Happy Star Wars: Squadrons day, internet. I have nothing to offer but the sneer of a veteran Elite Dangerous pilot. A disdainful scoff as you vroomify your engines in the docking bay, click-clacking your flight checks in the seat of some dusty Y-wing, some classless X-Wing, some bogus B-wing. Who do you think you are? Sitting there in the pilot’s seat of that garish tin can. Only an exponent of the foulest incorrectitudes would indulge a shipyard with all the basic-ass nomenclature of an episode of Sesame Street. Here, you fripperist, you child, gaze upon the true list of the 9 best spaceships in games.
Cobra Mk III - Elite Dangerous
There are bigger ships. There are quicker ships. But there are no better ships. The Cobra is the jackiest of all trades. You can strap a giant cargo compartment to the backside, yank off the shield generator, paint it bright yellow, and stand back in awe at your beautiful glass lorry. Or you can stock up on piratical thief drones and head out with an electronic space lasso, ready to catch interstellar truckers for mid-flight shakedowns. You will do all this in style. Look at this wide-headed metal beaut. Feel the thrum of any number of engines. Versatile, inexpensive, angry as a box of bullet ants. The Cobra is all spaceships to all spacepeople.
Torus - FTL: Faster Than Light
Don’t put me in a box, unless it is the Torus Engi cruiser from FTL. This cuboid collection of small rooms and higgledy-piggledy containers appears to the earthbound layperson as a messy junkyard in the sky. That is only half true. Messy? Yes. Junkyard? No. If anything, the twisting, asymmetrical layout of this hurtling metal cereal box actually works in its favour. Fire in security? No worries, scramble through the airlock corridor instead. Hull breach in the airlock? Zip through hatchway maintenance. Enemy boarding parties in both corridors? Uh…
Tie Fighter - Star Wars: Tie Fighter
Okay, I'm sorry. This is a concession to the Star Warsers. I concede the Tie Fighter is an attractive death machine. It has an idiosyncratic window. The noise it makes as it screeches across the galactic ink blot is appealing and sacrosanct to SFX artists everywhere. I admire its gall, its rancor, its giant ears. I too would probably fly this ship, were I an insufferable space fascist.
The Nightingale - Heaven’s Vault
Let's assume the nebulous streaks of dust and water that create the “rivers” of Heaven’s Vault exist in what is otherwise a vacuum. It is space, yes, but weirder. Granted, the Nightingale is a bit of a chore to drive along these floaty highways. The ponderous flying sections of this archaeological adventure game are probably the least-loved thing about it. But even the most impatient among us has to admire this shimmering dragonfly of a ship. The webbed sails, the golden struts, the refined wood-paneled cabin with its hammock, the floor strewn with rugs and books. Proof that your space vessel doesn’t need to be a killing machine. It can just be a cosy place to rest while your robot takes the helm.
Nemesis - Eve Online
Picture the scene: you are exploring an ancient field of valuable debris. No you’re not - you’re dead. Did you see the Nemesis appearing claustrophobically close to your ship’s aft? I did. It has bombed you into next week, which is, incidentally, the approximate time it will take to earn back the money to buy a new ship. Eve Online.
Colonial Gunship - Everspace
Shields, who needs ‘em? Not the colonial gunship, guv, Everspace’s equivalent of the big lad in kung fu movies who gets hit in the stomach and simply does not react. It is a large, sluggish fighter and it does not mess about. It has a cadre of drones that follow it around, like a bully with an entourage of creepier sub-bullies. In this roguelite space ‘em up, there is a nasty environmental hazard where electrical storms will normally zap the shields right off your ship's back. But the colonial gunship just lies down and sleeps in those storms, absorbing the blue bolts to use as energy in its batteries. This ship is so hard it sunbathes in lightning.
Space lander - Outer Wilds
A rustic tugboat of a space vessel. This lunar lander looking thing is built like a bunch of clever children made a cool treehouse and then asked their deranged rocket scientist uncle to come and attach thrusters to the bottom. It is the easiest ship to pilot on this list, and the most eternal, being trapped in a time loop and everything. If you damage the ship, clipping it off the top of a mountain or bouncing into an errant asteroid, you have to clamber out in mid-space and fix the broken component before gravity takes you crashing back to whatever planet you’re drifting towards. There is more character in this flying garden shed than there is in all Star Trek’s Enterprises put together.
Every ship I build - Kerbal Space Program
Banshee - Halo
The simplicity of this compact purple death bird is what makes it a top space fightist. Only one person can fit inside the Banshee (one 7 ft, half-ton person). A sort of jet ski of the skies, the Banshee can do barrel rolls, loop-the-loops, and big jet propulsion boosties. All while dispensing hot radioactive justice in the form of lime-green fuel rods that vaporise everything in a 5-metre blast radius. Put down your boring MiG, humanity. The aliens got us on this one.
One Off The List from… the worst kings and queens
Last week we discussed, in the hushed tones of fearful courtiers, the 10 worst kings and queens in games. But one of these monarchs you judged to be righteous, and will be spared our republican wrath. It’s… the Rachni Queen.
The good readers of RPS have closely inspected the men and women of last week’s list, and voted to spare the life of a giant, dangerous arachnid. This is sensible. According to “ejiAlice”, commenter and noted spider enjoyer, the Rachni royal is simply “a good egg whomst loves her babies and just wants what’s best for them.” Suspected xenophile “elsparko” is likewise a champion of large, chitinous beings. “[Mass Effect] is the best Star Trek game we ever got and surely the philosophy of the [Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations] does apply here.”
So be it. The perilous spider goes free. Let it be said I am a forgiving judge. Until next month, goodbye my goblins.