Welcome to some more Star Citizen I wanted to look at what we currently have planned for Alpha 3.5 some expectations, talk about other things that might make it in and parts that might get pushed back.
Star Citizen Alpha 3.5 should be coming to a LIVE build end of March 2019 with a PTU at least a couple of weeks before that. On the PU Roadmap for 3.5 we can see the items that are currently planned for the patch.
Female Character – Players will be able to choose and customize a female character this will also have NPCs updated with new animations, models and items too. Female Characters have a 1 to 1 parity with their male counterparts for animations, armor and items BUT my have clothing that is unique to your chosen sex.
With the dawn of lady girls for the game we are also getting the DNA Face Customizer, this is a big database of heads/faces that then allow us to blend traits between them allowing for a much more comprehensive facial customization experience.
Planet ArcCorp – This is an entire city planet that in it’s first iteration incorporates Area18 as it’s major landing zone. Expect new Mission Givers, Shops, Hab Areas, a Space Port. Though we don’t know what sort of interaction we can have with the rest of the planet, it may well be all like the shield over Lorville at least to begin with.
We also have 2 new moons with ArcCorp Lyria and Wala. This new gameplay area should be hooked up with various missions too.
New Ships – We have the 300 series rework, this is a full rework of the interior and exterior of the 300i, 315p, 325a and 350r bringing them inline with updated styles and materials from the Origin pipeline and taking some design elements from the 85x and 600i. They have also said that with 3.5 & the 300 series that they want to have ships customizable from the RSI website, so you might potentially be able to change, color, loadout and internals before you purchase a ship and then that loadout be it’s default.
They are making some improvements to the m50 including improvements to landing gear compression and updating the UI metrics in the cockpit to improve pilot experience.
The long awaited Banu Defender 2 person Escort Fighter, more wanted as it’s going to be the first Banu ship we have in game and heralds the start of other Banu Ships like the MM.
Reliant Variants are being added this is the Tana Combat Skirmisher, Sen Science and Research Version & Mako News Van / Media Ship designed to gather all the latest events for the spectrum.
Constellation Taurus, actually one of my fav ships on paper as it’s the logical progression for me, starter ship, avenger titan, cutlass black to Constellation Taurus.
It drops one of the Andromeda’s Turrets and the better default loadout for some extra cargo space and cheapness, it also doesn’t come with a snub or ground vehicle.
There are some Improvements to the P52 Merlin with balancing as well as tweaks to its landing gear compression.
Gameplay – Reputation & Law System v1 is an important addition to the game allowing for localized crime ratings and reputations, along with integrated location-based missions. Expect more reasons to be lawful, an outlaw, a pirate and engage in PvP or run from Players and NPCs.
They are also expanding Service Beacons for Escorts allowing you to pay players directly to escort you to a location and enabling some QoL improvements to the system so you can have an escort Quantum Linked with you allowing them to easily accompany you.
A Major Gameplay Loop is getting added Salvage v1 and sounds like it will be similar to mining in it’s first implementation, players will be able to strip material from a ship’s hull. This will have gameplay for players both on foot or in a ship. The player will have to scan/ping the environment to find salvageable debris. Once harvested, unrefined materials can be sold at a kiosk.
Weapons wise there is a couple of FPS weapons the Gemini’s S71 assault rifle & the Kastak Arms’ Coda ballistic pistol.
There is also a revision to the S1-3 870 Tarantulas Ballistic Cannons for ships.
Flight Model – Probably the most important part of 3.5 is the New Fully Revised Flight Model, this has been designed and implemented by the same team with the new direction for the flight experience in mind. Ships will have to think about maneuvers, it’s going to have ships fly more like WW2 / Modern Fighters but should allow for a lot of different playstyles to be viable. Alien Ships like the Xi’An Kartual and Santokyai will be significantly more mobile being able to make use of strafing and more agile responsive maneuvers more easily than other ships.
We will see ships perform differently in Atmosphere with gravity, weather and different environment feeling like they are making the ship more heavy or putting the thrusters under more stress, you are going to feel the ship a lot more.
