Dark Space is a massively multiplayer space sim and strategy game that was released in late 2001 and early 2002. I don't believe there was a whole lot of hype around it at the time, and we never got around to mentioning its launch. They're still alive and well today however, and they've recently put together a free trial for people to take advantage of. There is an extensive backstory that involving several factions lead by a large Human navy and mysterious alien menace. Players complete tasks and gain experience to get higher ranks and badges which allow them to command bigger and better ships. There are different kinds of ships (beyond just size), so there is some variety in what you can do. More complicated mission objectives require teamwork with other players. The developers have been adding to the game for quite a while, and now appears to be a good time to give the game a try. You can start a five day free trial here.
DarkSpace is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game set in the time of space travel and interstellar warfare. The universe has become a tumultuous place in the future of political infighting, economic sanctions and diplomatic posturing. All of the factions have high hostility towards one another with a few outposts staying neutral, at least initially, to determine their best interest.