Mars has fascinated astronomers for centuries. As space exploration technology advances, the possibility of visiting and colonizing the red planet becomes more realistic. In 2020, the Perseverance Rover set foot on the planet’s surface for the first time, prompting many gaming fans on social media to celebrate by referencing games set on Mars, like the Doom and Destiny franchises.
As more and more scientific information is gathered from Mars, even more games will inevitably explore what the planet has to offer, like the much-anticipated Starfieldand Deliver Us Mars. But that’s not to say there aren’t plenty of games set on Mars that stand the test of time and enable gamers to explore the planet to their heart’s content.
7 Mass Effect 3
Set in the Milky Way, the Mass Effect universe has much to thank from Mars. After discovering an alien outpost on the desert planet in the 22nd century, the technology found there enabled human technology to accelerate exponentially.
But it wasn’t until the third game in the original Mass Effect trilogy that players could finally explore the red planet. In Mass Effect 3, gamers take control of Commander Shepard as they are stationed on Mars to figure out a way to defeat an enemy alien race known as Reapers. On Mars, Shepard discovers that an ancient alien weapon can destroy them, but additional support from allies is needed to take full effect.
As players dive into the endless killing of demons and monsters in Doom, it’s easy to forget that the first-person shooter is set on Mars and its moons, as well as Hell. In the original Doom, gamers play as the Doom Slayer, a space marine stationed on Mars to slay demons unleashed from portals to Hell.
In Doom 3, the action takes place on the red planet for the first time — primarily in the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) Mars Research Base and Mars City. The lore of Doom on Mars is explored much more heavily in Doom (2016)and Doom Eternal, where Doom’s reboots switch from Hell to Mars and back after the UAC inadvertently opens portals to the underworld to siphon its energy to use back on Earth.
Set several hundred years in the future, Destiny sees players explore the Solar System in an online-only multiplayer as they attempt to save humanity from dark alien forces. Among these enemies in Destiny is the Cabal, a race of bulky aliens occupying Mars with militarist might and wielding enough power to take the entire Solar System at ease.
As well as being an enemy to the player, the Cabal is also at war with another alien race known as the Vex. These sentient androids aim to take over Mars, having already seized control of Mercury, adding an extra foe into the mix while stationed on the red planet.
4 Surviving Mars
A spin on the city planning genre, Surviving Mars challenges gamers to start a colony from scratch on the red planet. However, instead of just providing colonists with the basic necessities of water and power, Surviving Mars has the added drama of ensuring there is a constant flow of oxygen and continued access to resources either mined from Mars or delivered periodically from Earth.
While a lot can go wrong with city-building games like Sim Cityand City Skylines, a lot more can go awry on Mars if players ignore where their resources are going and if they have any funding left to spend.
3 Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
While some fans weren’t keen on the interplanetary combat that Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare had to offer, it certainly refreshed the franchise. As a standalone game, Infinite Warfare’s story sees a team from the United Nations Space Alliance (UNSA) assigned to take control of an interplanetary weapon being developed by the Settlement Defense Front (SDF) – a government made up of other colonies from across the Solar System that plan on taking it over.
As the story progresses, the UNSA team ends up stranded on the surface of Mars, where they are faced with a faction of the SDF and have to make painful decisions to stop an all-out war. Outside the single-player campaign, gamers can explore what Mars and other planets in the Solar System offer in Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer.
2 Far Cry 5: Lost On Mars
Far Cry 5 was one of the most ambitious of the series in terms of scope, with one of the franchise’s most extensive maps to explore that featured breathtaking locations. Like other games in the series, Ubisoft allowed Far Cry 5 players to explore more stories in the form of DLC, including Lost on Mars.
This standalone story follows Nick Rye, a pilot teleported to Mars to save Earth from an alien invasion. He’s given the task by fan-favorite Hurk Drubman, who is now a disembodied head after being torn apart by the Arachnids that inhabit Mars. A welcome break from the dark narrative of Far Cry 5, Lost on Mars is an unforgettable (albeit brief) adventure.
1 Red Faction
The first Red Faction game takes place in 2075 and sees players take on the role of Parker, a miner on Mars who leads a revolution against the tyrannical Ultor Corporation. The Red Faction franchise spawned three mainline games across multiple platforms, with the latest being Red Faction: Armageddon in 2011.
Red Faction: Armageddon takes place 100 years after the first. Mars has become inhabitable by this point, so the remaining colonists are forced underground. The story follows Darius Mason, who inadvertently opens a temple that releases a rush of monsters onto the surface of Mars, causing the titular Armageddon to take place. It’s then down to Darius to save the colonists from these previously dormant Martians.
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