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Sandbox construction and exploration game Space Engineers leaves early access next week

After five and a half years.

Developer Keen Software House has announced that its construction-focussed sandbox game Space Engineers will be leaving Steam Early Access next week, on February 28th.

It's been a long road for Space Engineers; the game, which initially launched on Steam in 2013, will have been in early access for almost five and a half years by the time its official Version 1.0 release rolls around next week.

That lengthy gestation period isn't too much of a surprise, however, given that Space Engineers is an incredibly ambitious game. Described as "sandbox game about engineering, construction, exploration and survival in space and on planets", it gives players the chance to build everything from planetary outposts to space stations and space ships, piloting the latter through the depths of space in order to explore further and, hopefully, survive.

It can be played solo, co-operatively, or competitively, and there's a creative mode for those that prefer to tinker without the ever-present stresses of survival mode (and enemy NPCs).

Cover image for YouTube videoSpace Engineers - Update 1.186: Major Overhaul of Visuals, Audio and Wheels

Space Engineers' feature list is a lengthy one. Its systems include volumetric physics, as well as electricity, oxygen, gravity (both natural and artificial), even deformable environments - all designed to make for a richer, more authentic experience. And on the tools front, you'll find the likes of refineries and component assemblers, solar panels, various prefab building blocks, pistons, thrusters, weapons, automated cargo ships, mod support, and more.

All of which has gone down well during Space Engineers' lengthy early access period, with the game, which has amassed over 3 million sales on PC, still seeing 200,000 monthly active players according to Keen Software. An Xbox One version, first announced in 2014, is also in the works, and the developer says that completing this is a "top priority for our team".

When Space Engineers launches on February 28th, it will include the extensive Survival Mode overhaul that's been in production for some time. However, Keen says that, even after full release, it "won't stop working on Space Engineers". It plans to add new features, blocks, and scenarios in future updates, and promises to "take Space Engineers to exciting places when it comes to gameplay, immersion, and challenges".

"This is not the end," it says of next week's launch, "This is just the beginning!".