Anyone who’s been around me for some time knows that I love my space sims… and also tend to hold them to a high quality standard. Having come from the likes of Elite: Dangerous, I’ve set my bar pretty high, or so I’d like to think.
Evochron Legacy, 19th release of StarWraith 3D Games, 8th in the Evochron series, and released in 2015, still maintained today, is a rather old looking sandbox-style “fly around and do things,” my favorite. For those that don’t know, StarWraith (SW3DG) is essentially the work of one man who does nothing but space sims, and has been since the 80’s (SW3DG’s first release was ‘89 but he’s been working longer than that). Despite looking a little on the dated side of things, they’re still plenty fun, if you’re into that type of gameplay.
Yes, the interface is cluttered, and yes, it will map almost your entire keyboard with modifier keys for all the functions (I have almost every button on all 6 modes of my X52 doing something), but that’s just how it’s presented. You will have to read the manual and/or play through the built-in tutorial (or only the individual lessons you need) to really grasp what everything means, unless you want to just sit around and play with everything until the names and abbreviations just click.
It’s primarily a singleplayer adventure, though you may directly connect to a dedicated server and play with friends (or enemies) in the vast generated space of the Evochron quadrant, building your own stations, and making an impact in the persistent server world. Buying the game (from steam, $25, a little on the high side, I’d recommend seeing if one of the major sales drops it down) will also include the dedicated server, which is as simple as clicking the icon and pressing start. Naturally you’ll need networking set up to handle that, but.. that’s not in the scope of this post.
The server and the client alike are very, very lightweight. I’m fairly certain any semi-modern PC or even laptop could run either at relatively high performance.
Did I mention the playable space is just… massive? It’s divided into a 3D grid of “sectors” that can all be flown around to your heart’s content, or jumped between. You’re (as mentioned before) able to build your own structures, carve out a little corner to yourself, and call it home. Apart from that though, most of the non-sandbox gameplay is mission-driven, and this is your (starting) primary source of income, used to either buy better equipment, tune your ship, or… design a new one from a base design. There’s a constant background simulation that can influence territory control (the Alliance and Federation are both at it), prices, trade routes, all sorts of things going on that make you feel like you’re in an actual populated galaxy.
Also.. planets exist. And you can land on them. With no loading screen or transition. You can even colonize them.. if you can get used to the oddities of atmospheric flight in a spacecraft (it’s doable, but takes a little practice).
Be a ruthless pirate, an efficient trader, a humble miner, the choice is yours, almost anything is possible and simulated.
As one final note, TrackIR support is included, so feel free to don your pilot’s cap and look around the cockpit as much as you please. So please, if this sounds enjoyable, check and see if there’s some good YouTube content, or go buy a copy, help one man support his dream.