Why You Should Play the MMO DarkSpace

These sorts of stories are everywhere in DarkSpace. While there is a component of industry and colonization, DarkSpace is a combat game at its core. It wants you to spend your time fighting, getting ready to fight, or tricking others into fighting when they shouldn’t. And that’s where it differs from competitor EVE Online. EVE is about being a sandbox in space more than actually fighting people, and it shows. Fighting is not mandatory in EVE, and many a player (miners, industrialists, traders) can play the entire game without ever getting into a real engagement. Not in DarkSpace. DarkSpace is all about smashing your opponents to pieces and sending them scurrying back to the system they crawled from. Your goal is to annihilate the enemy, not make money.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t things for you to strive for. The most important part of DarkSpace isn’t money, but prestige. As you perform on the battlefield, you build up prestige points towards medals. Higher-class ships require medals that correspond with activities you might do in those ships. For example, you will need to build plenty of structures to get the engineering medal, which gives you access to the next class of engineering vessel. It’s a very addicting and intuitive system, and the only downside is that some of the large medals take forever to get.

Perhaps the most unique aspect to DarkSpace is that there are two shards that have very different approaches to the core game. The first is known as the scenario server, and it plays out less like an MMO and more like a standard multiplayer game. You choose ship classes and fight in one system at a time. As you win in each, the map changes depending on which faction won. Once you win on the map that your enemy’s homeworld is located on, the server resets to the initial map. It’s a great way to learn the game without the danger of failure ruining your character, and experience earned in scenario carries over to the persistent server.

The second shard is known as the Metaverse, and it is where players duke it out to see who wins in a never-ending battle to the death. Unlike the scenario server, everything you do on the Metaverse is persistent. Lose one of the nicer ships with a cool fit? It’s gone forever. Those planets you built up? They’ll be there when you get back online, assuming an enemy doesn’t steal them. You can mine, build up infrastructure, or just get into straight-up brawls. Your choices determine the course of events. It’s also the only consistent way to get three-side fights going, as the scenario server relies on two-sided battles. Those familiar with traditional MMO persistence will feel most at home in the metaverse.

The choice between scenario and metaverse guarantees that you will be able to find something that fits your interest. Want a more traditional multiplayer experience with a cross-match unlocks system? Scenario is the server for you. Want a persistent universe to exploit and conquer alongside your friends? Metaverse has you covered. I like to bounce between the two of them, with most of my time spent in scenario. As scenario favors fast-paced engagements, it’s a lot more hectic and violent than the slow, strategic scale of the metaverse.

As of this writing, DarkSpace is now completely free and open source. Server costs are paid by voluntary subscriptions and purchases aimed at supporting the developer rather than making a profit. It is an MMO that stays alive not because it will make a profit, but because the developers and fans truly believe that it is a fantastic game. And it is. Despite being over a decade old, Darkspace is still one of my favorite games, and no other MMO comes close to how much I love it. Hopefully I’ll see you in-game!

Got your own special slice of obscure MMO heaven you’d like to share? Leave a comment!

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6 Comments on Why You Should Play the MMO DarkSpace

Air Jimma

On February 15, 2013 at 12:24 pm

I think this is a fantastic idea for a series of articles.

I hope you keep them coming.


On February 15, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I really liked this article, and while this mmo in particularly doesn’t appeal to me I really would like to see what other mmo’s you explore.


On February 15, 2013 at 11:43 pm

+1 with the other :)


On February 16, 2013 at 10:08 am

I have never been into MMOs that much, but your article just convinced me to try Darkspace. Keep ‘em coming.

Jack 'Pantheon' Wallace

On March 8, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Thank you for this article, James. It’s always nice to see our voluntary work noticed and written about (in any format).

If you would message me your player ID via my email (backslash ['at'] palestar ['dot'] com), I will be happy to give you a little something for your efforts in writing what is an excellent article.

- Pantheon, DarkSpace Dev Team Lead


On April 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Great article, if I wasn’t already playing Darkspace I’d be giving it a try after reading this.

And you might be interested to know that your ships aren’t totally gone if you get them blown up anymore, they go back to your garage at 5% HP and will need to be repaired the next time you want to use it.