The Best Space Shooter Games

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The Best Bad-Guy Blasting Business is Any Bad-Guy Blasting Business

Only the best space shooter games make this list 

Take a look at the slickest, smoothest and coolest space games available and decide for yourself which one you will try first.  Which one will be your favorite?  A word of warning: all these games are mighty inviting, and you might find yourself torn between two or three…or seventeen!  Let’s start with a far-reaching and fantastic piece of space shooter work from Rockfish games: Everspace...

1) Everspace

Everspace First Playable Gameplay Trailer

With a mysterious storyline that incorporates a reason why players can die and immediately return to live, Everspace is a rogue-style, single-player shooter where you choose your style and side: players can work within the law or break it and pirate other ships for resources.  You start with a basic ship—a colonial interceptor—and some simple objectives like earning credits and scoring some enemy kills. Each flight brings new destinations and new objectives, and of course you will be targeted by enemies of various types.  This game focuses on gathering resources for repairs and upgrades to your ship, and the upgrade tree is deep—weapons, armor, and special devices improve both the abilities and appearance of your interceptor.

Dock with Space Stations to Upgrade Your Ship

While the game incorporates both a storyline and a non-linear play style, it has an intriguing feature built into the game progression mechanics: you are supposed to die, and die a lot.  Each death you experience in the game, while removing your ship and resources, allows you to retain blueprints and credits and also reveals one more part of the game’s storyline, getting you one step closer to solving its big mystery.

 

2) Angels Fall First

Angels Fall First Trailer 2015

In the distant future, war once again rages in the galaxy as the previously subdued Antarean species rise in nationalism and threaten the stability of the decaying United League of Planets.  You must pick a side and fight to either free the Antareans or uphold the League’s power over the stars.  Angels Fall First combines several styles of sci-fi shooter games: you can direct space combat from the bridge of a battleship, pilot a fighter in space combat, or go planetside either in a tank or on foot, all in the same game.  This is a match-based game, and players first meet online in a pre-match “lobby” where matches are setup for play. 

Angels Fall First Incorporates a Wide Range of Spaceship Classes

This game offers every possible playing style for the sci-fi genre.  The online community is huge and diverse—matches are easy to come by and quick to enter.

 

3) Fractured Space

Fractured Space Steam Free to Play Trailer 2016

As humanity began to colonize outer space and mine it for precious resources, conglomerated corporate forces began to compete for territory.  Soon enough, all pretense of civility disappeared, and now each corporation wages open war on all others.  You must work hand-in-hand with your team to guide your fleet of ships to victory over the enemy by capturing their base of operations.  Fractured Space pits one team of 5 players against another in combat across 5 space sectors.  Players first choose a manufacturer, then a ship design to prepare for combat in the first sector.

Each Ship Manufacturer is Different—Choose Yours Wisely

Along with your ship, you will of course need a crew.  Several key positions must be filled for your ship to operate, such as the engineer and navigator.  Hire your crew with care; their performance matters.

Each Crew Member Acts as Part of Your Ship’s Overall Performance

As you advance, you gain the ability to control more ships and the credits to buy them and their crews.  You also choose the weapons loadout your ship carries into battle.  Increase your chances of success by getting to know your own capabilities as well as that of your team before jumping into combat.

 

4) Into the Stars

Into the Stars Trailer

Into the Stars is a space survival game that combines exploration and action.  The home humanity has known since its beginning is gone, and the entire species now searches for a new world on which to live.  You command your ship from the beginning by selecting modules to be installed on the vessel and choosing the crew that will operate it.  Your decisions will help determine how well you do and how far you will go.

Captain Your Ship to Find Humanity a New Home

Strategy is important early on and remains important, but the aliens are not all friendly.  Combat will soon erupt, and you and your hand-picked crew must fight to survive and find a home.

 

5) No Man's Sky

No Man’s Sky Trailer

This is a combination game where players explore new planets in a vast universe.  You pilot your ship from one star system to another, then land on the planet and explore it to gather valuable resources used in trade and the upgrading of your spacesuit and ship.  Though there is a lot of combat, the brunt of No Man’s Sky is exploration and upgrading.

