Welcome to a Star Citizen Persistent Universe Alpha 3.4.3 LIVE State of the Game, looking at where the game sits now in terms of gameplay, it’s issues and features.
We will start with a quick TLDR
The latest 3.4.3 patch only fixed an additional couple of crashes, it was a very minor patch, it actually made the game slightly more unstable for me personally tho.
Star Citizen is still very much in Alpha and not suitable for players that want a sit down and play game that’s fleshed out and has true meaningful progression.
That said it is starting to get some flesh on it’s bones. There is a good lot of missions, a huge beautiful gameplay area, landing zones, a giant city city, planets and moons all to explore and a few gameplay loops.
The game has some awesome looking graphics and is pretty damn good fun for a good few hours, but it is an alpha and the lack of meaningful gameplay loops mean it’s not ready for prime time. However with a group or organization you can have 1000s of hours of fun even now. Really Star Citizen is suitable for players that want to get involved in the feedback of what they like or don’t like in the game in regard to gameplay and how features/controls work. Helping to report/prioritize bugs & to get involved in discussions about future mechanics.
For some players I would suggest waiting until we have full persistence and moving toward no more resets, that means your progress will matter. As at the moment at least once every 3 months there will be a server reset, removing any in game purchases or aUEC you have made. Star Citizen’s Focus this year will largely be getting the core mechanics and Squadron 42 features absorbed into the PU. There is a lot of issues with combat, the flight model & instability the current build has too that 3.5 should help with or entirely fix, so for solo players or small groups looking to jump in that are aware that it’s Alpha then the end of March might be a good time for them with the new Flight Model Coming. As the current Flight Combat & ESP isn’t great.
A 3.4.4 patch would be beneficial to resolve some more issues however, they do need a cut off point to stop work on a branch to move onto getting 3.5 out as a build. This cut off period seems to be typically 6 – 8 weeks before the next live build which is the same sort of time they content lock any new major build and with 3.5 coming out at the end of March to LIVE and sooner for a PTU build they made leave the 3.4 branch as is.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into a More FULL STATE OF THE GAME:
The Current Gameplay Loops are
Cargo running, based on the size of your ship you can run cargo from a outpost or major landing zone to another major landing zone and sell it, certain commodities are available at certain areas for purchase or to sell. For almost every type of commodity to make any real aUEC you’ll need a larger cargo ship UNLESS you are buying and selling WiDoW. This commodity is only available at JumpTown a hidden location on the Moon of Yela and has even smaller cargo holds being able to make huge bank by selling it at GrimHex or Levski.
This has led to JumpTown being incredibly highly contested and active. You’ll have whole orgs locking it down, players extorting money from you, some destroying your ship to keep the streets clean from drugs or even players forming an orderly queue at jumptown to purchase their WiDoW. A large portion of the games pvp and what is deemed emergent gameplay is here.
Exploring and Scavenging – When you are on a mission or if you have found a POI there are often cargo boxes that you can pick up and bring back to your ship to sell, when blowing ships up that have cargo in, a % of there cargo hemorrhages out as cargo containers… sort of…
The Mining Mechanic has some flesh on it’s bones, allowing prospectors to scan down areas of interest. Scan a asteroid in space or rock on a moon/planet, crack the rock into smaller pieces then extract the ore that you want.
Mineables come in various shapes and sizes when it comes to what they are made of and what % of the rock you are extracting is valuable.
Part of the loop working out what materials are worth your while mining.
The actual mining is hands on too having you adjust the fracturing beams power to optimal levels.
Instability and Resistance of the rock is also important, high resistance can mean you can’t even mine a rock without assistance from another prospector, instability will affect how quickly and easily the rock will explode if you put too much power into it.
Mining will have you making a huge amount of aUEC once you have got it down.
However the economy needs to be more feature filled and dynamic, with refineries, reasons to move around areas, locations that have really high value ore to create conflict.
Make mining important to other gameplay loops.
Missions – A Lot of missions now work and there are a lot across the whole gameplay area.
There is actually quite a lot to do, and missions will lead on to better missions the more you play and complete them in a session.
This ranges from Combat, Patrol, Bounty Hunting, Investigation, Fetch/Deliveries, Scan Down & Destroy Probes, Clear Out Bunkers/Stations, Recover Objects, Find Dead Crew, Recover Black Boxes, Scramble Races.
There are even counter missions generated now when players have to recover an object to destroy them or vice versa.
There is a lot of mission givers now too for some more interesting reasons to move around the Stanton System.
I wish some more players played scramble races, I think I have only ever played in 2.
They need a bit of love and maybe a close respawn point to work properly, maybe just a much bigger reward.
Unfortunately at the moment delivery missions seem to often bug out when you complete them and they get withdrawn rather than rewarding you.
