UPDATED: We've added Civilization: Beyond Earth into this list.
Set in the distant future, players will take to the stars and explore an alien planet—a new home for humanity—in Civilization: Beyond Earth. It's one chapter of the Civilization franchise you don't want to miss.
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The vastness of space has inspired countless minds to imagine worlds beyond our world, on planets like—and unlike—the one we live on, where the presence of life is in question, or imagined as something so otherworldly that they can only live in fiction and dreams.
A few few of these minds have attempted to imagine what it would be like for us to encounter beings from space—aliens, if you will, in the far-flung future of humanity when space travel is no longer a distant possibility, but an every day reality.
To that end, there are games in which players are urged to take on the roles of spacefaring humans, or those of other races who come into contact with humanity's finest. This article serves to showcase ten of the best strategy games that tackle the subject of space either beyond our planet, or right here at home, where aliens may simply see fit to invade—just as they've done so in the realm of our imagination.
Civilization: Beyond Earth
Civilization: Beyond Earth is one of the best space-themed strategy games of all time. The various factions and Affinities will ensure multiple, robust playthroughs, each presenting unique scenarios that will encourage the player to strategize in challenging new ways with each file.
Few real time strategy games contain the uniqueness offered by Homeworld. Even with gameplay that plays out in three dimensions and being the first RTS of its kind, it is the singularly well written narrative and accompanying gameplay mechanics that make it a memorable experience.
As you start the game, you can choose to play as either the Kushan or Taiidan fleets, both of whom seek out the planet of Hiigara, the ancient homeworld of both species. The planet from which you emerge is soon destroyed and your only choice is to venture far across the galaxy to find sanctuary at your destination. Along the way, you meet enigmatic alien races that either seek to help, or hinder your journey and uncover the mysteries of your species' past.
Fans of Battlestar Galactica will feel right at home with Homeworld in both its setting and frantic space combat.
Released in 1999, Alpha Centauri is a thinking person's strategy game. Melding Civilization with the depth of subjects like philosophy, geopolitics and the customization of Master of Orion 2, Alpha Centauri is aeons better than its earthbound predecessor.
Alpha Centauri takes place in the Civilization universe after the advent of the Space Race victory in Civilization II, in which a shuttle travels to the distant solar system of Alpha Centauri to colonize the planet Chiron. Precursor aliens conducted experiments on the planet, leaving behind remnants of their civilization in the form of monoliths much akin to those in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. During transit to the planet, the colonists split up into seven different ideological factions that serve as the game's civilizations. The player must choose one of the factions to lead it to dominance of Chiron and uncover the planet's secrets.
Starcraft is easily one of the most well known games ever made. With its popularity as a video game unsurpassed, it has become one of the biggest athletic phenomenons in Korea, which regularly broadcasts live matches across three separate TV channels for millions of viewers.
Though its single player campaign is memorable for its events, the heart of Starcraft lies within its multiplayer mode, which has been played by millions of players worldwide. Players choose between three unique races to play as: the bug-like Zerg; the alien Protoss; and the human Terrans, and engage in online skirmishes.
No other RTS, not even Blizzard's own Warcraft III has managed to surpass the competitive balance of Starcraft.
Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty
Sequel to the best known RTS of all time, Starcraft II is a strong contender for being one of the best real time strategy games ever made. With a lengthy single player campaign and an equally strong multiplayer mode, Starcraft II plans to take the competitive edge of Starcraft to the next level with its revamped Battle.net matchmaking service and forthcoming expansion packs.
Taking off after the events of the original Starcraft, players take on the role of Terran hero Jim Raynor as he seeks to liberate his fellow humans from the iron grip of the autocratic Terran Dominion. He meets up with old friends like the protoss Zeratul and makes new ones to aid him in the rebellion. He also learns that his love interest Kerrigan has plans of her own as the queen of the Zerg.
Regarded as one of the most complicated games ever made, X3: The Reunion is part of the ongoing X Universe. Although designed as an open ended space trading game, X3 features lots of strategy , players are dropped right into the cockpit of a ship and are tasked to building a corporate empire that extends towards the far ends of the galaxy.
Although players can opt out of the game's strategic aspects to engage in its plot, the heart of X3 remains in its open ended setting and market driven economy.