Space Combat in No Man’s Sky Gets Intense

Innumerable planets await exploration and colonization; players must fight among the stars and on the surface to obtain vital resources.  Each planet is unique and rendered in amazing graphic detail.

Keeping Trouble Away – It’s No Walk in the Park

No Man’s Land offers challenges in fighting, flying and strategic use of goods.  Exploration alongside other players creates tense and often volatile relations and drives the speed of play to extremes.

 

6) Eve Online

Eve Online Industry Trailer

Eve Online features a massive trade-and-fight universe.  Humanity crossed into a new region of space centuries ago, but the natural wormhole allowing that move has collapsed, and humanity’s original home is all but a myth.  Players own their own empires and control starships to fight rival industry leaders, harvest and process galactic resources, and trade for goods amongst each other.

Massive Space Stations Offer Trade and Ship-Repair Services

Eve Online features a player-driven economy, so when you buy or sell, you actually effect the market.  There are dozens of expansions available already, and many more are scheduled.

 

7) Eve Valkyrie

Eve Valkyrie VR Gameplay Launch Trailer

Eve Valkyrie is a stand-alone game based on Eve Online’s already developed, extensive universe.  Eve Valkyrie dives deeper than its sister game into the space shooter genre.  This game features a carrier assault system where fighters attack in a series of goal-oriented modes to destroy enemy carriers.

Combat Against Carriers Challenges Even Hot-Shot Pilots

Eve Valkyrie pushes combat to the forefront—both online multiplayer and single-player modes offer intense fighting experiences in and out of carrier assault mode.  This game is gorgeous in standard play and is fully VR-capable.

 

8) Infinity: Battlescape

Infinity: Battlescape Trailer

This game centers around the fighting between multiple rival super-corporations in the Starfold Confederacy, including the Centaurus culture and the Deltan Federation.  The war centers on the recent loss of fertility in all of humanity, each of the sides blaming the others for this terrible, species-ending development.  You begin by pledging your undying allegiance to one of the corporations, then proceed to destroy the others.  Battle in space and on planets to decimate enemy forces.

Massive Space Stations Occupy Beautiful, Realistic Space Settings

Infinity: Battlescape pits players against each other in matches where each team is given an assortment of credits, space stations, planetary bases, and more.  Credits are used to buy ships as small as fighters and bombers to huge cruisers and massive carriers.

 

9) Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous: Horizons Launch Trailer

Elite Dangerous takes place some 1300 years in the future, and humanity is spread across the galaxy.  The storyline of this game is shrouded in mystery for a very good reason: it changes according to the actions and interactions of the players.  Currently, there is a story about the dying of an emperor and the candidates vying to replace him on the throne; the input and behavior of the game’s thousands of active players will have a direct impact on how this storyline progresses.  To begin the game, you get only the simplest of spaceships and a few credits.  You advance and upgrade by exploring to find resources, mining and trading, or chasing the alluringly fast cash of piracy and bounty-hunting.

Asteroid Miners Fall Under the Crosshairs of a Pirate Player

Elite: Dangerous boasts 400,000,000,000 stars in its gaming galaxy, many with habitable worlds.  The game can be played in a single-player mode, but is intended to not only offer a full MMO universe but to promote online gamers to participate in the future state of affairs in that universe.  The game is fully VR-compatible for an even richer gaming experience.

 

10) Star Citizen

Imagine: Star Citizen Trailer

Fans of the Wing Commander and Privateer series of game know Chris Roberts, and his latest endeavor is the deeply created universe of Star Citizen.  From the development of the Quantum Core Engine in the late 21st century to the first discovery of a JumpPoint in the late 23rd century, human expansion has continued into the stars at an alarming rate.  In 2438, humanity meets its first alien race, the Banu, and negotiates the first interstellar peace treaty.  Now, as contact with more and less-friendly alien species abounds, humanity struggles to maintain its galactic power and peace.  Begin the game with your modest ship and credits and upgrade by following your chosen path: you can mine, trade, steal, or any combination of styles your pick.

