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Is gaming better on PC? Star Citizen’s planet-sized city shouts ‘yes!’

Dean Evans Technology Writer Twitter

You shouldn’t need any convincing that the PC is the best platform to play games – it’s got the widest variety of titles, backwards compatibility, modding/overclocking, the ability to play with different controllers and the most flexible graphics settings.

But if you do require another reason, then multi-million dollar space sim Star Citizen has provided a timely reminder.

A planet-covering cityscape

During the annual Star Citizen fan convention CitizenCon, Cloud Imperium Games founder and Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts showed off some of the latest updates to the crowdfunded epic. This included a stunning, planet-covering cityscape inspired by the likes of Blade Runner and Coruscant, the Star Wars galactic capital.

Watch the video below and you’ll see how Cloud Imperium has used procedural technology to create a sprawling city of futuristic skyscrapers and smoke-belching mega-factories. This Arc Corporation world is part of a persistent online universe that aims to seamlessly blend together space combat/exploration and first-person adventuring.

Between 14.33 and 24.00, you can watch a journey that starts on a landing pad in the middle of the Arc Corporation. It then follows a player as they climb into a ship and cruise across the endless urban sprawl, holographic adverts flickering in the half-light.

Eventually, the player aims his ship up towards the stars (real locations that you can visit) and leaves the atmosphere, before warping to another distant planet. All without any loading screens to break the immersion.

Procedural generation

Star Citizen isn’t the first game to do this. No Man’s Sky and Elite: Dangerous both allow you to transition from space to a planetary surface without a buffer or judder. Both use procedural generation, which uses maths to generate billions of planets, stars, spinning space stations and asteroid fields. Yet neither look as good as this Star Citizen demo.

Of course, as impressive as the massive Arc Corporation city looks, it’s effectively a planetary ‘landscape’. A backdrop. Like a cratered plain or a mountain range. Interactivity here is limited to one or two landing zones amongst the procedurally scattered buildings, where players can set down their ships, buy supplies and seek out missions.

These social zones, explained Roberts at CitizenCon, would ultimately be populated by a large cast of NPCs, as well as other player characters.

Five years after its 2012 Kickstarter, and with over $150 million raised, Star Citizen is slowly delivering on some of its ambitious promises. There’s still a long way to go. But as a showcase for what the power of a high-end PC can do, and what MMO-esque shape future games might take, it’s an exciting prospect.

Exclusive to PC

It’s a PC exclusive too, one that demands a machine with a fast quad-core CPU, 8GB of memory and a DirectX 11-capable graphics card. Something like the Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower, a souped-up, VR-ready Windows 10 machine that can incorporate up to a 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-7700K quad-core processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB graphics card, with optional liquid cooling.

And with 8th Gen Intel Core desktop CPUs and accompanying Z370 chipset now rolling out, there’s never been a better time to build, buy or upgrade a PC. Find out more here.

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