It’s a wonderful time. Finally, after years of neglect and half-assed mobile entries, the space game is back. EVE Online‘s held the ground for a few years, but its systems and politics are incomprehensible to all but the most devout of players. These emerging titles, together with seemingly mandatory support for the Oculus Rift VR headset, hold the promise that’s been burning in the hearts of everyone who’s been raised on a diet of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica: to sit in the cockpit and twirl through the stars in the hot bloom of a thousand enemy lasers.
Let’s start with the biggest single crowdfunded thing in history.
The baby of Chris Roberts, legendary designer of Wing Commander, Star Citizen started strong and got stronger. Fantastic ship design, amazingly ambitious stretch goals and an absolute refusal to make the thing run on anything but high-end PCs has really sold it to the masses, and its funding just surpassed a staggering fifty million dollars. The latest stretch goal was hiring linguists to create genuine individual spoken languages for a number of the game’s alien races. Yep. Here’s early footage of the game in action from PAX 2014:
And while we’re on the subject of legendary space game designers, here’s David Braben’s return to the genre. His first space title,1984’s Elite, may have run on a BBC Micro but it held an entire galaxy of space warfare and trade. It’s further along in development than Star Citizen and has full integration with the latest version of Oculus Rift, and a rather giddy report about the beta on Kotaku makes it sound like a truly epic experience. Here’s a little something to whet your appetite – just image this through a VR headset:
An offfshoot of the aforementioned “EVE Online”, the first-person space combat project has been impressing for a while. Excitingly, it’s been announced for the PS4 and will use Sony’s own VR headset, Project Morpheus. Here’s EVE Valkyrie in action:
No Man’s Sky
My most wanted game and a glorious love letter to the front covers of 70’s sci-fi novels. Made by Hello Games in the UK, a (relatively) tiny team that made the enjoyable Joe Danger series, No Man’s Sky places you in a procedurally-generated universe that you’ll never, ever finish exploring. Spot a planet and you can fly down through the atmosphere and land anywhere you want on the surface. Climb out of your ship and walk around, taking in the sights. If danger threatens, jump back in your craft and blast back into space without a loading screen in sight. Throw in space dogfighting and beautiful art direction and you might have my game of the century. Take a look at the awesome E3 trailer:
On the slightly cheaper budget side, there’s Enemy Starfighter. It’s a great example of how slick action and great ship design can make up for not have a $50million Kickstarter behind you. Here’s the PAX 2014 trailer:
Flotilla, made by Blendo Games, is a slow-paced space combat sim where you map out the movements of slow, hulking battlecruisers to the calming soundtrack of classical music. High on strategy for those times you need a Kirk fix. Steam
Space Engineers is wonderful. Build your own ships piece by piece from unlimited resources in creative mode then smash them together and watch them shatter. A great Early Access game that’s recently added a survival mode. Steam
Top picture: Amazing custom Lego spaceship by dasnewten.