Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #28 BattleTech
- #27 Elite Dangerous
- #26 X4: Foundations
- #25 Homeworld 2
- #24 Civilization: Beyond Earth
- #23 Homeworld
- #22 Alpha Centauri
- #21 Starcraft
- #20 Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty
- #19 X3: The Reunion
- #18 Master of Orion 2
- #17 Sins of a Solar Empire
- #16 Galactic Civilizations 2
- #15 Endless Space
- #14 XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- #13 Stellaris
- #12 Dyson Sphere Program
- #11 Kerbal Space Program
- #10 Oxygen Not Included
- #9 Space Engineers
- #8 Surviving Mars
- #7 Space Haven
- #6 NEBULOUS: Fleet Command
- #5 Mars Horizon
- #4 Rebel Galaxy
- #3 Endless Space 2
- #2 HELLDIVERS Dive Harder Edition
- #1 Empyrion - Galactic Survival
The vastness of space has inspired countless minds to imagine worlds beyond our world, on planets like—and unlike—the one we live on, where the presence of life is in question, or imagined as something so otherworldly that they can only live in fiction and dreams.
A few few of these minds have attempted to imagine what it would be like for us to encounter beings from space—aliens, if you will, in the far-flung future of humanity when space travel is no longer a distant possibility, but an every day reality.
To that end, there are games in which players are urged to take on the roles of spacefaring humans, or those of other races who come into contact with humanity’s finest. This article serves to showcase ten of the best strategy games that tackle the subject of space either beyond our planet, or right here at home, where aliens may simply see fit to invade—just as they’ve done so in the realm of our imagination. With that said, don’t think of this as ranked in any particular order. These are instead a collection of titles we think are worth checking out.
BattleTech is a name that has been around for quite a long time, and the original creator of the series has come to make a very special turn-based strategy/combat game.
Over 1000 years into the future, war is everywhere as “noble houses” fight with mighty machines called BattleMechs. As this civil war goes on, you’ll take control of your own group of mercenaries as you try and survive and not get drawn into the war that is all around you.
Or, take part in it and help change the tide. With intense 3D combat, a deep story and a lot of things for you to have fun with in terms of building up your mercenary corps, you might just find out how engaging this kind of play can be.
#27 Elite Dangerous
Why just be dangerous when you can be ELITE dangerous? Exactly.
Elite Dangerous is a game that really does deliver on the premise of its players (plural) affecting the world, galaxy, and universe around them.
Because every time a player starts the game, they are given the bare minimum in order to survive. Then, they’re told to go out into the galaxy and do with themselves.
Every single player in Elite Dangerous is able to build off what others have done and change the outlook of everything. The story is constantly evolving due to players decisions and what sides they. Wars are won and lost, governments rise and fall, it all depends on what you do.
So…how will you change the galaxy?
#26 X4: Foundations
X4: Foundations has built itself up from its first “X” title, and for good reason. The game simulates a large universe from top to bottom, putting in NPC ships, stations, making economies for players to interact with without having to make it themselves, and so on.
As such, your role within this universe can absolutely define what happens in it. And you’ll witness those choices carrying weight from your own eyes as this is a first-person game.
Play as one of many different types of characters, then go into many different places, fly all sorts of ships, and see all that the universe has to offer.
#25 Homeworld 2
The original Homeworld game helped make things special, but Homeworld 2 takes things to the next level.
Because this game not only grows its real-time strategy gameplay, it’s one that you can play either in singleplayer mode, or in a multiplayer one.
You’ll control a fleet of ships and have to do your best to keep things going while protecting your mothership. Because if you lose that, especially in singleplayer mode? You lose.
So build up your fleet, or even take over enemy ships in order to grow it in your own way. And that’s only talking about the gameplay, the story is also enough to keep you going as well.
Meet all sorts of characters, players, and races, and make sure you come out on top.
#24 Civilization: Beyond Earth
Civilization: Beyond Earth is one of the best space-themed strategy games of all time. The various factions and Affinities will ensure multiple, robust playthroughs, each presenting unique scenarios that will encourage the player to strategize in challenging new ways with each file.
Few real time strategy games contain the uniqueness offered by Homeworld. Even with gameplay that plays out in three dimensions and being the first RTS of its kind, it is the singularly well written narrative and accompanying gameplay mechanics that make it a memorable experience.
