In context: Star Citizen has been the subject of quite a bit of criticism over the past few years, due to its slow development cycle and overpriced ships. However, despite the negativity, the game's developers have continued to forge ahead, and Star Citizen is finally starting to take shape.
Roberts Space Industries (RSI, the team behind the game) releases new features and mechanics at a much quicker pace than they have in the past.
Unfortunately, accessing the game and experiencing that new content isn't exactly convenient -- unlike most other titles, you don't buy a copy of the game. Instead, you buy a ship, which grants you access to it. However, until September 23, you can try the game for the low, low price of $0.
To celebrate the latest Ship Showdown -- a community event in which Star Citizen's players collectively vote for their favorite ships -- RSI is allowing anyone to hop into the game using one of the top 16 ships.
To do so, simply create an RSI account if you don't already have one, and enter the free fly code "showdown2950" on this page. Then, you can download the game client and begin playing.
If you end up enjoying your time with Star Citizen, you can snag a ship starter pack at a discount for the duration of the Ship Showdown event.
Star Citizen's gameplay is still limited at the moment, but there should be enough content there to keep you occupied for a while. You can land on space stations and explore them first-person, do a little trading or bounty hunting, or partner up with other pilots in multi-crew dogfights.