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Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 is now available

The enormous space combat simulator is also closing in on $100 million in funding.

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Star Citizen's long-awaited Alpha 2.0 is now available to backers, Cloud Imperium Games announced at midnight today. The alpha introduces the space combat simulator's first-person shooter module, whose long delay over the summer faced the publisher with a good deal of controversy.

In addition to the first-person combat, Alpha 2.0 brings three new vehicles; new locations including a major planet called Crusader; multi-crew ships staffed by other players; random encounters and a quantum travel feature allowing players to traverse the vast map at 20 percent of the speed of light.

Alpha 2.0 was announced during CitizenCon last month, as were many of the features that rolled out to players today. Cloud Imperium called Alpha 2.0 a "major step in Star Citizen's evolution. ... This is the biggest update to Star Citizen yet."

The alpha is found in players' launchers beginning today.

The first-person combat offered is a firefight mission on communications arrays orbiting Crusader. Players are tasked with wiping out space pirates who have taken over the stations and blacked out communications for the planet. Completing the mission will reopen communications, and that leads to more mission opportunities for the player. The mission offers combat armor and hidden weapons to be discovered.

In spaceflight, players will have two more modes of traveling: a precision mode for complicated maneuvering, and a cruise mode for top speed with low maneuverability. The default mode of travel is now called Standard Combat Maneuvering.

Star Citizen, which began development in 2012, had a rocky 2015 in large part because Cloud Imperium Games didn't meet informal promises as early as this spring for the delivery of the FPS module, also called Star Marine. That also held up release of the game's social module, which eventually launched this summer. However, the project still counts more than a million backers and is very close to surpassing $100 million in total crowdfunding. No release date for the entire, completed game has been given yet.

A full list of new features introduced in Alpha 2.0 is available here. Alpha 2.0's offerings were also discussed at length at CitizenCon in November. A video of that is below.

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