Kerbal Space Program Announces Beta Launch, Beta than Ever

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Independent games developer Squad has just released a huge new update for Kerbal Space Program. The game is a physics-based spaceflight simulator, which has garnered huge popularity for it’s physics engine, but has been somewhat lacking in other more traditional content. The game is available on PC, Mac, and Linux, though it is still in Early Access, and it takes a very different approach to spaceflight than games such as Star Citizen.

However, building on recent other updates, Squad has finally brought in more of a career and progression system, called the Kerbal Experience System; this lets a player’s Kerbal’s gain new specialized skills from missions. Some of the new skills that characters can learn and grow in, include advanced piloting, science gathering, and in-flight repairs to spacecraft.

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The major new mode added involves a space center progression system; players start with just a basic space center now. Players must work to unlock the full compound, earning new building and unlocking new capabilities and bonuses as they play and succeed in more and more missions.

Another piece of exciting news, is that not only have modders been asked to implement their mods into the game’s official release, but Squad has partnered with the European Space Agency. The ESA has granted  Squad use of their logo’s and branding in-game, which shows just how much of real-world orbital dynamics are in this game.

Other new features include:

  • A Retooled Craft Editor: Build crafts better than ever before with advanced part sorting and construction gizmos that allow players to place, offset and rotate the different parts on your craft.
  • Expanded Contracts: Brian “Arsonide” Provan, creator of the highly rated mod, “Fine Print,” has implemented and expanded his mod into the game, granting greater variety, depth and difficulty to the previously implemented contract system.
  • Biomes Everywhere: KSP-TV host, Alyson “Tanuki Chau” Young created new biomes for the game, bringing them to over 100 areas from which Kerbals can collect, store and send science data. The new biomes have been placed all across the universe, giving players bigger incentive to explore every inch of the game.
  • New Mk3 SpacePlane parts: Prolific modding community member, Christopher “Porkjet” Thuersam has overhauled and added to the popular collection of Mk3 parts that allow crafts to carry larger payloads.

Even as the game is still in it’s beta and early access mode, the title remains surprisingly difficult, with huge depth to those who look. I struggled for a long time to even get ships in orbit, but there are players who have learned to create full multi-module ships to travel into the depths of fictional space. The developers say that while the game is only just entering beta, they can see that they’re in the home stretch. The progression of this game has gone from a simple spaceflight simulator, to being a space agency simluator. The depth available now as compared to when I first started playing way back in the early days of alpha, is immense.

Kerbal Space Program is available on Steam for $30.00 (USD), and I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it. Getting into space is a huge challenge, that you will enjoy; blowing up dozens of rockets (and poor hapless Kerbals) along the way is just icing on the cake. You can see a gameplay video below.

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