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Classic space exploration game gets new name and free Steam launch

The massively influential Star Control 2 is set to launch for free on Steam next week under the new name Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters.

Classic space game Steam launch: A man and woman in futuristic clothing from Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters.

If you’ve never heard of Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters before, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a pretty unfortunately named throwback space game in the vein of classics like Star Control, Starflight, or Starcom. As it turns out, that’s more than a coincidence. Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters is actually the new name for 1992’s Star Control 2: The Ur-Quan Masters, freshly re-titled and now set to be launched on Steam for free next Monday February 19.

The classic open-world game that’s now set to launch as Free Stars: The Ur-Quan Masters on Steam comes as the result of the original game being made open source in 2002 and worked on by fans for years under the name The Ur-Quan Masters. Now, after years of refinements and a legal battle between Star Control rights holders Stardock and Star Control 2’s designers, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, the game is set to be made easily available as a free Steam launch.

As in the original Star Control 2, Free Stars casts players as a starship captain who sets out from an imperiled Earth in search of humanity’s future among the dangers of an alien populated outer space. It features fleet building, resource collection, and combat, but also a mode that automates fights to make concentrating on the story – and conversations with a cast of strange aliens – easier.

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While Reiche and Ford are working on a new Free Stars game from their studio Pistol Shrimp, The Ur-Quan Masters’ Steam launch offers a good reason to explore a bit of videogame history – and see just how much of an influence the game has had on the medium in the decades since its original 1992 release.

If this news has you looking for more opportunities to take to the stars, check out our top space games or visit our list of old games worth revisiting.

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