The last time I played Star Citizen, I wandered around an extraterrestrial city, took off in a spaceship, got confused, and then crashed into that city. (Truly, I am a citizen of the stars.) The open universe is a bit daunting right now, but Cloud Imperium Games has been adding structured modes to its ever-expanding space sim, too. There's Arena Commander for dogfighting, Star Marine for first-person shooting, and coming in the future, a 40-player combined infantry and vehicle combat mode called Theaters of War.
Today, Cloud Imperium announced that another developer has been helping with Theaters of War since 2019: Firesprite, the UK-based studio that worked with Sony to make PS4 pack-in The Playroom, as well as sci-fi horror game The Persistence.
It's not surprising that another set of hands is fiddling with the Star Citizen project (it's hardly just one game at this point). Cloud Imperium has studios in Los Angeles, Austin, Frankfurt, Wilmslow, and Derby, and has worked with a number of contractors throughout a decade of Star Citizen development, including Dead by Daylight studio Behaviour Interactive and production company Virtuos.
The Theaters of War mode is something like a mashup of Battlefield and Star Wars: Squadrons: Attackers and defenders battle through stages that start on the surface of a planet and conclude in an attack on an orbital space station.
The mode was first demonstrated to Star Citizen backers in 2019, and closed beta tests have continued since then—a hand-picked group of backers called the Evocati are the only invitees so far, but Theaters of War will hit the Public Test Universe "eventually," says Cloud Imperium. There's nothing more concrete than that timing-wise, but this is Star Citizen we're talking about, so that's to be expected.
I've embedded the 2019 demonstration of Theaters of War above. It's apparently changed a good bit since then, but it's still pretty wild to see a ship full of players take off from the ground and then land on an orbital space station. I imagine it's a technical quagmire, too—no surprise that a few of the questions asked during an AMA about the mode last year had to do with framerates.
While Firesprite is specifically working on Theaters of War, the studio's efforts have benefited combat design for the larger Star Citizen project, according to Cloud Imperium technical director of content Sean Tracy. That includes Squadron 42, the separate singleplayer game starring Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, and Gillian Anderson, which also has no release date—I'm going to guess it'll be out around the same time as The Elder Scrolls 6, and it's possible I'm being generous.