At PAX East we got to see the dogfight module from Star Citizen, now officially titled "Arena Commander". Robert’s Space Industries was kind enough to invite us to the premiere party. At $42 million and still growing, Chris Roberts has made crowdfunding history. Finally, after months of waiting, we got to see some real results from all that money.
The view to get into your cockpit is first person. A short cut scene has the pilot walking to his ship and getting in then putting on a slick space helmet. We know this all too well because we watched it three times during the demo as poor Chris crashed his ship into various platforms and asteroids. However, once he was space bound we got the full sense of the module.
There are different points of view you can choose when flying your ship. The first person view will work incredibly well with the Oculus Rift and give players a true space experience. If that is not your cup of tea then you can always shift to different views around the ship. You can fly in third person as well. For the majority of the demo Chris flew in first person.
As you enter combat there are a lot of things to keep track of on your ship, your weapon systems being top priority. Various short and long laser cannons fired from the Hornet Chris flew at different ranges. Each laser was a different color and blasted through asteroids to find its target. The missiles that Chris was firing were much more effective at destroying ships. Weapons were only part of the battle plan.
Managing you thrusters and your ship’s speed were very important. The main reason is that Star Citizen fully takes into account g-forces when your ship moves through space. If you want to play it risky you can fly on the edge of your seat. This does have an effect though on the pilot and the screen begins to black out. You can risk the g-forces to the point where you suddenly drop into unconsciousness and will leave yourself open to ruin from other players.
During our interview with Chris he said he liked that the dogfights were five ships would vs. another five in the Arena Commander scenario. It would not just be trying to take out a swarm of ships. He liked that pilots would have to work as a team and consider a lot of options while flying. There would not just be quick kills and lots of opponents. In this way, Arena Commander works as a sort of "simulation eSport" in the canon of Star Citizen's lore. Think the X-Men's Danger Room, and you're not far off. Arena Commander is a fictional piece of software used for training and entertainment throughout the Star Citizen lore. It's even developed by Original Systems. Wink-wink.
The asteroid belt in which the combat took place gave a great environment to fly around. As the ships crashed into the rocks they showed damage and had debris fly off into space. It made for a great place to battle that had more to offer than just open space.
As usual Chris has big plans for Arena Commander and we love that he is playing up his old titles with this module. There will be much more to come with bigger ships, leader boards, and the chance to be part of a crew on one of the ships in battle with a team of your buddies.
Star Citizen continues to impress and we are looking forward to the future of the game as it grows and announces more features. The dogfights will definitely be great fun, especially once the module's physics and crashing bugs are all polished out. Now might definitely be the time to go and buy the Oculus Rift after all.
Garrett Fuller / Garrett is the Industry Relations Manager for MMORPG.com. He cosplays as an orc, plays X-Wing on weekends, and loves Adventure Time. You can follow him on Twitter (when he uses it) @Gfulls.
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