By David Lins
If there is one game that can be heralded as the current champion of crowdfunding, it’s Star Citizen. At the time of writing, the game has reached almost $40,000,000 in donated funds. No, that’s not a typo, and your eyes didn’t misadjust: that’s $40 million.
What’s the big deal, exactly? What is the game even about? In the coming months, we’ll be covering the game in exquisite detail for you, but for now, I think we should stick with one simple question: What is Star Citizen?
Star Citizen is an upcoming space-sim from Chris Roberts, best known (at least in the games industry) as the guy who made Wing Commander. It hopes to give players a true feeling of life in outer space. Like EVE Online, players can become master pilots or conniving businessmen. Players themselves will affect the economy; you could pirate a trader ship for its cargo (which damages the company and thus, the economy), or you could defend that trader from pirates. You could even be the trader.
But the real star of the show here is the spaceflight gameplay. Rather than a more strategy-oriented combat system, Star Citizen promises full-on dogfights in space. You are always in direct control of your ship, and that ship runs on real-world physics. You’ll see your engines realistically twist and turn as you pilot your ship, and you can even take direct control of those engines if you want a fully “realistic” control scheme. Roberts promises that space battles will depend more on skill rather than your loadout and ship—a good enough newbie can defeat a veteran, though it will be a tough fight. In a way, it almost sounds like PvP will be a bit like a fancy Star Fox 64, doesn’t it? If that doesn’t excite you then you aren’t human, friend.
Not everything happens in space, though. You can control your pilot at any time, not just when you land. Want to explore the inside of your ship? Go for it, partner. You can take advantage of this right now with the hangar module, provided you’ve already backed the game and have a computer that can run it. Sure, it’s not the most innovative thing, but the ability to actually see what your ship looks like both inside and out makes the whole thing feel a bit more organic, no? You can also explore cities, etc. while on foot, though what exactly you’ll be able to do is still unknown.
The game isn’t strictly multiplayer. Star Citizen will feature a full-fledged single player campaign, with the occasional (optional) co-op missions, called Squadron 42. The campaign will contain an epic storyline with many “paths” based on what kind of character you play. The only other detail we currently have for Squadron 42 is that it will be playable offline.
Yes, Star Citizen has a lot of promises to fulfill, and it’s turning a lot of heads. The sheer amount of depth and player freedom is staggering for an online game, to the extent that some feel it might be too staggering. Will Star Citizen really be able to deliver? Roberts has confirmed that there will be no monthly fee, so how will the game maintain itself? Servers cost a lot of money to run, especially with a powerful game like this. The game has amassed a fortune, but even the deepest well eventually runs dry. When you really think about it, Star Citizen has reached a level of hype almost unheard of in this industry, yet we’ve seen very little of the actual game.
As we take long, meaningful looks at Star Citizen for you leading up to the release, perhaps we’ll be able to answer those questions. For now, we hope you have at least some basic understanding of what Star Citizen is and why it’s a big deal.
Next time, we’ll talk a little about player jobs and roles—it’s important to know what kind of character you want to be before getting to the fun part (i.e., what ship you should pilot), after all.
Star Citizen 101 is a regular column where David Lins educates readings on the vast, and somewhat overwhelming, world of Star Citizen.
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