As you start the game, you can choose to play as either the Kushan or Taiidan fleets, both of whom seek out the planet of Hiigara, the ancient homeworld of both species. The planet from which you emerge is soon destroyed and your only choice is to venture far across the galaxy to find sanctuary at your destination. Along the way, you meet enigmatic alien races that either seek to help, or hinder your journey and uncover the mysteries of your species’ past.
Fans of Battlestar Galactica will feel right at home with Homeworld in both its setting and frantic space combat.
#22 Alpha Centauri
Released in 1999, Alpha Centauri is a thinking person’s strategy game. Melding Civilization with the depth of subjects like philosophy, geopolitics and the customization of Master of Orion 2, Alpha Centauri is aeons better than its earthbound predecessor.
Alpha Centauri takes place in the Civilization universe after the advent of the Space Race victory in Civilization II, in which a shuttle travels to the distant solar system of Alpha Centauri to colonize the planet Chiron. Precursor aliens conducted experiments on the planet, leaving behind remnants of their civilization in the form of monoliths much akin to those in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. During transit to the planet, the colonists split up into seven different ideological factions that serve as the game’s civilizations. The player must choose one of the factions to lead it to dominance of Chiron and uncover the planet’s secrets.
Starcraft is easily one of the most well known games ever made. With its popularity as a video game unsurpassed, it has become one of the biggest athletic phenomenons in Korea, which regularly broadcasts live matches across three separate TV channels for millions of viewers.
Though its single player campaign is memorable for its events, the heart of Starcraft lies within its multiplayer mode, which has been played by millions of players worldwide. Players choose between three unique races to play as: the bug-like Zerg; the alien Protoss; and the human Terrans, and engage in online skirmishes.
No other RTS, not even Blizzard’s own Warcraft III has managed to surpass the competitive balance of Starcraft.
#20 Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty
Sequel to the best known RTS of all time, Starcraft II is a strong contender for being one of the best real time strategy games ever made. With a lengthy single player campaign and an equally strong multiplayer mode, Starcraft II plans to take the competitive edge of Starcraft to the next level with its revamped Battle.net matchmaking service and forthcoming expansion packs.
Taking off after the events of the original Starcraft, players take on the role of Terran hero Jim Raynor as he seeks to liberate his fellow humans from the iron grip of the autocratic Terran Dominion. He meets up with old friends like the protoss Zeratul and makes new ones to aid him in the rebellion. He also learns that his love interest Kerrigan has plans of her own as the queen of the Zerg.
#19 X3: The Reunion
Regarded as one of the most complicated games ever made, X3: The Reunion is part of the ongoing X Universe. Although designed as an open ended space trading game, X3 features lots of strategy , players are dropped right into the cockpit of a ship and are tasked to building a corporate empire that extends towards the far ends of the galaxy.
Although players can opt out of the game’s strategic aspects to engage in its plot, the heart of X3 remains in its open ended setting and market driven economy.
#18 Master of Orion 2
Designed as a 4X turn-based strategy game (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate), Master of Orion 2 is one of the genre’s finest titles. Noted for its complex gameplay, Master of Orion 2 places its emphasis on the development of an alien civilization, through economic, technological and social development.
Players can choose between various predetermined races or design their very own race with a set of strengths and weaknesses. Players could even choose to design their own warships based on the technology they researched. All of these choices allowed for an extremely complicated game. Although complex, it always remained accessible through its well designed systems.
#17 Sins of a Solar Empire
Sins of a Solar Empire is a real time strategy game that incorporates some aspects of the 4X genre. Featuring a scale larger than any other strategy game, Sins plays out in a 3D web of planets and other celestial objects where various space civilizations compete over dominance of a multitude of solar systems spanning several galaxies, linked together by wormholes.
Most of the game’s social and technological aspects are simplified in contrast to Master of Orion 2 as the game places a heavier emphasis on its real time combat. The game is best played with a group of friends over many hours, and sessions can be saved to be resumed at a later date.
#16 Galactic Civilizations 2
Sequel to the first Galactic Civilizations, GC2 is its superior in every way. As with other 4X games, your job is to dominate the galaxy planet by planet, through force, diplomacy, culture or technology. GC2 is highly notable for its AI, which plays according to the game’s rules and poses a challenge to the player without cheating. It may surprise you to know that even the best strategy games out there give the AI a competitive edge.
It may also surprise you to know that Galactic Civilizations 2’s backstory is based on a series of short stories written by its creator, Brad Wardell. While it’s not exactly the most original setting, it provides an interesting backdrop for a great strategy game.
