The Best Space Games Off the 21st Century & A Detailed Look

For most space lovers, video games are the best way to scratch the itch of reaching zero gravity and flying to other stars. The best space games let you feel the excitement of takeoff, the vastness of space, the close quarters of a giant ship. Whether set in a world very similar to our own or one that is thousands of years in the future, the best space games make you feel like you're there.

One of the best things about space games is the diversity of experiences they can offer. Many examine the implications of being a human when we've long since left Earth behind. Others feature strategy on the most massive scale or danger with the highest of stakes. They can make your spaceship feel like the only place to be, or the last place you want to be. Because of this, our list of the best space games has something for every type of gamer.

space game

Comparison Table

How We Picked the Best Space Games

Our selection of the best space games was chosen based off of a combination of positive player and professional reviews. A lot of these space games were easy to pick. Franchises like Halo and Mass Effect are so popular as to have Super Bowl commercials and make mainstream news. Others were indie hits that took a little more research to find. For all of them, we relied on reviews from sites such as IGN, Polygon, and PC Gamer to help you get the full details. While we've played most of these games, it was more objective to find games that had positive reviews across the web. Our best space games are not ranked. That is, we didn't choose one that was objectively better than the others. But we've listed them in alphabetical order for your convenience.

Alien: Isolation

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Alien: Isolation - PlayStation 4
  • Discover the true meaning of fear in Alien: Isolation, a survival horror set in an atmosphere of constant dread and...
  • Fifteen years after the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley's daughter, Amanda enters a desperate battle for survival, on a...
  • As Amanda, you will navigate through an increasingly volatile world as you find yourself confronted on all sides by a...

If you loved the dread and retro-future feel of the original Alien film, Alien: Isolation is a must-play. You play as the daughter of Alien protagonist Ellen Ripley, exploring an abandoned space station. Before long you realize that you aren't alone, and the killer Xenomorph is on the prowl. Alien: Isolation leaves you alone and unarmed. Your best friend is a motion detector, which may still malfunction. Everything else you have to scrounge together from scraps. Guns won't help you against the alien, and hiding is usually your best option. The fact that everything feels old and outdated only adds to the terror of the game.

This game captures the atmosphere of the first Alien movie very well. But it's not perfect, according to Polygon. The game starts strong, giving you the right amounts of story and dread. The deep space station feels lonely, but like people used to live in it. Both the alien and the other threats are truly frightening. But thanks to the game's save system and punishing gameplay, it can get repetitive. You can find yourself treading the same path over and over again without being able to get it right. Still, the game is ultimately a memorable experience and a worthy successor to the original film. On Steam, more than 17,000 players rated the game, giving it a "Very Positive." It is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows, and Mac for $​ to $​$.

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is so-named because it is actually the third in the series, but happens between the other two games. While it maintains the core shooter gameplay of those other two, it takes place on a moon. Hence, it earns a spot on our list of the best space games. The moon isn't just a setting, though. It also adds some new mechanics to the old formula. Now, you have to manage oxygen and gravity. That makes for a refreshing game experience and lightens up the tedious periods present in the previous two games.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel doesn't do an extraordinary amount to change up the franchise's formula. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. The first two Borderlands games were well-loved, and the formula clearly works. The Pre-Sequel justifies its existence by changing things up where they matter. The tedious grind of previous titles is broken up by new characters and new mechanics. As a bonus, we get the backstory to Borderlands 2's main villain. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is available on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Windows and Mac. It costs $​ to $​$.

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Dead Space

Dead Space (X-BOX 360) Platinum hits
  • Fight with Weapons and Telekinesis
  • Graphics, Effects, and Sound Increase the Horror
  • True Zero-G Effects

Dead Space has become a classic of horror and science fiction in the years since its release. In this game, you play as Isaac Clarke, an engineer. That both helps and hurts you. Your character's lack of combat training makes for a more frightening game, but your resourcefulness helps you survive. One of the major things that made Dead Space a success was the atmosphere, much like Alien: Isolation. There's something especially scary about an abandoned spaceship, maybe because there's no escape. The terror of such a claustrophobic setting makes it one of the best space games.

Kotaku highlights a few important points that make Dead Space not only scary but a good game. Sound and lighting play an important part in keeping you on your toes. The story is unpredictable, and the lack of screen clutter helps you feel isolated. While they did not give the game a numerical rating, they did call it "a game that defines what sci-fi horror should be." Dead Space is available on Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 for $ to $$.

