Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 Released; Brings Star Marine FPS Gameplay, New Ships and Tons More

on December 23, 2016 8:26 PM

Today Cloud Imperium Games made alpha 2.6 of Star Citizen available to all backers, bringing a massive amount of new content to those who supported the game in its crowdfunding effort.

If you’re curious, here is the long list of new features:

Star Marine

  • Star Marine’s initial release features two maps: OP Station Demien and Echo Eleven.
  • Star Marine has two available game modes for 2.6. Elimination, an every-man-for themselves mode where you duke it out for the highest kill-score. Last Stand, where Outlaws and Marines battle for control of four key computer access points to earn points.
  • Grenades are also available in Star Marine from the ammo crates.

Space Battles

  • Battle increasingly difficult waves of outlaws in the Pirate Swarm game mode for both Drone Sim and Spectrum matchups.
  • Enemies in specific game modes (Vanduul Swarm, Pirate Swarm, Squadron Battle, Battle Royale) now drop pickup items including Afterburner fuel, missiles, ammo or repairs.
  • We have also made the following ships available in Arena Commander, though they are restricted to Private Matches and Single Player games: Constellation Andromeda, Retaliator, and the Caterpillar.

New Ships

  • 8 new ships and variants are hangar and flight ready in 2.6.
  • Massive overhaul of ship flight mechanics.
  • Complete rebalance of SCM speeds and ship handling for all ships.
  • Afterburner and Boost functionality has been completely revised. The goal is that Afterburner becomes the method to engage/disengage combat as well as gives the choice between outright speed or better handling.
  • We’ve also reinvented our Fuel System. All ships have had a pass on their thruster fuel consumption values, intake regeneration rates and fuel tank capacities.
  • Complete rebalance of all shields, all missiles and missile racks
    and countermeasure ammo for all ships.

Persistent Universe

  • Ol ‘38 Bar added to Grim HEX landing zone.
  • Crusader has several new locations to visit and a new ICC Probe mission.
  • The Yela Asteroid belt has received some updates, with a much denser field and more varied salvage locations.

Lobby Refactor

  • Our new front end user interface is now implemented, with updated graphics and new features.
  • All new loadout customization section for Arena Commander that allows players to edit their ship components for Arena Commander matches through the game interface without the use of Port Modification. This changes will also be retained between play sessions.
  • Updated Leaderboards for Star Marine and Arena Commander on the website now rank players in each game utilizing actual UEE ranks.

Third-Person Camera System

  • The third-person cameras for Vehicle and On-Foot have been much improved in 2.6. Players can now select lens size and offset the camera to create cinematic and dynamic framing.

Health System Updates

  • Bleeding has been added to the game, in both the Persistent Universe and Star Marine. This debuff stacks (additively) with itself and will decrease your total health pool each second it ticks down until healed.

The studio also announced the adoption of Amazon’s Lumberyard technology, promising better support for backers across the world. They clarified that the technology change was “very easy” and did not cause any delays in the development work, since Lumberyard is based on CryEngine to begin with,  prompting a “like-for like change” which has already been completed.

We are now basing Star Citizen and our custom technology development on Amazon’s Lumberyard Engine.  Since the beginning of the project, we’ve had to make a huge number of changes to the CryENGINE code and tech to enable us to deliver Star Citizen.  While the original CryENGINE had great strengths in many areas like rendering and cinematics the needs of our game were well beyond what came ‘out of the box’.  So we have, over time, changed significant parts of the engine for our technology, such that only a baseline of the original engine truly remains. In the future we will continue to make significant changes to AI, Animation and Network code and systems.

When Amazon announced Lumberyard back in February 2016, we were immediately interested. While based on the same baseline technology as Star Citizen, Lumberyard is specifically designed for online games, utilizing the power of Amazon’s AWS Cloud Services and their Twitch streaming platform. Amazon’s focus aligns perfectly to ours as we’ve been making significant engineering investments into next generation online networking and cloud based servers.  Making the transition to Lumberyard and AWS has been very easy and has not delayed any of our work, as broadly, the technology switch was a ‘like-for-like’ change, which is now complete.

As an added benefit Amazon AWS data centers are spread around the world from North America to South America, Europe to China to Asia Pacific, which will allow us to better support the many backers across the globe as we scale up Star Citizen.

Finally, Amazon has made Lumberyard freely available for anyone building their own game. That means that technically-inclined members of the community can have a better view ‘under the hood’ of our game than ever before. It’s also a great path for anyone interested in game development professionally; I fully anticipate that in the coming year we will be hiring programmers who have taught themselves using Amazon’s Lumberyard resources!

As we move forwards, we are confident you will see great benefits from our partnership.  Amazon will bring new features to Lumberyard to assist in creating online persistent games, adding great support for their products like Twitch (which we use extensively) and of course investing heavily in engine research and development for years to come.  We could not find a more stable and reliable engine partner than Amazon, so with this partnership we are sure we have secured the future development and continuing technical innovation for Star Citizen.

If you want to catch a glimpse of 2.6, and all it brings, you can check out new images, a new trailer and new videos featuring new ships and weapons.

Keep in mind that, as a nod to full disclosure, the author of this article is one of the backers of this game, that is now sitting on $139,127,212 in crowdfunding.

 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.