According to the description, Empyrion is a 3D open world, a space survival adventure in which you can fly across space and land on planets; build, explore, and fight in a hostile galaxy.
What they don’t tell you is at the beginning there is a lot more non-survival than survival.
The story goes like this: Empyrion was a place in the heavens, a paradise full of plenty, but a legend. By the 24th century humanity has over populated the earth and all sorts of natural disasters are threatening humanity. A “United Council of Humanity” was formed to try and do something to help, however, determined that humanity only had about 100 years left before an extinction event occurred.
In around 2402 a galactic spaceship was found buried under ice in the Antarctic, and found aboard was alien technology and a star map suggestive of the location of the legendary Empyrion.
In 2473, the UCH has worked out the technology and built a fleet of starships, of which one is called the “MS TITAN” – your command, and with all humanity gathered together to watch you launch, you, and your fleet prepare to launch into the unknown.
You activate the hyperdrive, something mysterious happens and you find yourself coming out of hyperdrive, out of control, and being pulled into the gravitational field of a planet, far, far from where you expected to be. You eject in your escape pod and find yourself on a planet full of alien life, with the barest supplies and a whole lot of trepidation.
You now have to figure out how to survive, crafting, building, and shooting stuff, and so forth. Luckily, if you die, a nice blue cargo crate containing all your stuff is left where you died, so you can reclaim it – well, as long as it isn’t in the middle of a bunch of heavily armed aliens, or nasty venomous spiders.
You can build anything from a small wooden shack, to a Babylon5 sized space station, or a small hover bike, to a 500m long ship that will cause your frame rate to drop from 200fps to 30. There is no limit, and fortunately there are prefabricated blueprints in game, or you can get them from the steam workshop.
The AI bases and ships are well done and a challenge, and generally reward you with good loot (nothing quite like an “epic laser rifle” – its even red). The critters, planets, and landscapes are fairly well done and evolving all the time.
The downside is that the AI NPC’s are a bit naff and their animations not so good (pretty rubbish really).
I have found the game really interesting. It is hard enough in easy mode to be challenging, but not so hard as to put you off (hard mode is hard.. really hard). The design of buildings and various ships can be very simple, or hugely complex depending how much effort you want to put into it, and there is a creative mode so you can test stuff out (or build something and export the blueprint and build it in survival mode). It is sort of a mix of Space Engineers, Rust, and Osiris: New Dawn. I’d give it a 6.5/10 – it’s definitely worth the money – note that it is still early access and things are liable to change, so your favourite ship might work one day, then next patch it doesn’t.