Updated: Dec 12, 2019
Like buses, several games with similar themes always seem to come along at once. 2016 saw a bunch of Mars-themed games. Martians - Story of Civilization got some attention; Terraforming Mars attracted a lot of attention. This game, however, got largely eclipsed.
Mission to Mars 2049 is a less grand, more modest game than its rivals. Players start the game with a base and three resource stations (one each capable of generating air, food or minerals). They use resources to build more stations and bases in a race to be the first to reach the planet's North Pole and build an H2O station there. Each turn they roll a special die to see what resources they can claim. A robber icon means they can steal resource cards from another player. They can also roll a 'skip a turn' icon; an element that seems dated in a modern game.
It includes the option to trade resources not merely for new stations and bases but also for 'peaceful' or 'aggressive' mission cards. The peaceful cards give the player a boost or bonus; the aggressive cards are designed to screw over another player - aimed at handicapping the player who is in the lead.
Despite this 'take that' mechanic, Mission to Mars 2049 works as fairly family game that plays like a variant of Catan. If the theme appeals, this is worth considering as an accessible gateway game.