Starting in Space Games: Where to Begin?

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30 Responses

  1. Nikolaj says:

    What?! No Battlecruiser 3000AD? :D

    Anyway, for space trading, I think the latest X game is better than Space Rangers, but that's just my opinion (and iirc the X games never really clicked with you, so I guess that's why you left it off). Actually, EVE Online is probably the best for space trading, but that's an MMO, and I don't play those anymore.

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Are you serious? You would give a total n00b to space gaming one of the X games, or EVE Online? Do you hate this person and want to turn them off from space gaming altogether? ;)

  2. Nikolaj says:

    Why not? They're both good games. Well, at least my Battlecruiser 3000AD remark was a joke. :)

    You know, I could have recommended Aurora, the perfect 4x spreadsheet game (which is actually quite good, but also quite complicated).

    • Brian Rubin says:

      I'm not saying they're BAD games, which they aren't, I'm saying I don't think they're very n00b friendly AT ALL.

      • Vevyn says:

        I got a friend who'd never played a space game before into X3TC and he took to it like a duck to water. I think if you're the kind of person who likes X that you're just as likely to like it immediately rather than after playing any number of vastly different games.

        • Brian Rubin says:

          Fair enough, I'm sure there are folks that X clicks with, I just don't seem to be one of 'em. :-)

  3. Brian Rubin says:

    OR wait, are you trolling me? ;)

  4. Nikolaj says:

    No no, I was quite serious. I don't know how noob friendly they are, but in a game like EVE everybody is a noob when they start playing, even if they've played a lot of space games.

    X3 gives you the option of starting out as slowly as you want, just hauling goods back and forth, which doesn't seem too bad for new players. I guess some people might find it off-putting and boring, but I find it rather relaxing (entering Kingdom's End for the first time was a zen moment for me). :)

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Well of course everyone is a noob in EVE, but the learning curve can be daunting, and I wouldn't put a noob in that sitch. Same with the X games, which even with simple hauling missions, can be slow and daunting for a new pilot. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. ;)

      Somehow I KNEW my choice of trading game would cause me guff. ;)

  5. Nikolaj says:

    I just noticed that Aurora isn't on your list, btw. What's up with that? Is it because it's still being developed?

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Yes, I have a separate list for games in development. That list is just of released games. :)

  6. axevid says:

    I'd just like to point out that there is a alpha/beta build of conquest: frontier wars 2 floating around which if I remember correctly is actually quite enjoyable. Sadly this game was cancelled before it could be completed.

  7. Pogue Mahone says:

    I'm going to vote Space Pirates and Zombies as a decent starting point, just because you can set the difficulty to casual and just buzzsaw through the enemies and build up your little fleet. Plus, it has space pirates and also zombies! What times we live in.

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Exactly, it's got a great tutorial, multiple difficulty levels, and a wide range of options. For anyone new to space games, it's an easy choice. I hope it works on folks as a gateway drug to more space games.

  8. AlienEye says:

    Great article Brian. I just recently found how amazing Space Rangers 2 is, so it's nice to see other people enjoy it as well. I never heard of Treasure Planet or Conquest: Frontier Wars, but I plan on picking them both up. Thanks.

    I agree with MoO2 as a good one to start with, but if the age of the game is preventing others from getting into it, I'd recommend Armada 2526+Supernova. While similar, graphics are more up to date, while also streamlining tedious tasks (i.e. moving population).

    On a side note, I stumbled on your site quite recently, and I'm having a great time reading your posts. Keep it up!

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Awwww, thank you, welcome, and I'm glad you're enjoyed the article and found it useful. :) I've actually not played Armada 2526, but I'll be honest in that I heard it wasn't very good. Have you played Distant Worlds?

  9. AlienEye says:

    I've not had the chance to play Distant Worlds yet. After watching some Let's Plays, I'm a little turned off by all the auto-managing that goes on. Granted, I could intervene at the points I would want to handle myself, but it seems to be more hands-off that what I would like. Also, the interface looks overly complicated to me. This is of course going off not playing it, so correct me if I'm I prefer to micro-manage my empires,

  10. AlienEye says:

    Pardon my premature publish, here's the rest:

    Correct me if my opinions are misplaced or anything has changed since the release of the expansions.

    My favorite remains GalCiv 2 as the best 4x game. Not quite sure what it is, maybe the races or how colonies are managed. It took me longer than I would have liked to learn the game, but it was worth it.

