Welcome to some more Star Citizen today I wanted to talk about VTOL (Vertical Take off AND Landing as part of the new Hover Mode that’s coming in Alpha 3.6 and is an extension of the new Flight Model.
In Inside Star Citizen they showed off some early stages of the new VTOL Hover Mode that will have ships acting more like helicopters when active, however there have been many updates since they filmed and I thought I’d put it all together here. So this is what we Know about VTOL & Hover Mode.
Hover Mode is now completely automatic (previously the plan was to have a toggle as well, which no longer looks to be the case), it comes on when you fly under a certain speed, and turns off when you’re above a certain speed. It only operates in areas where there is gravity so planets, moons, landing pads.
When in Hover Mode Tilting forward will move you forward as all your thrust is being aimed down. Tilting back will slow/stop you or even push you backwards.
Holding W for long enough or otherwise building up enough speed by flying forward will switch you out of Hover & into normal flight. The Speed threshold for this is unique to each ship rather than a global value.
The transition between normal and hover mode can be abrupt at certain speeds as defined per ship, the transition-in, and transition-out velocities are different, preventing you from rapidly changing between normal and hover.
Hover mode is a bit of a mix of decoupled and normal flight mode, and there is no decoupled (toggle) in hover mode. Hover mode is very much like decoupled already. If you strafe left and right you have to counter it yourself to stop.
They did take some of the coupled behaviour away for hover mode to work.
Certain ships have the ability to rotate their vtol thrusters so they can tilt the ship forward and not drift. The prospector being the prime example. It can face down about 10 degrees without moving forward & is especially important in regard to Gimballing a weapon mount or mining laser & using that while in hover mode – the ship still rotates when you are aiming beyond a certain angular range, this is especially noticeable if you have mouse controlling orientation as well as aiming.
They allow you to strafe back/forward and left/right with normal strafe controls, so you can face down even more and strafe backward to try and balance yourself without falling forward (bit tricky to pull off though, for more advanced players)
They implemented an auto-hover mechanic that’s bound to the spacebrake. If you hold spacebrake the ship will arrest any sliding and sit in a stable hover. While this is on you can freely rotate your gimbals to face down at surface targets. So you can turn on the brake, and then gimbal your mining laser to a rock and mine without any issue.
Auto-hover takes away your pitch and roll inputs and tries to force the ship to be level.
There is a certain amount of random occelation in the ships thrusters in hover mode, so ships will bob a little bit.
3.6 allows you to control all the thruster power at once with an axis keybind or two buttons.
If you’re actively thrusting forward you will not fall into hover mode if you momentarily slow right down say in a turn for example.
While in Hover Mode Some ships can roll 360 degrees however you will likely lose control and crash.
There is no hover mode where there is no gravity, so you will not see it in space unless in a hangar or on a landing pad.
Hover mode is always on below a certain speed while in an area with gravity, though you can adjust the power to your thrusters to make your ship fall for example.
VTOL thrusters allow ships to have more acceleration to hold themselves up and are less likely to overheat etc. Some ships like the reclaimer need vtol thrusters to even stay afloat in lower gravity environments
There is no hover decoupled mode, since hover mode already exhibits similar behaviour to decoupled mode. Decoupled is only available in normal flight.
3.6 will have no automatic gravity compensation in normal flight mode
The Flight Model and Hover Mode will continue to evolve and 3.6 will see the first iteration of Hover, this is certainly not it’s final form.
I personally was in 2 minds when I first saw this as it’s quite different from what I expected & what we have had before.
However it’s growing on me, I like the idea that ships oscillate and bob a little while hovering. The system seems to give the ships a more believable mass in atmosphere too, you are no longer hovering like you are in space, but either flying around a planet or using your VTOLs to hover.
I want to see how larger ships handle the Hover Mode and how hard is it for a Reclaimer to try to get into orbit from Hurston for example.
A couple of other things that were mentioned were that VTOL thrusters can generate a good amount of heat and eventually be very fuel hungry.
There is component Heat Propagation, hot components heat others up. Managing your systems will help with this.
But what do you think? Do you like the sound of Hover Mode? Do you think it will improve the Flight Model?