2019 is now wrapping up for Star Citizen and we should be playing Alpha 3.8 shortly BUT what can we expect for 2020 for the Persistent Universe?
We do have an Alpha 3.9 and 4.0 on the Roadmap upto mid 2020 for the PU BUT it’s likely there will be some changes, additions and delays Also bare in mind that we do see some rescheduling and reprioritization talks in Jan every year from CIG BUT I would still expect the content in these patches to be out in 2020 and to have a lot of updates and iterations on them improving them beyond their v1s.
Let’s quickly summarize updates in 3.9 – Q1 March 2020
The microTech landing zone New Babbage with Interiors and traversable zones & Eddie Parr a Mission Giver there. The addition of microTech’s Moons.
Prison Gameplay with Klesher Automated Prison Players taken down in the vicinity of a bounty hunter or security force with a criminal rating will spawn at Prison. You work off a debt of merits at prison based on your crimes, you can hand mine to gain merits or just wait while logged on, you can purchase upgrades to your mining gear or try to escape too.
You will see lots more updates to the law system throughout the year and potentially the removal of armistice zones completely too.
They are improving Bounty Hunter Gameplay with more work NPC Bounties evading players and using QT as well as PvP Bounties and associated missions & new Armors for NPCs and players that want to look the part.
They are adding Automated, Abandoned & Unoccupied Stations you’ll see these for missions and POI too.
The start of the Dynamic Mission System is in 3.9 BUT that will be iterated on a lot though out Star Citizen’s Development.
The Dynamic Mission System allows missions featuring specific locations, rewards, and other parameters to be dynamically dictated based upon guidance from the back-end simulation and player actions, which in turn enables a more systemic universe as well as real-time customization of mission content based upon direction from the macro economy. This will include the ability to vary where missions are offered, in what quantity, and the payment. It will also allow mission templates to be injected with environmental information at run-time, enabling the creation of content that’s both more diverse and that more accurately represents the simulated universe at that moment in time.
We will start to see more and more variants, modules and events added to the mission pool throughout the year.
There is a slew of Economy Updates with Commodity Transfer Timers so there will be times and fees associated with loading and unloading cargo.
A mobiGlass Accounting App that will track all sorts of financial info recurring rentals, insurance, organization membership fees and the associated benefits. There is the expectation that this will also have the functionality to transfer money between players at least at somepoint.
There are also real time Economy Displays for showing changing commodity prices, retail sales and available missions, basically mission and jobs boards combined with other money making opportunities.
Landing Zones and Rest Stops will see improvements to kiosks, UIs and interfaces of Elevators and Repair, Refuel / Rearm Systems.
3.9 comes with various improvements to FPS AI Planned – allowing combat AI to engage the player using a wider variety of weaponry & expanded behaviors with how they engage an ememy and use cover. There are NPC Civilian Improvements with added animations, interactions and movement.
Ships wise there is the Drake Cutlass Blue – Police / Millita Variant of the Cutlass Black and Drake Vulture Light Salvage Ship BUT expect to see more here.
Various new weapons, the C54 Ballistic SMG, Electron Pistol & Sniper Rifle as well as Updates to the Sledge Mass Driver Ship Weapons.
There are improvements to the Door System here to allow for better use of portal culling and OCS. There are large scale shadow improvements as well, so you could have space stations and capital ships cast massive realistic shadows over terrain more realistically.
The Player Status System v1 is here allowing for light survival gameplay with the tracking of thirst, hunger and temperature at this stage, we will see food and drinks makers on ships useful, the ability to purchase food around the verse and environmental protection required in certain areas OTHERWISE you’ll take damage, you should be seeing more armor and gear to help protect you here too.
4.0 – Q2 2020 June
Crusader is getting Physicalized with as an actual Gas Giant and it’s Floating Landing Zone Orison is also here, but we should see POI and mission around the planet too.
There are even 2 mission givers that will interact with each other as a due Lisa Gibbs & Devin Bautista, they are part of Crusader Security.
There are more AI Improvements here allowing AI Ships to fly in atmosphere and move between planet and space. Deeper FPS Combat Behaviors.
But we also see Finishing Touches to FPS and Ship AI Planned to the core functionality at least.
Expect a lot more AI type features with Social AI and getting AI as Crew or AI Blade Running Turrets, some of this should also be coming in 2020 as well.
The NPC Scheduler here too is meant to add and remove NPCs to the Game, dynamically spawning them into and out of based on NPC Archetype, determining the maximum number of NPCs in a Given area (based on a ratio of players in the area and server performance), and the probabilities of those NPC Archetypes.
NPCs will need to spawn in a ‘Spawn Locker’ for every Landing Zone, spawning in a hidden location that is impassable by a player such as an invisible barrier or more likely an air-shield or turnstile that cannot be used by players.
We will also be seeing improvements to network code helping with the positioning and movement of other players and NPCs on your client, reducing perceived lag and instances of rubber-banding.
There are EVA improvements with Zero-G Pushing and Pulling.
There is also 3rd Person Healing allowing the use of items on other Players or NPCs.
There are plans for security & permissions systems that will allow players into areas based on 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.