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Oh yeah, totally. I LOVE Distant Worlds, but I TOTALLY wouldn't recommend DW to a 4X noobie in any way. GalCiv 2 is a good choice, but I stick by my choice of the MOO games for their accessibility and approachability. :)

  11. Hi, I’m looking for a space game which I used to play ten years ago. I think it’s an indie game. Simple but very good gameplay. It’s chess-like (but not a chess game) using spaceship that can only move in certain pattern to destroy enemy’s spaceship, can upgrade the ships, build more ships. Do you recall any game like that? Thank you in advance :)

    • Brian Rubin says:

      Welcome Yuda! I’m not recalling any game like that off hand, do you remember around when it might’ve been released or which platform you played it on? That’ll help me narrow it down a lot. :)

      • I play it on my old PC. I think it’s a freeware or shareware and downloaded it from the Internet. I’ve enjoyed the gameplay and have been looking for the game for years to no avail. Probably it released somewhere around 2005

      • If I’m not mistaken it’s a 2-player game and each one needs to destroy the enemy’s base but first need to go through their spaceships. The board is chess-like

  12. VladVoivode says:

    Hi Brian, Actually you CAN get Conquest: Frontier Wars at GOG but there IS a catch. It will work beautifully on Win7 but it is not supported and will NOT work on Win8. GOG has stated that the issue cannot be corrected. Win7 compatibility mode does NOT work nor do any others. I actually keep a Win7 machine around just to play C:FW. I think it’s also important to mention that C:FW has a VERY robust skirmish mode and its supply line mechanic is superb.

    A little off topic but not much department: I’ve been playing an absolutely SUPERB mod for Civ 4 called Star Trek. Please allow me a few paragraphs to give this some Orion love?

    It’s a total conversion of Civ4 into a Star Trek game that could have sold as a Star Trek 4X. It is BETTER, MUCH better than the ill-fated Birth of the Federation. If you are a Star Trek geek as I am, this is nirvana good sir! Imagine the possibilities of:

    Choosing what era you want to play in including Enterprise, the Original Series, The movies, TNG, Voyager, and an era that extrapolates what the Star Trek universe might be centuries after! You can choose from a plethora of races and the “civiliopedia” is quite complete. In addition, this mod comes with a truckload of scenarios spanning the whole Star Trek canon, Want to replay Star Trek VI except that the Federation FAILS in assisting the Klingons and all Hell breaks loose? You can! How about an all out war with the Romulans? Go for it. [IMHO, the Romulans are the best enemy race of the Federation and never received the attention they deserved; I am tired of Klingons].

    You can ALSO set up a custom game and define the era, race, galaxy size, and all sorts of fun Trekness. Civ4 is a user friendly game and IMHO is superior to Civ5 in many regards. This Star Trek mod is as good as the Star Tek Picard era mod for Distant Worlds Universe but as you and and other hardcore spacers know, DW:U scares a lot of people so this mod may be a nice alternative for n00bs and veterans alike. It’s available at

    As for your suggestions, I couldn’t agree more! SPAZ is digital crack, Freelancer is simply classic and it has THE best Babylon 5 mods ever! I do think that the Starfleet Command series does tactical combat like no other and Empire at War plays beautifully on modern machines and can be had for a fiver at

    I would add one that you may or may not have considered and that is Starpoint Gemini 2. It’s VERY friendly with an active mod community and excellent devs. I only have 33 hours into the game but it’s a blast and I have one seriously murderous dreadnought that I am piloting. The devs are promising more content and they are truly attentive to the community.

    Space Rangers 2 is a GREAT game that definitely needs more exposure. It’s one of those quirky games that, while not doing any one thing perfectly, does a lot of things very well.

    I would also add Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space to the n00b list. I have played hundreds of 20 minute sessions in this bite sized game that I had to seek counseling from a Betazoid. :)

    If I were to construct a list of games that were a step up in difficulty, I would nominate the following:

    Starshatter The Gathering Storm, Pioneer, Galactic Civilizations (either I or II), Zigfrak (because it is unabashedly quirky), and the very first X game as it is an excellent primer that leads one gently into the larger X universe. [Stay away from X: Afterbirth]!! Also, Indepence War I and II deserve a nod. A bit complex but, unlike Star Trek Bridge Commander, Independece War actually gives the game a sense of piloting something closer to a cap ship.

    Great stuff as always man!!

  13. VladVoivode says:

    Ack! I meant to say that Freespace 2 has the best Babylon 5 mods!!

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