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The RPG Files: Can Star Citizen Live Up to the Hype?

By Christopher Coke on January 23, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Can Star Citizen Live Up to the Hype?

Star Citizen is one of the most highly anticipated games being developed in years. The game has defied expectation, time and again, and built up one of the most dedicated fanbases on the internet. This week, fans were lucky enough to receive an official path to release, a timetable for what to expect this year and the starry-eyed “commercial launch” of 2016.  As a fan eager to hop behind the wheel of my own spacecraft, I’m beyond excited. But I can’t shake the feeling that a lot of players are going to be disappointed and what that might mean for the future.

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I’ll say this much up front: I don’t think Star Citizen is going fail, at least not in the traditional sense. I do think, without ever even having played it, that the game is likely to disappoint. Whether the game is everything it was promised to be or a mere shadow, I predict a minority will erupt on the internet like the Bubonic made digital. It’s the same old story – and this isn’t coming from someone who likes to be down on video games or the gaming community. We’ve just seen it before.

Every now and again there arises a “god game” that captures the public eye like no other. This is a game that players latch onto and ascribe their hopes and dreams onto. It is the result of genre fatigue and even played old jadedness, that when a fresh innovative idea comes along players lock their jaws like pit bulls with keyboards in their hands. Last year, a case could be made for Titanfall being that game in the shooter market. World of Warcraft was another game when EverQuest reigned supreme over the MMO market.

These games each met their own success but ultimately, reality always hits home. But there is no reality that can ever match the dream of an over-eager player.  They’re games, not answers. A dream game like Star Citizen might be fantastic, but I get the sense that it’s hit a chord with many of us that leaves us expecting something… that might be undeliverable. Expectations are just too high for any developer to answer, even with that giant budget. The test heavy road to launch is evidence not only of Roberts’ delivering an actual product to their players, but also of introducing their fans to the reality of what they’re making.

But enough with the bad stuff. If gaming history has taught us anything, it’s that good games hold the test of time. I firmly believe that Star Citizen will have a roller coaster of a launch. Up with the new and exciting content, down with the reality of its flaws and things-to-come, and, if Roberts Space Industries is doing its due diligence, it will rise back up again on its own merits, free of the weight of its crowdfunding campaign.

Star Citizen is positioned to do something grand. The scope and design is astounding. The level of realism and immersion looks easily more “next gen” than even Microsoft or Sony’s next generation of next-gen hardware. And, just as importantly, they have the opportunity to learn from games like Elite: Dangerous and the rising expectations of players for their online services.

Players are hungry. We want deep space simulations and interstellar sandboxes that let us craft our own adventures. We want the RP in our RPG. Star Citizen takes the experience online and adds the dynamic layers of other players without falling into the trappings of an MMORPG. RSI can learn the lessons of Elite and launch with enough content, and the lessons of 2014-2015’s rampant downtimes which have caused us all to rethink our expectations of online services.

Even if Star Citizen does fail, it will still have proved the point that players are willing to support games they believe in. Star Citizen is our mascot as the outspoken portion of the gaming world, our letter to big publishers with the worlds “LISTEN” printed across the envelope. That may be the double-edged sword that leaves some players bit, but the message will have already been taken.

That alone is worth investing in. That, I hope, will be Star Citizen’s legacy.

Quick Hits

Xbox One and Windows 10 PC can expect cross-play multiplayer more and more in their future. At this week’s Windows 10 event, Xbox head, Phil Spencer, announced that the upcoming Fable Legends will feature this functionality and went on to say, “We think enabling people to play multiplayer games on Windows 10, across Xbox One and Windows 10, will unlock the potential of Xbox Live and grow the social network that's there today.” That, my friends, would be a profound step in tying PC players into the Xbox community. Let’s see how it develops.

Dontnod Entertainment and Focus Home Interactive announced that they would be partnering on the upcoming Vampyr RPG. Little is known at this point, other than “pire” was copyrighted and “pyr” was not. Players will take on the role of a vampire doctor, who probably doesn’t sparkle, and will need to decide whether to suck their blood or help them survive. To later suck their blood. Both studios have produced middling results in the past, so it would be wise to temper your excitement on this one.

Signal Studios and DigitalDNA have revealed Savage Lands, a game for players who want a little more Skyrim in their Rust and DayZ. Survive in the fantasy wilds against fantasy creatures with fantasy weapons and fantasy features, like crafting and building. I’m going to build a pretty little house for my tea set – THE DRAGON ATE IT.

Planetside 2 is making waves for the first time in what seems like ages. The game has officially begun its PS4 beta, so if you’re interested, go sign up on the official site. Be sure to check out our interview with the developers here.

Patch 3 is coming in hot for Dragon Age: Inquisition. The official development blog explains that it will help make party banter a little less random, as well as fix a few game-stopping bugs, such as addressing keys which refused to drop to finish quests. I just have one question for Bioware: Why does Solas look so much like the singer of Tool?

Lastly, can we talk about H1Z1? It’s been a bit of a mess. Server problems, potential hacks, and airdrops. Oh the airdrops. You know what, I’m just going to let Mike handle this one.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Can Star Citizen deliver?

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.