More so than perhaps any other game, EVE is about interacting with others, but that too can be done as you see fit. The jostling alliances of hundreds-strong players make the headlines, but exist alongside countless small groups of friends, pairs, even the occasional solo player making their space life by trade, manufacture, murder, or just quietly shooting endless disposable NPC ships for an hour or two after work to unwind. It's a demanding game for sure, but getting to know even a small corner of it feels satisfying. Seeing familiar names and knowing what they're up to, who they're friends with, and what things you can achieve together is one of the promises that few MMOs deliver on.
The original Homeworld is one of the all-time great space RTS games, but trying to get it running on a modern PC is a bit of a nightmare - if only because it hasn't been available to buy for the better part of a decade. Thankfully, Gearbox's 2015 remaster brought it bang up to date. Bundling remastered editions of both Homeworld and Homeworld 2 and a special Steam multiplayer mode, this is the definitive way to play one of the best space games of all time.
It's been a bumpy old ride for No Man's Sky since it launched in 2016, but after a steady stream of free updates, patches and a lot of jiggery-pokery behind the scenes, Hello Games' epic, procedurally-generated space exploration game has finally become everything we hoped and dreamed it would be. No Man's Sky has gone from strength to strength in recent years, adding a proper multiplayer experience, full VR support, aquatic biomes, and even more beasts, flora, fauna and customisation options. Heck, you can even fly around in sentient, living, breathing space ships now, and if that doesn't shout 'best space game' material, we don't know what does.
Taking off, tearing through the station entrance a little too fast and just missing a Python, angling for the next jump, scooping fuel from a blazing sun, spinning the camera around your ship to catch its best profile, starting a fight just for the hell of it, seeing smoke rise from the command console, hearing the screen crack and precious oxygen escaping into space and landing back at base with seconds to spare - these are the moments that make Elite essential. Trading, missions, mining - not so much. But it's all right, we're not going anywhere.
The thing is, standard issue Freespace 2 remains largely unchallenged. Considering it was barely a year in development and many of Volition's ideas for ground attacks and super weapons went unrealised, it offers a number of improvements on the original game. Prior to Freespace 2, capital ships were largely treated as static backgrounds, but now they were part of the foreground, one that fizzed and crackled with explosive energy like never before. Of course Freespace wasn't perfect. But what the Freespace games did better than anything else was put the player in the midst of a series of epic battles, fighting against the odds versus a relentless and unknowable foe. The spectacular weapons, the frenetic and desperate movement that remains a perfect marriage of UI and controller and graphics that were so in advance of everything all those years ago that, even un-modded today, the game can maintain the fantasy. Even in this new space age, one of procedurally-generated universes and forceless feedback joysticks, Freespace 2 stands as a titan of the genre. The Galactica among Battlestars. The game that has lead the genre home.
Sadly, local multiplayer (otherwise known as "couch co-op," where you play in the same IRL space together, often on the same device through split screen) is something of a dying category in modern gaming. Relatedly, online multiplayer games like Fornite simply don't invest much into designing a good split-screen mode, rendering many a bit glitchy.
In Astroneer you take on the role of a space explorer who has set out into the endless depths of space. Your goal is to build bases, create vehicles, explore, gather resources, and ultimately survive. 2b1af7f3a8