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Destiny 2

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Destiny 2: Forsaken - Legendary Collection - PlayStation 4
  • Available 9.3.18. Playable 9.4.18 at 10AM PDT
  • Destiny 2
  • Expansion I: Curse of Osiris

Destiny 2 is the second of the new series from Bungie, the makers of Halo. Like Halo, this game features supersoldiers in power armor fighting against alien armies. The main difference is, you can't do it alone. You create a character, called a Guardian, which has nearly magical abilities. Then, you join up with friends or other players to take on intergalactic foes. Like with Halo, Destiny and Destiny 2 have rewritten the rules of first-person shooters and massively-multiplayer online (MMO) games. It is not only one of the best space games but also one of the best MMOs and first-person shooters.

Destiny 2 fixes a lot of the issues with the first game. According to IGN, the multiplayer now focuses on team tactics, so you have to work with your friends to survive. Major community events, called raids, are much more of a challenge. They encourage the most hardcore Destiny players to keep coming. Most importantly, Destiny 2 gives players a real story-driven campaign that will actually attract people to finish the game. Destiny 2 is available on PlayStation4, Xbox One, and PC for $$ to $$$.

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Doom (2016)

Doom - Xbox One
  • A Relentless Campaign: There is no taking cover or stopping to regenerate health as you beat back Hell's raging demon...
  • Return of id Multiplayer: Dominate your opponents in DOOM's signature, fast-paced arena-style combat
  • Near-Limitless Gameplay: DOOM SnapMap - A powerful, but easy-to-use game and level editor that allows for limitless...

Doom is a classic shooter, and one of the best space games of all time. The 2016 remake is a faithful reimagining of this original story. As a space marine on Mars, you fight off the forces of evil after a portal opens to Hell. While it's not much for plot, the game excels at fast-paced shooting. The game is punchy, quick, and violent. It's exciting, and often "nerve-wracking," according to Polygon. And it brings in a lot of the things that made the original great, updated for a more modern audience.

Polygon appreciated the importance of collectibles in this game. The first Doom game showed you a readout of all of the secrets you had found in the past level. It is something that has come to the new 2016 edition. Sadly, the game can sometimes block you from backtracking in the level. That can be frustrating, and limited the reviewer's enjoyment of the game. Particularly, it punishes you for not immediately finding collectibles on the first playthrough. Despite this, Polygon rated Doom 8.5 out of 10. It is available on Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch for $ to $$.

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Elite: Dangerous

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Elite Dangerous: The Legendary Edition - PlayStation 4
  • Our Milky Way: 400 billion star systems at an incredible 1:1 scale, with a full galactic and technological simulation...
  • Play your way: experience Infinite freedom as you earn the skill, knowledge, wealth and power to Stand AMONG the ranks...
  • Epic multiplayer: blaze your own trail and experience an evolving, player-driven narrative in a 34th century galaxy of...

Have you ever wanted to explore the Milky Way from the cockpit of your very own spaceship? Elite: Dangerous gives you the chance to do so. While every player starts with the same ship, the path you take is up to you. You can be a pirate or bounty hunter, a miner or a smuggler, or an explorer of far-off worlds. This game isn't for everyone, though. Like EVE Online below, the game can be slow. The utter freedom of choice can be paralyzing if you don't set your own goals. But if you do, and have the right mindset, Elite: Dangerous can show you a beautiful and nearly-endless galaxy. In terms of a pure space experience, this is one of the best space games you can find.

In fact, PC Gamer points directly to the game's slower aspects as positive notes. The game is first and foremost a simulator, and the virtual Milky Way is a place you are meant to inhabit. The PC Gamer review details one instance of emergent storytelling which is core to Elite: Dangerous' gameplay. Even with all of the updates that have come since the game's launch, Elite: Dangerous is still about one thing -- getting behind the stick of your own spaceship, and seeing the galaxy however you want. Elite: Dangerous is available on Windows and PlayStation 4 for $ to $$.

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Endless Space 2

Endless Space 2 is touted as a "strategic space opera" in which you build a galactic empire against as many as eight other unique factions. Each of these races has their own design, play style, and story which will change your approach. Some value conquest above all else, while others reward scientific progress. Which race you choose will also determine unique characters and story quests you can play.

Kotaku puts Endless Space 2 above all of the other recent space strategy games. Everything in Endless Space 2, according to them, is both attractive and intuitive. The interface is easy to use, and direction is never far away. That is essential for these strategy games, which sometimes emphasize depth of gameplay over visuals or ease of use. Endless Space 2 also excels in one important place, which is politics. Other strategy games like Stellaris lack depth of politics, while every action affects the politics of the Endless Space 2 galaxy. Endless Space 2 is available on Mac and Windows for $ to $$.

