Space combat is a popular concept when it comes to video games, so it’s not surprising to see many games that offer more or less realistic combat scenarios in space, where you can pilot your very own spaceship and battle against other players or bots in a series of fast-paced sci-fi matches.

If you love this kind of action, check some of the best space combat simulation games on the list below.

Elite Dangerous

Developer:Frontier Developments
Release year:2014

Elite Dangerous is a must when speaking of the best space combat simulation games. The title lets players explore an open-world environment which is an entire galaxy represented on a realistic scale and allows them to engage in various space activities, from trading and fighting off the enemies, to flying around for fun.

Elite Dangerous 2014

If you are looking for a space combat simulation game that’s easy to play yet has a realistic feeling to it, then Elite Dangerous is a game you should definitely try. It’s worth mentioning that although it has some solo-friendly features, it focuses on a multiplayer experience – in fact, it’s something you could call MMO with spaceships.

Key features
  • Space combat simulation that’s easy to play but still has realistic feel to it
  • Huge playable area – a 1:1 representation of the Milky Way with real stars, planets, and more
  • Focused on multiplayer

FreeSpace 2

Developer:Volition
Release year:1999 (2014 on Steam)

First of all, don’t panic. Yes, we are aware that the game was released in 1999, but it doesn’t make the title any worse. It’s one of the classics among the space fighting sim games, and therefore worth mentioning nevertheless, but more importantly,

FreeSpace 2 2014

it’s still surprisingly playable, although visuals may appear to be quite outdated. If you could just ignore that fact and focus on gameplay, then you might be in for a lot of fun – FreeSpace 2 plays like a good WWII dogfight simulator, allowing you to fly your own spaceship from first-person perspective and hunt down enemy fighters and other bad boys as you attempt new missions.

Key features
  • Fast-paced dynamic space action
  • Large number of spaceships and huge capital ships
  • Addictive gameplay focused on realistic dogfights with use of futuristic weapons

House of the Dying Sun

Developer:Marauder Interactive
Release year:2016

House of the Dying Sun is quite unique title, and for several reasons. It’s not just yet another space combat simulator, but much more.

House of the Dying Sun

Imagine a game, where you could directly pilot not only your own spaceship, but also take control over any allied ship that’s part of your fleet – and here you can do exactly that. You can also command the other ships and give them orders to aid you during combat.

Mastering this ability is a must if you want to succeed, as no battle was ever won by a lone wolf. Another cool feature is the fact that you can pause the game any time and plan your next move carefully, giving the game some tactical flavor.

Key features
  • Classic space sim combat with tactical options
  • Fleet management and possibility to take control over other ships from the fleet
  • Powerful fleet upgrades that can make future encounters easier

No Man’s Sky

Developer:Hello Games
Release year:2016

Thanks to a hard work of the game’s developers, No Man’s Sky turned from a rather disappointing production it was in the beginning into a full-fledged title that gives players an opportunity to start their own epic adventure in the vast open space.

No Mans Sky 2016

It’s not your typical space combat simulator, as it’s more focused on space exploration and visiting new planets in search of new upgrade materials and other stuff, but the needs of those interested in some space first-person dogfight action will also be satisfied.

Key features
  • Puts strong emphasis on space exploration
  • Infinite universe with procedurally generated fauna and flora
  • Tons of upgrades, survival elements, multiplayer action, and base building

Everspace

Developer:Rockfish Games
Release year:2017

Everspace is another interesting and unique position on the list, mainly due to the fact of roguelike elements being present in the game. Every time you start a new journey, you will enter a new randomly generated universe, where you will be tasked with completing instantiated levels in order to progress further.

Everspace 2017

During your adventure you will fight dangerous enemies and collect valuable loot that will help you survive by giving you access to new powerful weaponry and equipment. Don’t be afraid to die, though – with each death you will become stronger, thanks to persistent upgrade system that allows you to use gathered resources to upgrade your ship before you start a new journey.

Key features
  • Space combat with roguelike elements
  • Randomly generated set of levels – no two adventures are the same
  • Various upgrades that will make it easier to progress further after death

War Tech Fighters

Developer:Drakkar Dev
Release year:2018

Who said that space combat needs to be focused on spaceships, dogfights, and shooting lasers left and right? Meet War Tech Fighters, a game that’s not afraid of trying new things and approaches the genre from a completely different way.

War Tech Fighters 2018

Instead of piloting a spaceship, you will be put inside a powerful and technologically advanced mech equipped with the latest collection of futuristic weapons. Clearly inspired by japanese anime, War Tech Fighters allows players to participate in flashy combat and eliminate enemies from afar or get closer and use swords and shields instead.

Key features
  • Different playable mechs suitable for different playstyles
  • Character progression – earn mech experience and improve your machine
  • Tons of upgrades and customization options

SpaceBourne

Developer:Burak Dabak
Release year:2018

SpaceBourne is an indie game that was developed with player freedom in mind. The title allows players to engage in various types of activities, including mining asteroids and hunting bounty targets to make their name in the vast inhospitable space.

SpaceBourne 2018

As you play you will encounter many futuristic weapons with their own unique characteristics, which makes it possible to customize your spaceship to suit your playstyle. During the game you will also earn experience as you complete various side and main missions – gain levels and develop your character to make your life easier in the future.