Starship Operation is Sleek and Intuitive

Space shooting is only a fraction of this expansive game universe.  Touchdown on a planet or dock at the closest space station and travel about, meeting colorful characters, buying and using new weapons, and getting the latest ship upgrades you can afford.

Complex and Detailed Settings Enrich Star Citizen’s Vast Universe

Simply put, this is the largest and best-developed space shooter, good for some relaxing pirate-blasting or endless hours of intensive, in-depth gameplay. 

 

11) Starpoint Gemini 2

Starpoint Gemini 2 Cinematic Trailer

The sequel to Starpoint Gemini, this game takes place in the Gemini region of space, which consists of several star systems.  Players can follow pre-scripted story missions or use the “freeroam” play mode, which allows for total freedom in choice of missions as a freelance captain.  Begin the game by choosing one of three available classes for your character: Commander class focuses on enhancement for your ship; Gunner class gives combat bonuses; and Engineer class offers support-style skills for ship operation.  Regardless of chosen class, players are free to take on various kinds of professions such as miner, trader, pirate, scientist, and salvager. 

The Legionnaire Cruises Past a Planet’s Meteor Rings

Starpoint Gemini 2 puts players in command of large-class ships rather than fighters, although wingmen can be hired to accompany your ship.  The game offers a range of about 70 ships to choose from, each having its own unique properties and appearance, and a variety of crew members are available to man the posts on your vessel.  Starpoint Gemini 2 is fully VR-capable.

 

12) Starsector

Starsector Official Trailer (Alpha)

When the interstellar Gate System connecting humanity’s explored areas of space collapsed, civilization collapsed with it, leaving fleets and their occupants scattered and lost.  Now bands of humans pilot the galaxy in efforts to survive, recover from the Great Collapse, and perhaps even thrive in the new, broken universe.  Starsector is a top-down, 2D space shooter that includes trading, upgrading and other features, but focuses heavily on combat—and the fighting is thick as soon as it starts.

Multiple Enemies Wreak Havoc Unless You Are Prepared

Begin by choosing your character portrait, name, and basic character type—trader, pirate, etc.—and you are soon launching your ship.  You can take on missions by connecting to the closest space station’s communication channel or fly off into the unknown.  Trade and careful attention to your ship modifications become essential quickly, but the fighting remains at the center of the action.

 

13) Dreadnought

Dreadnought Teaser Trailer

No details regarding the backstory of Dreadnought have been released.  It is an online multiplayer combat game where two teams of 5 players each fight using five ship classes: corvette, tactical cruiser, destroyer, artillery cruiser, and dreadnought.  Teams assemble and strategize prior to matching against their opponents, then fight to earn rewards and increased reputation.

A Dreadnought Destroys an Enemy Vessel Outside a Space Station

Dreadnought’s ship modification system offers over 19 million possible configurations.  Players also have options regarding the allocation of the ship’s available power, allowing the reduction of a systems like speed and weapons to increase power to alternate areas.

 

14) Battlefleet Gothic: Armada

Battlefleet Gothic: Armada Launch Trailer

Set in the universe of Game Workshop’s wildly successful Warhammer 40K, Battlefield Gothic: Armada offers players four sides to choose from, each having its own strengths: Imperium ships have strong armor, heavy cannons and torpedoes; Chaos ships are fast and have the longest-range weapons; Eldar ships are fast, very maneuverable, and employ good fighters and bombers; and Ork ships are highly resilient with strong assault capabilities. 

An Imperium Cruiser Flies Amongst a Massive Fleet

The game offers campaign mode, solo skirmish mode, and multi-player.  Creative use of battlefield settings increases the strategic aspect of the game, and ship damage is realistically compartmentalized so that one system going offline does not completely disable an entire vessel.

 

15) Stellaris

Stellaris Launch Trailer – Grand Strategy on a Galactic Scale

Stellaris is a ground-up empire-builder set in the far future that builds into a huge space-combat universe.  Players can choose to be one of several pre-made species—including human—or to create a new species of their own design from one of six species classes: avian, arthropod, fungoid, mammalian (which includes humans), molluscoid, and reptilian.  Part of species creation involves selection of traits from four sets of opposing ethical viewpoints: Militarist vs. Pacifist, Spiritualist vs. Materialist, Collectivist vs. Individualist, and Xenophile vs. Xenophobe.  The choices you make in deciding your species ethics will determine what actions are available in the game.

