The 9 best space games on PC
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The 9 best space games on PC

January 26, 2020

It might well be the case that no-one can
hear you scream in space, but that’s not to say they can’t hear you wax lyrical about
the best games set in that most final of frontiers. As such, we’re here to guide you through
the star attractions – stars, geddit? Because… never mind – of PC space games. Thanks to Oculus and Valve the holodeck is
now real, and you, like us, will have long since abandoned mundane life to reside exclusively
in VR – your noise-cancelling headphones muffling the pleas of former loved ones and family
members. But there’s still reason to don a loud, primary-coloured uniform and boldly
go where Trekkie fans have gone before. This MMO is less a license to be Shatner or
Nimoy and more an online convention in which you ride an open-top shuttle around every
nook of Star Trek lore and history. But be warned: as with any good convention, there’s
lots of tat to buy too. ‘Former loved ones’ will ring a bell if
you ever played Crusader Kings II, the Medieval game of succession, nepotism and backstabbings
that kept it in the family. Stellaris is Paradox’s space-based follow-up,
with the Byzantine empire replaced by hyper-intelligent lizards reliant on a robot workforce. It’s
a brilliant grand strategy game about making your name in the galaxy, while still finding
time to quell mutant uprisings and decipher alien texts that cause your citizens to start
asking difficult questions. Questions like, ‘What is our place in the universe?’,
and ‘Should I have taken up more languages at school?’. The original Elite inspired a generation,
but it was your dad’s generation – the groundbreaking exploration, trading, bounty hunting and piracy
sim is now 30-years-old and looks like it’s still waiting for somebody to paint the graphics
on top. Fortunately creator David Braben and his studio,
Frontier, have rebuilt the Milky Way for a modern age no longer drawn in wireframes.
The entire galaxy is your playground – all its black holes, gargantuan suns, space anomalies
and ships, flitting around like tiny specks of dust on an inconceivably big table. It’s
still familiar and authentically Elite, but elevated by tech that would have boggled minds
in 1984. MMOs are typically sliced, diced and dished
up as servers split by region, but EVE’s half a million online inhabitants all play
in the same space. Literally. That means they’re all subject to the same plots, cons, and grand-scale
battles that destroy their virtual-life savings. Developers CCP see themselves as merely janitors
in a void players have filled themselves over the past decade.The fact that they’ve filled
it with espionage, betrayal and occasional bursts of bloody war probably says something
about humanity, but it might be best not to think too hard about that… Just get stuck
into asteroid mining instead while the universe burns around you. Lovely, peaceful asteroid
mining. The first order of doing anything in space
is of course to get there. Rather than spread violence, free market capitalism and all manner
of other human diseases to every corner of the galaxy, Kerbal Space Program simply has
you working to get off the ground. Kerbal is about trial and error, and thankfully
your gurning passengers seem quite happy to be sacrificed for the greater good of a basic
understanding of astrophysics. Eyes on the prize, though: with enough crushing but entertaining
failure, you can fly to the moon. Just don’t count on getting your pilots back again. Admittedly there’s not much fizzing and
fwooshing of spaceships to be enjoyed in Mass Effect, but it’s still a planet-hopping, alien-seducing
space adventure, and one of the best sci-fi RPGs you’re likely to play. You feel not just
part of a crew, but in command of a functioning ship with a mandate to explore the galaxy. The obvious strength here is the story – one
that sprouted strong in the first game and blossomed throughout its middle act to such
a degree that the conclusion was always going to wilt a little bit. Did you hear about that?
The fact that Mass Effect 3’s ending didn’t quite live up to expectations? Perhaps the
internet didn’t shout it loudly enough. Space is awful and will probably kill you:
that’s the lesson that FTL attempts to impart on brave spacefarers. The permadeath ship
management game is, on the surface, a simple race to deliver information to the hands of
your allies, but you’re being chased. With each diversion explored the enemy fleet gets
closer and closer, and even if you do stay ahead of them, random death lurks around every
corner. So much can go wrong. Sometimes it’s bad
luck, but sometimes it’s all your fault. Something to think about while you’re patching
up hull breaches and putting out fires. Homeworld’s the sort of game that gets inside
your head and just stays there, like a burrowing tick that leaves lovely chemtrails. It’s
one of those rare strategy games with a great story – both tragic and hopeful, and filled
to the brim with tension. It’s a voyage of discovery, of learning about the past and
desperately struggling to create a future. Beautiful and a bit sad, this is an epic ballet
of tiny ships flying in formation. Just like The Nutcracker. (We’ve never seen The Nutcracker.) Star Wars: TIE Fighter Special Edition LucasArts might be gone, but we’ll always
have reminders of what once was – like Star Wars: TIE Fighter, the phenomenal and villainous
sequel to X-Wing. TIE Fighter let you play as an Imperial, and the devil is always more
fun. This isn’t some arcade space shooter – it’s
a space sim first, coming with greater complexity but also greater control. If you’re being
battered by laser fire from a pesky X-Wing, you can choose which systems to repair first
and allow yourself just a few more seconds to strike back, so to speak. You know, like
the Empire? Star Wars. Ok, let’s move on. What do you reckon? Any gaping black holes
in our space game knowledge? Let us know in the comments, or just hammer that Dislike
button as hard as you can. We’ll get the message.

