Star Citizen has gained a bit of notoriety for missing deadlines in the past, however the rolling out of the 3.1 patch which kicks off the new content delivery schedule was successful and on time. 2018 marked an internal restructuring at Cloud Imperium Games, and this release shows that it achieved the desired goals. 3.1 is now playable for all backers of Star Citizen after installing the update.
For the first time, Cloud Imperium has implemented a rudimentary character customization feature in the playable build of Star Citizen. As the game features heavy RPG elements, being able to tailor your avatar to your liking will be key, however so far other aspects of gameplay enjoyed greater priority. This isn't the final version of the character creator, but it currently includes options for face shape, eye color, hair style, and skin tone.
The devs are also slowly populating the small persistent universe sector which is playable in the alpha with more and more activities and general things to do out in the black. Hunting NPC pirates will as of 3.1 carry the added benefit of increasing your character's virtue reputation, and NPC enemies will now sometimes have Quantum Jump jammers in their loadouts forcing confrontation.
One of the more interesting activity additions is player-made quests. By using the Service Beacons, you can select either Personal Transport (basically an escort mission) or Combat Assistance, set the amount you'd be willing to pay and wait for other players to accept the terms. Upon completion of the objective, both parties will be able to review the performance and service of the other player, which will then be added to their record. This way quest-givers who are unwilling to pay will be flagged as such, and players who accepted the quest but didn't help out will be similarly marked.
Technical improvements are also present. The previous builds of Star Citizen had some issues and inconveniences tied to logging out of the game, such as progress loss. Now, when players are close to major stations - these are currently Levski, Grim HEX, and Port Olisar - can safely log out, and will re-initialize in the same position upon logging back in.
More and more of Star Citizen's increasing library of ships are reaching the flight-ready stage of development, and 3.1 brings five new ships to the playable build. These are the Tumbril Cyclone, Anvil Terrapin, Aegis Reclaimer, Nox Kue and MISC Razor. A motherload of new equippable weapons are now also available. Both the PRAR Distortion and APAR Ballistic scatterguns are available in three sizes, and are joined by single-sized weapons AMRS Omnisky IX Laser Cannon, KBAR 10-Series Greatsword Ballistic Cannon, GATS Yellowjacket Ballistic Gatling and CF-557 Galdereen Repeater. Ship customization and weapons loadouts are key - or they will be, at least - in Star Citizen depending on your ship type and primary role.
New handheld weapons have also been added, and the update also brings under-the-hood improvements focusing on bugfixing, optimization, increasing server and game stability and miscellaneous tweaks across the board to make Star Citizen run and look better than it did. Since we're still in the Alpha phase, optimization hasn't been the biggest priority, so even beefy gaming PCs will sweat, however marked framerate improvements have been reported by the players.