After a hell of a lot of delay (since December), the first actually playable part of Star Citizen has launched. Formerly called the dogfighting module, the new Arena Commander bit has launched. Everyone with an account that lists “alpha access” is able to play it. And so I have! On that note, I have some pros and cons about it.
Before I launch into this, I will point out again that this is an alpha. Very, very early stuff, so not full featured and of course bug-riddled.
- It is genuinely fun overall.
- It’s really pretty, and even though I keep the graphics set to “high” rather than “very high”, it’s still gorgeous yet with a decent framerate.
- The flight controls, once you’re used to them, add some different functions for experienced space-sim pilots which make it a bit unique, in a good way.
- It has flight safeties if you can’t handle it (so you don’t black out from g-forces for instance), and you can turn those off, which is nice.
- You can already swap weapons around on ships and try different loadouts, a pleasant early surprise.
- You can really tell where certain bits and pieces were hacked together last minute to get this going, like with the “training” ships it gives you. For some reason, they couldn’t get it working with the SAME ships you already had?
- The HUD in the cockpit is… not helpful. Ugly to navigate, takes up too much space, and with some weird “why did they decide this was a good idea” items in there.
- The “unique” flight controls, which are good, are really not intuitive and there’s some learning curve, which is bad. Also the keymaps can’t be rebound in-game, which is also bad.
- So many bugs. Some guns can’t be used because they fire once every five minutes, others are exploited since it was found they don’t use energy, etc.
- Multiplayer rollout went to a ridiculously small starter population, though this was meant to be the big new hot feature. They say they’ll add more over time of course but they’ve had 6 extra months to prepare for this.
So, problematic in a few ways. Some of that is readily explained away as “it’s an alpha”. And it is: a very delayed alpha where bugs and missing features should be expected. Oh well. I do have fun with it, at least for now, and some bugfixes will be coming.
But on that note I’m going to leave you in the hands of my man Scott Manley who’s recorded his first entry into these darkened skies to shoot up some AI pilots.