Empyrion – Galactic Survival – No Man’s What?

Empyrion – Galactic Survival
Eleon Game Studios

Survival and crafting games are harkening in a new era of the gaming industry. When I think back to games that I used to play when I was younger, during the dawn of gaming, I remember the ones I used to play in the good old arcades (remember those?). The vast majority of games back then were fighting games, shooting games (as in Galaga not first-person shooters), and racing games.

We’ve had adventure and exploration games for a while now (Myst anyone?), and some survival horror games, but nothing that was more of a pure survival experience. That wasn’t until 2009’s Minecraft exploded on the scene and basically put the survival genre on the map overnight. The zombie apocalypse survival subgenre was likewise exploited first when the Arma 2 mod called DayZ debuted a few years later in 2012.

But for science fiction geeks like myself and many other SF gamers out there, there weren’t really any games that indulged our fantasies of being able to survive and craft on alien worlds. There also weren’t any that allowed you to not only perform the usual survival tasks within a futuristic setting, but also pilot ships and travel through outer space.

That wasn’t until 2016 rolled around and gave us both Starbound and No Man’s Sky. While the former title received rave reviews, the latter was a well-known train wreck and still serves as an object lesson of how NOT to release a game. But there was also a lesser known indie space survival game that had been quietly brewing since August of 2015. That title was none other than Eleon Game Studios’ Empyrion – Galactic Survival.

Although Empyrion got off to a rather tepid start (mainly due to a lack of content), since then it has steadily gained steam. Indeed, its developers have been releasing a steady stream of updates and patches that have smoothed Empyrion’s rough edges out, over time. And with Empyrion’s latest update (1.6) things are really coming together and have changed gameplay considerably. But first, if you’re like most people, you’ve probably never even heard of Empyrion…

As with most survival games, in Empyrion each player starts off with only a few meager survival resources, and has to explore the immediate area of their starting planet for additional survival items and crafting materials. As of the most recent 1.6 update, each player starts with even less to work with than before, making for a very do-or-die beginning.

Once you accumulate a decent amount of resources you can build your first starter base. I must say that other than Rust, Empyrion features one of the most robust crafting and base building systems of any survival game out there. There are scores of weapons and items that you can put together, and tons of furnishings, equipment, and storage pieces that you can lay your base out with.

When you’re doing exceptionally well and have stockpiled enough of the right sorts of prerequisite resources, you can then build a land vehicle, a starship, and eventually your very own space station. There are handy tutorials for crafting just about everything in the game, and they’ll especially be of use when it comes to building ships and stations since they’re much more complex to construct.

But when you learn the fundamentals you can make some truly spectacular builds. I remember a recent game where a couple of gaming buddies and I got so into the ship building system that we had a playful rivalry going on in order to determine who could make the flashiest and most badass space fighter. In any event, there’s nothing quite like carefully constructing your first spaceship, taking it for an in-atmosphere test spin, and then finally blasting off into the stars for the very first time. You’ll hear your vessel creaking and groaning as you approach the upper edges of the atmosphere, blast through it (if it holds together), and then enter the cold reaches of space. It’s a truly exhilarating experience.

With the new 1.6 update, things get even more interesting in space now since you can not only pressurize your spaceships, but also space stations. This means that when you are walking around either, you can do so without your armored suits. This particularly makes for a more “natural” space opera feeling when you’re sauntering around space stations with nothing other than your civilian outfits on.

There are also new AI trading stations that you can dock on and explore, complete with AI beings walking about. None of them will attack you but if you get hostile with them they’ll defend themselves as they see fit. This allows for a more organic feeling to each game, as you can now simply purchase any resources that you are lacking, or sell ones that you have a surplus of. You can also instantaneously go planet-side from an orbiting trading station by passing through any of the new teleporters on board them.

Planets now have fully dynamic weather systems at play, including clouds, fog, wind, rain, snow, thunderstorms, hail, acid rain, radiated fog, heat waves, cold waves, and more. I especially like this new addition as it allows for some really immersive views and conditions on planets. However, with Empyrion’s new radiation and temperature indicators, you’ll really have to keep an eye on things so that you don’t end up turning into a puddle of irradiated sludge, or burning or freezing to death.

And space has also just became a more dangerous and deadly place. That’s because the developers have added in new AI space cruiser patrols. These patrols can be found at random locations out in space, so you’ve got to constantly be observant lest you run into some of the more hostile ones. These patrols can also send down drones to attack your base as well. It can be quite a bewildering experience to be working on something within your base, and suddenly hear lasers striking it as a patrol’s drones begin their assault.

With all of these interesting new additions, I feel that Empyrion – Galactic Survival is really turning into quite the space survival juggernaut that it was truly meant to be. It’s a brilliant combination of terrestrial adventuring, base building; equipment and weapons crafting; vehicle and vessel construction; and space exploration. It most certainly has gotten me over my No Man’s Sky blues.

SCORE: 89%

Empyrion: Galactic Survival features graphics that are more than good enough to wow your friends with. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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