Alphas and Betas: Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous Now Both Playable

Finally Fit to Fly?
Finally Fit to Fly?

Say what you want about all the great space games on the way, the two titans of the genre right now are Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous. Within the last week, both games became playable as last night the Arena Commander module for Star Citizen finally launched after some delay. Before that, Elite: Dangerous had a playable alpha, but then recently entered it’s premium beta phase last week as well. Now that both of these juggernauts can be virtually flown, it’ll be interesting to see what similarities and differences there are between the two. I’ve toyed with the alpha for Elite, which totally blew me away, but I’ve yet to play Arena Commander. Have you guys toyed with either of these? If so, let’s talk about ’em in the comments. These games signal a serious return of space games from the genre’s close-to-death state just a few years ago, so they’re worth discussing I think. :)

Author: Brian Rubin

24 thoughts on “Alphas and Betas: Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous Now Both Playable

  1. This brings me to today’s most important question:

    What is the best space trading game available TODAY. Not in alpha/beta, but done, and ready to go?

    I’ll hang up and listen off the air.

    1. Some would say X3: Albion Prelude/Terran Conflict, some would say EVE Online, some would say Space Rangers. It really depends on what you’re looking for. For me, if I wanted to go out there and be a trader, I’d load up Privateer.

        1. Hah, never done trading in Evochron, only missions, so it didn’t even occur to me. Bad Brian! Bad!

        2. IME, trade is the weakest system in Evochron. Rather than modeling supply and demand, each system has an “economy” stat. The higher that is, the more high-tech stuff is available to buy, and the higher prices are for everything across the board.

          Which means that raw materials sell for much more in high-tech industrialized systems than in lower systems, as it should be. But it also means that you can make huge profits by buying high-tech goods in a system that’s just barely able to manufacture them and selling them to a more advanced/prosperous one, which is just silly.

    2. I’d say modded X3: Albion Prelude – either XRM, XTC or Litcube’s Universe. Freelancer (modded or not) might be OK as well. Hmm… I haven’t played Privateer (the first one) in a loong time, it might be a good time to see if it is still as good as it was all those years ago.

      Oh, and if you’re into the “cargo for hot plasma bolts” kind of “trading”, then Independence War 2 ;)

      1. Ohhh, thanks for reminding me I need to return to IW2. Such a wonderful game.

  2. It has…. potential? Graphics are good, and it’s good to finally do something with the ship.

    On the other hand, ships (at least my 300i) are oversensitive, and joystick controls are just plain bonkers. Switching yaw with roll… who does that? Bonus negative points for not allowing to remap binds, and having unreadable joystick pics instead of the god damned list of controls. Oh, and the hud is just as useless as it was in all the videos.

    Still, it is an early alpha and it kinda-sorta is better than X-rebirth… ;)

    1. Wait, yaw switched with roll?! Who does that?! The rest is unsurprising given how early the whole thing is, but wow, that doesn’t sound encouraging.

  3. I’ve fiddled around with Star Citizen a bit. Mildly impressed that it seemed relatively stable and performance seemed fine. Load times are a bit excruciating, but it’s early days.

    I played mouse and keyboard, and haven’t yet attempted to bring Ol’ Reliable (MS Sidewinder 2) into the fray. I’m not even sure how a joystick will work, since pointing your guns independent of the ship heading seems a bit intrinsic to the pew-pew action.

    The flight model is jittery and a bit odd. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that they’ve apparently modeled all of the independent thrusters, which is kinda’ cool I suppose? Still, the feeling is not really there. It feels like pointing a camera around and shooting at things, while fighting a bit of constant jitter.

    It’s pretty, but not the clean and elegant beauty that I’ve seen of Elite Dangerous. The HUD is fiddly and cluttered to my eye. Ships don’t go boom with much grandeur. Sounds are a bit ho-hum.

    I’ll spend more time with it and I am sure it will improve dramatically. Meanwhile, I keep eyeing that $150 buy-in for Elite ….

    1. Don’t forget DRIFTER, you guys! It’s gonna beat ’em all!!!!!!

      1. Are we gonna mention every game with trading now? ;) I’ve not played Drifter in a couple of months, but I enjoyed it a lot last time I did.

    2. “Meanwhile, I keep eyeing that $150 buy-in for Elite ….” You and me both pal. *drools*

      1. I did it. I’m not proud of it, but I did it. And I’m happy (but not proud, mind you) that I did. Holy crap, it’s the best thing ever.

  4. Calm down guys. You’re starting to sound like some of the overheated Star Citizen forum posters. :)

    I like the joystick controls in SC. Of course we will eventually get full configurable joystick controls. My Warthog throttle isn’t working in this alpha yet but apart from that it looks and plays glorious. The flight movement is liquid smooth and the fidelity of the reaction controls is excellent. I love the detail of the various HUD display modes. So far so good. ;)

    1. Heh, at least you got to try the controls. ;) Took me six tries to log in, then when I finally could, none of the ships gave me the option to launch into the sim. Early days indeed.

      1. Space cadet Brian, did you wear your space helmet? No helmet, no Arena ;)

        Seriously, find and use the helmet, then enter your Aurora, 300i or Hornet (you should have a “trainer” version in hangar, if you own a variant). Sit in the chair, then AC should fire.

        1. I was wondering if that was the case, so I looked around for a helmet and didn’t find one. Yeesh. I’ll try again tonight.

          1. BTW Brian the Arena Commander manual details this on Page 4. I would strongly recommend you check out the manual. ;)

  5. Its in the patch notes as well:
    IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to take off in the dogfighting module, you must pick up the HELMET located on a pedestal in your Hangar. Once you have picked up the helmet, enter an AC ELIGIBLE SHIP (F7C Hornet, Aurora or 300i) to take off. Note that if you have additional versions of each eligible ship (ie, two 300is) only one of them will allow you access to Arena Commander.

  6. Honestly I’ve felt like a lot of complaints about Star Citizen’s flight model are due to inexperience. After tinkering around in the DFM for a few hours it feels pretty similar to starting out in Evochron, which also has a bit of a learning curve. Hell reading comments in various places it sounds like most people don’t even know how to turn off g-force safeties and comstab, two things when activated basically attempt to make you fly like you’re in atmo rather than space. Right now the biggest issue is that you can’t use your main engine in decouple mode so you can’t spiral, jousting still works just fine though.

    1. Hey man, welcome to the comments. And yeah, I played around with that stuff but the flight model still felt a bit jumpy, especially with a mouse. Totally, to me, felt more stable with a stick and throttle.

      1. So far, the most fun I had was with x-box controller (actually Logitech Chillstream, but hey – same thing). It does get a lot less jittery when you switch off comstab (which basically tries to enforce airplane-like behaviour.

        Also, I found out that it’s good to momentarily switch to decoupled when you line up a firing solution. It prevents the thrusters from trying to correct the flightpath and messing with the aim.

        And I’m kind of starting to like dogfighting with the 300i. It has unobstructed forward view, very good maneuverability and 3 gimballed guns (an upgrade from tech specs). Can’t take a punch (basically one solid salvo and your shields are gone), but hey – it’s a light fighter after all.

        Oh, and I do like the whole “shields stop few hits, but that’s all” approach (instead of methodically chipping away the shield points).

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