In StarMade you can design and build your own ships, one block at a time. Both the number of configuration of the blocks help determine your ship’s performance. You can add cannons, harvesting beams, missiles, shields, cloaking technology…even AI modules that will control the ship (or parts of it, such as turrets) for you.
You can also design and build your own space stations, incorporating many of the features of starships (though they can’t move, of course). You can mine/harvest resources and craft virtually every item in the game, setting up massive factories, if you’re so inclined. You can claim planets, explore, do trade runs between NPC star shops, hunt NPC space pirates for loot and, of course, engage in full-blown space war with your friends. The game has an amazing amount of functionality for being only in the alpha stage of development, and with only two developers working on it.
And the game is massive. The star system you start in is large enough to support play for years, maybe forever. But there are hundreds of star systems. According to the devs, it would take 10,000 years (in real time) to travel the breadth of the StarMade universe. Holy crap that’s huge!
In fact, perhaps too huge (though I can’t believe I’m saying that). The biggest problem I’ve run into so far is finding your way around. It’s easy to wander off and get lost if you haven’t carefully noted your space sector of origin (each star system has 16x16x16 sectors of space). The devs are working on a proper star map, so hopefully that will make it easier to navigate through the game.
And related to this, the game is so big it’s almost pointless to play single-player. You’d probably never leave the starting system in single-player, meaning 99.999+% of the game would go unexplored and unused. It practically screams multiplayer, which fortunately the game allows you to do. The developers have kindly set up an ‘official’ public server if your friends lack interest in total space pwnage (their loss 🙂 ).
For the time being the game is available for free (though you can purchase a copy for $30 to help fund development). If you like sandbox games like Minecraft, you’ll probably enjoy StarMade. Cheers.