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Watch Star Citizen's impressive face-tracking in action

Cloud Imperium had a lot to show off at Gamescom last week, culminating in a two-hour presentation of Star Citizen 3.0 on Friday. Chris Roberts walked the room through the new features and a co-op mission, and while it fell foul of some bugs, showing why players don’t have access to 3.0 yet, it proved to be an impressive demonstration. 

The demo begins with a player waking up and exploring a base before joining some pals and shooting off towards a mission on another world. Shown off were myriad new systems, including modular clothing that lets you mix and match your outfit, new mobiGlas functionality and the impact of persistence.  

Persistence means that when you leave your ship on a moon, that’s where you’ll find it the next time you play. Unless it’s been stolen or destroyed. And it also means that damage won’t suddenly disappear. It has an impact elsewhere, too, with the beginning of a dynamic economy. 

The demo also gave us another look at planetary landings, which we saw a bit of earlier. The space buddies head to a barren world, exploring their alien surroundings while getting into some tense scraps, both on the ground and in the air. The co-op adventure also gave Roberts the opportunity to unveil Faceware, Star Citizen’s new face and head-tracking system.

Not only does Faceware let you control the camera with your head, it tracks the movement of your face, replicating it on your in-game avatar. Combined with new audio features, this makes the game considerably more diegetic. You can see your co-op partners talking, and hear it coming from their avatar. It even tracks winking, frowning, even eye movements. And this isn’t just for in-person meetings, there’s video comms now too, so you can call up your mate in-game and see their character’s face appear in a video box.

Unfortunately, you will need to purchase a specific camera to be able to get the most out of this feature, which is a big ask when, right now, there’s only one game that’s using it. 

Like previous Star Citizen demos, it’s hard to see the actual game underneath all the impressive tech and elaborate systems, but this presentation does offer a clearer vertical slice, and it really does look like Star Citizen is making big strides in recreating the fantasy of being a space-faring pilot. Let’s hope those bugs are ironed out by the time 3.0 is released. 

Fraser Brown
Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.