Capitol Ships Battle Firing Heavy Cannons and Employ Fighter Squadrons

Stellaris allows inter-empire trading of goods, research, and even diplomatic arrangements such as non-aggression pacts, and each planet in an empire can be developed in sections according to population, terrain type, and the needs of the empire.

 

16) Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online Free-to-Play Trailer

The peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire has ended, the Romulans are rebuilding and strengthening, the Dominion continues to amass power…and the Borg are coming.  Star Trek Online allows players to create their own starship captain from over twenty available species.  Players must choose an allegiance: support the Federation, back the Klingon Empire, or choose the side of the Romulans.  Next, pick your starship from the array of vessels seen in classic Star Trek shows and movies, old and new, such as the Federation Constitution-class Cruiser (the original Star Trek’s “Enterprise”) or Tactical Cruiser (Next Generation’s “Defiant”), the Romulan Warbird, or the renown Klingon Bird of Prey.

Classic Space Combat in Star Trek Style

Combat in Star Trek Online involves familiar Star Trek ship’s weaponry such as phasers and photon torpedoes.  You will fight ship-to-ship, you will fight in the ship against boarding parties, and you will fight planetside against all sorts of alien foes.

Explore Strange, New Worlds

After all, what is a Star Trek Adventure with a landing party?  This game moves from planetary to stellar game modes and offers exploration and strategic combat for Star Trek fans of any generation.

 

17) Freelancer (2003)

Microsoft Freelancer Trailer 2003

Another game from the mind of Chris Roberts, the 2003 release of Freelancer by Digital Anvil marked a new era in space shooter games by combining story-powered settings, rogue-style freedom of play, and state-of-the-art visual and audio effects.  In the far future, humanity’s infighting led to the launch of five massive colony ships to establish new beginnings for our species.  Now the colonies enjoy strength and prosperity, but dangers still roam the stars, and players of Freelancer are brought straight into the action.  Start immediately with a basic ship and move quickly through the story campaign, which is only long enough to get you so deep into the game that you can see how massive the possibilities are.

A Host of Local Pirate Fighters Engage Meager Liberty Sector Security Forces

Freelancer’s opening storyline puts the player on the side of local good-guys, but any player who wants to break into a less-legal standing will have the opportunity to do so long before they have the financial ability to do so wisely.  Once a decent-enough ship is in hand, piracy can certainly pay, but so can any number of other endeavors such as trade or bounty-hunting.

Alien Employers Await Freelancers in Space Station Bars

Freelancer—one of my favorite games of all time—is an open-ended universe that invites deep exploration into a huge galaxy and even points unknown beyond mysterious wormholes.  Players will find themselves drooling over their next mission as they scrounge to afford those enormously expensive and worth-every-credit starships.

 

The Final Word

The genre of space shooters has come a long, long way since Space Invaders started eating quarters from arcade-going gamers and capturing our imaginations with the simplest of graphics and sounds.  Today’s space shooter looks and sounds so impressively genuine that players might need regular breaks to maintain their connection with the real world.  These seventeen space shooters each have their share of high-end graphics and sound, offering pure enjoyment in their own flavor, satisfying to combat-only style players, those who crave story and strategy, and everyone in between.

If you’d like to look at some other games from this genre, check out these articles:

1) 12 Best Sci-Fi Games To Play In 2015

2) Best Space Exploration Games

3) 27 Best Online Shooting Game To Play In 2016 and Beyond

4) 15 Awesome Space War Games That You Need To Check Out

5) 11 Best Space Games To Play In 2016

 

Whatever you do, take a bite of these juicy games and discover for yourself why they are the Best Space Shooter Games to be found for your PC.  You are sure to find at least one of these you will want to play during your every free minute.

 

Gamer Since: 1979
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Descent 3
Top 3 Favorite Games:DOOM, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition, Galactic Civilizations III
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