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Star Citizen Alpha 3.7 – Features & Updates – A Deeper Look

Welcome to some more Star Citizen with a bit of a closer look at the next major patch for the PU Alpha 3.7 as it stands on the Roadmap currently and some elements that may make it in that have been discussed recently. Alpha 3.7 is the 2019 Q3 Release so it’s expected for the end of September. There is the possibility of some rescheduling of elements of the patch with additions and delays to some features and as we have seen previously the end of September date for release isn’t a hard release date, though CIG do want to try to keep them. We should see the Evocati and early PTU of 3.7 at probably mid Sept as well.

Physical Inventories are probably the largest change to 3.7 imo this is the implementation of a localized physical inventory system (with persistence and limitations), there are no more magic bags of holding, weapons, armor & items will have to be stored on ships & in habs and then switched into when you want to change your gear, we should see the use of weapon racks and wardrobes on ships. This form of inventory restriction could allow for better looting too.

There Rest Stop Space Stations are getting their Interior Updates – Expanding the interior modules and archetype libraries to achieve wider diversity for the interiors of space stations allowing for / adding New Rooms, New Layouts New Visuals, archetypes & then Marrying Internals and externals together. Expect to see large atriums, hab areas, engineering sections & more.

The Power System for ships, vehicles & eventually structures/stations is Expanding to provide systemic connected gameplay in environments and vehicles. Including connecting the door, lighting, and lift systems to power and dealing with the impacts of EMP. It’s just adding a lot more to that gameplay and is a prerequisite for Physicalized components which are also being worked on BUT aren’t planned for 3.7.

They are adding some additions to PvP Bounty gameplay to allow players to hunt other players with bounties on their heads. We already have this don’t we, well yes but I believe this may be deeper missions related to this and the ability to put bounties on players heads. This also comes along with Bounty Mission Improvements allowing hunted NPCs to use quantum travel to evade the player & then I suspect have the player hunt and track the Bounty further.

The Banu Defender – The long Delayed and first Banu ship in game lands in 3.7, we hope.

The ship has seen a much more developed pipeline due to it’s delays, it will be the gold standard for the Banu Race once it’s in and used to help build the Banu Merchantman and any other Banu Ships that CIG have planned in the future. It’s a long range escort fighter with alien weapons and tech & it’s supposed to have some additional synergy with the Merchantman that’s yet to be confirmed.

A Massive part of Alpha 3.7 is it’s AI updates which touch all areas of the game.

There Social AI updates with Shopkeepers,  Vendors, Bartender & Civilians all getting additional animations, behaviors and interactivity with both the players and other NPCs. We know for example CIG have had mocap done for bartenders mixing lots of different types of drink and serving customers.

They are Adding the ability for combat AI to engage the player using a wider variety of weaponry & loadouts, react dynamically to both player behavior and the environment, and engage strategically and realistically.

NPCs will more appropriately use cover and have animations for different situations – This also further Expands the tactic selection for the NPC-Human Combat to analyse the environment and detect, in absence of full cover, possible positions where they can engage enemies without being fully exposed to them. This includes objects such as small crates, which could potentially provide partial cover.

For Ship AI – There is updates to 3d Pathfinding allowing AI to navigate in 3D space by utilizing the physics grid. The pathing will be hierarchical and use other factors alongside the physical data, such as the graph connection of QT points. The system will scale to the size of the universe and accommodate all content, including asteroid fields, planets, and space stations. So smarter AI that are able to navigate the environment dynamically.

Also there is balancing of defensive maneuvers that gunship pilots use based on detecting fire to prevent extensive damage to their ship and getting into the correct positions to train guns on targets.

There are a lot of other AI bits they have been working on that aren’t listed on the Roadmap that may make it in 3.7 in some form or in early stages, with AI reacting to sounds, searching

Fire Discipline of Gunners, enemy prioritization, self preservation, covering allies they have even been updating AI security for missions and interdiction events.

Something that I think is actually a massive improvement coming with 3.7 is ongoing improvements to procedural and planetary tech.

Theres updates to Procedural Asteroids, Large-Scale Shadows, Ground Fog & Atmospheric Tech this has all seen a lot of work over the last few weeks and mentioned in the monthly report.

