Fans of Star Citizen attended the seventh annual CitizenCon and were given a fresh glimpse of the long awaited title in development. In the fifth panel for the day, Sean Tracy, Technical Director of Content of CIG Los Angeles, showed a new game mode that will have battle royale fans clambering for more and it has been dubbed: Theatres of War.

Essentially Star Citizen's Theatres of War is going to be a large scale PVP mode that combines the eight years of developed technologies of the flight simulator: Arena Commander, and the FPS mode: Star Marine, into one big mashup of ground and air warfare. CIG showed the use of various vehicles in action on the ground and in the air, from a playable area of around 3 kilometers planetside, then launched into space and all of this is seamless.

This particular Theatre of War will have 40 players with 20 attackers and 20 defenders. Players will be able to choose from the following presets that are mostly self-explanatory: Foot Soldier (a general rifleman), Assault (shotgun/interiors), Sniper, and Anti-Vehicle. Sean stated that all of these presets would be different for each side, so factions will have the same weapon categories but not identical weapons. The game mode is anticipated to last around 30 minutes and will have three phases with objectives in each. Star Citizen's gameplay is grounded in realism so combat will feel more visceral as compared to Borderlands 3 gunplay.

The first phase will give the assaulting team a host of vehicles to disable the anti-air turrets in the area while the defenders will have strategic postings to stop them. Among the ground vehicles the attackers will pilot is the URSA Rover, which shares some similarities to the Mass Effect Mako.

In the second phase, the attackers must destroy a radar tower linked with the orbital mining laser. In this phase the teams go airborne with atmospheric combat technologies on full display. Meanwhile, on the ground, vehicles and infantry collide in exterior environments and interior areas that may ignite memories of Battlefront sessions. This phase appeared geared toward vehicular warfare but assaulting infantry will be able to deliver a significant blow to the tower if they can successfully penetrate the defenses and hack the computers inside.

The final and third phase sends the teams into orbit where similar objectives to the second phase await. The attackers can unload troops on to the mining laser and they can attempt to sabotage from within, while their compatriots try to blast the laser from the outside and fight off defending ships. Low gravity environments will impact and challenge players unlike sci-fi shooter, Destiny 2 where players have special jumps.

Theatres of War is intended to give players the option of a shorter game mode when long sessions aren't a possibility. CIG keeps this lore friendly by making these battles historical events within the Star Citizen Universe. The one showcased, called Crossroads of Crime, is about a criminal organization called The Supreme duking it out with an elite tactical squad called Advocacy. The Supreme (the defenders) would rather see the planet destroyed than fall into the control of the Advocacy, and are trying to activate a massive, orbital mining laser to do it. The Advocacy (the attackers) are trying to stop The Supreme from activating the laser and so the two teams are established.

In the video, Sean said that Theatres of War took about six to eight months to develop and they already had the majority of technologies and assets in place. There were still a few things they had to add like locked and mobile spawn points and there is still more work to be done. Tracy said they would need to continue balancing infantry weapons against vehicles, animation speeds, and ship activation times just to name a few more agenda items that would require a fast-paced game mode like this to thrive.

Star Citizen has been shrouded in controversy since it began development in 2011 and with a huge crowd-funding campaign of over $250 million dollars. It was originally anticipated to launch in 2014 but still remains in a testing state as of November 2019. Squadron 42 has also seen delays. CIG's single-player game with the same technologies and a host of A-list actors backing it up have gone much the same way but is planned to release at some point prior to Star Citizen. The game and its development has been spoken of for so long and with so much speculation and anticipation that it has become a gaming fairy tale.

Despite the rumored financial issues, time lines, technological reaches, and all the other negative forces acting against it, CIG and Chris Roberts have seemingly stayed the course and continue to show actionable progress every year. Perhaps when Theatres of War mode releases in early 2020 there will be some rejuvenated interest and even more crowd funding to fuel the Star Citizen machine.