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Star Citizen New Flight Mechanics Summary

Welcome to a Summary of Star Citizen New Flight Model that was discussed and shown at CitizenCon 2018 but also there has been a lot more information from the team that are making it on the Forums. What’s Next for Flight in Star Citizen?

The Full CitizenCon 2018 Presentation – The Principles of Flight

The New Flight Model will be in our hands with Alpha 3.4 at the end of 2018. They are developing it and it will go through various changes and iterations based on feedback, it is a work in progress. They have re-tuned and rebalanced every ship in game.

They want you to feel your ship when you are flying it & for that to be a reactive & have a deeper, systemic flying experience. Ships will have their own character and damage or changes to them will make them feel different when you are in the pilot seat. Ships will feel heavier and have momentum, some ships will prefer strafing, some pitch, yaw.


Controls – Throttle & Velocity Control

They’ve changed how the throttle works, you have direct control over your ship now.

The Throttle now is now more responsive to input, you increase your target velocity when you increase your throttle and stop speeding up when you stop increasing the throttle and have hit your target velocity (which is represented as a yellow dot on the centre left side of the HUD). Turning will decrease your speed but then the IFCS will bring you up to the level your throttle is currently set at.

If you bring you throttle down, this will not kill your speed, you’ll need to retro thrust to do that which you use a seperate key for, this is similar to spacebrake. OR you can set bi-directional thrust.


The Acceleration Control – on the centre Right Side of the HUD

This Limits the amount of thrust/acceleration that the IFCS can use.

This allows you to effectively control how quickly changes in velocity occur.

This allows you to not need precision or PRE modes, you can have all of the flight control you want at any pace.



Afterburner has been entirely overhauled AB1 & AB2 have been removed, what was boost before has become afterburner. So afterburner now boosts the acceleration of your ship. There are consequences, as it basically just overpowers your thrusters, so that uses more power, generates more heat and can cause more wear and tear / failures.


Cruise Speeds

You can now freely accelerate up to cruise speeds in any direction. Coupled of Decoupled. Basically the tops speeds of a ship are the cruise speeds they had previously. Coupled mode will limit your angular velocity if you go above the safe SCM speeds of your ship, so you have less maneuvering control, your turn speed is limited.

You can decouple and accelerate to this speeds too, with the benefits of being decoupled.

You can toggle a SCM Speed Limiter, this will hold your ship within a certain speed range.



Thrusters are now connected to all other systems in the ship and are updated item 2.0

So they will be affected by damage, wear and tear, heat, power, overpowering, underpowering & overclocking. Everythurster can be viewed and interacted with on the Power MFD.

Overheating thrusters will struggle to provide the required thrust overtime, you’ll be able to feel any instability in the way you ship flies.

Wear numbers are shown on the HUD, they slowly go up the more the item is used.

Thrusters can misfire, making flight much less stable.

The idea is that these issues will get more regular and problematic over a long time.

Managing your heat & power will mean that you have less problems with your ships items and thrusters.

Damaged thrusters will have reduced thrust, shooting them will cause damage to their wear and health. This is the same for other items, allowing you to target and disable ships.


Atmospheric flight is much different, entering atmosphere has amazing audio.

Drag, lift and turbulence are all now simulated, wind & turning affect you ship alot based on how aerodynamic yourship is.

Heat generated by thrusters will be more as well as they are under more strain in atmosphere.

Combat & Racing in both space and atmosphere should feel different very different.


Other Stuff

Every ship and thruster has completely new audio.

Decoupled has had a load of changes.

Dual stick flight has had a lot of attention.

AI Flight uses all the same systems and model, wingmen will move with you OR with their appropriate wing.

General performance has been tweaked, the system is lighter on CPU resources.

They have much better tools for testing and editing thrusters on ships.

There are loads of UI & HUD improvements showing more info (and it being clearier visually), with G-Force meters.

Hover Bikes are getting their handling tuned for 3.4

Networking need to tweak the new flight system for 3.4

ESP and Controls are getting a lot of work done to them between now and 3.4

The Landing and Docking systems require work, this will cover docking to stations too.


DColson Answers Questions on Spectrum

The intention is to allow you to go into VTOL mode separately from Landing Mode, this feature is planned to come with 3.4 as well.

They’ve discussed having sets of keybinds you can switch to for your own version of precision mode or for different types of maneuvers, this is not something they currently have planned for the 3.4 release tho.

For Dual stick and Hotas users, the acceleration limiter will let you control retro-thrust or you could bind an analog retro control.

The retro button doesn’t flip your thrust direction, it simply fires retro at 100% (limited by the acceleration limiter).

They will look at speed indicators for drift in the future.

There is no spacebrake in the new model, though this may change as it’s something they haven’t settled on yet.

Weapon balance will happen as well once the the flight model is more stable.

Thrusters are balanced and tuned for the ships they are fitted to. You will be able to customize thruster sets, swapping them out for others of the same size, but this will give you a different flight experience with each different set.

