Star Citizen is “controller agnostic” and flying will take some time to get used to

Star Citizen flight and controls

Since Star Citizen’s Arena Commander module launched, there’s been a lot of chatter about the flight model and control methods, with some citizens not gelling with the way ships control or having issues with the methods used to fly these vessels. 

Chris Roberts has addressed some of these concerns, clarifying why some systems work the way they do and promising to continue working on these things to keep the citizens from staging some sort of bloody space revolution. 

Roberts reckons that some of the issues folk have been having with the flight model is down to the depth of the simulation and the massive differences between it and atmospheric flight. “We model what would be needed on an actual spaceship, including correct application of thrust at the places where the thrusters are attached to the hull of the ship – in our model moment of inertia, mass changes and counter thrust are VERY necessary,” says Roberts. “Star Citizen’s physical simulation of spaceflight is based on what would actually happen in space.”

The model requires pilots to anticipate where they want to be and the ship can feel twitchy when lining up a target. It’s not the norm. “As this is different than what people are used to, a portion of our community clearly feels the current flight model is ‘wrong’,” says Roberts. “But if you think about what we are doing, we actually allow for a LOT more variation and nuance in flight and combat than a simplified Wing Commander/X-Wing style flight model. Like learning to drive a car really well…it requires some learning. You have to anticipate where you want to be and plan for it.”

Roberts also assures that there is no preferential treatment being given to any control method. “Firstly let me state the goal for Star Citizen will be controller agnostic. No one control mechanism should have an advantage over the others. Personally I am a joystick pilot (either through HOTAS or Gamepad) as opposed to a mouse pilot. I just feel like I have more precise flight control with a joystick. In our various studios there is a huge variety of controller use – some prefer mouse, some joystick, some HOTAS and some gamepad. This is the best guarantee that any one control mode will not dominate.”

If you’ve been in the alpha, how have you found the ship controls?