Procedural Asteroid tech – determines the shape, distribution, and appearance of asteroid fields. They are Adding volumetric fog elements, mineable entities, and ring patterns. We should see more interesting POI and the asteroid fields like the ring of Yela should look better too.

Planetary ground fog will create varying layers of fog on top of planetary terrain to further intensify local ambiance and create a sense of visual depth.

Shadow wise – Improvements to allow multiple large-scale shadow maps as opposed to the single large-scale map we currently use. Includes support for large-scale shadows to be dynamic for use on capital ships. 

There is also Large scale terrain shadows, this will also significantly increase the range over which shadows from terrain are being cast and help with more realistic shadows too. With Atmospheric Tech there’s Improvements to reduce certain artifacting but also the incorporation of additional “cloud” density layers to capture effects like an ozone layer at high altitudes.

All of this should also improve general performance as they are building this tech or at least implementing it was a resource budget.

We also have a bundle of other features planned for 3.7 on the Roadmap.

Character Customization System v2 – Adding new iterations on the facial blending system and significant updates to the user interface. We should have some more function in creating characters and the whole UI looking better.

There are Death Animation Improvements – Combining updated ragdoll properties with the animation system to make the death reactions of players and NPCs more realistic by blending death animations with physical ragdoll simulation.

Something exciting to some is the addition of Bounty Hunter Armor sets that both players to purchase in game and for NPCs to wear. These are not as anarchic as ship jacker armors BUT are very cool none the less.

There is Refueling with Fuel Scooping Improvements, looking at  how hydrogen intakes regenerate fuel. Taking into account environmental density and flight vectors when formulating the regeneration amount for your ship. This is a step towards making fuel more important in game and we will eventually see updates allowing for ship to ship refueling and mining and more info on how fuel mechanics will work.

Star Citizen is seeing a massive overhaul to UIs, HuDs and Screen Interaction 3.7 has

Glass Visor HUD Improvements to provide a more intuitive & immersive experience as well as Repair/Refuel/Restock Kiosks v1 giving the service kiosks a more flexible interface for players looking to purchase services and maintenance, including the repair, refueling, and restocking of their ships. I’d also expect to see more interactive screen updates like with what were were starting to see with hacking in 3.6 and more ships get updates like the Gladius HUD has seen.

Vanguard Variants – Harbinger (Missile/Torp Variant) & Sentinel E-Warfare Variant.

We are also expecting new Vanguard Nose specific Weapons that are purchasable in game and useable on any of your Vanguards giving the ship much more ….

The Drake Cutlass Red is the first Medical ship we will have in the game…

There’s a new ship weapon the FL-33 Laser Cannon, long range, high damage, reliable BUT slow firing.

For the FPS side of things there are some very unique weapons, well explosive weapons…

The Aniums Missile Launcher, which looks to be pretty big, this fires missiles so should have the ability to lock onto appropriate targets and gives infantry another weapon to help repel ships and vehicles other than the Railgun.

There’s the Behring GP-33 Grenade Launcher which looks like it has a capacity of 5 – 8 grenades in it’s magazine.

Also the Hedeby Salvo Frag Pistol, to me that sounds a bit like a shotgun pistol… hopefully it’s better than the Mozambique in Apex Legends.

Some Other bits we know that CIG have been working on, 

Mission Sharing is something that’s been talked about a lot allowing players to share missions while in a group, complete them together and get rewarded together. CIG want to convert current missions over for it and get new missions built with it in mind, potentially we could see some systems in for it in 3.7 though more likely it’s being worked on for 3.8 and the dynamic mission system in my opinion.

There is going to be various improvements to Combat, Weapon Balance & vehicle stats. We know they want to implement a Hover Mode Toggle as well as general Flight Model Tweaks & Updates.

There will be a general performance optimization pass as well as bugs and QoL fixes BUT as we have seen in the past new and interesting bugs appear with new features they add to the game as well.

Though not expected in 3.7 SSOCS & Full Persistence are being worked on currently and have had various internal tests. There are various server & code improvements be they more under the hood or not that could very well make it here.

There isn’t a huge amount of complex updates and additions in Alpha 3.7 currently other than Physical Inventories which is quite a big thing in my opinion.