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What’s in Star Citizen Alpha 3.8?

Welcome to some more Star Citizen, Alpha 3.8 and the last patch of the year is currently with the Evocati, with a LIVE build roughly projected to come between 13 – 21st of December 2019, though we should see a wider PTU within the next couple of weeks. So what’s pegged to be in Alpha 3.8 after all the Roadmap Changes and Announcements at CitizenCon?

There is New Core Tech with the long awaited version 1 of SOCS, this allows for the Server to only concern itself with Gameplay area that has players there and areas where there are no players are put on standby, the server can then run significantly more efficiently.

SOCS does not directly affect Client Side Performance HOWEVER in areas where servers were grinding to a halt or creating stutter or a bottleneck it should help stop that or stabilize it. A huge amount of content was relying on this being implemented BUT it’s the first version of it in game and they are going to keep on working on it. It was suggested that they may at this time experiment with greater player caps on servers too.

We are also getting Platform Persistence, meaning aUEC and in game purchases can be saved between patches, this should mean that minor patches don’t see resets BUT we may occasionally still have database resets for major patches IF required for stability, bug fixes or for testing. We will see 3.8 LIVE have a reset and then less resets needed after that. They are pushing for as few resets as possible.

There is more of a focus on Playability, Optimization & Bug Fixes for this patch as part of adoption of Staggered Development as well as a want for Star Citizen to be more accessible. We should see problems with the mobiGlas and general gameplay addressed. Various balance improvements and a huge amount of QoL.

Ships

There are delays to the original ships in 3.8 so the Cutlass Red has been delayed to January 2020, The Carrack February and Prowler March but they are still part of the 3.8 branch.

The Argo Mole which is potentially to be going on sale on the 12th of December is flyable with Alpha 3.8. It’s a 4 crew mining ship that has 3 mannable mining turrets, double the capacity of the Prospector and similar saddlebags to the Prospectors.

Each of it’s turrets can be set up with different mining lasers and you can work together to mine nodes or mine individual ones, it’s somewhere between a Prospector and Orion in mining ability.

With this in mind there are Updates to Mining with Mining Heads with 5 new mining lasers to the game, all with different stats (+/-). Some will transfer power faster but induce a lot more instability into the rock, while others will make mining more stable but transfer will be slower. Some mining lasers will reduce the resistance levels of the rocks making them ideal for cooperative gameplay or will be incredibly powerful, one mining head to rule them all type, but for a price. Mining Consumables as items had been previously mentioned these would give you 1 use items that can effect the mining process with bursts of power or preventing an explosion BUT we don’t know for sure if these will be in Alpha 3.8 for sure.

We also have had some rumors about the Crusader Ares as well, either going on Concept sale on this date too OR potentially also being flyable in 3.8. We don’t know for sure what the Ares is, though I did hear rumors of a StarFighter at CitizenCon and the name would suggest this too. It also would go a way to explaining why the Hercules StarLifter is in 4.0 but there is no sign of the Mercury StarRunner, potentially because this Ares is going to be the premiere ship to start the Crusader Line. 

In some ships we will see Annunciator panels – Panels of lights shown in ships to give you fast, relevant information about your ship systems. These Annunciator panels alert you to power failures, approaching missiles, quantum failures and other potential hazards or risks.

There are various Camera Updates for ships and vehicles – Updating and adjusting the Vehicle look ahead camera so that it can look towards the direction you are moving for both space and ground vehicles. In addition the mode can also look towards selected targets to keep them in view and provide some horizon levelling when in atmosphere.

As well as Improvements to the third-person camera system for vehicles to provide a more immersive experience. Ensuring the camera can orbit cleanly around vehicles, snap towards your movement direction and react to collisions better. This is all in aid of making Star Citizen look & feel better.

New Locations

Planet microTech is here, this is an icy planet with various biomes including frost, ice, snow, frozen seas, nordic forests, highland plains. We also have the exterior of New Babbage the major landing zone, so you’ll be able to see the outside of the city and the new architecture style, new assets and buildings BUT the interiors and movement inside and between zones in the city isn’t coming until 3.9. 

