We know that early Evocati PTU Testing is going to start pretty soon and the patch is roughly planned to be in a testing cycle for 2-3 months… so we might not see a live build until late October / November. I even think it might take over the development for most of the rest of the year potentially (tho last time CI said anything they still had a 3.19 patch planned for the end of the year). We know there is a planned persistence wipe for 3.18 and I would expect a full wipe including ships, items, aUEC and Reputation just due to the extensive changes.
So what’s planned for that Alpha 3.18 patch in terms of features now?
Firstly let’s look at plans for POI, Environments and new mission areas which 3.18 is now plentiful in:
Daymar Crash Site – A derelict settlement on Daymar using parts of the StarRunner & 600i, as well as some habs adapted to the biome, to create a point of interest with some type of activity (puzzle, traversal, hostile AI, missions, etc.) as well as rewards for completion.
So this is much more of a little outpost where players will be visiting regularly. We saw from 3.17.2 with the Colonial Outposts and Reclaimer Settlement that areas like these are going to start filling out the Verse and it’s planets and moons… giving rich interesting locations that CI can build out rapidly.
I think we can probably expect MSR and 600i Derelicts to be added in other places at the same time.. Tho that’s not confirmed it’s just my expectation.
New Rivers in Stanton – Setting up biome-specific object rulesets around bodies of water and distributing those by placing additional rivers and lakes on microTech and Hurston. We recently saw the updated river tech and it’s great to know that we will see multiple rivers on microTech and Hurston (planned for) this patch.
Sand Cave Archetype – Establishing the visual language, creation pipeline and quality standard for a new sand cave archetype. With this release, cave networks using this archetype will be placed throughout the Stanton system. You’ll see this type of cave on Daymar and anywhere else that they want to use a sand cave or something similar… in the future you can expect variations of these based on more biome types and CI will be building out ice caves and such too later.
Security Post Kareah Reactivation – SPK will be taking a more central role in Stanton’s security. Crusader Security have moved in a full-time staff and have begun storing confiscated contraband aboard. The station will be off limits to all civilians, unless given prior authorization. That doesn’t mean you can’t go there… it just means well it will be an offence to go there. I am expecting various new mission and events tied to the area for pvp and pve players as well as still somewhere you can go to hack your or someone else’s criminal rating down (that would be awesome if you could pay someone else to hack your rating down).
Sandbox Prison Activities – Expansion of prison gameplay with a new suite of missions and sandbox activities to give inmates more opportunities to earn merits or to aid in their escape from prison. Klesher Prison is an interesting one as it’s a bit more unique of a location at the moment, in the future we will have many prisons in different star systems most likely but I suppose Klesher’s updates are a good test for other gameplay mechanics and depth for locations. Puzzles, ways to escape, stealth… it’s potentially a solid microclimate for that type of content.
New Missions at Orison – Bounty, Assassinate, Clear All and other missions to take place on the platforms created for Siege of Orison which, in future, will be distributed across the planet of Crusader to create further content. This is great to see… crusader is massive and the platforms there are great for exploration and mission content. I hope we see the surfaces of other planets covered in POI and content too in the future. That’s what I want to see dynamic events and PoI that have been built out to be used for a wide variety of purposes!
Environmental Space Missions – Implementation of new missions and scenarios that the player will encounter as they wander around an area of space. The missions that appear will be based on the Probability Volumes that the player is currently in. Great more mission content that’s appropriate for the area of space or planet I am on is fantastic.
New Interdiction Scenarios – Adding new variations and difficulty levels of interdiction scenarios that players will come across while quantum traveling.
It’s likely these will be affected by the dynamic universe system having appropriate factions / forces for the area. Once these are in I would expect players to potentially get escorts more regularly, larger ships to be taken more often, the economy to reacto somewhat to higher threats, more combat service beacons going out for help when a player gets jumped.
Salvage – Hull Stripping – Previously, this initial release of the Hull Stripping feature was limited to FPS and the Drake Vulture. This is being updated to also include Hull Stripping aboard the Aegis Reclaimer using its remote salvage turrets.
It’s great to know we are getting the Vulture in 3.18 with it’s hull stripping mechanics but also the Reclaimer will be updated for that at the same time.
We will also be able to use a hand-tool to do some limited hull stripping and use that material in the repairing of ship hulls too (asumidly covering up holes and increasing the ships health again of the section you are repairing)
Classic Race Mode Overhaul – A complete overhaul of all systems and maps in Arena Commander’s Classic Race Mode. Improvements include a complete refactor of the Checkpoint entity & race manager system, improvements to scoring, a complete rework of all three New Horizon Speedway maps, as well as a new map, The Snake Pit. This is interesting as the Snake Pit is also in the PU, so we may well see various race tracks appear in the PU and in AC… will racing more supported in the PU… yes at some point in the future it is the plan… we have GrimHex and the Yela Asteroid Field there that is supposed to have a more aggressive form of space racing at somepoint in the future too and it’s partly setup for it as far as I am aware.
We still know there are 2 other MASSIVE Features planed for 3.18:
Cargo Refactor – This refactor of the ship cargo system will allow both found and purchased cargo to be picked up, moved around, and placed into the cargo grid of a ship. There is a huge amount of other possibilities for what we are getting with the refactor in 3.18.
Loading / Unloading Times and Costs for Cargo
More Physicalized/interactable Cargo Containers and new types of container
More expansive cargo management
Being able to potentially full loot another ship or wreck
The ability to more easily store items, weapons, armor etc… and them to be taken in the cargo grid .
Persistent Entity Streaming (PES) – Implementation of the Persistent Entity Streaming core technology into Star Citizen. Making use of services such as the Entity Graph and Replication Layer, this will allow every dynamic object in the game to fully persist across all servers, irrelevant of whether it is owned or held by a player.
The full implementation and scope of PES for 3.18 is unknown at the moment. We might get sharding at the same time. This is a major step towards server meshing, there could be some impressive Network Updates. But we don’t know if at this stage items dropped by a player at an area will remain there on the server OR be loaded in and out when the player logins in / out OR if servers will save all data and they will put you back in the server you were in originally with those items still there if they haven’t been taken. Also I would expect and importance level of items, so if you are littering at a Landing Zone… the litter will be cleared up.
Shell casings probably aren’t going to be tracked… things like that.
I think that the expansive POI and mission area is thanks to SC’s tooling but also great work from the Montreal Studio. I do think 2023 with the expanding of the UK studio is going to see development and the game really come into it’s own.
Alpha 3.18 is looking like a phenomenal patch… but features can slip or get delayed, conversely new features could get added. If there is a bit more of a substantial netcode overhaul here then this is going to be a fantastic patch, that said the PTU phase is likely to be incredibly buggy… just spare a thought for the courageous Evocatis… I am an Evo too but a terrible and lazy one. Some of them are genuinely champions.
It’s worth noting we could very likely see a new ship and or vehicle turn up in this patch straight to flyable and I actually think we will see the Hull-C as well… tho that’s certainly not a confirmation.
Boom, that’s it for your Alpha 3.18 update…