During my hands-off demonstration of Star Citizen at Gamescom, Chris Roberts told me the then estimated September 4-8 due date for its 3.0 alpha was doable. It wasn't, clearly, but it now seems the long-awaited and much-anticipated update is live on the game's Public Test Universe for its Evocati Test Flight volunteer members.
As per the screenshot featured at the head of this Reddit thread, it seems Evocati testers now have the build—a step that's considered a "huge milestone in the development process." Here's the message as it appears in full:
This is the news you've been waiting for...
We're absolutely thrilled to announce that an early version of 3.0 is now available for the Evocati Test Flight on PTU!
Also, in addition to all of the new features and updates that 3.0.0 brings, we're also testing the launcher and patching system. No more daily 20GB+ patches!
Publishing a first build to Evocati is always huge milestone in the development process of Star Citizen, and this is a particularly giant step towards getting 3.0 in the hands of all backers. As this update is so massive, we'll start with modest testing goals today to allow everyone time to get familiar with changes, and then we'll look to ramp up quickly in the coming days.
Testing will presumably run for the next couple/few/several weeks before all backers can get their hands on the build. We've reached out to Cloud Imperium Games for a more precise due date, and will report back as and when they reply.
When 3.0 does arrive it'll resemble something closer to early access, Roberts told me at Gamescom: "I'd say we're moving from trying different parts of how the game will play, to something that's closer to early access. Of course we've still got loads and loads of content to add."
Update: A CIG representative has since informed us that while they can't give us an exact date on 3.0's arrival, they "certainly hope it’s soon."