Welcome to a Star Citizen Alpha 3.6 LIVE state of the Game. Star Citizen is still a ways away from being mainstream playable, it’s certainly not a sit down a play game yet… it’s still geared at testing, feedback and discussion of it’s features to aid development. However 3.6 does add a lot of new features, improvements and is extremely fun to play with an Organization or Group even now.
Alpha 3.6 has added a good bit of New Stuff that I want to talk about, what’s working with it, what’s not. To start with Alpha 3.6 has cleared up some of issues that 3.5 had.
The Party Launch and Join on Friends working again, Ship AI for the most part is active and will engage and attack players and the don’t jitter everywhere. They do kind of wobble but there has clearly been some good improvements there.
There’s a New Game Launcher which combines PTU & LIVE access, a much better solution than having 2 seperate ones. Now if they can just add the copy account button on the launcher as well…
There are new & updated Ships & Vehicles.
The Vanguard Warden & Hoplite were reworked, they look cooler and their internal space is much better, also combat wise they are EXTREMELY TANKY now. They are getting some options when it comes to the nose guns in the future BUT without suitable options for the nose OR gimballed loadouts currently the ships haven’t really come into their own yet.
The Archimedes P72 is the luxury version of the P52 which got a little bit of an update too… not really something that’s game changing. As these parasite ships need transportation as they don’t have QDs also some of their primary transports the Constellations don’t have the functionality yet to allow them to dock and undock with each other.
Responding to the community CIG also gave the Valkyrie a 30 SCU Cargo Grid. Previously it was a troop and small vehicle carrier BUT it had this large internal space that felt like it was underused & CIG dismissed the idea of a cargo grid there stating that ships should have a focus and not be able to do every role, while I do agree with that, it didn’t necessarily seem reasonable in this case… But that’s academic now as they have given it one.
The Anvil Ballista was a straight to LIVE vehicle, that was a bit of a surprise, it didn’t have a concept sale phase. This is partly because it’s going to appear in SQ42 and CIG want to move toward more ships & vehicles going down this route. The Ballista is really cool, it’s a military anti-ship missile truck BUT currently in 3.6 it has very little use beyond for “testing”, it can’t be transported to planets and moons by any ship currently in game, we need the Hercules for that. It has to be spawned at outposts & gates… and there are very little reason to use it at the moment, there are no missions to protect a facility or ground installation, NPC ships don’t come into atmosphere to fight. Give me NPCs that can use ground vehicles OR missions where spawning a Ballista and defending an area is useful.
New Law System is a pretty big addition / change. There are now laws that are system wide under UEE law, like killing a lawful player or NPC, destroying someone’s ship… There are also laws in jurisdictional zones like around Lorville, Crusader & ArcCorp, they all have different laws or at least additional ones in addition to the system wide ones. Like possession of illegal goods and narcotics. There are misdemeanors that will net you fines, like parking infractions. More severe crimes are felonies and will get you a criminal rating and sometimes a larger fine as well. Security forces will interdict ships and scan them, if you run then your get a criminal rating, if you are in a stolen ship you’ll get a criminal rating, have prohibited goods, you’ll get a fine and have those goods confiscated. Fines are currently AUTOMATICALLY implemented, in the future you’ll have to go to an office and pay them off.
The security feature is very cool BUT I very often get interdicted which is annoying when it happens twice in succession BUT this seems to happen much more often around legal trade routes… not where I’d pretty much ever have illegal goods.
It does give more risk to outlaw gameplay and is certainly core to a good bit of gameplay going forward. GrimHex is an exception to the rule of jurisdictions… where crimes aren’t supposed to be detected HOWEVER GrimHex has major issues currently, security can spawn their and therefore you’ll still get criminal ratings when attacking them and dozens of bounties and AI ships spawn there, making a sprawling mass of ships and annihilating frame rates, I used to get maybe 100 fps around GrimHex in space, now it’s maybe 30. It’s an issue they need to get solved ASAP, as for some players this is going to be single digit fps.
This is connected to the Black Market, you can blow up ships to make them drop their cargo BUT you can’t sell stolen cargo… except for at new Black Market locations, the Scrapyards.
These locations are also places for various new delivery missions, with the cargo they ask you to move around the System being illegal and prohibited in most areas. In fact there are lots and lots of missions everywhere now and they are given to you based on your proximity too.
In the future you’re going to be able sell stolen ships at these locations too.
A surprise to 3.6 was some Hacking functionality… kind of…
You can hack security depots which are underground bunkers with a terminal OR Security Post Kareah to hack down your crime rating to zero.
Or Comm Arrays to turn them off, for mission objectives BUT also Comm Arrays or Security Personnel are needed to detect crimes, so these being turned off in an area means crime might be more rampant.
