Getting lost in space has never been so fun.
Avorion, a game that began development over four years ago by Konstantin Kronfeldner is the space sandbox game we have all be asking for. Kronfeldner began building Avorion from scratch for fun, but after releasing some demos a community grew around the game. After adding a second developer to the team real development of the game began. Avorion, now being worked on by a three-man team, is a game all about discovery and creation.
As well as the gameplay, the art style is very similar to Minecraft, consisting mostly of blocks and simple shapes. Space fanatics will find near limitless possibilities out among the stars. There will be a lot to discover. The procedurally generate galaxies are generous in size and dense in content. You'll fight space pirates, trade with other inhabitants of the endless void, build a fleet, just a single big ship, or anything else your earthbound heart desires.
You are dropped into the galaxy as a simple mining drone, equipped with little more than a couple of small thrusters and a mining laser. Your first task is simple: mine mineral rich asteroids to acquire iron. Then, once you have a substantial stockpile, you can begin construction of your very own space ship.
Building your ship is one of the most satisfactory features in Avorion. You'll be given access to all manner of shapes needed to craft your fantasy spaceship. You will need to build upon the necessary components of your ship. You'll need engines, crew quarters, thrusters, lasers, mining equipment, shields, and much more. Needless to say, you'll be given all the tools necessary to create your desired shape and function. You can scale components to be smaller or larger, rotate, combine, snap to other components, or free hand it. It all seems very intimidating at first for those of us without engineering degrees, but the art style lends to even the most haphazardly thrown together ships to turn out functional and visually appealing within Avorion's own universe.
Once your ship is built you'll have free reign to manage it in a playstyle that suits you. There is no maximum ship size, so go big. You'll have to hire a crew from one of the procedurally generated space stations you'll find peppering the galaxy. Once hired you'll have to assign your new crew to work as engineers or mechanics and various other tasks around the ship. The ship management systems are deep. Your ship has a set amount of energy which will be used to power weapons and shields and boosters. You can assign more engineers to get the most out of your energy or you can build more batteries to increase capacity. Need a bigger crew? Build more crew quarters. Need more firepower? Cover your hull in guns. Managing your ship is a game in and of itself.
The galaxy you inhabit has all kinds of events and points of interest to explore. When you open your map you'll see glowing points of green lights, which highlight signals you are receiving. The map gives you an outline of how far your hyperdrive will take you. If there is a signal in range or you just want to try a different sector, you select it to input the coordinates to your navigational computer. Your computer will take a few seconds to calculate trajectory, once it is ready to go you just need to point your ship in the right direction and you're off. Even the most casual of star trek fans won't be able to resist the urge to point at their computer screens and say “engage”. Once you've arrived at your destination, you'll have to wait for your hyperdrive to power up again before you can make another jump. There is a whole galaxy to explore and conquer.
The current version of Avorion features multiplayer, which opens up even more possibilities. Team up with your friends to build space trading company or build the biggest fleet the galaxy has every seen and wage war on all the nonbelievers! Carve out your own section of the galaxy and square off against your friends in pvp space battles. You are left to your own devices on how you want to play the game. This a game that should not be missed. Avorion's deep ship building mechanics and expansive universe make it a space explorer's dream. The added benefit of playing with friends opens up a whole new level of space fairing fun. Be the space cowboy who defends the people from pirates, be the pirate, be a trader, be whatever you want and build a ship to suit that purpose. Check out the extensive demo here and be sure to keep an eye on development, cause there is plenty more to come. See you space cowboy...
By Sam Kemp