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Star Citizen devs add another feature: 40-player ‘Theaters of War’ battles

Expected in ‘early 2020’ says Cloud Imperium Games

An image showing the starting screen of the Theaters of War game mode, with a demonstrator inset into the lower right hand corner. There is a large space station seen from above, with the surface of a planet in the distance.
A demonstration of Theaters of War at CitizenCon 2019. Players are going to fight their way up from the surface of that planet to the orbital laser.
Screenshot via Cloud Imperium Games
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Star Citizen, which has been in development since 2012 and is still technically in an alpha state, has another mode of play coming: Theaters of War.

Announced at this weekend’s CitizenCon (the annual gathering of Star Citizen players and fans), Theaters of War will be a multi-phase, multiplayer co-operative/competitive mode combining first-person shooter, surface vehicle and space vehicle combat. It seems to be indirectly inspired by, or at least evocative of, the epic, 50-player battles organized by a dedicated player within Star Citizen’s persistent universe earlier this winter.

In phase one, players fight it out on foot in a traditional FPS capture-and-control match. If the attackers prevail and take the base, they advance to the second phase. If not, their game is over. FPS classes for both sides include foot soldiers, assault, snipers, and anti-vehicle specialists.

Phase two features FPS and vehicular combat on a larger map. The same fighter classes as before will take on, or use, the Cyclone, URSA Rover and Ballista vehicles in a continuation of the assault or defense of the same base in phase one.

Phase three, naturally, goes to orbit, and involves both one-person fighter craft as well as larger ships where players can man gun emplacements. The job there is to take over a space base, which will involve FPS combat on the inside.

This demonstration at CitizenCon, via Twinfinite, gives a good idea of what Cloud Imperium is going for with Theaters of War.

These phases are all based on battles in the Star Citizen timeline, so canonically speaking these events are re-enactments. In the example shown at CitizenCon, the attackers were, piece by piece, taking out an orbital mining laser; first they had to take over a base to disable its anti-aircraft turrets. Then they had to destroy a radar tower linked with the laser. Then they went after the laser, with low-gravity environments affecting the on-foot combat there.

Cloud Imperium developers told CitizenCon that the phases will transition without loading screens. Apparently, Theaters of War grew out of a test mode CIG came up with for balancing FPS, vehicles and spaceships within Star Citizen’s persistent universe. As such, developers say, very little extra development was necessary, and they say the six to eight months of development put into it didn’t interfere with making the rest of Star Citizen.

Also at CitizenCon, Cloud Imperium Games finally gave a release date for a long-awaited space vessel: The Anvil Carrack.

This ship was originally promised as a stretch goal when Star Citizen’s crowdfunding hit $33 million. The project passed that mark in November 2013. Cloud Imperium put the Carrack on sale as a concept spaceship in November 2014, and it cost $350.

In February 2020, it’ll be ready to buy and fly in the game. The reason it’s so special is because Star Citizen players have analogized the Carrack to the Serenity, the ship from the dear departed Firefly TV show from 16 years ago. The Carrack is supposed to be a long-range military exploration ship that can be handled by a small crew of players, with an optimal blend of handling and firepower.

Here’s an ad for the ship:

Star Citizen, led by Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, is about a month into its 3.7 alpha version, which added subterranean cave systems on planets and asteroids, and the ability rent ships with in-game currency. Alpha 3.8, which was previewed at CitizenCon, is expected in December and will bring a new planet plus two major performance upgrades in how worlds are generated, how player persistence is maintained, and object management. Star Citizen began life in 2012 as a Kickstarter project with a 2014 delivery date. Since then, its protracted development, vague and changing delivery dates, and now $242 million in crowdfunding have made the spaceflight sim quite a controversial project.

Squadron 42 is also expected to finally make an appearance next year. Originally a mode within Star Citizen, Cloud Imperium now considers this to be a wholly separate game. This is the narrative-driven campaign whose A-list cast, including Gillian Anderson, Gary Oldman, Henry Cavill, Mark Hamill and Andy Serkis, was announced back in 2015. Cloud Imperium in August delayed Squadron 42’s beta again, by three months, moving it from a summer 2020 launch to the third quarter of the year. No announcements regarding Squadron 42 were made at CitizenCon this year.

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