“I don’t want to play a game, I want to build a universe.”

Star Citizen from Cloud Imperium Games, billed as a “universe simulator” — part space sim, part action shooter, part MMO — may be the coolest game you’re not (yet) playing. But what about VR support? We’ll get to that.

From the creator of Wing Commander and Freelancer, this ambitious project has certainly captured a lot of interest. Star Citizen is one hundred percent crowdfunded, having raised an initial $6.2 million in 2012, and another $161 million since then. With nearly two million backers, it’s fair to say that Star Citizen is easily one of the most anticipated games in recent memory. It’s also easily one of the most frustrating for potential fans.

The release date has been moved back numerous times, from 2014 to 2015 to 2016. There is currently no exact release date (though you can keep up with the latest developments here) but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get in on the action now.

What Can I Do Now?

Right now, backers have the chance to play Star Citizen in Alpha and offer feedback that may influence the development of the game. You can also sign up to receive progress updates, read stories set in the ever-expanding mythos of the Star Citizen universe, and explore the universe of Star Citizen through a sophisticated interactive map. If you have a literary bent, you can even try your hand at writing Star Citizens universe fiction. Writers guidelines can be found here.

Star Citizen Specs

In order to play Star Citizen in its current incarnation, you will need an RSI account (free), a game package ($54-$1,320), and a ship ($150 and up). You can also buy one of two starter packs ($54) that contain both module access and a ship, if you don’t want to buy the elements a la carte. It sounds expensive, but it doesn’t cost anything to have a look around the official website and get a taste of the breadth and depth of this ever-expanding universe.

Star Citizen Requirements

  • Roberts Space Industries lists the requirements for the current version as follows:
  • Windows 7 (64 bit) – Service Pack 1, Windows 8 (64 bit), Windows 10—Anniversary Update (64 bit)
  • DirectX graphics card with 1GB Video RAM
  • Quad core CPU
  • 8 GB Memory.

Of course, since the game is still in development, there’s no guarantee that these requirements will be the same, come release day. Best to double check the system requirements for each game package before you purchase.

Backers now have the chance to play Star Citizen in Alpha.

Image: Public Domain CC 0 via Flickr.

Is Star Citizen Worth It?

Nearly two million backers certainly seem to think so. The creators describe it as being not for people who want to merely play a game, but for people who want to build a universe. Indeed, the ways in which players can interact with the game—and with each other–seem limitless. You can play alone or on a team, fight, explore, develop, build — an entire player built universe for the taking.

According to Roberts Space Industries, “Star Citizen places you in the middle of a living, breathing science fiction universe populated with friends, enemies and the unknown. You decide how to make your way in the galaxy, whether you’re a simple merchant trader, a fearsome pirate or a badass mercenary… and anything in-between.”

The game uses real physics, including Newtonian Simulation, G-Force simulation, and thruster coupling and vectoring, to provide realistic movement for your ship. In addition, the game provides both individual and multi-crew ships that players can operate together.

If that’s not enough, the Star Citizen universe is ever-expanding and player-built. Whether as a conqueror, a discoverer, or a creator, you have a chance to make your mark.

Star Citizen: VR Support and Oculus Rift?

The idea of all-encompassing, ever-expanding immersive game would seem tailor-made for VR—and with the burgeoning field of consumer VR and AR technology, one might think Cloud Imperium would be right on it. So, is Star Citizen VR support in the works? Reports vary.

A recent article on RoadToVR explains the company is committed to offering VR support for the game eventually, and the latest user interface is being designed with virtual reality in mind. But VR technology is changing so rapidly that incorporating it into a game that is still under development is proving difficult. As recently as February 2017, a senior developer was quoted as saying, “Don’t hold your breath.” 

None of this has deterred users, however, who have forged ahead with their own hacks and tricks. Some have posted unofficial guides to using Star Citizen with VR devices like Oculus Rift and Vive on Star Citizen’s forums. A number of Reddit users have also reported on their attempts—with varying levels of success—as late as January 2017. With this much interest and investment on the part of users, one hopes that native VR support isn’t far behind. But considering all of the moving parts involved in both developing the game and evolving consumer VR devices, it will probably take some time.

For now, incorporating Star Citizen with VR tech appears to remain the bailiwick of intrepid makers, daring developers, and early adopters. But if you just want to dip your toes in the water, there are a lot of less technologically and financially demanding ways to get involved.

Featured image: CC By 2.0 Bago Games via Flickr.

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