Star Citizen – What’s Coming in 2021
Star Citizen has had an interesting year. Like many developers, the circumstances of 2020 left development hampered with most working remotely. However, Cloud Imperium Games had the advantage of having much of the infrastructure in place for this – given their setup with multiple developers at locations around the world. Early in the year, the updates did show some features being pushed back or removed, but things have started to come together for the latter half.
The last six months of Star Citizen have introduced several new ships into the game, improvements to HUD for both mining and combat, new dedicated areas for cargo management and mining, massive volumetric gas clouds, a revamp of physics on players and NPCs, and the inclusion of tractor beams among many other smaller changes. For a game that has been many years in development, this year thankfully wasn’t as much of a loss as it was for other developers.
Today, CIG released a new roadmap. This long-in-the-making view of the future of the game gives us two perspectives for the upcoming development of Star Citizen and Squadron 42. The “Release View” is much the same as the previous version of the roadmap and includes only what is most likely to be in the next update. However, the “Progress Tracker” provides a highly detailed perspective on each aspect of both games. You can drill down to see tabs on designs for each piece in development, where the focus of work is, and the projection for when it might be completed.
While this doesn’t give any definitive information, it does give us an idea of the many separate and intertwined elements within the development of these games. Across the 20 sections of “deliverables,” there are dozens of individual portions of the game being worked on by different teams. Some of these are listed only as “unannounced,” probably to maintain the surprise that Chris Roberts seems to love creating. Yet, even with those, there’s so much information here it’s hard to sum it up. The only thing I can say without a doubt is that there’s a lot of work still to be done.
One thing I can surmise from this is probably one of the most disappointing aspects. It appears that Squadron 42 most likely isn’t going to be released in 2021. The cornerstone of what has been under development these past eight years is likely, at the very least, heading into 2022. Several of the design elements for the 28 chapters run to the end of December. That doesn’t mean the game won’t enter its beta testing by that period, but it certainly indicates the full release won’t be in that window unless something changes significantly.
It seems that the originally outlandish goals of Chris Roberts have slowly been caught up in the games industry. The extreme detail of locations within Star Citizen has started to become more common in recent releases. While the visuals are always improving in this SC, this next generation of games is set to push similar boundaries. I doubt any game will bother stretching resources to accommodate the extreme scale of planets, moons, and the rest of the universe in such detail though.
Whatever the future brings, I’ll continue seeking out the quarterly patches for content that I enjoy. I’ve committed myself to play only limited amounts of time for each patch as to not get burnt out before the game has the majority of its content. However, every update brings with it something I’d like to explore further. Perhaps as bounty hunting gameplay expands and things become more stable, I’ll put more effort into honing my dogfighting skills. Until then, Star Citizen will continue to be the “wait and see” game of a new decade.