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Cloud Imperium Games’ alpha version of ‘Star Citizen’ is free to play this week

An alpha version of the massively crowdfunded space combat and exploration game Star Citizen is free to download for new players this week as part of developer Cloud Imperium Games’ Fall 2016 Free Fly event.

Star Citizen newcomers will get free access to a beginner-friendly starship, which they can pilot through a large portion of the game’s simulated galaxy until the end of October.

Related: Single-player ‘Star Citizen’ campaign ‘Squadron 42’ misses planned 2016 release

Originally pitched via crowdfunding site Kickstarter, Star Citizen is an ambitious interstellar exploration game in which players cooperate and compete within another in a persistent universe. A spiritual successor to Chris Roberts’ Wing Commander series, Star Citizen will also feature combat sequences as players engage one another in high-stakes battles for cargo and resources.

A large portion of Star Citizen‘s funding is derived from virtual ships that players have purchased with real money as development progressed over the past several years. Some modestly equipped ships are available for a small fee, while bigger and more capable ships can potentially cost players thousands of dollars.

The free alpha version of Star Citizen puts players in the cockpit of an F7C-M Super Hornet, a military-grade spacecraft that can accommodate a co-pilot for combat duty. While the craft does not include any cargo capacity, its combat capabilities are enough to take players safely through the game’s beginning chapters.

Despite being in development for several years, Star Citizen is still largely unfinished, and much of the game’s advertised content has not yet been implemented in builds available to backers. In addition to its core online multiplayer component, Star Citizen will also feature a fully fledged single-player campaign at launch, titled Squadron 42. Though it originally targeted a fall 2015 launch, Squadron 42 recently suffered another delay, and a new release date is not yet known.

Star Citizen newcomers can jump into the action this week by registering a free account and entering the promotion code “FALL2016” for alpha access. Star Citizen‘s open alpha will be available through October 30.