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Updated: 15 Apr 2019 03:15

  • Site: Pardus
  • Genre: Space with PvP, GvG, & RvR
  • 3D Game: No
  • Free To Play: Yes
  • Premium Pay Option: Yes

Pardus is a Free Space-based PBBG (Persistent Browser Based Game) with many classical RPG elements and an extremely well established sense of community. Players fly ships in a universe containing starbases, planets, wormholes, and player owned buildings while developing their characters and interacting with other players. Of all the PBBG's I've played, I have invested more hours into Pardus than any other. In fact, it was this game that sparked my interest in PBBG's and led to the creation of a PBBG website that 10 years later, morphed into this site. So while I haven't played Pardus in what seems like a lifetime, I feel some pressure to keep it top ranked.


Pardus began in the Summer of 2003 as a long-term project by a team of Austrian game-developers. On September 6th, 2006 the two active developers Werner Bayer and Michael Szell founded Bayer & Szell OEG, and shortly thereafter began selling premium subscriptions to Pardus players. [1]

System architecture

Pardus is programmed primarily in PHP & C/C++, with a MySQL database running in the background. [1]


Pardus has an international audience with an estimated 5,766 unique U.S. visitors per month (at the time of this writing) in which I classify 48% as "tourists" due to their short term run. The majority of the players are males between the ages of 18-34. [2]

First Impressions

Upon logging in for the first time, you probably won't be too impressed with the graphics, but what it lacks in a GUI, it makes up for in depth of play, assuming you dive into the community because playing Pardus solo isn't going to be nearly as rewarding as with playing with a group. Of course this could be said for any MMORPG.

In Pardus you begin with a tutorial that will immediately challenge your resolve to learn how to play the game. It took me longer to complete the tutorial than I'd like to admit and though I’m not exactly proud of that, I compare myself to Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek The Next Generation series; though he failed the academy exam on his first try; he went on to captain his own starship. (Any Trekkie fans out there?)

Pardus offers its players lots of options and how you play is entirely up to you. You can be a peaceful or rogue trader and focus primarily on producing legal or illegal goods to sell to others on the public market or the black market. You can focus on combat and rid the Galaxy of pirates (or at least make an attempt), protect your alliance-mates, go to war, or become a mercenary. You can focus on piracy and be one of few, the proud, and the often hunted. You can focus on leadership and manage an alliance of countless members focusing on recruiting and diplomacy. Or you can engage in clandestine activities and work behind the scenes, hiring mercenaries to complete tasks that you might not be willing or able to do yourself and putting to a good test, your mastery of the 40 laws of power. All of these options involve interaction with real people in this virtual realm.

There are 50 ships to choose from, some will cost you a fortune in “credits”, the in-game currency one earns by producing goods, trading, killing, completing missions, hacking, or stealing. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the vast assortment of ship equipment available from tons of weapons and weapon types to armor types, and generic equipment such as fuel scoops and teleporters. Should I mention illegal items such as cloaking devices? There are planets to stock, starbases to build (or destroy) and 3 factions to join, The Federation, Union, or Empire, or none at all if you wish, neutrality is a viable option.

There are express reasons why Pardus has such a fanatical following of players.

Recently there have been feature additions that give you the chance to choose a “stance”, be it “good” or “bad”. This brings up another good point; the developers are often working to improve the game be it through realm expansion, or feature additions though not everyone is always pleased with the changes; when the winds of change come, some will raise their sails in search of other realms, and others will build wind-mills to channel that change locally.

The realm is large and you can explore it in a fully walkable, or in this case “flyable” and visual galaxy. As you fly you can see things such as other players in their ships, planets, buildings (yes you can construct buildings too), nebula fields, and wormholes. Sure, this is a browser game so don’t expect any award-winning 3D visuals, but the realm is still represented in a 2D visual field and the content will keep you entertained for years.


Player versus player combat is a very real and sometimes a daunting experience in Pardus. After your “newbie protection” has expired, you can be attacked at will by other players unless you are safely docked, in orbit around a friendly planet or starbase, or on a friendly Wormhole. Likewise you too can attack or even rob other players at will. For this reason players form guilds called "alliances" in Pardus where like-minded pilots pool their experience to help fend off, or conquer others.


Pardus features a premium area of the Galaxy available only to paid subscribers. But access to the premium area is not necessary to participate and enjoy the game. Every item I’ve described in this article is enjoyed by all players, paid or not including myself. Within Pardus I’ve gained real friends and virtual enemies and I will be the first to admit, that you will most definitely bump heads in Pardus. But this socially rich environment is part of what makes Pardus so appealing. It isn’t so much that you are dealing with game mechanics, but that you are dealing with real people. Needless to say you will run into people that you just don’t like. How you deal with them is up to you, you could destroy their ship or buildings, place a bounty on them, hire others to harass them or give them bad public publicity on the several Pardus communication channels. If you are an alliance leader you could declare war against their alliance or embargo them. If you own a military outpost you can block them from gaining access to areas of space you might control. The possibilities are almost literally, limited only to your imagination.

Staff conduct

There have been discussions initiated by players using the official Pardus forums [3] regarding the impartiality of the Pardus Staff members. Some players argue that many of the bans are personal, too emotionally charged, or too severe. As a result of thread closures and deletions of some of these discussions, some players have created offsite venues to voice their arguments. [4] There are records indicating that all players of an alliance called the Pardus Rangers were banned. The Pardus Rangers subsequently opened up their alliance forums to the public. [5] Some players argued that it was unfair to summararily ban all members of an alliance without giving each one a fair warning and Individual assessment. Others argue that many of the members of the alliance did not violate any terms and that they were banned for speaking out against Pardus Staff. During the first Federation versus Empire long term Player versus Player event (war), some argued that staff misconduct was disguised as an ambush bug that favored the Federation giving them a notable advantage over the Empire. During the same wartime event some members of the Imperial alliance Ruby Legion were banned or quit due to what that they believed to be staff misconduct. Others remained but protest by playing with non-premium (paid) accounts.


1. Pardus History
2. Pardus Forums
3. Pardus Watch (Retired)
4. Pardus Rangers