"If I was making Wing Commander today, Star Citizen is what I would do." - Chris Roberts
Star Citizen: Squadron 42 was announced by Chris Roberts at GDC on the 10th of October, 2012 after his long absence from the games industry. Players will be able to take on various roles and duties within a vast space-faring empire in order to earn their citizenship (or revoke it!). You will be free to play however you like, for example, becoming a freelance merchant, pirate or signing up for military duty, effectively joining Squadron 42 - the single-player story component of the project. Star Citizen is described as a first-person action-focused game where player skill takes priority over statistical chance-based events.
Star Citizen's visuals are based on a heavily modified version of CryEngine 3. It is intended to push the limits of PC hardware. The developers want to prove that video gaming exclusively for the PC still has an audience and a big enough market to exist amongst the various consoles, handheld and browser-based markets.
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 crowd-funded 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 are not exclusive and are being offered as an incentive for early backing of the game and to support ongoing development. Also included are multiple levels of citizenship for the player's character 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.
The game 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 single-player Squadron 42 is more akin to the Wing Commander campaigns. The player joins the navy and is recruited by the titular Squadron 42. It will have a mission structure similar to most single-player games, with cinematic events and an engaging story as the main attraction. After serving time, the game opens up into the persistent universe, allowing either to stay on with the military or move on to other endeavours. Although the military path can be played exclusively in single-player mode, friends can join the game for online co-op gameplay via a drop-in feature. They can become additional wingmen and tag along for assistance in tough missions.
- The Star Citizen open persistent world starts players off without any ties to the military, and promises a mercenary-like experience where they are their own boss, choosing how to earn their place. Everything has to be earned in the game, and civic status is very important in this large, unstable empire. This component of the game will provide more of an online 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 preserved throughout the game. A virtual economy system will play an important part of this game's universe, and it will reward non-military achievements for example through the exploration of rare uncharted jump points in space.
- Hubs are fixed places that are highly secure and regulated sectors within the core systems of the empire. A hub in a less secure sector will have less rules and regulations, but will also leave people exposed to the risk of piracy. The players themselves choose where to go.
- Instances will be a crucial part of the game's online component and will allow for a large amount of players to interact in a sector.
Regional servers will be hosted publicly through a central server system. Later on, tools will be available to allow private servers akin to Freelancer. These private servers will have no link to the public persistent universe.
Players can purchase a variety of ships and ship modifications as they progress in the game to develop their chosen career and play style. Control of ships is primarily from the cockpit, with a limited 3rd person view with no HUD for gameplay balance. The cockpits feature detailed instrument panels and holographic HUD, intended to enhance immersion.
The larger capital ships allow multiple players to manage ship operations such as manning turrets or controlling ship subsystems for optimal combat efficiency.
The game features advanced physics simulation that handles the operation of navigational thrusters based on the player's input. In-game this is called the Intelligent Flight Control System, or IFCS. Players can switch this on-the-fly depending on whether they wish to fly in an atmospheric on-rails style of motion or a free-floating drift style.
Ships feature accurate locational damage modelling which allows for individual components to be damaged. For example, if a system is positioned on the rear-left of a ship and a projectile penetrates that point, the system will be damaged and affect the pilot's ability to pilot / survive without seeking repairs. If the ship takes damage to a manoeuvring thruster this will directly affect how the ship handles. Visual wear and tear effects will also gradually appear on the hull the longer the ships are used.
A set of modding tools will allow players to submit their own mods and ship designs for potential inclusion in the game universe by the developers. 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.
First-Person Combat and Player Interaction
Alongside space flight, players are able to interact with the game world in first person as their player avatar on-board ships and in planet-side cities or orbiting stations. Ship boarding, zero-G combat, first-person arena combat, trade, and other social interaction can all occur separate to the actual piloting of the ships.
Development Progress & Roadmap to Release
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 let players preview a small selection of ships they purchased in their own personal hangar. There were 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, purchase additional decorative items and living areas, and customise the layout of items within the hangars and rooms.
Arena Commander (Released June 6, 2014)
Formerly known as the Dogfighting Module, Arena Commander allowed players to fly (at launch) three starships based on their pledge package/s: the RSI Aurora, the Origin 300i, and the Anvil Hornet.
Arena Commander originally offered two modes: Free Flight and Vanduul Swarm. Free Flight lets players fly their ships around two maps, while Vanduul Swarm is a wave-based fight against computer-controlled Vanduul pilots. More gameplay modes have subsequently been added.
'Star Marine' FPS Module (TBA Q3-Q4 2015)
Planned for release before the planteside module in the second half of 2015, the Star Marine module will introduce a swathe of FPS mechanics and engine improvements. The original announcement video shows the ability to interact with the environment, like turning off the gravity to gain a tactical advantage, and general aspects of combat and zero-G movement.
Social / Planetside Module (2015)
This module will allow players to experience the walkable outdoor environments outside of the hangar such as trade shops, bars / clubs and the city streets.
Arena Commander 2.0 - Multi Crew Ships (2015)
This will introduce the next group of larger ships that allow for multiplayer crew gameplay.
Squadron 42: Chapter 1 (late 2015 / early 2016)
The first chapter in the single player story campaign primarily developed by Foundry 42.
Persistent Universe Alpha (2016)
The culmination of all previous release modules. This is when the Star Citizen MMOG will begin to take shape. Later on in the year the final star systems will be added and the game is planned to reach beta status sometime in 2016. The end of the fundraising backer campaign and commercial release is expected in late 2016 or early 2017.
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 of system memory