Raking in over $55 million via crowdfunding is going to set expectations for a game high, but in the case of Star Citizen, it seems that every milestone the project hits just prompts developers Cloud Imperium Games to extend its already broad scope.
We've known for some time that Star Citizen would have an FPS component, but over the weekend attendees at PAX Australia were given an in-depth look at what we can expect from the on-foot combat in the game — and now that footage has been released publicly for all to see.
Illfonic was officially confirmed as the dev team developing the FPS mode at the event, and from what we see in the video they're doing good work. The squad-based gameplay calls to mind titles like Rainbow Six and Star Wars: Republic Commando, two very worthy influences on this style of combat.
However, just like in its spacefaring gameplay, the FPS side of Star Citizen doesn't just seek to imitate the classics; it's using cutting edge technology to implement an unparalleled level of detail. Unlike most FPS games, head movement and weapon aim aren't directly linked — a feature that looks set to take full advantage of the Oculus Rift integration that's long been touted for the game (it currently supports the original dev kit).
Things really get cooking when one of the players heads to a control room to turn off the station's gravity while his squad mates engage enemies in a firefight. When gravity is turned off, considerations like cover become less of a focus in favor of getting to grips with maneuvering your weightless body. Planned updates include a mechanic that simulates dragging and pushing yourself around in these conditions.
It certainly seems that the decision to outsource the FPS portion of the game has paid off. Illfonic has created something that is in-keeping with the world that surrounds it, but offers a completely different gameplay experience within the game. It's just a matter of how well this content is integrated into the final product — the difference between a groundbreaking immersive experience and a disparate collection of components.
That being said, Cloud Imperium Games certainly has enough time to make sure that everything comes together; while an early version of the FPS module will be made available sometime next year, it'll be at least another two years before the "full" game sees release. However, with backers being given access to early builds of various parts of the game on a regular basis — not to mention the sheer scope of what's coming — it's not difficult to see why so many people have put their money down already in the hopes that the final product will be worth the wait.
Backers have long been able to test some of their pre-purchased ships in Arena Commander, the downloadable dogfighting module and more recently, an in-planetary-atmosphere racing module was released as well. What makes the FPS so exciting is how it fully integrates into the core flying aspects of the game. In order to board a space station or capital ship for instance, you need to fly into it yourself or have a pal drop you off. This particular demo was visibly dark and took place in a mostly lifeless set of corridors but there will be planetary FPS stuff as well where you can expect to see a little better, and for there to be more to see.
Star Citizen is set for a PC release in late 2016.