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EVE Online

EVE Online is known for its massive scale. Players have immense freedom in an immense game world. One of the key aspects of the game is that everyone who plays is part of the same universe. Instead of instances and servers, every player interacts with every other player. That can lead to massive factions and of course, massive battles between those factions. These battles can get so huge and involve so many people that they become gaming news. If you don't want to get involved in these massive affairs, there are still thousands of options for you to take. EVE Online takes the "massive" in massively-multiplayer to a new level.

PC Gamer recently released an updated review for the 15-year-old game. EVE Online has advanced immensely in its lifespan. What was once a nearly-empty galaxy is now filled with potential. One crucial point they make is that, aside from the massive battles, the game is slow. It takes patience to get to the point where you can run a corporation or discover a new star. But this slow progression makes the payoff even more worth it and makes the setbacks hurt even more. PC Gamer gave EVE Online an 85 out of 100. EVE Online is free, but a monthly subscription costs $ to $$. It is available for Windows and Mac.

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FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL Starships - Space Combat
  • Racing FTL Star Ships
  • Steer your ship to avoid collision
  • Collect items to power-up

FTL: Faster Than Light is a deceptively simple game with simple graphics. It is one of the most space-centric of our best space games, as the entire game is ship to ship/space station combat. You control a ship of three crewmen through a harsh galaxy, trying to survive until the end. You send your crew to man each aspect of the vessel, fighting enemies and dodging asteroids along the way. If you can survive, you have one final, punishing boss fight before you truly complete the game. Even seeing this ultimate event is an accomplishment. In FTL, you are expected to die. A lot. But that makes success so much sweeter.

Polygon applauds FTL for taking so many moving parts and making it all work together. A convenient pause feature lets you stop and breathe before taking action. All of your ship's compartments and crew are clearly laid out, and everything is simple to manage. Simple, but not easy. FTL is a game that demands you learn to survive the next time, only to throw a new threat at you. Polygon calls it a "vital, surprising game," and this surprise makes you always ready to load up a new round. FTL: Faster Than Light is available on PC, Mac, and iPad. It costs $ to $$.

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The Halo Series

Halo Reach
  • Meet Noble Team. For the first time, players will fight alongside a squad of iconic Spartan soldiers, each with...
  • An intense campaign. Live the events that set the stage for the Halo trilogy as the UNSC and Covenant clash at...
  • Stunning technical advancements. Halo: Reach takes a massive leap forward through all-new engine technology...

How can you talk about the best space games without talking about Halo? The Halo series is nearly 20 years old now, and still going strong even after original developer Bungie left the series. It is those original Bungie Halo games which are the very best, though. Halo: Combat Evolved called the shots by introducing new game mechanics and a riveting storyline. They set standards that other games are still emulating, even now. Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach both introduced new characters, showing us the human costs of the war. Halo solidified itself in gaming legend, and if you haven't picked up at least one edition, you should find a way to as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a way to discover or rediscover Halo, the Master Chief Collection is where you should start. It combines updated versions of all of the Halo games from one through four. These core titles star the face (or helmet) of Halo's main character, the Master Chief. In addition to the remastered games, this collection also includes multiplayer from each of the four games. It's a way to fall back in love with the old games, while also experiencing something new. Polygon gave the Master Chief Collection a score of 9.5 out of 10. The Master Chief Collection is available on Xbox One for $ to $$.

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Homeworld Remastered

Homeworld Remastered has been one of the best space games for a long time, much like Halo. It is, as the name suggests, an update of the classic Homeworld strategy game for a modern audience. This game differs from other strategy games included here because it is a real-time strategy, or RTS, game. Rather than commanding an entire civilization, you direct your fleet and make snap decisions in battles. This remastering is not a remake or sequel, but an update of Homeworld and Homeworld 2. Developer Gearbox overhauled the graphics and audio to create a new experience.

IGN was impressed by the skill that went into Homeworld Remastered's game design. They said that the game felt like it came out in 2015, rather than in 1999 and 2003. The battles in Homeworld are some of the best of any video game. The games are complex, as the spaceship fleets can move freely in three dimensions. But subtle tweaks to the gameplay make these complicated battles smoother than ever. Homeworld Remastered is available for Windows and Mac for $ to $$.

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Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program takes a much different approach to space than others on our list of the best space games. Rather than putting you in sci-fi ships that warp at lightspeed, Kerbal Space Program (or KSP) looks much more familiar to Earth. In this physics-based game, you build rockets, satellites, and space stations and try to get them to space. You need to take into account things like lift, center of gravity, and weight. Fuel is a finite resource aboard your craft, and even getting a satellite into orbit is a feat. However, it is modifiable and customizable. Once you get the basics down, you can progress to building space planes and ships that will travel to the ends of the solar system.