Disclosure: The original author is acquaintances with Stardock CEO Brad Wardell.
#15 Endless Space
Endless Space positions the player in role of an nascent space-faring civilization, and provides you with the opportunity to cultivate your space empire through a variety of ways and means that support your playstyle.
The core of the game will be familiar to anyone who has played a 4X strategy game before. You research technology from a large, categorized tree. You manage your systems and planets with development projects. You build fleets, colonize the reaches of space, engage in diplomacy, and wage war. Endless Space boasts several features and mechanics that set it apart from its competition, and production values that rival any AAA-budget game.
#14 XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Firaxis’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a true successor to the turn-based strategy game series by Microprose. XCOM: Enemy Unknown sees the invasion of our cities by an extraterrestrial force that seeks, it seems, to purge mankind from the face of the planet.
Players are tasked with controlling a squad of earth’s finest soldiers to take on the alien menace head-on in turn-based combat in locations ranging from dense urban environments to labyrinthine alien structures.
Revived by the makers of Civilization, the new XCOM streamlines everything that made the original title a little annoying to play through and improves upon all of its best qualities for a modern, turn-based strategy game that’s like no other.
If you’ve yet to be convinced, be sure to read the five reasons you should play XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
In Stellaris, you play as a race of beings (of your choice, one of many) that have just made their trek into the stars. Now, it’s up to you to help lead them to…wherever you want.
In fact, part of the fun of Stellaris is that you have a vast universe to explore and can go and explore, battle, research, and more at your own pace. Find out more about what’s out there, go on quests, make alliances with other races, or try and beat them into submission.
Your choices and paths will determine how things go for you for better and for worse. And because of the replayability of the game, you can start over and find completely new ways to play it!
So go to the stars and see what awaits you here.
#12 Dyson Sphere Program
Dyson Sphere Program is actually based on the potential of an actual Dyson Sphere. What is that? A device that can harness the power of the sun in order to power just about anything you want!
And in this game, you’re part of a planet that needs to build one in order to feed a machine that can truly make you expand amongst the stars.
The fun here is not just seeing what you can do with your Dyson Sphere, but also, what you have your disposal in order to expand your potential empire.
Plus, every single runthrough gives you a procedurally generated universe with different stars and planets for you to play with.
Build your machine, expand what’s yours, and see what you can do with virtually unlimited power.
#11 Kerbal Space Program
Behold the power of the Kerbal Space Program! In this game you’ll take charge of the Kerbals as they try and make their own space program! Very self-explanatory, wouldn’t you say?
But, as you might have guessed, it’s not as easy as it looks. You need to go and not just make spacecraft, you need to make sure that your craft can actually last in space. So learn from your mistakes (and dead Kerbals…) and make better ships so that you can go into and explore space!
Once you do, go to moons and planets and colonize the worlds above!
Take control of the program and get things done!
#10 Oxygen Not Included
Well that can’t be good if Oxygen isn’t included, we kind of need that to breathe!
Anyway…in the GAME called Oxygen Not Included, you’ll find yourself in charge of a colony with the not so simple mission of survival. Survival from what? Well, from the scarcities that your colony is facing, one of which is oxygen. But that’s not the only threat you face!
It’s your job to make sure that your colony has everything to survive, and thrive. So you need to look for all the resources you need, take control of how your colony does things, and make things happen!
Just remember, you need to keep those in your colony happy as well. So feed them, keep them warm, keep them happy with various activities, and so on.
It’s all in your hands…just don’t forget to breathe.
#9 Space Engineers
Space Engineers tries to take a very different approach to things in terms of space titles. Because this is a game that’s not just about exploration, but creativity and how you build things to survive in space.
Why? Because everything in this world/universe can be built, taken apart, damaged, or destroyed via a physics based engine that strives for realism.
That may sound odd for a video game, but it just adds to the challenge and the creativity that you yourself will have to work with in order to survive. Get creative, get innovative, and see how far you can go.
#8 Surviving Mars
We’ll shoot straight here. Mars is coming for you, the whole dang planet, and you have to fight it with nothing but a laser pistol, a broken ship, and a talking dog.
No, not really, but wouldn’t that be a fun game?
Rather, Surviving Mars puts you in charge of a space agency whose goal is to land on Mars and make a colony there. You’ll pick one and then start building things up to where you can truly send a ship and colony to the red planet.
