During the celebrations of CitizenCon 2953, Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games provided a look at many features that will come to the game over the next 12 months.
According to creative director Chris Roberts, what was showcased at the event will make the game a "dramatically different experience."
Incidentally, during the event, the developer also announced that the single-player campaign Squadron 42 is now feature-complete and entering the polish phase, and you can check out what that means in our dedicated article.
The presentation started with a tech demo intended to show how the engine of Star Citizen is ever-evolving, which means it doesn't risk becoming obsolete before the game releases.
Incidentally, since the videos have not been released on YouTube at the moment of this writing, we'll link to the relevant segments on Twitch, so that you can comfortably watch them without having to search for them in the two 7-hour-long streams, starting with the Star Engine tech demo.
After that, you can check out a detailed panel on the technology and features behind the Star Engine presented by Marco Corbetta and more, VP of Technology.
We get to see improvements to the clouds, fire simulation, water rendering, a realistic shader that will improve scopes, and the new temporal upscaling solution to improve performance.
The developers will also look at frame generation techniques like DLSS 3 and FSR 3 but that's coming a bit later as it's not a big priority compared to GPU performance.
We hear more about how planets will be improved, including how they're going to be built easier, faster, and in a way that they're truly unique.
Another relevant feature showcased is the new Vulkan Renderer, which also includes hardware Ray Tracing on the GPUs that support it.
Further on the menu are the cloth simulation Starcloth and the hair simulation Starhair, followed by Malstrom, a brand-new physically-based destruction system.
The panel continues with a look at work being done on audio, followed by a technical but interesting segment on persistent entity streaming and the replication layer on the way to the ultimate goal, server meshing.
Interestingly, Chris Roberts mentioned that the first time he saw the replication layer working a few weeks ago, he cried.
The next panel focuses on the resource management system and the Engineering gameplay, presented by Thorsten Leunmann and Guillermo Bilbao.
Another panel focuses on Star Citizen's heart, presented by vehicle director John Crowe and more, we take a look at recent and upcoming ships.
These include the Crusader A1, the RSI Zeus Mk II in its three variants, the Drake Cutter (Which is the best-selling Drake ship to date), and its new variants.
Future ships showcased are the highly-anticipated Banu Merchantman and vehicles for Squadron 42.
The Idris will be delivered in all variants when Squadron 42 releases. After its release, Cloud Imperium Games is planning to launch the Javelin and updated models for the flyable Vanduul ships.
Lastly, we also get video teasing known and unknown vehicles that the developers hope to release in the next 12 months, including the RSI Polaris, which also gets its dedicated presentation.
Interestingly, below you can see an infographic representing the ships and vehicles that have already been delivered and those that still are in the backlog.
The last panel of CitozenCon's day 1 is one about UI and navigation including a revised Moibiglas which even lets you display location and shop maps and navigation aids.
Impressively, the map can be zoomed out all the way to a system-wide scale, massively improving one of the clunkiest parts of the current implementation of Star Citizen.
Moving on to day 2, the first panel shows impressive improvements done to the characters.
One of the most interesting parts was about hair, which includes a full dye system and a look at many new hairstyles that look a lot more natural than what we have now.
On top of that, 60 new heads have been scanned to expand the DNA pool for the character creation from the 18 we have now. On top of that, customizable features have been added.
The new character creator is showcased showing off the sculpting mode that lets you customize characters in a much more direct and personalized way.
Interestingly, you can have facial hair on any body type.
The next panel of the day was about first-person gameplay starting with player traversal, showing all the ways players will be able to explore wide and tight spaces in the game's universe, both with and without gravity.
The panel also showcases interaction with objects including the new interaction wheel, inventory, and looting.
We then get to see item wear in action, ADS and iron sight improvements, and changes made to weapons and combat.
Another panel focuses on the flight experience, showing new ship UIs and HUDs, master mode changes, physicalized quantum travel (which can now fail if you don't pay attention), and the new quantum boost for short-range jumps that don't need navpoints.
We then hear about AI improvements and combat (shown over the new planet Pyro III as a bonus). This includes improved pips that are now separated by weapons.
The developers also showcased precision targeting mode that lets you attack precisely different parts of an enemy ship.
The panel ends with a look at the new aerodynamics model which makes flight in the atmosphere much more realistic, including control surfaces and lift surfaces simulation. You can even stall your ship like a real aircraft.
The next panel is a look at locations and their creation, including an extensive look at the new Pyro system, the new outposts, new derelict settlements, and space stations.
Speaking of settlements and space stations, we also take a look at the reputation system that will let you either explore them peacefully or have to fight your way through. Of course, you may also choose stealth, and this is showcased as well.
The last panel focuses on missions and gameplay coming to the game's universe, starting with the massive distribution centers.
We hear about raids, which are team-based missions focused on high-risk, high-reward missions. Players will need to work together to breach the interior of one of the distribution centers. They will also have to choose their way if approach, route, and equipment.
The next segment of the panel is about cargo and freight, on top of hangars that will become persistent and personal, and freight elevators that can also carry vehicles and ship components.
Speaking of persistent and personal, the panel ended with the first look at land claims and the ability to build and customize your own planetside him and outpost.
We hear of blueprints, materials, locations, and the base building mode itself, including building types and their upgrade paths.
Cloud Imperium Games will start development on this feature in Q1, 2024.
After the last panel, Cloud Imperium Games showcased the single-player mode Squadron 42, with new information and gameplay, including the fact that it's now feature complete.
Full disclosure: the author of this article backed Star Citizen's crowdfunding campaign.