Next Space Rebels is an amateur rocketry sim that's also about taking back the internet

For years I had a model rocket kit tucked away in my childhood bedroom. The rocket body was a simple cardboard tube with a couple fins on it, and it came with more solid fuel "engines" than I could use in the two times I actually took the kit somewhere to launch it. It's a good thing, in hindsight, that I didn't have access to a game like Next Space Rebels, because I might've actually tried taping spray paint cans to something that could plausibly explode. What could go wrong?

At a glance, Next Space Rebels looks like a game built out of the early phases of Kerbal Space Program: that delightful period of experimental rocketry where you're slapping an engine onto a precarious stack of crap and seeing how far it makes it off the launch pad. But it's not exactly that, as shown in the trailer that debuted at the PC Gaming Show on Sunday. Next Space Rebels isn't a straightforward sim. 

It has a story, and the developers were awarded a grant in The Netherlands in 2019 to tell it. "The game tells the story of the fictitious hacker group Next Space Rebels that calls on a global community to build and launch rockets themselves so that they can set up an independent internet with their own satellites," reads the grant site. "In this sense, the project is an activist statement about the democratization of space and the current status of the Internet."

So yes, you'll be building goofy rockets and attaching teddy bears to them because space belongs to you, man, but there are FMV narrative sequences giving the game structure. The Next Space Rebels trailer in the PC Gaming Show left me with a lot of questions, but that's okay—it's out surprisingly soon, in fall 2021. 

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).