After Starfield, I thought I was done with large-scale space travel, but Star Citizen's spectacular latest trailer has pulled me right back in

A ringed planet silhoutted against a star in Star Citizen
(Image credit: Roberts Space Industries)

I never fully wrote off Star Citizen as a scam to sell expensive fake ships to credulous fans of Wing Commander, but neither have I ever been convinced that it will actually achieve a 1.0 release someday. I don't think this latest trailer has changed my mind on that point, but it has made me glad that Star Citizen exists as an idea, purely because it is so mesmerising to watch.

To be honest, "trailer" doesn't really do this video justice. It's a 25-minute showcase of the game's bespoke Star Engine tech, and by proxy a chance for Roberts Space Industries to exhibit the scale of the game. And it's the most I've been interested in Star Citizen for ages, despite recent events demonstrating that exploring simulated universes is never as exciting as it seems.

The trailer kicks off with a crucial note: "Everything you are about to see has been captured in engine as one continuous shot without loading screens. Distance between planets has been compressed for the sake of brevity." Then there's a performative orchestral tune-up, before the trailer's soaring soundtrack kicks in.

Instantly, we're off, barrelling through the cosmos. After a few seconds, we arrive at the first planet, microTech Stanton IV, where the Star Engine shows off those most coveted of features, fully explorable planets and seamless transition from space to ground without a loading screen in sight. Take that, Starfield! Right between the eyes.

The trailer spends a while floating around Stanton IV, showing off an incredibly detailed city complete with fully operating rail system, glistening icy mountains, and lush forests. Then we're off again, arriving at a silhouetted ring planet, where the trailer dives into those icy halos to showcase the engine's "real-time large scale asteroid belt generation and rendering". Then we pop over to a gas giant for a look at my favourite bit of ostentatious-sounding tech, "Volumetric clouds at a gas giant scale." We also see the impressive "Floating Cloud City" Orison, which in typical Star Citizen fashion looks absolutely massive.

There are plenty more technical whizzbangs shown off in the second half of the trailer. A spaceship engulfed in flames showcases the game's "Dynamic fire simulation based on voxel grids", while a bleak Hebridean planet forms the stage for the game's "Hierarchical object container technology for outposts and points of interest," which I'm guessing means procedurally generated small settlements. Weirdly, it ends with a closeup of a sweaty man's face, although I can't deny how realistic those salty beads look.

In short, the trailer achieves what it sets out to do, namely wowing with its scale, and making me want to play an open-universe space-game underpinned by this tech. That's despite the fact that I got excited about No Man's Sky and Starfield for the exact same reasons, and both of them ultimately left me cold. This I suppose is the ultimate question: Can Star Citizen turn all this flashy technology into a game that's fun to play? I tried the playable Alpha years ago, and it certainly seemed to have more mechanical grit than either Starfield or NMS. But it was also far too janky to be fun.

Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed kicking back and zooming through Star Citizen's universe for 25 minutes, and it reignited my desire for a space sim which merges that galactic scale and seamless spaceflight with a game that's actually fun to play. I remain doubtful about whether that's actually possible, but I'm also happy that, after all these years, Roberts Space Industries is still trying to make it happen.