Star Citizen has moved to version 3.0, a designation usually reserved for the third major update brought to a game following launch. The hook here is that Star Citizen is still in alpha with no clear release date even being hinted at. Still, for those playing this ever-changing version, there's a lot to be excited about in the latest update.

Over on the Star Citizen blog, the developers have offered all sorts of details concerning the latest update to the ambitious space opera's alpha. One of the biggest additions is a new RSI launcher that everyone who is playing the alpha will need to download. According to the post, this new launcher will greatly reduce the amount of data that has to be transferred for updates, and will allow the team to roll out patches more quickly, and will serve as a launch pad for the tangential game, Squadron 42, once it's ready for players to dive in. Maybe this is just wishful thinking but, after beginning development back in 2011, this update makes us think that maybe (just maybe) Star Citizen is nearing an actual launch.

Still, as much as the internet likes to tease Star Citizen for its never-ending development cycle, it's probably been a really interesting ride for those who have been playing since the initial alpha launch, watching things grown and change exponentially over the years.

Speaking of which, this latest update is absolutely packed with major additions to the game. For the full rundown, you'll want to check out that original blog post. Still, we'll fill you in on some of the highlights here.

For starters, a trio of new Crusader Moons have been added, giving players more resource-rich locations to exploit during their stellar conquest. A new landing zone has been added at the home of the People's Alliance, Levski, with two dozen surface outposts also established across the stars.

Derelict ships will also now pop up from time to time, giving players another location to explore while out and about. That's coupled with random encounters, new mission givers and actual missions being plugged in to help keep players busy.

A lot of the remaining changes are pretty granular, but we imagine long-time players of the Star Citizen alpha will appreciate their inclusion. One of the not-so-subtle changes, though, is to the cockpit experience. The ways you can interact with the cockpit and the "overall feeling" of flying a ship have been tweaked, which should have a pretty big impact on the gameplay experience.

Additional adjustments have been made to everything from door behavior to the way cargo works and how planets rotate. A whole bunch of visuals have also been altered, including things like the visor HUD and the engine contrails.

Perusing all of the notes, we can't help but wonder how big of a game Star Citizen has evolved into over the years. We know that the scope was so big that they decided to make a second companion game out of Squadron 42, but we can't help but wonder when, exactly, the game will be "complete" enough to get a proper launch. Maybe by version 5.0?

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