Space Nation Online is now in closed beta, offering gamers a glimpse into what the future of the sci-fi blockchain MMORPG—with NFTs on Ethereum, and plans to expand via scaling network Immutable zkEVM—will look like. But due to server overload, it’s been hard to fully appreciate the best parts of the game thus far.

Space Nation was founded in 2019 by gaming industry veterans Jerome Wu and Tony Tang, along with filmmaker Roland Emmerich, who’s known as the “master of disaster” for directing the films “Stargate,” “2012,” and “Independence Day.” 

The Los Angeles-based video game company explained that it eventually plans to use generative AI to help redefine how personal narratives unfold in the game. However, this along with a “transmedia experience” are still on the horizon. 

For now, this closed beta is our only glimpse into the future of Space Nation, with eligible gamers hoping to pilot their ship to earn airdrop rewards. And while there are compelling bits already, the rough edges of this beta do impede some of the fun at this point.

Spaceship looking at planet.
Space Nation Online is visually brilliant at times. Image: Decrypt

Open-world space sim

Space Nation Online is a spaceship simulator where you’re given a range of tasks by non-playable characters (NPCs) across the galaxy. Generally these tasks feel fairly routine, consisting of speaking to X person, defeating Y amount of enemy spaceships, and then collecting Z resources.

After the opening scene, I was let free into the vast universe of Space Nation. Graphically, the PC game is super impressive and a huge strong spot. I enjoyed floating through space admiring distant planets, blasting through asteroid belts, and feeling intimidated by the craftsmanship of my enemy's celestial vessels. 

Starting off, you’re given a ship with one basic gun and three abilities that have thankfully short cooldowns. When in battle, you’ll find yourself holding down left click to keep your gun railing off while spamming your three abilities as soon as they cool down.


While moving your way through the war-filled narrative of Space Nation, your personal goal is to upgrade your ships. You can do this through purchasing upgrades and materials from a merchant called Yuris, or crafting them on the production workbench.

It appears that in the future, you’ll also be able to purchase spaceships, crew, crafting items, and more as NFTs. Through this crafting mechanic, you're able to create ships and crew which can then be turned NFTs and sold to people looking to further their adventure.

The two types of NFTs currently available do not aim to offer any in-game utility specifically for Space Nation Online, instead looking to cater to the entire Space Nation transmedia franchise. Thus far, the holders of both the Alpha Gate and Prime Navigator NFTs were able to gain early access to Space Nation, as well as participate in a play-to-airdrop competition. 

Spaceship flying through an asteroid belt.
Flying through an asteroid belt can feel great. Image: Decrypt

Vibrant voice acting

You could venture out into the universe for yourself—but that’s no fun. Instead, you’re encouraged to speak with the numerous NPCs for direction. 

I found my conversations with NPCs to be my favorite part of the whole experience. Despite the lack of a dialogue tree, the voice actors' performances are extremely captivating, making me want to know more about the lore of the game. The first alien you meet—Zoey, who’s voiced by Winona Weber—was a delight to speak to, constantly injecting life into the game.

“Zoey, accidentally, was given a script page intended for a military commander,” Space Nation Inc. CEO and co-founder Jerome Wu told Decrypt’s GG, “leading to her giving a mischievous performance and inspiring the writing team to expand the character.”

One of the first tasks Zoey puts you on is to defeat a bunch of enemy ships. At this point you’ve experienced a couple of fights, but they were largely limited with the enemies barely fighting back. Now, you’re battling the big dogs.

Still, I found the combat feeling slightly flat. Moving your spaceship is clunky, resorting in one-dimensional sideways movements around your target as you button mash to do as much damage as possible. I found the most joy in standing back to strategically take on combat by exposing myself to as few enemies as possible, but that’s where the combat depth started and ended for me.


It’s important to note, though, that combat is likely to get more complex as you unlock more ships and new abilities become available to you. But I was unable to progress that far into the game due to the numerous server hitches.

Spaceship shooting an enemy ship called an "Instigator"
Combat can feel flat at this stage in development. Image: Decrypt

Server struggles

Unfortunately, my game time in Space Nation Online was stunted by repeated server issues. I wasn’t the only one experiencing this, with many other players complaining in the project's official Discord server.

This appears to be the result of Space Nation’s airdrop reward campaign fueling hype around the beta, which may be triggering the server struggles. Space Nation controlled how many players could access the game, but apparently didn’t anticipate the amount of time these players would spend in-game.

“We’ve been hard at work acquiring and installing new server hardware, and making fixes to the game that will alleviate these issues going forward,” Wu told Decrypt’s GG. “Server stability has greatly increased each day, and the current experience should be much better than what you saw at the start of the beta.”

There is good news though. Due to these difficulties, Space Nation confirmed to Decrypt’s GG that the closed beta period will be extended into “early May,” past its original April 22 closing date. That said, the team explained that the beta's closing will provide extra breathing room “to make additional fixes on our backend that will help prevent future issues.”

Hopefully, the server issues will be addressed by the time Space Nation Online attempts to open up to an even broader audience down the line. It’s a major roadblock for those hoping to grind their way through the universe, and an equally inconvenient barrier to me hearing more voice acted lines from Zoey and the gang. But that’s exactly what beta tests are for, after all.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to clarify Emmerich's role, as well as add further detail about the crafting mechanics.


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