Newly announced PlayStation 3-exclusive Starhawk combines a Firefly-like universe with the varied, fast-paced action of Warhawk.

For a while now, the name Starhawk has been mentioned in rumors as a probable followup to multiplayer third-person shooter Warhawk. These rumors have turned out to be true, as Sony has unveiled the game as a PlayStation 3-exclusive from Warhawk developer Lightbox Interactive. Starhawk looks to take the varied multiplayer formula laid out in Warhawk and expand upon it with single-player missions, a storyline in a brand new universe, and a customizable gameplay experience through what Lightbox calls “Build & Battle.”

Starhawk takes place in the future with humanity colonizing its way through space, but it’s more Firefly than Star Trek. As humans began to colonize an area called the Frontier, they discovered an incredibly potent resource called Rift. A space-age gold rush sprung up around Rift, but the resource was much more dangerous than anticipated. People became infected by its energy in both body and mind, eventually forming a group called the Outcast that now attempts to violently stop “Rifters” from mining any further.

The game’s single-player storyline, an aspect not present in Warhawk, focuses on a man named Emmett Graves. Graves once had his own Rift claim that was attacked by an Outcast warband, exposing Graves to the deadly Rift energy. Luckily, Graves’ partner Sydney Cutter observed the attack from the atmosphere and was able to save him from becoming an Outcast with a painful regulator device implanted into Graves’ spine. Graves now bears the mark of the Outcast, but has his mind intact, allowing him to become a protector of Rift claims and human colonies. Due to the mark, he plays the role of the hero people need, but don’t necessarily want.

Gameplay-wise, Lightbox says that Starhawk takes things a step further than Warhawk. Players will still fight on foot, in vehicles, and in the air, but early looks at the game show a more futuristic bent. Graves is seen getting into a pretty sweet mech that can both fight on the ground or morph into an aerial fighter.

Starhawk‘s Build & Battle system makes things even more interesting, allowing players to customize their offenses and defenses. Build & Battle gives players the ability to build structures such as walls, bases, towers, and turrets, all in a fast-paced environment without any tedious management. Lightbox says this system will make Starhawk‘s single-player and multiplayer environments like a canvas for combatants to mess around with, enabling unique strategies every time they play.

Starhawk will feature four-player offline and online co-op, multiplayer matches for up to 32 players, and a multiplayer/co-op survival mode, in addition to a “full-fledged single-player story mode with various missions set in a number of diverse interstellar environments.” It’ll also feature tournaments, leaderboards, clan support, and even a mobile Android app to keep track of friends and stats when offline.

Starhawk will be released on the PS3 in 2012.

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