Guide to the Best Starting Space Games

Trust Me on This One…

Introduction

Friends, this is an article I’ve been meaning to write for some time. What if you’re interested in space games, but aren’t sure which to start with? I’ve been thinking long and hard about this one, and I think I’ve come up with a list that could help anyone get into space games.

My criteria for these games is taking into consideration their tutorials, their ease of use, their UI and their fun factor. I’ve therefore chosen several different categories and the games which I feel are the best starting points for each. Let’s start with…

Best Starting Combat Space Flight Sim – Freespace 2

Now you might ask me, “But Brian, isn’t Freespace 2 pretty complicated?” It’s not really, as it has an AMAZING UI, and can be played with a mouse and keyboard as effectively as a joystick. What puts it in the top category, for me anyway, are its amazing tutorials. The game has several training missions that are VERY detailed and take the player step-by-step through things like targeting, weapon usage and much more.

It’s also still the best game of its type, so adding this along with the amazing UI and the wonderful training missions and you have what I feel is the best first-step to enjoying games like these.

You can find Freespace 2 on Steam or GOG.

Best Starting Open World Trading Sim – Evochron Legacy

Now you might be wondering, “WTF Brian, this is even more complex than Freespace 2!” and you’d be correct. It’s a very complex space flight sim with numerous ways to fight, make money and so on, with realistic physics and detailed economics, exploration and mining.

It also has one of the best tutorials I’ve ever seen. Clocking in at over two hours, it explains EVERYTHING, from control to navigation to combat to mining and everything in-between. It also has a straightforward UI, and the controls can be customized, as can the flight model, to adapt to any skill level of player. This one truly is something special. I can’t think of a better starting point to open world trading and combat sims than this one.

You can get Evochron Legacy on its official page, or on Steam.

Best Starting Third-Person Space Combat and Trading Game – Astrox: Hostile Space Excavation

Commonly called “Eve Offline”, Astrox is a game in which you mine, fight, make money and explore in a fairly slow-paced environment with a great UI and a great tutorial. The game is VERY easy to get into, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or lacking depth. Giving the player all kinds of tools to mine, fight and explore, the game relishes in the player taking their time to enjoy what the universe has to offer.

The sequel is even better, AND has some great tutorials, but it’s not finished yet, which is why I didn’t feel right including it here. You can just dive into Astrox Imperium if you want, but this one, I feel, is a bit easier for the new player to get into.

You can find Astrox on Steam.

Best Starting 4X Strategy Game – Master of Orion (2016)

This 4X, when compared to its predecessors, 1993’s Master of Orion and 1996’s Master of Orion II, is lacking in a lot of ways. However, for the new player to space 4X games? There’s no finer entry point. It has flashy graphics, fantastic voice acting, a great UI, and tutorials that explain EVERYTHING. I like to call this one “Baby’s First 4X” because it really does seem designed to best help new 4X players get into the swing of things easily.

Once you get the hang of this one, jumping into other great 4X games will be much easier.

You can find Master of Orion on GOG or Steam.

Best Starting Space RTS – Conquest: Frontier Wars

Now hear me out on this one. You might wonder, why not Homeworld or Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion? Because those aren’t nearly as new-player friendly as Conquest, which starts the player out slowly, explains all the game’s concepts to the player in a very clear manner, and slowly opens up new facets of the game well after other facets have been consistently and constantly used in gameplay.

I don’t mention this one just because it’s my favorite space RTS — which it is — but because I truly feel it has the best mix of training, UI and gameplay for the new player.

You can get Conquest on GOG or Steam.

Best Starting Space Tactical Combat Game – Nexus: The Jupiter Incident

“Brian, why do you keep mentioning these complex games?” Because it’s these games that have the best training, and also the best gameplay. Seriously, Nexus is a beast of a thing, but it has a VERY accessible UI, great tutorials and really unique gameplay. You’re not trying to move the ships around in 3D space yourself — which could get confusing — rather you’re giving them the higher-level order to do things themselves.

It’s REALLY great, has satisfying gameplay, wonderful graphics and an insane and fun story. Plus, again, thanks to its easing the new player into its concepts, its really the best starting point for dealing with tactical space combat for a new player.

You can get Nexus on Steam or GOG.

Conclusion

These six games should help any new player get a foothold into the best parts of space gaming. There are a lot of other games we could mention for the new player, but I figured I should keep it simple to start with.

If you have a suggestion for games in which new players should get into, please drop them in our forums so we have a single place from which to see these suggestions. That’ll make it easier for new players to refer to later. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this guide.

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