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  1. you have left out so many classic space games that defined the genre, what about the wing commander series and privateer? i loved to death playing these games along with x-wing and tie -fighter, also no conquest frontier wars (best rts after starcraft). Not to mention Raptor: call of the shadows, terminal velocity, Master of Orion 1+2 and so many more

  2. "You forgot ****…" "You missed out ****…."

    How so guys? The title mentions 9 best space games and he listed 9. Maybe some of you couldn't count?
    Nice list…

    ….but you could have included Space Invaders… 😉

  3. Not a bad list, but missing some good ones… anything X series, Freelancer, Wing Commander… As you mentioned Elite, you could have given a shout out to OoLite – a free Elite clone, fully updated and with (Ahem) "Decent" graphics (within reason). I loved the Homeworld series, so that led me to Sins of a Solar Empire – in turn to the Gal Civ series. (This list is just Space games, not FPS, Sim, RTS – but all of them) Although in my experience Sins get way too chaotic once you get to a good level – running mutliple battles in real time across 6,7,8 systems is just impossible. But at early levels – very enjoyable. Didn't enjoy Star Trek Online or Star Wars, Middle Earth or any of the other "free" MMO's (Guild Wars is an exception). I found the players rude and pretentious. Thats why I have not bothered with Eve – I think if they "Re-booted" Eve I may get involved, but too many players are too entrenched to make it attractive to new players – I don't sign up to be someone else's bitch for the next 6 months. I want fun now. I'd welcome a re-make of Imperium Galactica (II?!) which was a great game back in the day – the ability to "fly" through your colonies and take direct control of ground defence was fantastic – something Gal Civ I, II, III all miss. Eventually what I would like is a slider bar in an Elite style game that lets you set the tone – RPG, Action, Trade, Grind, RTS, Turn Strategy, MMO / Solo / Co-op…. One game, but you pick to what degree you interact with it. THAT would be perfect.

  4. Wing Commander (entire series), Mass Effect (entire series), Lost Planet (entire series), Mars War Logs & Technomancer, Freelancer, Starlancer, Dark Star One, Freespace 1 & 2, Star War Knights of the Old Republic 1 & 2, Jedi Knight Series, Republic Commando, The Dig, Starcraft 1 & 2, Star trek Elite Force 1 & 2… yes….you missed a few. >:(

  5. Even in it's current 3.1 alpha state, I think Star Citizen belongs on this list and, even in it's current state, is a better game than most on this list.

    I mean, STO has devolved into a @$#%^^%& STar Trek skinned casino and IT is on this list?!? It was good once, until it became a Chinese Casino.

    Not knocking it, I loved that game for a while… but Star Citizen Alpha 3.1, current state, is a superior game to STO in it's current state.

  6. There are far too few space games with engaging stories and scales.
    Also, too bad mass effect series only have 3 games.

  7. Earth and Beyond isn't mentioned in any comment. EnB has to be on this list. EnB is still playable too and is free.. Amazed that no know mentions this.

  8. Stellaris looks amazing! I'm so tempted to get it. I have Endless Space 2, Everspace (so beautiful) and Conquest: Frontier Wars (oldie but goodie). My little bro also enjoys Sins of a Solar Empire, but I found it too difficult to get into. Oh, and there is the amazing classic, Ascendancy! Still a game I remember fondly.

  9. This is a very nice list, even though I'd like to add some stuff to it:
    -The Wing Commander series
    -The X-Series
     -Freespace 1+2
    -Starlancer and Freelancer
    -Sins of a Solar Empire
    -Alpha Centauri
    -More Star Wars games like Dark Forces/Jedi Knight, Battlefront, Republic Commando, Empire at War, The Force Unleashed, Galactic Battlegrounds, Rogue Squadron, Shadows of the Empire,…
    -More Star Trek games like Armada, Elite Force, Starfleet Academy, Klingon Academy, Bridge Commander, Starfleet Command, 25th Anniversary, Judgment Rites, A Final Unity, Birth of the Federation, Legacy, DS9 The Fallen,…

  10. Dude, im not seeing the best space game I've played in years on here??? Or the second best? 3030 Deathwar is the 2nd and ofcourse, Halcyon 6… It's pixelart startrek with humor..

  11. There's nothing like stumbling upon a new-to-you 3 year old video and having a good chuckle about what people thought were good space games. Maybe half of these games were really any even fewer had lasting impact on the spectrum of space game genres.

  12. Star Conflict is 10000x better than any game you mentioned (except FTL, FTL is just as good). Poorly conducted research for a lame youtube video.

  13. What happened to the remade Master Of Orion? It was awesomely overhauled and I've wasted many a day on that game. Thumbs up if think this should be in at least the top 5

  14. Ah yes, the human disease of free-market capitalism. Well, we can't all be enlightened like Stalin, Mao and Hitler.

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