At long last, the 3.0 update to Star Citizen's alpha build has been released.
Launched just ahead of Christmas, 3.0 has been rolled out to backers of the ambitious crowdfunded sci-fi exploration game.
Including in this update are three moons to explore, a brand new mission system, improved trading and cargo mechanics, as well as developer Cloud Imperium more than doubling the number of players per server from 24 to 50.
The developer is open about the fact that this release is going to need substantial improvements, but also says this is the foundation of future developments.
"In short, it’s a big update that lays the foundation for larger developments down the road," the team wrote in a blog post.
"Apart from the improvements already made, there’s still a lot of work that has to be done to get the performance up to where we want it to be, but this will take a bit more time. Object Container Streaming and Entity streaming are major aspects to reduce memory footprint and further scale the game world for many star systems in a seamless way. There will also be a concentrated effort into better scaling of existing game systems with increased player count and world complexity (entity count). We’ve been investigating range based culling of entity updates which will provide significant gains, but still needs additional work to properly integrate into all game systems.
"With the release of 3.0.0, the Persistent Universe is now shifting to a quarter-based release schedule. This approach means that after each live delivery we can return to the main development branch and pick up all the changes and optimisations that have been worked on in the background and ready them for our next live release. 3.0 has been about completely revamping systems and gameplay as well as adding new content. We will now go back into our development branch, which we need to do for our Q1 release in March and will pick up the latest code and concentrate on optimizing performance, using our new gameplay and systems to the fullest, as well as continuing with the balance and polish of the PU."
The 3.0 update was due for a 2016 release date, before being bumped to July 2017, then August before slipping again to September. The title has raised more than a whopping $168.5m in crowdfunding.