Thursday, 28 December 2017

STAR CITIZEN: SQUADRON 42 gameplay video released

The creators of infamously long-in-development space sim Star Citizen have released an hour-long video demonstrating the game's single-player campaign, Squadron 42. Although some CG videos have been released of the game previously, this is the first attempt to stitch the game's numerous components together to demonstrate a single mission.

As I detailed last year, Star Citizen is the biggest crowdfunding project in history, fans and backers having raised over $173 million to fund the game. This almost certainly means that Star Citizen is the highest-budgeted video game of all time in terms of the actual development funds: Grand Theft Auto V and the last few Call of Duty games all broke $200 million, but that was split roughly 60/40 in favour of marketing. Star Citizen crowdfunding campaign was its marketing, along with the numerous free column inches given to the game every month (like, er, here). Fundraising is continuing, of course, and the game is expected to comfortably break $200 million before all is said and done.

The main game of Star Citizen will feature a persistent online, open-world universe with people flying through it engaging in bounty hunting, trading, space combat, mining and other activities, like EVE Online and Elite: Dangerous. Star Citizen is promising a great deal more depth, however, sacrificing the accurately-rendered Milky Way galaxy of Elite (complete for 400 billion stars) for a more handcrafted universe of several hundred systems packed with missions, activities and seamless transitions from space to planet, with your character being able to jump out of your ship and engage in personal ground combat like a first-person shooter, or even jump in a ground attack vehicle.

Squadron 42 is the more focused part of the game which will replicate the single-player, story-driven drama of games like Wing Commander (Star Citizen's guiding developer, Chris Roberts, created the Wing Commander franchise back in 1990). Although personal combat, zero-gravity spacewalks and ground battles will feature, the focus will be on a military conflict which pitches your character as a fighter pilot on a large carrier vessel belonging to the United Empire of Earth. This story will be related by a large cast of characters, played by actors including Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Gillian Anderson, Mark Hamill, John Rhys Davies and Andy Serkis. Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones' Ser Davos Seaworth) serves as your commanding officer in the released demo. You will be able to port your character over from Squadron 42 to the full Star Citizen game.

Squadron 42 was meant for release this year but has been delayed, with no firm release date set. However, the above video shows what the full game experience should be like (hopefully with less performance issues, but that's pre-release games for you). There's another version of the video here with developer commentary.

Meanwhile, the makers of Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are being sued by CryTek over their use of the CryEngine in the game. It is unclear how serious this is and how it may affect the game's release.


Ghost said...

Until proven otherwise, I consider Star Citizen to be vaporware. $173 million later and the game is not even in Beta? They just keep asking for money to add on stretch goal after stretch goal. I mean come on!

Adam Whitehead said...

There are significant reasons to be concerned about the project, such as the amount of money they've raised from fans which is now going to be spent on an expensive legal case (they are being sued by CryTek for Breach of Contract related to their use of the CryEngine).

I'm not too massively surprised by the amount of time they've taken (this level of time for a game based on all-new tech is not unusual, see CDPR taking even longer on CYBERPUNK 2077, although that was not crowdfunded so there is a different moral dimension involved), although they could have been more realistic and open about the time involved up front. My main concern right now, exemplified by the video, is how much of the money and time has been spent on faff. If your core gaming experience is to get in a spaceship and shoot things, the need to spend months and millions on allowing you to walk around a big space battleship and go to the lavatory seems questionable. I've got a funny feeling that when S42 comes out, people are going to be quickly remembering the likes of FREESPACE 2 where it took 5 seconds and two clicks to get to the next mission, rather than walking around your ship for 25 minutes and having a conversation with Uncanny Davos. Stuff like the confrontation in the landing bay with the prisoners is actually pretty good, but it is good enough to justify the insane budget? It's arguable.