So I've been playing an obsessive amount of Xenonauts recently and while it's been a huge amount of fun, it got me wondering why basically every single strategy/tactical game that I can think of involving aliens attacking humanity restrict themselves to planetside operations.
I mean, why not set the main plot of the game a century or two into the future: humanity has expanded into space, have a space elevator under construction in Earth orbit, still using Hohmann transfers because the relevant technologies haven't improved to the point where you can do brachistochrones with anything approaching cost-effectiveness, but we've got a few colonies on the Moon, orbital manufacturing starting up around Mars, so on and so forth.
Then there's a sudden, enormous thermal flare coming in from the edges of the Oort Cloud. Observations quickly determine that the object is decelerating into the system, is roughly the size and mass of Vesta, and has torchship-level drives. World governments anxiously await a response as, over a few months, the starship slows into a parking orbit just outside the Kuiper Belt.
When the message does come, it is unambiguously hostile. Railgun fire bombards the Moon, narrowly misses the factories on Deimos, and kills a few million people on Earth. The governments of humanity have no response available, no high delta-V warships or space-based weapons capable of destroying or damaging a vessel of that size, no ships fast enough to intercept the alien torchships that soon begin burning their way in-system towards the resource-rich Trojans, too few satellites to track all the inbound railgun rounds and no way of intercepting them even if they did.
In desperation, humanity pools its resources into a single military body. Its objective: preserve humanity.
I mean, a little overdramatic yes, but I think that it hits all the relevant points. Outmatched humanity, an alien foe slowly ramping up the scale of their attacks (let's say that they're desperate interstellar colonists on a generation ship, their systems failing, their resources limited, and that initial railgun barrage basically completely depleted their reserves, which explains why there's only an occasional bombardment instead of them just annihilating us completely first thing, and also explains the gradual ramp up in the scale and severity of their attacks as they start to harvest comets and asteroids for the necessary materials), a scanning system in place for detecting enemy ships (launch satellites scanning in the infrared to pick up incoming alien ships and railgun rounds), humanity slowly building up to and surpassing the aliens militarily (first all we can do is send fleets of ships to attack established alien bases thanks to how slow Hohmann transfers are, then we board and capture an alien ship and figure out how to replicate their drive tech, which lets us build torchships, and then when the aliens get enough industry going to break out the Alcubierre drives we capture and copy those, and finally expand on that tech to build (short-ranged) wormhole drive ships), and of course, the alien final superweapon (they build a crapload of thrusters on Charon and shove it towards Earth; you have a year to assault the alien fleet around Charon and stop them), so on and so forth.
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