Star Citizen, the ambitious collection of spacefaring games, has reached a major milestone. The latest update to the project’s online multiplayer game, the so-called “persistent universe,” represents the largest addition of new content in several years. It is now available to all backers.
The Star Citizen persistent universe (PU) is an online multiplayer game that includes space combat as well as first-person shooting. The latest update, called Alpha Patch 3.0.0, includes a number of new locations to explore, including three planet-sized moons, as well as atmospheric flight. From our preview in October:
The biggest selling point will be the procedurally generated moons, named Yela, Daymar and Cellin. The smallest of those moons will have a surface area of more than 851,000 square kilometers, which will dwarf the entire landmass of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. ... Players will be able to seamlessly enter their atmosphere from orbit and fly around unimpeded by loading screens or transitions of any kind. In this way, Star Citizen will leap-frog its closest competitor, Elite: Dangerous.
The patch also includes many quality-of-life improvements, such as enhanced cockpit interaction for pilots, 20 new missions and AI for non-player characters such as shopkeepers. The full patch notes are available on the Star Citizen website.
The Star Citizen project began with a Kickstarter campaign in 2012. Since that time, it has become the single most-funded crowdfunding campaign of any kind, on any platform, for any thing. So far, Roberts Space Industries (RSI) and Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) say they have raised more than $174 million, with at least $15 million of that rolling in since the first week in October.
The project is not without its controversies, including several lawsuits.
At least two high-value backers recently asked for their money back. One tells Polygon that they’ve begun legal action to secure a refund of more than $25,000. Both cite delays in the progress of Star Citizen’s single-player game, called Squadron 42. That project, which has been sold separately since February 2016, features the acting talents of Gillian Anderson, Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman among others.
Crytek, makers of the CryEngine which the Star Citizen games were originally built on, is also suing RSI and CIG for copyright infringement while implying that its executives behaved unethically during and after negotiations.
It’s important to note that this Alpha Patch 3.0.0 is still just a tiny fraction of the promised feature set for Star Citizen’s multiplayer game. Neither the multiplayer nor the single-player Star Citizen games have had a release date of any kind since 2016, a fact that Roberts himself regularly acknowledges.