Roberts Space Industries (RSI) released version 3.0 of their Star Citizen persistent universe to all backers two weeks ago. To give you some context, they are developing two games in the Star Citizen lore - a single player game called Squadron 42, and the multiplayer game called Star Citizen. This article focuses on the multiplayer game.
Alpha 3.0 adds several features to the persistent universe; including, additional planets in the solar system, a new mission system, a new button interaction system, additional spaceships, additional ground vehicles, and much more. With this release, RSI is making a huge leap towards making a reality of Star Citizen's universe. There are no loading screens as you fly from station to near planet orbit, then dive into the planet's atmosphere and land on the planet. I posted a video of that journey on my youtube channel, https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=sUG3LRb-udU.
I'm very pleased with the progress being made towards the release of Star Citizen and prefer to wait for the game they want to release. I'm perfectly content creating bug reports and youtube videos of the journey. Once the game is ready, I envision playing for a long time while I enjoy the day to day challenges of exploring the universe.
One of the most exciting features I was eager to test was multiplayer ships conducting multiplayer missions. In this test, I retrieved a Constellation Andromeda, boarded with another player, accepted missions to retrieve and deliver freight on Daymar, then completed those missions. Although we toyed with the idea of using a ground vehicle to pick up and deliver the freight (because it was only one medium-sized box), we decided to use the spaceship. The Andromeda currently flies real smooth in the light Daymar atmosphere and gravity, but I can only imagine the challenges if we were in a more hostile atmosphere and gravity, e.g. a runaway greenhouse effect, crushing pressure, high gravity, clouds of sulfuric acid, and liquid methane volcanoes. Picking up the packages was easy enough, but we had to find places on the ship to store them. At this point, we realized that either our ship was bugged, or the package placement system hadn't been implemented yet on this ship. After I gathered data for the bug report, we decided to deliver the packages one at a time, while the other crew member piloted the ship. I imagine at some point, perhaps in beta, you can fill up your ship with players and complete these delivery missions more quickly.
We were also able to do a little solar system exploration and explore two of the new planets. The solar system is huge. Quantum drive (the in-game name of the "warp" drive system) took several minutes to travel between planets, then you have a handful of smaller jumps to line up your ship for atmospheric entry because even the moons are huge. This makes the experience very realistic and a tad too realistic for my tastes. I prefer a little less realism and a little more ease of use in the user experience. For example, if you were to fly a spaceship from Neptune to Earth, on your way to Miami, you might jump into near-Earth orbit around, say, Moscow. Then you could either wait for the planet to rotate, or conduct a short jump to a spot above North America, then plot your descent into the atmosphere with Miami in sight. The extra maneuvering takes a few minutes, and this game definitely rewards the patient. Still, I prefer to have an option that allows me to jump to a spot above my destination port, so I don't have the tedious maneuver around the planet.
Let me know if you have any questions, requests, or other feedback.