Sci-fi Sandbox Showdown: Conclusions

EVE Online, Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen walk into a bar...
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There is an exciting future ahead for fans of the space-sim MMO, as legends of the past get into training to take on today’s champ.

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With Elite being the space-sim king of the 80s whose crown was passed to the Wing Commander franchise and its successors in the 90s, EVE Online‘s 21st century dominance is no longer guaranteed to continue into its second decade.

The End of an Era?

So does EVE Online have anything to worry about? The game’s age is a double-edged sword; its depth of features puts CCP Games ahead of the curve but further development is hampered by code bloat and archaic design. But even so, EVE still has visuals to rival any new game and a well-invested community who would be the envy of any MMO. 

Despite the existence of EVE Online, it’s interesting that Chris Roberts claims that the space-sim genre is dead. Indeed, throughout a 30-minute interview involving both Roberts and Elite’s David Braben, in which they discussed the state of the genre and the industry, neither one mentioned the Icelandic elephant in the room. Take from that what you will.

In any case, they’ve all got something unique to bring to the table and healthy competition will not only keep them pushing all the harder for dominance, the corporate metagame dogfight that will be going on behind the scenes will be sublimely poetic and very fitting given the embattled universes they will each portray.

Or the Start of a Golden Age?

As a long-time EVE player who was a huge fan of Braben’s and Roberts’ previous titles, I would very much like to see CCP challenged by more than their own player-base. 

There is a delicious end-game quality to this convergence of space-sims and with any luck, all three will thrive and the true victory will be for the humble sci-fi geek consumer.

After all, if the swords and sandals MMO genre can sustain a umpteen varieties of elf-worrying fairy-fanciers, then surely there’s room in space for three solid sci-fi sandboxes.

But if there can be only one, who’s your money on?

[Of course, if a developer really wants to make the ultimate sci-fi sandbox, I know this little place called Arrakis – there’s plenty of sci-fi flavoured sand over there…]


Article Index

Page 1: Sci-Fi Sandbox Showdown: The Battle for the Stars
Page 2: Contender – EVE Online
Page 3: Contender – Elite: Dangerous
Page 4: Contender – Star Citizen


Page 5: Conclusions

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Image of Mat Westhorpe
Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.