But that’s just the start of the journey. You’ll need to pick the right spot to land in, then slowly build up your colony piece by piece in order to survive on Mars well and truly.
Mars is full of dangers, can you keep your colony alive?
#7 Space Haven
In this Steam Early Access game, Space Haven gives you the freedom to go and build your very own custom spaceship tile by tile. Oh yeah, you’ll be able to make the ship of your dreams, and then have your ragtag crew fly it across the stars in order to explore, meet other spacefaring groups, and more.
When you want to make something else, make a space station! Again, you can do it tile by tile.
As if that’s not enough for you, you’ll also need to maintain the health, safety, and upgrade the skills of your crew. Each one is different, and you’ll need to keep them all around to have the best chance of success.
It’s a lot to put on you, but you can handle it, right?
#6 NEBULOUS: Fleet Command
NEBULOUS: Fleet Command is another title that takes things in a different direction for space titles. Because many space titles feature combat ALONGSIDE other things like space exploration and building up a spacefaring race.
But here? No, it’s all about the action! It’s your job to make a fleet of ships that you feel will win in any battle. Go big with mighty cruisers, or, go small and swarm enemies in various ways. It’s all up to you. You’ll have plenty of time to plan, and then, you’ll be thrust into battle against tough opponents where you’ll see just how good you really are.
Use not just your weapons, but your ships systems to help determine the best plan of attack as you head right into the battle! Every choice you make could decide between victory and defeat.
#5 Mars Horizon
Mars Horizon is another title that aims to show you just how difficult it is going to be in order to get to Mars and stay there. You’ll be put in charge of a space agency at the dawn of the Space Age, and you’ll have to build up your agency before you ever go to the stars.
Make key choices that will determine how fast you can get to space, and then, as you build up yourself and your agency enough, you can head to Mars.
The game is littered with references to the past, including letting you recreate missions from NASA, the ESA and more.
So make sure you can survive the harshness of space and ensure your path to glory!
#4 Rebel Galaxy
Rebel Galaxy prides itself on having fun and letting you be whoever you want to be. You’re given a ship and a galaxy to explore, so have fun!
You can be a rogue, a scavenger, a fighter, a hero, a villain, whatever you want. You have the ship and the ability to do it. It’s a dangerous universe you’re in, so make the most of it.
Especially since there’s so much to do, places to explore, aliens to befriend and so on and so forth. Rebel Galaxy is about having true fun and freedom, so make of this game what you will.
#3 Endless Space 2
Endless Space 2 is defined as a “space opera” and it’s one that plays that card very well.
The universe you are in is not like any you’ve seen before. Mainly because it was settled by god-like entities known as the “Endless” long, long ago. Now, they are gone, but their presence remains via their temples as well as a “near-magical substance” known as Dust.
It’s up to you now to explore the universe that remains and see what now lies within, as well as what happened to the Endless.
You are the leader of a race as well, and must explore the universe and expand across it, even if that means making alliances with others who are out there, or bring down those who stand against you.
An epic of strategy, combat, exploration and mystery await you within this…endless space.
#2 HELLDIVERS Dive Harder Edition
Doesn’t that just scream “epic game title”? We certainly think so, after all, we’re the ones telling you about this game!
Anyway, HELLDIVERS Dive Harder Edition is a twin-stick shooter that has you in the pilot seat of a defense force who are trying to protect the Earth from an invasion. You can play alone, or in a team of 4 in order to fight off all that comes in your way.
Use special strategies to ensure your fleet of ships can hold off the enemy attack, and with a special loadout system, you’ll always have something to fire on the enemy.
Plus, the previous expansion passes for this game: A New Hell, Masters of the Galaxy, Turning Up The Heat and Democracy Strikes Back, are all included!
#1 Empyrion – Galactic Survival
A lot of games like to say they have “infinite possibilities”, but Empyrion – Galactic Survival does indeed try to make that a reality for you all. Because here, you have a title that brings forth sandbox, survival, construction, and multiplayer elements in order to give you a true galaxy-sized game worth playing.
You’ll start small, and explore planets that are procedurally generated. See what they are like, whether you can use them for resources, or whether they’re a good place to make a colony. Then, expand across the stars to see what else is out there.
Will you be a lone wolf race and just make your own mark across the galaxy, or, will you build something special with other races and other players in order to make something unique? Jump in the game and find out.