Nearly four years ago, Star Citizen launched on Kickstarter. A lot of people had their own ideas of what the game would be, and four years later some of them have begun to realize they weren’t getting what they were expecting. But the people who felt disappointed by Star Citizen deserve to know what else is out there to play instead. By the end of 2016, there are at least six different types of space games to fill that void left by Chris Roberts. None of these games will have a $15,000 buy-in option from the developers. They’re all pretty straightforward video game products, where you don’t have to worry about feeling obligated to throw more money at it later on.
So enjoy this list of drama-free games that are either physically available to own right now, or have a guaranteed launch by the end of this year. You see one you like, click the platform links in the release date section if you want to
pledge buy it.
It’s pretty much the Star Citizen experience that people envisioned the final game to eventually having. This ancient dinosaur of space video games came out back in May 2003, but has managed to keep going all the way to today in 2016 so far. Setting an example for other space game prospects, many people are curious as to why E.V.E. Online managed to live this long. As a Space trading and combat MMORPG, this game has had the advantage of time in order to see what worked and what didn’t, changing as they saw fit along the way. You pick one of four different races to play as, each of which have their own type of ship design and style. Everyone plays in the same single universe, which hosts over 5000 star systems to take control over. You fly around in your ship, travel around to different space stations, and have the ability to level up your character via skills that continue to be trained even if you aren’t logged in. The game’s star systems even have security levels, which define how the CONCORD space police units respond. But the biggest feature of the game is their economy, where the game currency known as ISK is trade for blueprints, skill books, ship modules, and raw materials. It’s fueled by the actions of the player base themselves.
If Star Citizen was supposed to be all about the stories and groups players make among themselves, they ought to just give E.V.E. Online a go. If going to a big annual conference to celebrate the game is something that really draws you, E.V.E. has that too. But what really makes the game tick is the wars between enemy factions. In 2014, 10000 people went to battle in a 20 hour skirmish known as battle at B-R5RB, which started when someone missed a bill payment. 3000 ships ended up destroyed in the chaos. The victorious Imperium guild managed to solidify their grasp over the in-game universe as a result. But in March 2016, the Moneybadger Coalition rose up to bring a battle of their own, backed by an online casino. They took advantage of The Imperium’s over-confidence, having internal friction after the group’s leader tried to kickstart a book about The Imperium’s rise to fame. On March 28th, Moneybadger took to M-OEE8 and dealt a blow to The Imperium. What made the group have an actual chance against this overwhelming force was that Moneybadger became a symbol of hope for people unhappy with the way Imperium was running things.
While that may sound like an odd tangent to go off on, the stories of what players do is the appeal of E.V.E. Online. It’s for the serious type of space gamer who wants to dedicate himself to a larger cause in a guild or an alliance, and raise hell on their adversaries. The developers of the game have embraced this, and right now they’re hosting an in-game combat tournament where the guilds fight each to the death with their best spaceships.
Release Date: May 6, 2003 (PC) You can play a 14-day free trial of the game to see if you like it.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
The most unexpected of entries into this list, but nonetheless still rightfully earning a place. With Star Citizen‘s companion project Squadron 42, it looks like they want to deliver some kind of Wing Commander movie experience as a video game. They’ve been at that for a few years now, with information still being scant as to specifics. But then on May 2nd of this year, Call of Duty burst into the space scene with their Infinite Warfare offering. The trailer itself was highly disliked early on, but many of the complaints centered around Modern Warfare remaster fans being disappointed that the Call of Duty 4 remake would be a tie-in product to Infinite Warfare. Infinity Ward and Activision enjoyed the fact that people were still invested in the series, though. They were patient, and in the weeks following that announcement worked on showing off their product in detail.
The story of Infinite Warfare doesn’t go for the humanity vs aliens route, rather it aims to explore the idea of the biggest enemy in space being humans themselves. In the future, as Earth’s own resources begin to dwindle, humanity looks outward to the solar system in order to harness the raw materials from other planets. These interplanetary outposts come under attack from a terrorist group known as the Settlement Defense Front. The player takes on the role of Captain Nick Reyes, who coordinates a counter-attack against the SDF and purge them from Earth and the Solar System. The studio even got Kit Harington from Game of Thrones to play the bad guy this time. While it might not be a grand exploration type of Space game, Infinite Warfare will have the in-person and spaceship combat that some Star Citizen fans really wanted. Not only does it transition from one mode to the other pretty effortlessly, there’s also the inclusion of zero gravity elements in order to kick things up a few notches.
