Kerbal Space Program gains XCOM-ish metagame in Career Mode

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While it’s touched down in alpha form, you can read our Kerbal Space Program review to see if it’s worth your buck.

If you’ve played Kerbal Space Program, all the careering you’ll have done will have been off-course as your rocket fails to best Kerbal’s troposphere, instead wheeling across the sky like an unfathomably expensive mentos fizz-bomb. That’s to change in the NASA sim’s latest update, the first of several in aid of a fully-featured Career Mode – replete with crew management and a revamped space centre.

The game’s current sandbox setup caters to experimental tinkering and self-set goals, but developers Squad hope the new mode will add clearer structure to their simulation. More than mere scaffolding, Career Mode will allow players to hire their own astronauts, build rockets to budget, take on contracts and ultimately build their reputation as an independent space travel-enabler.

The now-live 0.21 update introduces the core tenets of crew management. Via the new astronaut complex facility at the space centre, players can select crews before missions and take on new staff to fill those big, white suits.

The space centre itself has been kitted out with new building models, as well as interior spaces for its vehicle assembly building and plane hangar.

“This update is a very important step forward for us in many ways,” said lead developer Felipe Falanghe. “Career Mode won’t be finished in one update but we hope our players will see the direction we’re going with it and enjoy the process.

“We’re very excited about finally being able to take significant steps towards this part of the game, which so far has been the most underdeveloped part of the project. It’s very satisfying to finally see it start to take shape and I can’t wait to see how our players interact with these new features.”

See the highlights from the update’s changelog below:

  • Crew Management: Select your Kerbal astronauts from a list of applicants, and track the status of the ones you have in the new Astronaut Complex Facility. Also, pick and choose the crew for new missions before launch with the new crew assignment panels.
  • Updated Construction Facility Scenes: Admire the view with completely rehauled and updated Vehicle Assembly and Space Planes Hangar buildings
  • New Flight Control System: Re-built from scratch, the new Stability Augmentation System (or more popularly known as Sickness Avoidance Solution) should be a drastic improvement for new and old players
  • Terrain Additions: Many planets and moons around the Kerbal Solar System have been updated to feature beautiful new landscapes, featuring procedurally-generated craters and little hills and valleys, which are even more fun to land (or crash) on than before

The new mode should spark an influx of new players who, like me, never quite found the time to try Minecraft before the day-night stricture of Survival mode was implemented. Sometimes the dimensions of those sandboxes can be a little too large, you know?

Our Steve, on the other hand, has been playing a lot of Kerbal Space Program.