They are allowing for acceleration, throttle and velocity control so that we no longer have lines between landing, cruise or SCM modes, you’ll be able to adjust them for your needs and the faster you are going the less control you will have.
Afterburners are changing to what boost was are going to allow you to accelerate quicker.
They have been tweaking ESP as well, so we should have something with the new Flight Model BUT expect tweaks coming with future patches too to both ESP and the Flight Model potentially some very quickly in 3.5.x patches if necessary.
There are Various Server & Client Improvements
Object Container Streaming – They are finishing off Client Side OCS with Code Conversion Improvements converting old LUA code to C++ and Background Spawning Improvements so more CPU threads can be utilized to minimize stalls.
They have also been working on Server Side OCS but we don’t know how far they along with that, Server Side differs as it’s the server dynamically saving, pausing and culling areas of Gameplay Area, Entities & Assets intelligently that are not being used and loading up areas that are seamlessly basically for server performance and efficiency.
There’s a Lobby Refactor laying the groundwork for server meshing that will allow the connection of multiple servers and clients in a same game session. This isn’t something that has an immediate benefit to the game at this stage.
Parallel Network Jobs are also being implemented improving network multithreading so that the server can handle a greater number of connections. This should allow the game to increase player count per server beyond what we have previously had so we could well see more than 50 clients per server in the short term.
There are Improvements to Hard Surface & Organic Shaders allowing greater detail on man-made objects as well as smoother blending between terrain, rocks and organic objects.
A New Projectile Manager a more optimized and scalable projectile system that will cater to large-scale space battles. This feature will also improve performance in smaller battles as well and add further “realism” to the game.
AI Improvements should be one of the key focuses for the 3.5 Patch as AI needs to be setup for the new flight model and has been getting some additional work for the FPS side too.
On the FPS Side there is Stealth v2 listed as a feature this is the ability for stealth tactics to be used, NPCs reacting appropriately to sounds, distractions and being snuck up on, you should see stealth as a viable tactic.
On the Flight side listed is Quantum & Strafing for Flight AI allowing AI Pilots to use quantum navigation, provide more updates to the IFCS flight mode, and allow AI to use basic scanning mechanics to possibly detect stealthed ships.
There is a SQ42 Roadmap that has various features that will also make it into Star Citizen at somepoint based on how much additional work that will be need to bring them into the PU.
They recently completed v2 of Player Vaulting, Jumping and Mantling allowing for new motion warping tech for variable width and height obstacles, so expect to better animations and functionality for jump upto ledges and across obstacles in 3.5 or 3.6.
During the Same Quarter so Q1 2019 but for Squadron 42 they are working on some tech that may make it into 3.5.
AI FPS Realistic Firing & Collision Avoidance v2 so that NPCs will choose appropriate weapons and tactics in combat and better pathing around objects / cover.
For Ships there are AI Spline Paths that utilize the new flight model and enable AI to move around intricate envrionments and landing zones.
They’ve been improving Player Locomotion on Stairs so your feet sit correctly whatever speed you are moving.
And player object interaction should at somepoint see us with helmets or other carriable objects.
Further improvements to Particle Lighting, Water Physics, Procedural Asteroids, Atmospheric & Weapon Effects as well as Ragdolls simulation improvements.
Vehicle HUDs, Scanners and Radars should see some of the SQ42 improvements supporting additional scanning and ping features as well as environmental effects on equipment and even create false signatures. Expect more information to be exposed to us as players when using these.
Improvements to the Heat & Room Systems so things like ambient temperatures are taken into accounts.
They have been working on Medical Gameplay using things like the mediPen on other players is a possibility in 3.5.
And they’ve been working on allowing the player to look away from where their weapon is pointing BUT still keep it aimed allowing for more situational awareness.
Alpha 3.5 is very feature laden now and it’s possible some parts might slip to a 3.5.x patch or even to 3.6 BUT they have been able to work on large parts of 3.5s content for a longer period than usual, some parts may have been almost ready for 3.4 so there is a bit more confidence in my opinion in the items in 3.5s Roadmap staying.
And I am very much looking forward to the new flight model, in fact I think it’s what I am looking forward to most for 2019.