It really looks like everything Squadron 42 is going to try and be. What really sells that experience was that Headquarters Flight Deck Tour video they did a while back. Plus Call of Duty‘s multiplayer mode serves the same purpose of what Star Marine was going to try and do for Star Citizen. Reminder that some people signed on to Star Citizen in order to get an FPS-like experience, which means a game like Infinite Warfare counts here. But Call of Duty delivers it with more weapons, a fleshed out ranking system, and game modes that take a step beyond the confinements of a simple 6 vs 6 death-match mode. You want to see that in action, the developers uploaded a 14 minute demo taking you into Black Sky. Infinity Ward and Activision are a AAA company and they deliver a product on time. Some of the entries in the Call of Duty series have their flaws, of course. But consistency is what counts in the long run.
Release Date: November 4, 2016 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Back in the middle of Chris Roberts’ original Star Citizen Kickstarter campaign, Elite Dangerous took the plunge for themselves as well. From November 5th 2012 to January 4th 2013, Frontier Developments accumulated enough interest in this space-faring alternative project. If anything, competition breeds the best. Two approaches to a similar theme of video game, with two wildly different results. By July 2016, Roberts had initially forecasted his project as being done and fully released. But David Braben actually got there, plus an extra expansion pack (Horizons) on top of that. The game is a massive multiplayer online world, which gives the same sensations of being connected to a bigger and more inter-connected experience. 400 billion star systems for you and the gaming community to make your mark on. Mission boards give you quests to complete, helping you make the most of your time out there. You can join up with any of the game’s three different factions, and complete errands in order to help them seize control of a territory. If you wanted a space trading and combat game in your life, Elite Dangerous will give you that adventure.
Let the trailer give you an idea of what I mean.
You start out with a spaceship, a small amount of cash, and a pocket full of dreams. You need to work your way up the space ladder by traveling the galaxy and taking odd jobs. You want to stay above board, you could become a legitimate miner or trader. You don’t mind getting your hands dirty? Become a pirate, or a bounty hunter, or an assassin. Anything that you can justify with roleplaying is allowed here. While people think the endgame is a bit of deterrent, Elite Dangerous: Horizons series of updates gave them reasons to come back. The Engineers added more of a story to the base game, and the looting and crafting aspects were given more of a purpose in-turn. But nothing beats landing on a planet or moon for the first time, and the planetary landings update is something that needs to be experienced. With the upcoming Multicrew update, you’ll be able to join up with your friends and travel the stars together. It’ll pretty much fill in any remaining gaps between it and Star Citizen, certainly.
It’s the sandbox game you wanted from Star Citizen, there in the digital flesh. Even to the pessimist, “Space Truck Simulator” still has a bit of intrigue to it. That’s what happens when you make a game centered around the core design rather than something beholden to feature creep. Frontier even managed to get VR up and running in their game, and keep that going as a feature. Elite Dangerous focused on the game over throwing cash at motion-capture studios. The results speak for themselves.
Star Trek Online
What people see Star Citizen as when it comes to space games is a universe that prides itself in a sense of military formality. Sure, Star Wars is an epic space story, but some people find the experience of an overarching organization to be more authentic. To get something like that, all you need to do is look at Star Trek, with their Star Trek Online game that came out back in February 2010. The game takes place thirty years after Star Trek Nemesis, with the Federation and Klingon Empire at war. While it takes the foundation of the first Star Trek reboot movie, Star Trek online goes in it’s own direction with events afterward. It’s got voice-overs from past faces such as Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto. The expansions to the game further expanded on these cameo involvements. Even though the game is six years old now, it’s still getting regular updates (called Seasons) every few months in order to address any functionality concerns that could arise.
To see the game in action, check out their trailer for the upcoming console editions of Star Trek Online.
The amount of character customization is highly sophisticated, with a variety of racial choices possible across the Federation, Klingon, and Romulan factions. You’re the captain of a space ship, and you have access to a crew of officers who help keep things in top shape. Not only do you level up yourself, but other characters such as the bridge officers can also be promoted separately. These bridge officers give special abilities in space combat, in addition to being able to join the player’s team for ground battles too. The Duty Officer system is where the rest of the crew stems from. Your starship has slots for space and ground operations where duty officers can make themselves the most useful. You can also send them out on special assignments in return for skill points and energy credit rewards. Based on Starfleet’s departments, you pick one of three career choices. You can go for Engineering (tank/healer), Tactical (damage dealer), or Science (Heal + Buff/Debuff). During gameplay, there’s a crafting mechanic where players are able to collect data and particles found in the universe to craft components for their ship as well as combat gear for missions on the ground. You want a game with a wide variety of space ships to buy and collect? Star Trek Online has loads of them for each of the three game factions. From the Federation’s Escorts, Crusiers and Science Vessels, to the Romulan Warbirds, each of these physically different space vehicles has their own story to tell.