Planet Tech v4 is a big part of 3.8 and microTech as well All Planets & Moons are ReWorked for the new Tech.

These New planetary improvements include improved tools, workflows, planet surface blending, objects scattering and transitions, generation driven by climate data.

You’ll see less popping in of assets, better LODs, more efficient resource usage BETTER looking planets & Moons and VFX associated with areas, you’ll see updates to biomes and assets in them too.

This also includes updates to the atmosphere with various stability improvements to reduce certain artifacts that are currently visible at different view position. Includes incorporation of additional density layers to capture effects like an ozone layer at high altitudes that will result in more natural looking skies at sun set on planets. General improvements in color reproduction will also be investigated.

With the inclusion of microTech you’ll also see microTech brand Clothing & Armor that will be available in game and we will see appropriate NPCs wear.

The new space station interiors are here for Alpha 3.8, this has allowed them to make bigger and better rest stops come to life with various services BUT also new rooms, food courts and shops. This tech allows them to expand out POI with new stations around the Verse as well.

The Goal is to have Stations above planets and moons to be used at trade hubs and places for larger ships to land so they don’t have to go planetside.

We will also start to see Cargo Stations, Automated Stations and other POI expanding out from this over the next few quarters.

They are Vastly improving the behavior of restricted areas with a more natural, so things like NFZs making them less obtrusive. Refactoring and fixing many internal issues regarding restricted areas to make them easier to setup and use. This will include landing splines, allowing ATC to open up paths for players to enter the restricted area and fly to a landing pad with guidance. These areas will become more natural and won’t require obtrusive materials to show their presence.

Gameplay

There are new missions and updates with the premiere one being listed one as an 890 Jump Mission that has been hijacked by ship-jackers intent on hacking into the ships computer. It’s Intended for up to four players, they will work together to secure the airspace around a hijacked 890 Jump, before they EVA onto the ship. Then battle their way through the luxury ship to locate and disable two hacked consoles, all whilst clearing the ship of its hijackers to complete the mission.

You’ll also see missions tied to the new gameplay area around microTech and any new space stations.

There are Updates to the Law System including, fines no longer be automatically deducted from a Player. Instead, balance of fine will need to be paid off at various terminals around the ‘verse. 

Fines & other offenses can also be removed via hacking the criminal database terminals as before from BUT now has players removing individual infractions and making a choice of which ones to remove.

They are also tweaking laws to have more appropriate fines and repercussions as well.

Talking to the Devs at CitizenCon they were talking to me about the CDF and open bounties that would players to scan ships and if they were criminals or illegal cargo there then you could engage them for a reward, they were trying to put some of that in Alpha 3.8 if possible.

Close Combat is a reasonably fleshed out mechanic for 3.8 at least on paper this includes.

Unarmed and Armed Combat with systems for Blocking, Dodging, Heavy, Light, Directional Attacks & Uppercuts.

Take too much unarmed damage then you can be knocked down or knocked out.

There are also Takedowns that you can do with the system too.

We did have some new gear, the Animus Missile Launcher – It fires a set of 3 Missiles that can lock onto a target before you fire, very good anti-vehicle and anti-air.

There is also the Behring P6-LR sniper rifle – A Ballistic Sniper Rifle that will feel nostalgic and in line with older games in some players hands.

There are additions and improvements to AI, not only should SOCS help with some of the bugs that AI have had, like them degrading over time or suddenly going AFK BUT they are also completing 3d Pathfinding v2 for ships, this allows AI to navigate in 3D space by utilizing the physics grid. The path search will be hierarchical and will 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.

They are also tweaking and improving behaviors including Implementation and balancing of defensive maneuvers that gunship pilots will perform on detecting fire to prevent extensive damage to their vessel. So you’ll see larger ships act more in their interests in combat.