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Star Citizen Alpha 3.8 – New Features & Updates

Welcome to Star Citizen Alpha 3.8 a Deeper Dive, I haven’t covered Alpha 3.8 and the changes it’s seen on the Roadmap for a few months now, so I wanted to look at the features that the end of year 2019 patch has, how that will affect the game and what we can expect in more detail.

I’ll start with some of the Major Highlights of the Patch for me:

One of the most wanted ships in game and anticipated parts of 3.8 is the Anvil Carrack.

A Large but Compact Top Tier Exploration / Expedition Ship…. It houses upto 6 crew and has everything you could need for a small capital/exploration ship. Advanced Scanning & Exploration Equipment – Medical & Drone Bay. Rover (which appears to be an Ursa Rover Now as standard) & Scout Snub the Pieces (though the snub will be ready later). 

I think it’s going to be one of the most popular ships in the game for groups and should be a lot more manageable than a combat focused capital ship, though obviously it is smaller. It’s potential for quick long range travel excite me for mission running too.

The Dynamic Mission System is soooo core to gameplay, allowing content to be dynamically tailored to the current environment & have those missions generated based on what other missions have been completed, the state of the economy in the area.

This will see missions featuring specific locations, rewards, and other parameters to be dynamically dictated based upon guidance from the back-end simulation and player actions & then these to be put together modularly.

You will see much more mission variety as they add more locations, mechanics, events, enemies & POI allowing for a particular type of mission to potentially have vastly different parts & outcomes.

The long awaited first iteration of the Salvage Mechanics are planned for 3.8.

At this stage, players will be able to strip material from a ship’s hull. This system will be designed to accommodate players who are on foot or in a ship. The player will have to scan the environment to find salvageable debris. Once harvested, unrefined materials can be sold at a kiosk. It should be pretty basic at this stage and similar to mining BUT it’s a new profession, we have the Reclaimer already and it’s expected that the multi-tool will allow you to do some of the mechanics by hand too.

The Player Status System Feature requires a bit of an explanation – it tracks various well-being attributes of a character, including health, stamina, and oxygen levels currently. In 3.8 this will be expanded to include thirst, hunger, rest, inebriation, hygiene, and temperature. These values will have knock-on effects for player stamina and ability and can be used by the AI behaviors to make intelligent decisions based on their own condition or the condition of others.

This as far as we are aware is basically adding light survival mechanics, you aren’t going to need to constantly eat and drink every few mins BUT after a few hours your stamina may drop if you haven’t eaten, ships, habs and other areas will have food prep devices or food vendors.

If you don’t have a shower or use the toilet for a long period, vendors and npcs might comment on the smell. Get drunk… well that isn’t going to make seeing things and moving around easy. Rest again, if you don’t sit or sleep then could use stamina, maybe this will encourage players to log off for a while if they have been playing for like 18 hours.

Temperature is an interesting one, and suggests to me there will be the need to wear armor and environmental gear to protect from this, like winter gear for microtech.

All of this is used to help drive the NPCs as well, they are going to have schedules and if they are hungry, they will go eat.

Planet microTech is the next major planetary body we are getting in the persistent universe.

The Planet itself is a mixture of cold, icy, frozen seas, water and nordic forest biomes.

In lore there was a terraforming accident that left the planet colder than wanted.

However this made it suitable for microTech who like the planet for computer cooling, science and medical purposes.

And they made a city dedicated to science and …

New Babbage which is the planets major landing, 3.8 is planned to have the 1st iteration of this this, which is only notable as the 2nd iteration is listed and planned for 3.9 so I am expecting something that clearly has room to grow or areas to literally be closed. The Roadmap says – “This initial implementation may contain limited traversable districts.”

New Babbage is a series of biodomes and looks to be styled like a clean greenhouse type area. These are connected via a tube network similar to that of Lorville it seems.

We know there is some form of landing zone. There is a main shopping district that has the premiere microtech store in the centre then is surrounded by various other shops. The Whole area is circular in nature… which I suspect is the general theme of areas here as they are in domed areas.

The area is very clean and clinical BUT also has a lot of light from the glass domes and a surprizing amount of greeny and plants around, also these planets are reasonably unique in the fact that they are experiments, bioengineered, have laser cut leaves it’s like a botanical garden, mixed with science and mutant stuff!

There will be other Points of Interest around the planet like outposts, bukers and mission areas with 3.8 as well.

microTech has 3 moons that are being added too Calliope, Clio & Euterpe all of which again will be populated with content.

There is a microTech line of clothing that NPCs will wear around the area & that Players can purchase as well AND there is a new Mission Giver at New Babbage as well Eddie Parr, who has some ties to Wallace Klim.

An overlooked but major gameplay addition is that of “Unoccupied” Space Stations – Typically found in less-traveled locations, these variants have basic fuel and repair functionality but minimal crew, security, and shopping opportunities. Includes derelict (but not necessarily empty) stations permanently closed by the owners.

These will use all the parts of the Rest Stops to start with and add more as more are made.

