An increase of 8 players on the surface of things doesn't sound like a whole lot on paper. But in the wider context of the Star Citizen universe, and the gargantuan process that is its development, it's an important achievement.
Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games announced the increase earlier this morning as part of patch 2.2.0. The scale of the in-game universe within instances has been broadened to accommodate the change too.
The bounty and hostility systems have been deepened, while the matchmaking now takes into account the size of your party and gives members time to zone in. Most of the major changes are below — and there's a lot of changes.
Star Systems: Crusader We have increased the number of players and player-ships per instance of Crusader from 16 to 24. The scale of the system has adjusted, the planet Crusader and moons are at a more appropriate distance from one another. Comm Arrays have been re-positioned accordingly. Comm Array 8 has been removed. The Comm Arrays have been changed drastically as part of the new Monitored Space and Bounty systems and no longer unlock Research missions. For the time being, Research Missions are now offered to characters who visit ICC Probe 849. ICC probe 849 is now on the QT Nav Points list. There are three new icons on the player visor HUD while in Crusader. An icon will appear in the top-left of your screen when you are in Monitored space. This icon looks like a satellite sending off little signals. To the right of Monitored Space, there is an icon to indicate when you are in an Armistice Zone. This icon looks like a bullet with a line through it. To the right of the Armistice Zone icon, an icon will appear if you are a wanted criminal. This icon looks like a shooting range target, with a border that will become incrementally more orange with each Criminal level. Game Systems: Your efforts repairing Comm Arrays in Crusader have not gone unnoticed by Crusader Industries! Monitored Space System “Monitored” space are large areas of the Crusader system that are being actively monitored by Crusader Industries. These areas are centered around any active Comm Arrays in Crusader, as well as Cryo-Astro and Port Olisar. By disabling the Comm Arrays, you can toggle monitored space off for that area. Likewise you can reactivate “Monitoring” by activating the local Comm Arrays. Comm Arrays will be active or disabled at-random when an instance is first brought up. Disabling a Comm Array has consequences, because no-one except a Criminal would ever want to go unnoticed by Crusader Industries. Players who are not currently considered a “Criminal” will receive missions for any Comm Arrays that need to be reactivated. Player character kills made in unmonitored space will go unnoticed by local authorities. Bounty System In an effort to improve security in the Crusader region while their local staffing is low, Crusader Industries has activated their “Bounty” system and encourages all pilots to hunt down any wanted criminals in their space. Destroying an empty ship, colliding with a landed ship (in Monitored space), or disabling a Comm Array gives the offending character 1 level of Wanted Criminal. However, these are not cumulative and will not take your character above 1 Criminal level. Killing a player character or destroying an occupied ship (in Monitored space) gives 1 Cumulative level of Criminal. Crusader Security AI will spawn and attack any Criminal (of any wanted level), that enters the area around Cry-Astro Station or Port Olisar. There are 5 Criminal levels available. At Level 5 point, a global bounty mission is posted to all characters on the server instructing them to hunt down and kill the character. Players who successfully complete the bounty mission for a Level 5 Criminal will find a Klaus & Werner ATT4 Energy rifle waiting for them in their bedroom on Port Olisar. Courtesy of Crusader Industries. Each Criminal level adds 30 seconds of “jail time” to your respawn. When a Criminal is killed, they will be locked into their spawn-bedroom for the duration of their penalty time. Players who die in Crusader with at least 1 level of Wanted Criminal, will respawn in a medium Outlaw loadout. Those who die with Level 4 will be respawn in a different Outlaw loadout. When a Level 5 Criminal is killed, they are removed from the server. This functionality is for the purposes of testing of the system, as consequences within current game systems is limited. When a Level 5 Criminal is killed, they are removed from the server. This functionality is for the purposes of testing of the system, as consequences within current game systems is limited. There are only two ways to reduce your Criminal level. Waiting 10 minutes without committing a crime will naturally reduce the level by 1. There is a console in Security Post Kareah that you can “hack”. Each hack you initiate and complete drops your wanted level by 1. However, each hack takes 1 minutes to complete, and other criminals can interrupt your hack by initiating their own. Hostility System Pirates and Crusader Security now recognize potential friends and foes. Pirates will spawn to protect disabled Comm Arrays from non-Criminals. Crusader Security will spawn to protect active Comm Arrays from Criminals. Both will become much more aggressive toward anyone who takes action toward them. When a character initiates combat with another character, the aggressor is flagged as “hostile” to the defender. Defenders do not receive a penalty or a Wanted Criminal level for killing a player that initiated combat in Monitored Space. Party