In regard to the range of combat and high speed combat – The goal is that combat at high speeds is so inefficient and ineffective that players will need to learn to keep close to be useful. The SCM limiter control is designed to help beginner players stay at slower speeds.

Sound between ship speeds in space is pretty similar at the moment BUT audio is looking into potentially making something to indicate higher speeds, without a sound becoming too annoying or repetitive.

The new flight model affects a lot of ship roles & intentions OR at least they need to be catered for, for the interceptor role for example they said :
“We definitely don’t want to remove the interceptor role, how it will fit into this system exactly requires some testing. I think it best we try it out first, and we can make necessary changes once we know how it works.”

We should see big differences in performance from the main thrusters to maneuvering thrusters. People at the event also said COMSTAB is gone too.

UPDATES – 26th October 2018 – Reverse The Verse

The first iteration of the new Flight Model is coming with 3.4 BUT it’s certainly not going to be finished. The iteration will be smaller with every update, until it’s in a fun state & then it will be considered done!

There is going to be a lot of relearning how to fly with the new flight model.

The Atmospheric combat is planned to be very WW2 like.

The ships will want/try to to flight straight in atmosphere, you’ll feel them being pulled back to where you are going, you’ll want to try and get behind an opponent to gain the advantage.

Balance is more than just the ship and flight model, it’s items, weapons and environmental too.

The Xi’An ships are good at strafe fighters and have more maneuvering.

They don’t want everything reduced to joust fighting, they are working on methods to balance this. Slowing down takes time

They want time to kill increased, disabling parts of ships will be a thing, so certain flight styles won’t be as effective.

They will still allow for circle strafing, jousting and other methods of combat that they will cater for still tho, it will change based on the ships, weapons and environment what is the appropriate method.


There are 3 rough types of categories for ships in how they fly:

Atmospheric – WW2 Style – Low Angular Velocity

Main Thruster Centric – Asteroids Style – Lower Strength Maneuvering Thrusters – Human Ship Typically

6 Degrees of Freedom – Strafing & Super Maneuvering Xi’An Scout Style


Capital Ships have low acceleration, but high momentum. They are assumed to be stationary while fighting or moving slowly. Moving them requires planning where you are going and when you slow down.

There is a danger of using them in atmosphere, they are extremely heavy!

Cargo and additional mass will affect the speed and acceleration of your ship, eventually they want to have weight on one side of your ship to unbalance the flight on that side…

They will have weight warnings when you overload your cargo.

Every moon and planet has it’s own unique gravity and atmosphere that will affect flight. Also flight in high atmosphere will be different to low atmosphere.

Grav-Lev is getting redesign, they will be more grounded and feel more feeling the terrain. More of a jetski.

Wheels on ships will be used for rolling takeoffs in the future BUT not for 3.4, it also sounds like they might be able to driven a little. They would prefer ships not to need runways to take off tho, they want VTOL to work as much as possible.

The Thruster Control will allow for smooth up and down motion.

They don’t have any plans for rocket style blast off ships in Atmosphere.

They don’t simulate true aerodynamics, if you get a hole in a wing that won’t affect your ship, the mass lost from damage will affect you.

They voxelize the ship and use this as a silhouette to work out it’s atmospheric performance.

They are improving the UI by giving true velocity and forward velocity indicators.

The faster you are going to less turning ability you have.

They want people to be able to chase each other.

For Dogfighting, they want players to slow down.

PRE, CRUISE modes are gone, it’s all unified with the acceleration and velocity limiter.

You can throttle up to your top speed that was what before was Cruise.

They are reworking the mass values for the new flight model, expect the ship stats to change to “correct values” for 3.4, in the future they will be pulled straight from their internal databases.

You’ll be able to use your VTOL thrusters without deploying your landing gear in the future.

The Connie and Aurora fans will work in the future, they are an new type of thrusters that work in atmosphere and are more powerful the lower you are in atmosphere.

Asymmetrical ships are likely to fly oddly in atmosphere. Vanduul Scythes for example, their thrusters will struggle to keep it’s stable in atmo.

Pointing your thrusters in the right direction will be important too, if you roll in a ship in atmosphere you are going to see the ship start to fall if the VTOL isn’t point down.

Large ships without enough VTOL landing or crashing on planets, might not be able to take off again. A Javelin is unlikely going to be able to land and take off from a planet.

Speed in atmosphere will dynamically change based on how high you are and how much drag you are experiencing.  

Missiles are getting some attention THEY ARE NOT PART OF THE NEW FLIGHT MODEL THOUGH. They’d like to unify them as much as possible and have the affected in Atmosphere.

They want to do some work to aiming, gimbals and mouse controls, they are currently discussing this internally, there might be some big changes coming.

Coupled & Decoupled Modes Rotations should be the same.

They have an internal use AutoPilot, typically used for AI or Auto Landing.

If you want to have an autopilot, you’ll have to get another player OR NPC to pilot.

In the SQ42 VS they had the Gladius AUTO take off, so they might add this into the game.