The actual hacking requires you to purchase a 1 use hacking chip, then use it at the console you want to hack… every so often based on the hacking chip you bought (because there are different ones) you’ll have to click continue otherwise the hack will be cancelled. It’s pretty lackluster and boring… BUT it’s very much an MVP of interacting with non-vehicle terminals and them affecting the game world, also missions are generated for players to stop you hacking.
When it comes to the Economy, there have been Updates, less artificial reset times. Where to buy and sell items has been heavily revised, there are new trade items (of which some are prohibited in certain areas). This makes for some very profitable trade routes BUT the risk of your ships exploding or getting disconnected and losing everything is just too extreme for me.
Ship Purchase Kiosks have been added, allowing access to buy most of the ships in game.
And with mission rewards being reasonably high now and the ability to be able to grind them it makes ships very affordable… well at least most of them the Reclaimer is 15m and doesn’t have any functionality in game other than being a big ship… There is also a major drawback that progression is reset at least every 3 months at the moment too… for most gamers I suspect that would be one of the biggest turn offs for the game, more so than it being an alpha and a large amount of bugs.
Talking about bugs, Hover Mode was also added to ships in atmosphere that go below a certain speed, the flight mode will change to VTOL and keep your ship up by having most of your thrust pointing down… you fly like a helicopter… on paper it isn’t that awful… but in game currently it is just overly fiddly, more minor precise movements are much harder to do and the ship seems to just drift far to much, if you panic when trying to land… you just crash and flip your ship, this is very much more apparent at enclosed hangars, it has a lot of bugs
with certain ships, some suffer more than others the Cutlass Black for example requires you to pitch forward, strafe up and use afterburner to get out of hover mode and back into traditional flight.
It is getting more iteration, a toggle, things like that, once you get used to it, it’s not that horrible… but it only adds annoyance to the game at this stage for me at least. I want ships to feel heavier in atmosphere and I don’t mind the auto hover mode But I just want to be able to strafe… without flying like a helicopter, just give me a reduced speed and reasonable stabilization, they aren’t helicopters, they are space ships!
Another addition to the Flight Model is Acceleration Control allowing you to throttle power to your thrusters and give you more control. It works and I use it in addition to decoupling in dogfighting BUT also it’s very useful for Hover Mode’s Landings. A good addition.
There are Transit Improvements, they have more appropriate physicalized elevators, so they have their own internal tube network and are able to move to multiple locations and you’ll be waiting less. Trains too are now on a loop with multiple trains per track, waiting = less.
Other things have moved like Delamar & Levski, it’s now positioned a long distance away from other planetary bodies.
There are Shield changes, they have more health, larger shields are very hard to breach. Ships basically have much higher times to kill. They are preparing for signed distance field tech coming in the future.
There are Mining Improvements, I really like mining now, it’s pretty chill. Mineables are grouped together, but you can only mine in the Prospector and the loop does get very repetitive.
There are VOIP Improvements & Ship Hailing… VOIP is much more widely used I find. It’s push to talk, but I often have people screaming friendly at me around SPK before they open fire.
There is a New Gladius HUD which at a glance tells you a lot of the info you need to know about your ship, much more than previously… it’s being tested and will roll out to other ships in some form in the future.
There are Character Animation Improvements, however Characters are still jittery so although movement might be more fluid when third person viewing your own character, it’s kind of moot when looking at someone else jittering.
Misfires / Wear are in game and working, you basically have component deteriorating over time, damage and heat… which effects functionality. It’s a step towards physicalized components.
The lighting around the game looks a lot better as well. MFDs work much more effectively for crew mates now.
3.6 has a fair few Problems still there are occasionally Infinite loading screens, which is just a bit annoying, ocasional server and client crashes, stability isn’t awful but it’s a mixed bag.
Combat, although general Ship AI is much better, Auto-Gimbals make aiming unnecessary CURRENTLY and ships that don’t have gimballed options feel a bit nerfed because of that… it’s something that should change significantly in the future with a bit of balance and additional core ship features.
General Ship Combat is better BUT still needs work, a lot of issues with ESP and aiming can be almost ignored if you use auto-gimbals at this stage, not ideal but…
More rarely but still happening is you have ships randomly exploding, moving cargo crates can have you teleport into the middle of space. There is a lot of outlying issues.
The main ones being in the extreme short term, poor performance and the overly spawning ships at GrimHex.
Alpha 3.6 is a massive step forward, but there still remain a lot of the core game that needs to be completed and half implemented features are VERY obviously Alpha… And that’s partly the point of Star Citizen at this stage… early testing BUT to be more accessible it needs to address some of those problems.
We know there is a 3.6.x patch or patches planned, hopefully some of those more pressing issues will be resolved. In fact before then I would hope to see potential hotfixes for the NPCs spawning, which could go a long way to helping with performance as well.
If you can join an interesting org then Star Citizen is extremely playable even now BUT if you wanted something that’s fleshed out or a solo / pve experience STAR CITIZEN IS NOT READY YET!