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Star Citizen version 3.0 looks set to liven up the galaxy

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A brand new version will transform the game in a big way

The next big update to Star Citizen’s persistent universe module won’t arrive for some time, but when version 3.0 of the ongoing alpha becomes available, it will make the game far more dynamic. Lead designer Chris Roberts walked us through the new features — like detailed missions and more space stations to explore — in a private demo during Gamescom 2016, ahead of tonight’s official announcement.

Version 3.0 will build out Star Citizen’s story, as players can engage with one another and non-playable heroes who encourage them to explore the larger world. And that world is getting bigger; the star system will include far more locations to explore, each one with a dedicated set of characters who keep to their own schedules. That includes fellow players whom will populate the multiplayer online game.

What’s most intriguing here is not the missions itself; it’s that the big update will finally allow players to feel like members of the greater galaxy. Chief among version 3.0’s additions is the ability to explore a living, breathing universe. Our demo featured a player accepting a mission from another character who reached out to him through a video message, sending him through a series of trials that took him from space station to space station.

Star Citizen

During a hands-off demo, we watched as the hero boarded a ship manned by another player, who drove him to the next closest station to meet up with the man assigning him more work to do. As we walked through the settlement, called Levski, we watched as bartenders beckoned us closer and storekeepers took off for the night. The universe will now feel more alive, Roberts explained, as non-playable characters take on lives of their own.

That helps to give these missions a sense of purpose. Star Citizen is becoming a much larger game in the third version, which was clear by the amount of places we flew to as part of the single mission. Levski includes hints at the game’s larger lore among the more advanced AI system, helping to make the game feel like a living and breathing universe. When version 3.0 is available, Roberts explained, players will be able to meet up with each other to embark on these missions together as well.

This is a major change from the 2.5 version update that goes live shortly; you can watch the content it brings to Star Citizen in the video above. That version sets up the building blocks for the more advanced, action-RPG-esque Star Citizen, building out the separate factions within a more limited version of the universe. But for a game that’s about exploring all that space has to offer, version 3.0 looks and feels like a major change for the much-talked-about crowdfunding project.

Version 3.0 is expected to be available to backers and players by the end of 2016. Fans of the space combat simulator — which has generated more than $100 million in funding thus far — will likely learn more at this October's Citizen Con event.

Update: Watch the full demo from Gamescom in the nearly hourlong video above.