Star Citizen is one of those games that many probably haven’t heard about. It’s a PC exclusive and it can’t be found on Steam, Origin, or Uplay. Its marketing isn’t as in-your-face as some other popular titles like Call of Duty or Battlefield.
Star Citizen is also one of those games that you either hate or love. For me, it was a good mix of both, and led me to eventually spending $1,000 in-game within only two months.
But why? To really understand, we’ll need to take a closer look at the game itself.
To begin, let me start by saying all the screenshots in this article were screenshots I personally took while playing the game. They were taken in real-time and aren’t renderings or pre-made cutscenes. Star Citizen looks AMAZING and is just absolutely gorgeous to look at.
Star Citizen puts you in a fully-online persistent universe. Time doesn’t stop when you log out, and it’s full of things to explore. It also doesn’t limit you in any way, and you can get off your ship at any time and float around. (Just don’t leave your ship unattended for too long or another player might steal it from you.)
That was one of the biggest selling points of the game and the thing that really got my attention. You can get off your ship. You can explore. You can leave your ship there and come back to it. It’s actually like being in outer space and that open-world aspect is such a great feeling to experience.
Another thing I love about the game is the detail and immersion. Unlike other games where you press “E” to magically spawn into your vehicle, Star Citizen makes you get into your full-scale ship by actually opening the bay doors, getting in the ship, finding the cockpit by walking towards the front of it, getting in your seat, powering on the engine, and finally taking off.
Each ship is different and comes with its own unique panels that you can actually interact with. Unlike other space games, you don’t get a heads up display. Instead, they’re actually on the ship itself to add to the immersion. They’re not just animations that pretend like they’re displaying info; you can click on each button, inspect the radar, arm each and every missile, redirect portions of shields towards a certain area of the ship, and more. And it’s more enjoyable with friends because they can be your copilot or man other parts of your ship. More on that in the next section.
This game lets you gather your crew and fly together in your ship, given your ship has enough room for everyone. You can pilot the ship and get your friends to monitor for enemies, while another friend mans the turret.
Another friend can help activate shields when you’re under attack, and another can help with the cargo bay. Want to make sure you have enough missiles for the next battle? Get a friend to watch over your ammo reserve. Want to prevent pirates(basically trolls/thieves) from entering your ship? Hire them as bodyguards to watch the ship entrances.
This game is a blast with friends and again adds to that immersion when you have a crew, each with their own responsibilities. Or, you can always NOT do what you’re supposed to do and head to the cockpit. Or sleep around in the bed. Or just abandon ship and get left behind by your crew. There’s no limit to what you can do and it just adds to the fun.
Star Citizen puts you in a full-scale universe that simulates actual planetary travel and space flight. You can leave your ship on full throttle, put it on autopilot, take a shower, come back, and your ship will have actually traveled that distance. It’s not simulated, or “fake” travel where it takes seconds to travel from planet to planet. It’s real-time game distance and it felt exciting to travel to other parts of the universe.
Their version of fast travel isn’t a simple “click on this planet thingy to instantly teleport to it.” Instead, they give you this “hyperdrive” (they call it quantum travel) that speeds up that process and gets you to where you want to go fast. To add to the realism, your quantum travel time is quick, but the distance to your planet will determine how long your quantum travel will be, unlike other games that try to simulate this and give you the same amount of time to “hyperjump” anywhere. And if there’s a planet or moon blocking your path, you’ll have to fly somewhere else to ensure you have a clear line of sight to your destination. Pretty awesome, right?
There are a lot of ships in this game and they’re not just basic 3D models that designers just slapped into the game. They each have their own purpose. Some ships are smaller and made for solo flight. Other ships are massive, and I mean MASSIVE and look like literal flying buildings. These ships are very well designed and feature full interiors that you can explore, complete with doors, elevators, and on ships with weapons, mannable turrets and defense systems.
There are exploration ships with massive cargo space. There are fighter ships that give you more speed and maneuverability and added weapons. There are tanks. There are rovers. There are ships with other ships inside. There are ships with rovers inside. There are ships that can hold ships with rovers inside. And so much more.
Star Citizen isn’t just a sandbox where all you do is fly around until you’re bored to death. While you certainly can do so, because, again, the game doesn’t limit you, there are actual things to do in the game.
The game gives you tasks to do and little missions here and there. You can earn credits from taking on jobs or transporting cargo. Which brings me to my next point: your play style will vary and you can be whatever you want.
You can be an explorer and just fly from planet to planet with your friends. You can be a space pirate and steal ships or shoot them down. Just be careful, your Crimestat will go up and you’ll be wanted, spawning in their prison if you die. You can be a trader, gathering cargo and selling them. Or at any time, switch between any of these. It isn’t a linear game where you play the intro, kill some stuff, and boom. Ending.
Why I Hate The Game
Don’t get me wrong, Star Citizen is an amazing game and probably the most ambitious game I’ve ever played in my life. But there are two major gripes that I have about the game, and will also explain the title of this article: why I ended up spending $1,000 of actual money.
The first is that the ships are ridiculously expensive. Sure there are cheaper ships but if you want to really enjoy the game, you’ll have to get one of the bigger ones that can cost you hundreds of dollars. See this ship above? I spent $300 on it. And guess what? At the time of that screenshot, it wasn’t even flyable.It was hangar-ready, which meant I can view it from the hangar, enter it, look around the ship but it won’t ever take off until they’ve finished it entirely. And that’s not the worst of them. There are other ships that you can buy that are just concepts, and you can’t even view them because their models aren’t done.
Star Citizen says these ships will be purchasable using in-game credits once the game is done, and they’re only charging this much as sort of a preview price to help development, an early-access purchase to test them out and show off to your friends that you made a horrible financial decision.
But I can’t really talk. Me, being a lover of pretty things spent $1,000 on a few of these gorgeous ships. They really are gorgeous, and it isn’t until you play the game or look at their detailed pages on their website that you get to really appreciate the art that went into designing each of Star Citizen’s ships.
The second thing I hated about Star Citizen and the biggest turn-off of them all is the frustratingly horrible netcode. Playing online, Star Citizen renders at a maximum 20-30 frames per second. I’ve gotten 14 frames per second on a bad day once. This isn’t due to my PC hardware but the server netcode that renders the game somewhat unplayable.
To get around it, I had to essentially “hack” the game to play offline. And it wasn’t until then that I got to enjoy the game at a smooth 60 frames per second. You can see in my gameplay above that everything rendered smoothly, with none of the problems I was running into while playing the game online.
But that sort of ruined the fun. Credits you earn don’t apply when you go back online. And you can’t play with friends since, well, you’re not playing on their servers. And being in alpha, Star Citizen doesn’t really have any dedicated server options.
Star Citizen is a great game. Do I regret spending $1,000? Not really. I’m happy to help the developers and I fully support this ambitious project. Is it something everyone should jump on? No, definitely not. Do some research and make sure your computer is good enough to handle the game and that you know what you’re getting yourself into. But it’s a super fun game with friends filled with hours upon hours of exploration, combat, and there’s tons to do in this large, open-world persistent universe.
Questions or comments? Let me know below 🙂
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