This should add a huge amount of potentially content for the Dynamic Mission system, events, exploration & more. I am also expecting even at this stage for players to try and make some of these their short term homes…

Some more of the ships in Alpha 3.8 The MISC Hull-C Cargo Hauler, this actually Represents the coming together of various tech. Multi-grid and morphing physics grid tech allowing the ship to compress but also open up allowing access to cargo spindles allowing the attachment of External Cargo. It’s previously been said that they need some New Cargo Tech with Larger Cargo Boxes to make the Hull-C Possible and in turn reduce the amount of entities on the server.

The Drake Cutlass Blue is the Combat / Police / Milliata Version of the Cutlass Black. Originally the main changes were thicker armor, better weapons and “bounty hunter” cells in the back. It should still fit the role of that in some regard & there is an expectation that the Cutlasses may be more modular with their rework too.

The Esperia Prowler is the first Tevarin ship we have planned for in game although it’s a human reproduction. It’s a stealthy drop ship with shield tech allowing the ship to be pressurized and have it’s doors open.

There are some AI Improvements with FPS Combat Behaviors v2

Creating varied and believable combat behaviors for enemy AI to adopt in battle. The AI will not only use a variety of weapons to create different combat situations but will have different ways to engage the player, whether in groups or solo. This task also includes creating varying levels of combat training and skill sets for specific areas or situations.

For Ship AI there is the addition of Ace Pilot behaviors allowing AI to decoupling, ship loadout-based behavior, or cleverly using the environment in their tactics.

They are implementing Ship to Ship and Ship to Station Docking.

Adding the ability for some ships & stations to dock together via docking ports.

This allows for larger ships to be spawned and dock at space station and is also a prerequisite for parasite docking, like the P-52 / P-72 docking undocking with the Constellation.

CIG have been building new HUDs, MFDs, updating general audio & Improving the whole Cockpit experience for ships. We should see more immersive iterations in cockpits and everything to look better. Vehicle HUDs will be getting support & mechanics for advanced scanning and ping features, including the storing of results, the way data is conveyed to the player and an interface to adjust the strength of the scan.

There are some interesting Weapons for FPS, The Verified Offworld Laser Technologies Parallax assault rifle & Lightning Bolt Co. Atzkav Electron Sniper Rifle.

For Ships & Vehicles there are updates for the S1-3 Klaus & Werner Sledge Series of Mass Drivers.

For Traversal We have EVA suits being able to expend fuel to acts as mag boots, basically thrusting you downwards in zero gravity. This is used to help traverse space and if your gravity generator is disabled in the future, you should be able to choose to walk on any appropriate surface. Another feature to help with this is Zero-G Push & Pull, with players being able to use their hands to help propel them across appropriate terrain & also allows you to move around without eva thrusters.

We are getting up close and personal with Close Combat as well, there’s plans for takedowns, unarmed fist fighting with various attacks, knives will be here as well and their will be stealth kill mechanics too.

Additional Healing Mechanics are also being implemented allowing you to use medipens and similar items on another player or NPC.

There’s Additions to the Law System and the Start of More Permissions Systems is seen in the form of The security system. It controls who has access to areas and objects based on various factors such as reputation, ownership, keycards, and faction. It will automatically issue warnings to people breaking the law and, if ignored, will flag them as criminals to security forces. We should see new missions, hacking and more associated with this as well. We know this is also part of them phasing out armistice zones as well.

Other Stuff

It’s possible and likely that 3.8 will see some changes before it’s release with Anything that doesn’t make it to 3.7 being there and anything that isn’t ready for it’s mid December 2019 release date getting pushed back.

There are some other features that patch might have though and that it’s worth talking about. The Addition of a new planet, microtech is expected to be a bit more than the current server tech can handle as the servers are pretty pushed as is, new optimizations are expected BUT we know that CIG have been working on Server Side Object Container Streaming for a while, which allows them to expand the gameplay area and server tech to keep up by stand-bying areas in server & the microtech/further expansion may actually require this now. This also requires Full Persistence to come online at the same time, saving data and loading it back in appropriately. It’s possible that this will be in our hands for 3.8 and makes sense. Also CIG have said that once Full Persistence is there then they don’t have to rest the servers & progress with every major patch… I am personally still expecting an occasional reset BUT not once every 3 months.

There are many things listed in Q3 & Q4 of the Squadron 42 Roadmap some of which is Transferable Tech & Features that could potentially be in 3.8.

Titan Suits, More AI Improvements, Body & Object Dragging, Player Animation Updates like Sliding, Engine Improvements, The Physical Damage System, Weapon Customization, New Effects, FPS Deployable Shields, New Items & Ships, Procedural Generation Additions, Companion AI & even potentially some Capital Ships

Physicalized Components & Sub-Components is something that has been mysteriously left off the roadmap BUT they have been working on them AND Mission Sharing is another feature that we know CIG what to get into the game & the Dynamic Mission System potentially gives them the chance to implement it sensibly.

As we saw with 3.6 and the Ballista, Straight to Flyable Ships & Vehicles are Possible that we don’t know about as well.
And that’s it for a look at Alpha 3.8’s Roadmap and some of the potential other features that we could see by the end of 2019