When it comes to other forms of media for the universe, Star Trek has gotten a resurrection these past few years with their new movie trilogy, in addition to the upcoming return of a TV series. All the more reason to get back in now, at this window of opportunity. Star Trek Online is for Star Citizen players who want the experience of leading a ship and crew when going on space adventures.
No Man’s Sky
While technically an indie game, it managed to wow audiences since it’s initial reveal back in December 2013. Sony agreed with what the public opinion was saying, then decided to give the game a nudge of their own and help it get onto PS4. In the years following that, the developers at Hello Games decided to stay focused on their original mission and not fill the game up with fluff. What No Man’s Sky is all about is a minimalist approach that still offers a maximum potential for an impact with gamers. No Man’s Sky has a clear goal and plan in store for it’s launch. In recent weeks, they’ve uploaded a series of four trailers talking about the game’s main pillar of content. Explore, Fight, Trade, Survive. Your main objective is to travel the universe and upload new data to The Atlas codex, which compensates you for the information you give it in return. While you have the ability to slaughter entire alien lifeforms and wipe out a planet’s resources, the omniscient Sentinel machines will hunt you down for disrupting the balance of nature too much.
The biggest difference between No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous is the amount of involvement with on-foot activities that No Man’s Sky is set to have. Elite has you confined to your ship, making a name of yourself in that game’s universe. No Man’s Sky is about being a space adventurer, and seeing the strange new worlds out there. You can get out of your ship and travel around the planets on foot, too. The environments on the surface of these planets are teeming with resources and life for you to find. Unlike Star Citizen, you’ll be able to smoothly touch down on a planet and actually have things to do on it, rather than just taking in the sights of a desolate space rock. The game’s trading and upgrade system works hand-in-hand with the design of the game, giving a purpose to every trip you take. If you want a decent ship, you don’t need to toss more cash at the developers in order to make that happen. It’s all in-game. Star Citizen will have a limited amount of content in it’s universe. When you stack that up against the 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets of No Man’s Sky, it’s no contest. If you want to have a space game where you’re a a pioneer of the cosmos – this title will do that for you.
Plus No Man’s Sky is a vibrant and colorful game, which makes it more appealing on the eyes too.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
While some may have their doubts about this game because of it’s rocky launch, this game came back around with a second wind that’s been able to carry it through in the years since that. If you want a video game that lets you have fun with a cast of interesting characters, Star Wars: The Old Republic manages to do that while in an massively multiplayer format. It was much more of a classic online game in the same vein of World of Warcraft, when it comes to quests and raids and things like that.
Star Wars: The Old Republic takes many cues from the Knights of the Old Republic video games, and expands on that idea. You play a Jedi or Sith or other role from the Star Wars universe in an era that takes 3000 years before the original films. It’s an MMORPG with a heavy focus on free to play, which means you can try the game out and see if you like it before committing any cash to the title. But there’s an option for that as well, you can become a subscriber and get Cartel Coins to use on their Market. You get your own ship and use that as your personal base as you travel around the galaxy, making choices that push you the light or dark side of the force. The Galactic Strongholds expansion that came out in October 2014 gives you the ability to live on planets in housing, with the opportunity to decorate it with trophies and furniture and make it unique to your tastes. That same expansion also gives your guild the chance to have a flagship, allowing to bombard enemy positions on planets and provide back-up fire during a massive-scale battle. If you’re worried about the game running out of content, the game is just finishing up their Knights of the Fallen Empire story-line that began in October 2015. They’ve already got a follow-up in the works – Knights of the Eternal Throne, slated to arrive by Q4 2016.
This is for people who want a game that manages to tell a story and yet still has you involved in the events unfolding. The companions you can meet during the game help to draw you in to this experience, which has a fairly strong backstory to prop it up as it is. The Star Wars franchise is what influenced Chris Roberts, anyway. He saw the early movies as a youngster and he wanted to try and recapture that same kind of magic. But what Star Wars games don’t suffer is the identity crisis of flip-flopping between being a video game and a movie. The fact that Star Wars: The Old Republic is made by EA and Bioware gives several different comforts for the game. It’s made by a group of people who don’t have to worry about running out of money anytime soon, who have knowledge of the modern video game landscape, and who have a strong collective history of being able to release great productions.
Release Date: December 20, 2011 (PC)