System Revamp This encompasses a wide range of quality-of-life improvements, updates and fixes to the party system in Star Citizen. When a party is formed and a member attempts to join an instance for the first time, the matchmaking system will automatically look for a server with the “Best Fit” for the party size. Once a party member has entered an instance, the elevator UI (Hangar and Main Menu) will show those instances with a party member inside on top. Followed by instances that have contacts. Matchmaking system now takes into account the number of players in a party when selecting a server. The Matchmaking will ‘reserve’ slots on the server for the rest of your party for two minutes, to allow them time to select the instance and zone in. The party leadership will now automatically migrate to another player, if the leader goes offline. If a party member goes offline, then comes back online, the Party UI is properly restored in the Contacts list (F11). Players that go offline will remain in the party for 10 minutes, before being timed out of the party. The party will disband if all party members are offline for 5+ minutes. Party Leaders can now kick any offline members. Social System “Full” instances with contacts in them will now go to the bottom of the list of instances in the elevator screen. AR view has a new seamless overlay to prevent it from interfering with normal gameplay. It will still provide the name of characters and items. AR view is now “On” by default in all zones. You can disable it by pressing “F10”, but it will re-enable on zoning. Ships: The Aegis Sabre is now flight-ready and owners of this ship can access it in Arena Commander and Crusader. The Xi’an Khartu-Al is now available and owners of this fine ship can now view it in the Hangar. We have been making a number of changes to the movement behavior of manned turrets, as we are aware that they haven’t been behaving in a fluid or intuitive manner. This is still very much work in-progress. SCM and Cruise speeds have been re-balanced across the board for all ships. SCM speeds have been increased for the Retaliator, Gladius, Freelancer, Gladiator, Vanguard Warden, F7A Hornet, F7C Hornet, F7C-S Ghost, F7C-R Tracker, Mustangs (all), Vanduul Glaive, P-52 Merlin, Vanduul Scythe, M50 Interceptor and 350r. SCM speeds have been decreased for the Aurora (All), Cutlass Black, Avenger (All), F7C-M Super Hornet, 325a, 315p and 300i. Cruise speeds have been increased for the Aurora LN, Aurora CL, Aurora LX, 325a, 315p, 350r. Cruise speeds have been decreased for the Constellation Andromeda, Freelancer, Gladiator, Aurora ES, Aurora MR, Cutlass Black, Avenger (All), Vanguard Warden, Hornet (All), Mustang (all), Vanduul Glaive, 300i, P-52 Merlin, Vanduul Scythe, Gladius and M50 Interceptor. First Person: We have made extensive improvements to first-person animations, specifically for FPS. These include: Added better transitional animations from “Look” to “Aim” poses. Added improved animations for when a weapon is in a “lowered” state, both while standing and while in crouch. Fixed an issue where characters would be unable to aim-down-sight during certain “transitional” animations. Added FPS “cover” animations, for exiting and entering aim-down-sights from cover while holding a weapon. Fixed some animation issues, where the reload animations would not play if the character was when reloading from aim-down-sights. Adjusted the “sway” of characters while running with a stocked rifle (P4-AR). Fixed an issue where players could “look down” while their character is prone, holding a weapon, with something solid in the way. This fixes a problem where characters could balance in the air on the front muzzle of their gun. Polished transitional animations when a character goes from prone movement, back into Idle. Animations have been added to support weapons being fired while prone, and while moving-in-prone. Added transitional animations for moving from low cover to high cover with a stocked weapon. Removed much of the helmet and HUD bob that occurred in first-person camera mode. Fixed an issue where lying prone in a tight or enclosed area caused characters to bounce back and forth off the collision. Fixed an issue where the P4-AR was not being held correctly when the character was in zero-G. Tweaked the look-pose of characters when in first person view, such that users can now see the feet of their character (rather than their chest) when looking down. The Gemini LH-86 Combustion Pistol is now available on Crusader for players who have purchased this gun. You can find it inside of your “spawn” bedroom when you first load into Crusader. The Klaus & Werner ATT4 energy rifle is now available on Crusader! It is awarded to players who complete certain scenarios of the Covalex Private Investigator mission, or on killing a Level 5 Wanted Criminal. Players on Crusader will now have a radar HUD on their visor while on foot. This radar will display the location of any nearby player characters that are also on foot.
Having more modules to hack and interact in first-person is intriguing; it certainly makes that element of Star Citizen a lot more lively (a criticism that was heavily levelled, albeit in a different context, against Elite: Dangerous). The important key, however, will be the ability of the servers and individual clients to hold up without crashing or crawling to a halt.
So if you're flying around the universe post-2.2.0 today, let us know in the comments! How's the performance and stability these days, and how's the synergy between the various modules, missions and ships?