Ship to Station docking improvements allowing larger ships to spawn at locations not on pads this could allow for the spawning of vehicles in ships potentially too.
Expanded Multi Crew Gameplay – Turret Gunners will be able to receive targets, follow orders and convey what they are shooting at. Pilots will be able to have a captain inform them to move to a designated area or Quantum Travelling to a specific point.
Ships wise there is the Hercules StarLifter BUT I would expect a few more ships too.
The GP-33 Grenade Launcher – We have also seen leaks a variety of Grenade Types for the Launcher too.
The Long Awaited Signed Distance Fields Shield Updates should arrive with much better looking and hugging shields for ships.
A more major gameplay loop Salvage v1 is here players to 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.
Beyond this we don’t currently know what in CIGs mind for Alpha 4.1 & 4.2 other than they should be released Q3 & Q4 2020 respectively.
We know that the new Gameplay mode Theatres of War is planned to be playable early 2020, this is the combined arms Battlefield 5 Rush style objective gamemode 20 v 20.
They are planning to open up more Star Systems with Pyro & Jump Point… could there be more than 1 additional Star System in 2020 yeah potentially it depends on what CIG have planned.
They want Dynamic Weather though for 2020 There will be loads of improvements to procedural tech for Planets, Moons, Biomes, POI.
Most of the Work for Server Meshing should be completed by the end of the year & CIG are likely to be experimenting with Player Caps on Servers during 2020 as well.
We also know that CIG want to focus on what was originally called Orgs 2.0 & Better Group Gameplay, getting player management, FOIP and VOIP all in good places.
Squadron 42 is set to have a feature complete Beta (currently at time of recording for Q3 2020), this could obviously see delays BUT we certainly should see Squadron 42 start a marketing campaign in 2020 and as SQ42 should be close to if not completed we will see more Squadron 42 Features added to the PU throughout the year with most of them most likely making 2020. This includes
Improved Interactions with Items, Useables and NPCs including conversations, walk and talk but also simulated cloth.
AI / NPCs more of a part of Missions potentially accompanying you as a wingman or a buddy on the ground and even landing on the ground and leaving their ship and flying in formation with you or as part of a wing.
Titan Suits, the Hull C, Cydnus Mining Tick, there is the potential for Capital Ships to start being phased in, the tech should be there, it will be based on if CIG are ready and want to have them in.
Expanded Stealth Mechanics
Body Dragging, Player Sliding, Swimming
Pushing / Pulling Objects and Boxes
New Armor, weapons and gear and customization
“Mag” Boots, basically EVA packs thrusting downwards to simulate gravity.
With those additions we could certainly see a more fleshed out medical mechanic with 3rd person healing & body dragging forming the core of that.
We will certainly see lots of New Missions & Events as part of the dynamic mission system BUT they should also make use of an gameplay area, mechanics and new features that come online too.
They want to have Vulkan Integration in 2020 as well as Rendering Improvements and Scaleable Graphics Options and they are Rebuilding the game’s basic physics engine to accommodate the scale of the game.
We are going to see various ships go flyable beyond what’s listed so we could see the Polaris, Mercury, Ranger, Nova, Corsair, SRV, Apollo, 100 series, x1, Genesis & more of the Hull series… all seeming quite reasonable to see, we don’t know when we will see drone gameplay BUT the Vulcan is also very possible,. Other than capital ships there is only a few other actually left to complete for human flyable ships anyway, the Nautilus, Santokyai, Kraken, Pioneer, Cruciable & Endeavor
We will see some New Concept Ship / vehicles & some Straight to Flyable Ships.
We know that CIG need to reconcept the Redeemer but they also are looking at a Tevarin Fighter, Refinery Ship, Mining Ground Vehicle & Xi’An Cargo Ship too.
There is the Physical Damage System – Making use of the physics engine to create a system that looks spectacular as well as behaves realistically when large objects such as ships are being damaged by weaponry or colliding with other ships, locations, or even planets.
Other Major Expectations for 2020 for me are:
Physicalized Components & Sub Components as well as repair by hand.
Physicalized Inventories – with storage on ships for weapons, armor and gear.
Many more improvements to Scanning, Surveying & with that Exploration
Refueling Mechanics are also likely to be able to be added during the year, at least gathering fuel.
We should see Expanded FPS Weapons with Ammo Types and Armor with greater attachments and environmental protections.
Refineries, Cargo Depots & other Space Stations. New POI both on the Ground and in Space.
We don’t know how high on the priorities Drones, Capital Ships or Tractor Beams are though they are certainly areas of the game that need implementation sooner rather than later.
More importantly we should start to see Deeper Modularity with large rooms and pods being changeable on ships as well as after customization of the exterior of ships.
Closing out the year we will have CitizenCon & Anniversary Expo 2020 with a big fanfest, sale and presentations like 2019 and then a 4.1 patch to end the year.
The end of 2019 should see Star Citizen in a reasonable playable state, much more so than it ever has been anyway (assuming SOCS doesn’t explode) and 2020 looks to have Star Citizen having some of the features of a polished game in there too THERE IS STILL going to be a long way to go.