And General combat AI are often unresponsive, this goes back partly to the Flight Model not seeing updates until 3.5. They might do a pass at you before going AFK, this could be due to some bugs or servers getting overloaded/degraded or IFCS issues.
Mission Sharing is sorely needed, however you can transfer funds or pay crew with SB.
Service Beacons are player generated missions to pick and player up and deliver them somewhere or for a player to come to assist a player in combat. They work well BUT are very simple, some more features and a more robust system is being worked on.
PvP Gameplay is there BUT there are few reasons to engage each other profit wise.
There are missions which cause players to be at conflict and interact & even bounties on some criminals. However beyond that it’s self imposed reasons at the moment, that’s not to say it’s not valid gameplay and I know that some orgs even now pay to have areas locked down. Jumptown creates conflict as only 1 person can use the console at a time and there is so much aUEC flying around there.
For outlaws that want to lower their crime rating going to Security Post Kareah can be more eventful now with FPS AI there to at least entertain you.
FPS AI missions just suffer from derpy AI and poor path finding atm, they just aren’t a challenge.
The Flight Model & ESP – Are in limbo until the New Flight Model in 3.5, currently you can have enjoyable combat and flight especially in larger ships I find BUT it’s not a skill based fun model currently. There are loads of issues, dogfighting is not really fun 1v1 imo, tho it is pretty. Fleet battles and the general motions are very good fun tho.
The Gameplay Area is Massive now. Quantum Travel between one side of the System so Port Olisar to Hurston say can take 6 – 12 mins based on your Quantum Drive. Larger ships having larger sized and faster drives.
There are 7 Landable Moons, a Landable Planet, a Giant Asteroid (Delamar/Levski)
2 Major Space Stations Olisar & GrimHex, a Whole Planet Hurston with it’s Lorville Massive City Landing Zone.
There are also a range of rest stops, smaller stations, POI and …. In space
On the Ground Outposts, Underground Bunkers, Hidden Locations (JumpTown and Crashed Javelin)
But the size of the on land gameplay is as absurd as the size of space we also now have.
The Stanton System still needs ArcCorp, MicroTech, Crusader with Orison & 5 more associated moons (AC 2 + MT 3) to have all it’s major astral bodies there.
But Hurston and Lorville are genuinely magnificent, Hurston has loads of different biomes that are incredibly juxtaposed
Planned / Organized Gameplay really does work in Star Citizen’s PU at the moment.
Destruction Derby, Hunger Games, on foot races, survival, hide and seek, the Daymar Rally, 25v25 fleet battles with hammerheads, boarding & assaulting practice and dozens of more mission types that players have come up with. The most fun I have had with star citizen has been from some of these player run events or organized missions.
Shopping what can you buy?
There is a few things to buy now
You can buy Ships for aUEC at Levski and Lorville.
FPS items, Weapons, Armor of different types, Clothing, Grenades, Medipens
Ship Weapons & Items like Power plants, Shield Generators BUT you’ll lose these items when you lose/reclaim your ship at the moment.
There does need to be a bit more here to really allow players to express themselves and item insurance is being worked on.
The Functionality VOIP is good and working a lot of the time, it does occasionally break / FOIP works all the time for me locally, which is good for recording. These will get a bit more stable & used in the future.
The Multi-Crew gameplay is coming together, turrets on ships actually have stabilization and use now, they still need more love but they are reasonably effective against large and slow ships. MFDs do allow crew to actually help you manage systems now.
Scanning & Pinging is cool, it allows you to find signatures of mineables, probes, ships, these will appear as blobs of interest and then passively when you are close enough.
You can also scan targets to gather info on them, like if they have cargo on their ship.
The mobiGlas, Apps & UIs have all been getting better, tho sometimes the mobiGlas still hitches with has been a long running bug.
Some other random issues Issues
The latest patch did insert some additional instability with client disconnects being much more common, fortunately if you did CTD or get a client DC most of the time you can recover and load straight back to where you were.
Repairing your ship sometimes leaves it with 0 mass… which is a pain and massively exploitable.
Turning off or tweaking some of your MFD settings seems to occasionally stop weapons or other systems functioning, you then have to get out of your seat and get back in.
Ships wobble and turn away from the marked destination when coming out of Quantum Drive, something that is apparently fixed with the new flight model.
Travel times from surface to space and vice versa on Hurston can be a few mins each way, though this is going to be addressed in 3.5 apparently.
At the moment for me Star Citizen is a tourist destination rather than a full game play experience, it looks fantastic, it’s fun for a good period of time, amazing with friends BUT it needs a bit more content for me to live there XD However for people that are aware of the state and intentions of the game, like me, this is an amazing experience that I am glad I am not missing out on!