On August 9th, 2016, Hello Games released its much awaited procedural universe exploration game, No Man’s Sky. Since its announcement, players had been promised large faction battles with meaningful impacts, the ability to play a number of different career roles, real-time planetary physics, multiplayer, complete control of landing, alien languages and a virtually infinite amount possibilities. The release was met an incredible level of enthusiasm, with hard copies selling out completely at many stores. With just over two hundred thousand players online in the first day on PC alone, No Man’s Sky firmly planted itself as one of the larger releases of the year. Unfortunately, this didn’t last.
Immediately, players began discovering not only new lifeforms and planets, but glitches and missing features as well. Hello Games ended up delivering a gutted version of what was originally teased, providing only very basic flight mechanics, an incredibly repetitive resource gathering function, and reducing its interactions with characters to just shops. In the first 24 hours, two streamers even found themselves on the same planet, something Hello Game said would be nearly impossible. However, these players couldn’t see each other. This led to a lot of confusion and unrest in the people who had purchased No Man’s Sky expecting the giant multiplayer experience promised by Hello Games. As players dug through old interviews and trailers, people began to realize that No Man’s Sky was more empty promises than gameplay.
Fortunately, all is not lost for those still searching for a game featuring an expansive universe, gameplay that doesn’t get old after a few hours and working multiplayer. Roberts Space Industries has been working on a game featuring all of No Man’s Sky’s missing features and more. That game is Star Citizen. Star Citizen, which began crowdfunding in October 2012, has reached a total of $123 million as of September 2016. With this money, RSI plans on creating an expansive MMO space simulator experience with painstaking attention to detail.
Star Citizen is currently in its pre-alpha stage of development, far from official release. However, backers can still play all of the completed content. Despite rumors that RSI would simply take their backers’ money and run, they have delivered consistent updates in the form of in-game additions, as well as behind the scenes videos on YouTube. Their policy of transparency in game development lets their backers breathe easy knowing that just because something isn’t playable right now doesn’t mean it’s not being worked on.
Star Citizen’s development is planned in 6 modules, all with different subsections. These include the Hangar system, Arena Commander, the Planetside module, the First-Person Shooter module, Squadron 42 which is Star Citizen’s story mode and the Persistent Universe. Of these, the first 2 are completed, with the third currently underway. As of right now, players have rudimentary interaction and combat capabilities. It also features basic job offerings and exploration as well as several space stations and player hubs.
The next large update, Star Citizen 3.0, is going to add a planetary landing feature, several new moons and planets, more in-depth missions and many more career options, including exploration, trade, industry and military. So for those still looking for a universe to explore and interact with after No Man’s Sky, Star Citizen has you covered.
As opposed to No Man’s Sky, Star Citizen goes for a complete freedom approach in their universe, allowing players to land, crash or leave their ship when and where they please. While No Man’s Sky may be virtually infinite, the novelty of this wears off rather quickly. Star Citizen takes a different approach, rather than a billion solar systems with a handful of interactions, they are going for roughly 100 solar systems with a billion ways to interact. While Star Citizen is still a long way from full release, it is slowly but surely growing into a full fledged universe with content and updates being released regularly. For those feeling skeptical after No Man’s Sky’s release, Star Citizen’s policy of transparency in game design may prove to be a breath of fresh air.