also leave you more exposed to the risk of piracy. The players themselves choose where to go.
- Instances will be essential to how the game's online component is structured, and they allow for a large amount of players without problems like overcrowding ever becoming an issue. Space is virtually endlessly vast and that is something the game plays on for its multiplayer. A PvP encounter for example will get its own instance automatically generated in space, basically a war zone, by the online server, say if the ships met each other between Point A and Point B, and that instance will only exist for as long as the encounter lasts.
Game servers will be hosted publicly through a central server system. Later on, there will be tools available to allow the community to run their own private servers similar to what the case was for
Freelancer. These private servers will have no link to the public persistent universe.
Players will be able to purchase a variety of ships and ship modifications as they progress in the game to develop their chosen career and play style.
The larger space ships will allow multiple players to participate in ship operations such as manning the turrets or managing ship systems for optimal combat efficiency.
A native set of modding tools will allow players to submit their own ship designs for potential inclusion in the game universe for purchase from various shipyards and dealers. As an example of ship complexity, a small fighter consists of over 150 parts and within that design there are around 60 individually animated parts.
The game will feature advanced simulation of physics and will feature a spaceship AI that will handle the mechanics of navigational thrusters convincingly based on the player's input. If the ship takes damage to a rocket thruster engine this will directly affect how the ship handles.
Ships will feature accurate damage modelling allowing for individual components to be hit if the attacking player is knowledgeable enough about their position on the ship. For example, if the life support system is positioned on the rear-left of a ship and a weapon projectile strikes that point, the system will be damaged and affect the victim's ability to survive for much longer without seeking repairs.
The ships in the game will also sport detailed cockpits with blinking lights, movable levers, buttons and joystick all intended to create an immersive first person cockpit experience.
Hangar Module (Released August 29, 2013)
Intended both as an early reward for backers as well as a preliminary testbed for the game's systems, the Hangar Module lets players preview a small selection of ships they purchased in their own personal hangar. There are three aesthetic 'tiers' of hangar based on the size of ship purchased; Discount for the Aurora and 300i, Business for the Hornet and Freelancer ships, and Deluxe for the Constellation.
Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) has already received a significant amount of feedback from the community which has allowed them to make further refinements to the quality of the module.
Alongside this feature, CIG opened up access to its in-game store called Voyager Direct which allows players to purchase equipment and decorations with credits earned in the game, or through credit packs purchased with real money.
Future revisions of the module will allow players to visit each other online in their own hangars.
Dogfighting Module (TBA Q4 2013 / Q1 2014)
This module will enable players to participate in multiplayer space combat.
Planetside Module (TBA Q2 / Q3 2014)
This module will allow players to experience the outdoor environments outside of the hangar.
System Requirements (General)
- CPU: Dual core CPU
- GPU: GTX 460 or equivalent
- RAM: 4GB of system memory
- CPU: i7 2500, 2600, 2700
- GPU: GTX 670, equivalent or better
System Requirements (Hangar Module)
- OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
- CPU: Quad core CPU
- GPU: DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM
- RAM: 8GB Memory