Star Citizen ATV Offers 3.0 Updates & Details Atmospheric Flight

Star Citizen atmospheric flight
Star Citizen has a complex atmospheric flight system that will make ships pilot differently closer to ground. Forces like drag and weather can make liftoff more difficult. Star Citizen is in alpha on PC. Cloud Imperium Games

Star Citizen ’s latest episode of Around The Verse has arrived, and it details the most recent progress toward a live 3.0 release. As the must-fix issue count continues to drop, CIG also treated backers to a deep dive on the physics behind atmospheric flight.



Star Citizen 3.0 live 12-14
There are 176 must-fix issues preventing a live 3.0 release. Photo: Cloud Imperium Games
  • Cargo: The team is mostly concerned with feature-related issues as opposed to technical bugs. This means the cargo system for a 3.0 live build is nearly feature complete.
  • Missions: Mission givers are going through a QA pass, while features related to reputation and virtue are nearly ready for the PTU. The team is investigating problems with specific ships not spawning with pilots. Hull objects are also casting erroneous shadows. The appearance of a random Ruto shadow near his hologram is getting fixed. Environmental missions are being balanced for a future release.  
  • Ships: Mostly focused on bugs and polish related to the 300i series, Glave and Herald. Problems are related to doors, cargo bay, lighting, debris and insurance. A pass has been made to ensure larger shields with greater charge are truly more effective.  
  • Traversal: Fixed issues with and worked to balance gravlev. Further tweaking has been done to support Item 2.0.
  • MobiGlass: Latest features are getting primed for review. Small updates have been made to the Personal Manager App and Vehicle Manager App. Personal Inner Thought menus are being designed.
  • Performance: Fixes across the board for lobbies with high player counts, desync, spawn issues and performance spikes. A bug where time moved backward was resolved.
  • There are 176 must-fix issues left to address before a 3.0 live build can be published outside the PTU.



The main feature of this week’s Around The Verse was atmospheric flight. While some of its key concepts are still in the thick of development, the purpose of the feature is to ensure that flight within a planet’s atmosphere feels markedly different from flight in open space. The biggest way to make that happen is to design a physics system that responds to a fairly realistic set of rules.

Star Citizen entering atmosphere
As you inch closer to a planet, its atmosphere will pull you in. Photo: Cloud Imperium Games

In the 3.0 PTU, developers have implemented the basics of the atmospheric flight system in the form of turbulence near a planet’s surface. But there’s much more to consider. The ultimate goal is to essentially create two complex traversal thresholds for each planet. If all goes according to plan, attributes like drag, weather, wind, surface area and density will all factor into how a ship performs once it inches closer to land.

With so many forces at work, the next step is to make sure Star Citizen’s ships respond properly to the various pulls and jostles. With thrusters, for example, more constant pressure is necessary to get explorers where they want to go. In open space, however, thrust in short bursts should allow gravity and the craft’s navigation systems to naturally pilot you toward a desired destination.

How a ship responds to a given atmosphere will also depend on the individual planet. If the place you’re headed to is comprised of light gases, it’s possible your ship might be able to zip around the surface at a pretty fast rate. That may change based on the density of your craft, but, once you’ve passed the threshold, those same listed variables will act in relation to that particular planet. In other words, when features like drag and wind are in place, they can change drastically based on your location in the universe.

Star Citizen atmospheric flight 2
Having constant thrust will be required the closer you get to the surface. Photo: Cloud Imperium Games

Many different pieces must work in concert to make Star Citizen’s atmospheric flight function as it should. One of CIG’s biggest challenges has been devising a system that’s realistic but still fun to use. In the weeks and months ahead, the team hopes to create special engine trail effects for atmospheric flight and design opportunities for aerodynamic failures from piloting at extreme heights. This will require the completion of an entirely new flight model, but the developers believe they are up to the task.

Star Citizen is in alpha for Kickstarter backers on PC. The holiday stream focused on Squadron 42 is set to occur Dec. 21 at 3 p.m. EST.

Are you excited for Star Citizen’s live 3.0 release? What would you like to see from atmospheric flight? Tell us in the comments section!

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