Star Citizen Video Covers Planetary Exploration, Sand Storms And Sandworms

The new video from Cloud Imperium Games focusing on the procedural planet generation within Star Citizen shows the updated generation techniques to provide gamers with a very detailed and organic looking planet when they go from space and head into the atmosphere.

The video clocks in at half an hour and starts out in space, doing a flyby of a few ships orbiting a space station above the planet. The video then deep dives into the atmosphere, moving quickly over a diverse range of mountains, riverbeds and valleys. You can check it out below.

One of the things that they had talked about in previous presentations was that they wanted the horizon to be as big and as expansive as your PC could render it. The video definitely gives gamers that sort of impression, as the planet’s horizon stretches as far as the horizon line will let you see.

The video passes over some extraordinary terrain that streams in pretty quickly, and you can tell it’s running in real-time in-engine because you can see the LOD pop-in as they pass over the trees and certain ground shrubbery.

Small details are put onto display, like the exhaust trails from the engines of the ship in the third-person view, as well as the volumetric mists and clouds that appear at different heights and locations throughout the map based on where you are on the planet.

Star CItizen

Other details that were mentioned in previous presetentations were also on display, such as the weapons being available in racks on the ship, along with armor being stored in the ship’s locker. Small things like that are what will make Star Citizen great, because so often AAA devs this gen have lost sight of the small nuances that make a game world feel immersive, and RSI seems to really understand that those small details help create the sort of immersion that give gamers a feeling of experiencing something grand and memorable.

Te video continues to move through the exploration of the planet – this time covering the arid desert plains in an off-road carrier, not unlike the Mako from the Mass Effect series.

Star Citizen - Procedural Planet Generation

The physics for the carrier are spot on, for the most part. Bounce, tilt, impact-absorption, and stabilization are all present, which is pretty cool. The realism is what will make the vehicles stand out, so I’m glad they’re going for that instead of skimping out with arcade physics like in a lot of newer open-world games like GTA V and Mafia III.

We get to see some vehicle damage on display, when some sand people attack the carrier and blow off one of the wheels, this results in a short but dynamic shootout.

Some seemingly pointless debris out in the middle of nowhere turns out to house a distress beacon for a mission. Nearby is a container setup with a canopy, featuring some of the wind physics from the CryEngine.

We get to see the Dragonfly in action, which was first introduced a few months ago. This leads toward more distress beacons across mostly empty sand dunes.

Star Citizen: Rover

What’s interesting here is that we see different patterns in the sand from the procedural generation, giving the planet more of a hand-crafted look instead of the typical generic look we’ve come to expetc from procedurally generated worlds.

Most impressive to me was the sand storm taking place in the far off distance. It looked like it was created volumetrically, which would mean that it’s no just a typical collage of large, alphas with various degrees of opacity filters turned up. But if they are just a collection of alphas, it’s impressive work by the artists because it looks good.

Star Citizen - Sandworm

We see a destroyed ship turned into a sand base, which is pretty neat. I get a Borderlands meets Star Wars vibe from the derelict ship.

Stealth takedowns are put on display for the first time, and and we get to see how wind storms will affect certain environments.

So far the game looks really good. I love the weapon handling, the character posturing when moving through or across askew surfaces, and overall the graphics and presentation look great. There still aren’t any new games coming out that seem to come anywhere near the fidelity of Star Citizen.

The demo ends with a look at a giant sandworm coming out to eat some of the sand aliens riding their fake speeder bikes across the desert. I’m really curious to see how well the planetary generation handles more exotic biomes, like jungles, tropical locations, rain forests and fjords.

I suppose we’ll have to keep an eye on Star Citizen to see how it evolves as the more complex aspects of the game are put into place.


Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

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