It is the year 2160. Mankind has colonized the solar system and two political entities have emerged: the Alliance consisting of United States|American, Australian,France, Spain, Italy, Japanese, United Kingdom and Germany forces, and The Coalition of Russian, China, and Middle-Eastern interests. The game begins with a surprise attack on Fort Kennedy, where a peace treaty turns into a bloodbath: all of the inner four planets are overrun, including Earth herself, and the Italian and French fleets are utterly lost. The Alliance fleet regroups at Triton (moon) Triton, Neptune's moon, and attempts to regain lost territory. The player takes the role of a rookie pilot in the international 45th Volunteers squadron, under the command of Captain Robert Foster and Wing Commander Maria Enriquez, aboard the re-commissioned British carrier ANS ''Reliant''.

The future was indeed bright for the Western Alliance. They terraformed Mars and established colonies on its moons and, at last, the human race was poised to reach beyond the solar system. But all good things never seem to last. A recently formed coalition of the eastern regions mount a surprise attack against the Western Alliance on Mars in order to usurp power. In the process, the orbiting French and Italian fleets are destroyed. Many planets and many moons are lost to the coalition and although their surprise attack and overwhelming forces seem destined for victory, all is not lost.

What's left of the French and Italian fleets rendezvous with American, British, German, Spanish and Japanese allies in orbit around Neptune's moon Triton. At the edge of the solar system, the rest of the Western Alliance regroups and forms a new command structure. A stand will be made, power returned and peace restored.

You are a member of a squadron of volunteer pilots called the 45th. Any and all citizens with piloting skills have been asked to come forward and help in the fight against the evil coalition. You'll have access to high tech weaponry and ships, not known to most people. The Western Alliance is grossly outnumbered and you must help in any way you can!

Note: Starlancer's story is continued in Chris Roberts' ''Freelancer'' project, though the two belong to different sub-genres (the first is purely focused on action, the latter also features trading and the player can freely move through the game's universe when they are not on a mission.).