It seems there are no shortage of space simulation games these days with the ascension of Star Citizen to record breaking crowdfunding status. A genre that was once considred “extremely niche” and somewhat unprofitable to most developers and publishers has finally begun to gain steam into a new era of true simulation games. VoidExpanse has entered this exciting genre of games with their Top-down, Space-fighter simulation game in an open-world set in deep space.
In VoidExpanse players will experience sandbox elements in a vast galaxy from a top-down view. There are numerous factions the player can form alliances with while hunting down pirates, transporting goods, and even mining. The top-down combat system can be described as a Space Rangers and EVE Online hybrid.
Also like EVE Online, VoidExpanse has a big push on the multiplayer experience. Despite the game’s procedurally-generated galaxies, players can create and share the same galaxy either online in multiplayer or in singleplayer. While the game is currently a bit lacking in terms of player population, I can only assume the playerbase will increase as the game continues to grow and add more content, which seems to be the games only lacking point at the moment.
In particular, players should familiarize themselves with the game’s real-time combat, which makes up a large proportion of the gameplay. One-on-one combat is certainly fun, with tense dogfighting around every corner, and the top-down style avoids the confusion of three dimensional combat. However, players may find it difficult when more than one enemy gets involved. Given that VoidExpanse is full of treacherous pockets of cosmos, those with characters less focused on combat could find it worthwhile to avoid firefights when travelling between friendly areas.
Thankfully, these safe zones are fairly regular, with space stations offering repair and refuel options, as well as new quests to pick up. Players can travel between different star systems hunting for jobs through warp jumps, and different systems are controlled by different groups. There are several factions in VoidExpanse, ranging from the officious Order, the bizarre Fanatics, and villainous Pirates. Meanwhile, the alien Xengatarn race controls a large section of the galaxy.
Users can play the game in a number of different ways based around class choices. There are several classes to choose from, starting with the all-rounder Adventurer class and continuing to speed-freak Pilots, combat-heavy Fighters, and support-based Engineers. VoidExpanse provides players with some interesting builds, with the Prospector class focused on asteroid-mining and the Trader class built around negotiation skills.
Whichever class a player chooses, it is essential to develop new abilities through the game’s skill tree. Gamers can increase their weapon proficiency per weapon type, improve their maneuverability in the void, and become more persuasive to gain information and trade deals easier. Alongside their character, players will want to improve their ship, buying new hulls with different strengths and weaknesses, and buying upgraded equipment such as weaponry, shield generators, and radar modules.
It may seem like there is a lot to keep track of, but VoidExpanse manages to slowly integrate the player into the game’s mechanics. The offside of this, however, is that VoidExpanse takes a while to get going, with initial quests feeling a little too much like running errands for other characters. Within a couple of hours, however, players should find themselves adept with the game, opening up a galaxy to explore and essentially giving the player free reign to play the game however they want.
That said, the plot itself is heavily focused towards one area of VoidExpanse’s lore: the Xengatarn, with the Order faction in particular focusing on combat against the alien race later in the game. This means that certain quests don’t necessarily match up with the character a player may have built, and those without a combat-heavy class may not appreciate being pushed down a pathway that they are not accustomed to. Traders and Prospectors may find the earlier portion of the game more engaging, and may ignore the overall story in favor of their own intentions.
VoidExpanse certainly has a lot of potential, particularly in regards to an active online community. AtomicTorch has been very vocal about promoting a vibrant mod scene for VoidExpanse, and that attitude has already paid off, with several mods already available and the title compatible with Steam Workshop. The game has clearly been designed with multiplayer in mind, and although the numbers are not quite there yet, this game could certainly be fun with a group of friends.
Despite being a bit lacking with current content, VoidExpanse has an amazing building block for anyone who is a fan of either space games or sandbox gaming. The game takes the strong points out of both of those genres and mixes them well to craft a great singleplayer and multiplayer experience. The game has a ton of potential moving forward as well, and at a pricetag of just $14.99, everyone should jump in and give this fun open world experience a try. See you in space!