Wow. Having failed to play Elite: Dangerous and having recently been told that ignoring such games as EVE Online was criminally silly, I had forgotten just how compelling open world space trading and combat games can get. And, unprepared like this, I ran into Astrox and barely made all the deadlines I was supposed to.
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So, after what must have been over 20 hours of playing a freeware game in a browser tab, I can safely tell you that Astrox is indeed freeware. Uhm, yes. And wisely single-player only. Also, a game that plays quite a bit like a third person version of classic Elite with bits of Homeworld thrown in.
Mine asteroids, refine and trade their ore, buy upgrades for your ship, hunt pirates in the procedural star systems and you’ll have only scratched the surface of this wonderful game and maybe gained a couple of levels.
Dozens of missions, jump gates, further systems, the discovery of lucrative trade routes, bits of plot and much more lie ahead. Provided you wisely buy new modules, engage in rudimentary crafting, train yourself in the laboratory and, should you make enough money, purchase a bigger, more powerful ship, that is. Oh, and knowing when to switch off the auto-pilot and manually handling the most taxing of the battles.
Add in a universe that feels alive and filled with things to do, an excellent atmosphere and you’ve got a beautiful game you can lose yourself in and construct your very own myth. Maybe even survive long enough to buy your freedom from the Corporate Federation and stop breaking rocks in outer space.