Key features
  • 4 unique races with their own spaceships
  • A wide array of weapons to choose from
  • A lot of freedom – be a miner, salvage ships, hunt down pirates, and more

Rebel Galaxy

Developer:Double Damage Games
Release year:2015

Rebel Galaxy is not really a simulator, as it favors fun and arcade gameplay over realism, but if you’re up for a game that offers some cool fast-paced space combat, then you’ll be in for a treat.

Rebel Galaxy

The game lets you pilot a capital-class ship and allows you to take part in various activities. These include pirating, mining, trading, exploring, and bounty hunting, giving everyone a chance to play the game in the most enjoyable way. The goal, besides the completing story missions, is, of course, to become the most powerful and influential pilot in the universe.

Key features
  • Large randomly generated universe
  • Tons of activities to participate in
  • Many different playable spaceships that can be further customized to suit everyone’s needs

Nexus: The Jupiter Incident

Developer:Mithis Entertainment
Release year:2004

Let’s get back to classics again and take a moment to appreciate the little hidden gem from 2004. Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is a game that instead of putting you in the shoes of a pilot, gives you a set of challenges to complete with use of a pre-defined fleet.

Nexus The Jupiter Incident 2004

During each mission you will be able to command up to 10 spaceships – winning the mission will require you to utilize each one’s strengths on the space battlefield. Lead your fleet in real time, give your ships orders, and test your skills in a variety of mission types, from espionage and sabotage to fight and stealth. Can you complete them all?

Key features
  • Real-time combat with use of up to 10 different friendly spaceships
  • An exciting campaign with 26 unique missions
  • Dozens of weapons and devices to utilize on the battlefield

STAR WARS™: Squadrons

Developer:Motive Studios, MOTIVE
Release year:2020

It’s been many, many years since the last full-time Star Wars-themed dogfighting game. Shades of this appeared in various games, like Star Wars Battlefront series, but these were mere modes. Thankfully, coming from Motive, there’s Star Wars: Squadrons soaring over the horizon.

Star Wars Squadrons

By all accounts, Squadrons might be just the game people have been waiting for. One of the coolest features is that the ship interior stays as faithful to the design of the ships from the Original Trilogy as possible, while also retaining the necessary functionality. There will be a lot of rerouting power to different subsystems, wild maneouvres, and a full singleplayer campaign to get you acquainted with the systems before launching into the multiplayer space.

Key features
  • Storyline set right after Return of the Jedi
  • Cockpits true to the movies
  • The first dedicated Star Wars starship combat sim in years

EVERSPACE™ 2

Developer:ROCKFISH Games
Release year:2020

Following hot on the heels of its very successful predecessor, Everspace 2 looks every bit like a space sim worth taking seriously. Designed specifically for singleplayer, it takes you on a fascinating journey from planet to planet and system to system, as you pursue loot, experience, and you own, more personal, goals.

everspace 2 2020

Everspace 2 looks even better than the first game, with new ships, new locations, and polished flight simulation. Collect new gear to customise your ship, or try to find a new craft to you collection, whatever helps you venture further and further. There is a lot to do, and a lot to enjoy.

Key features
  • Free demo, so you don’t need to go in blind
  • Plenty of ships to collect
  • Fast-paced space combat

Star Wars: Battlefront

Developer:EA DICE
Release year:2015

For the last game on the list we have something for Star Wars fans, Star Wars: Battlefront. Although the game does not focus on space combat simulation, it does have a fighter squadron mode that lets players pilot one of the iconic spaceships from the Star Wars universe and fight to death in a multiplayer deathmatch game.

Star Wars Battlefront 2015

While it’s hardly a simulation and wouldn’t found among dedicated space combat games, it’s surprisingly fun and addictive, which should give you a more relaxed experience in comparison to what other games from the list are offering. And once you get bored of it, you can just choose a different mode and play as your character on the ground and test your skills in a more traditional third-person shooter instead.

Key features
  • Focused on multiplayer
  • Fast-paced arcade action in the iconic Star Wars universe
  • Several addictive game modes to choose from

Summary

Space combat simulation games can be realistic but they can also sacrifice a portion of realism in favor of more dynamic and fun gameplay. Some games are trying to achieve a balance and offer arcade gameplay that still feels somewhat realistic, at least to a certain degree, as it would be hard to make a truly realistic sci-fi game that implements concepts we don’t even have in real life yet.

Space combat simulations are usually about giving players the opportunity to pilot a spaceship and complete various missions that may include trading, hunting bad boys, or simply exploring the open space in order to find new and exciting systems to loot and plunder. The world, or rather universe, can be pre-made or generated randomly for additional fun. Or can be a mix of both.

Some games may try to approach the genre from a different way, and instead of focusing on dogfights and maneuvering the spaceship, they can give players a different type of machine to operate, such as a mech, which results in an entirely different experience. Developers are still coming up with new ideas that are meant to bring some fresh air to the genre, so space war may be presented in different shapes and sizes.

Because of how many different space combat simulation games are available on the market, it’s more than certain that even if you’re not into this kind of games, you may end up finding something that you will eventually fall in love with. Check the games listed above and try your luck in conquering the space.