Elite Force was one of several Star Trek games announced after Activision secured the license to Star Trek video games from Viacom in 1998. The game was one of the first to license id Tech 3, a game engine by id Software used by a number of video games during the early 2000s. Elite Force was a critical success, and is often praised as the first truly successful Star Trek video game, able to appeal to people who were not Star Trek fans.
An example of the first-person shooter genre, Elite Force is based on gameplay conventions shared by multiple other games. The game is focused on story-driven combat within a 3D environment, with all activity viewed as if from the eyes of the game's protagonist. The player controls the movement of the player character through walking, crouching, jumping or interacting with the environment. The only exception to this is in cut scenes, where the player loses control of the character to a third-person view for scripted events.