KSP is a difficult game, but that's part of what gives the game its charm. Your achievements are self-set. You base them on a combination of ability, patience, and imagination. There's a steep learning curve, but that gives it appeal. Every accomplishment feels earned. Because of this, PC Gamer gave Kerbal Space Program a 96 out of 100. It is available for $ to $$ on Steam.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga - Xbox 360
  • Play through the events of all 6 Star Wars movies in 1 videogame for the first time ever
  • Solve puzzles that encourage creative thinking through the use of teamwork and unique building situations
  • Enhanced Force powers, new power-ups, and a new Challenge mode; revamped levels

There are many good games in the Star Wars franchise, and some of the best space games are appropriate for the whole family. That is particularly true of the LEGO Star Wars franchise. In The Complete Saga, you can embody over 100 Star Wars characters in LEGO form. Together with friends or family, you can play through all six of the Star Wars movies. This one came out before Episodes Seven and Eight, so of course, they aren't included. If you want to relive Star Wars in a light-hearted environment or introduce your children to games, this is the best space game for you.

As a LEGO game, you shouldn't be surprised that this one doesn't break any new ground. If you're familiar with the mechanics of LEGO Star Wars, you'll know just what to do. You collect coins, unlock characters, and play through the events of the six Star Wars movies. Of course, since it's one of the best space games on our list, it does all of these things very, very well. According to IGN, the game is fun to play, with good sound design and replayability. While it loses a bit in the graphics department for being LEGO-based, it still earned a solid eight out of ten from IGN. This game is available for Xbox 360, PlayStation3, and Windows and Mac via Steam. It costs $ to $$.

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The Mass Effect Series

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Mass Effect - Xbox 360
  • Science-fiction RPG
  • Explore uncharted worlds and uncover mystery
  • Real-time, squad-based combat

The Mass Effect Trilogy stands alongside Halo in the pantheon of the best space games. We follow Commander Shepard, a character customizable in everything but name. The Mass Effect games are space RPGs. You upgrade your combat and social abilities, build and interact with your crew, and travel from planet to planet. The overarching story is about all of the races of the galaxy teaming together to beat an existential threat. The trilogy stands apart from Mass Effect: Andromeda, which came out in 2017 and was not widely loved. But what makes the first three Mass Effect games so memorable is their cast of characters.

Mass Effect 2 is regarded by the community as the best in the series. It takes the time to build up the characters that people know and love. While Mass Effect 3 had a controversial ending and the first game was still finding its legs, Mass Effect 2 knew how to get people deeply invested. It gave players choices about the characters they loved. Those choices mattered and could drastically affect the lives of the virtual crew members. These decisions even carry from game to game as the sequels allow you to load your character from the previous game with all of the choices you've made intact, making every game completely unique to the player.

Kotaku attributes the success of ME2 to a better combat system coupled with the much-needed roleplaying. It's accessible to a wide audience and, surprisingly, is a good entry point to the franchise. Mass Effect 2 is available on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 for $ to $$.

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No Man's Sky: Next

No Man's Sky - PlayStation 4
  • A truly open universe - Whether a distant mountain or a planet hanging low on the horizon, you can go there.
  • Exploration is seeing things no one has ever seen before - Explore uncharted solar systems and catalogue unique new...
  • Survive on a dangerous frontier - From dogfighting in space to first-person combat on a planet's surface, you will face...

If you're familiar with recent game news, it may initially surprise you to see No Man's Sky on this list. The original game suffered from excessive hype and publicity, which led to a rushed product and broken promises. But, in the past couple of years, developers Hello Games have tried to do right by their fans. Their major "Next" update introduced things like multiplayer, bases, and massive ships. Now, you can explore the colorful galaxy of No Man's Sky with friends. While No Man's Sky started as an example of how too much excitement can kill a product, it has come into its own as one of the best space games available.

Polygon was pleased by the Next update, calling it unquestionably better than the original. In fact, it felt like an all-new game. While the variety of planets was relatively small, exploration was still exciting. With its new base building feature, as well as a Creative Mode, you can have a space-themed sandbox to build in. If you wanted to try the original or were disappointed by your purchase, Next has made the game worth playing. No Man's Sky: Next is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows for $ to $$.

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Prey

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Prey - PlayStation 4 [video game]
  • In Prey, you awaken aboard Talos I, a space station orbiting the moon in the year 2032
  • You are the key subject of an experiment meant to alter humanity forever - but things have gone terribly wrong
  • The space station has been overrun by hostile aliens and you are now being hunted

Prey is another horror game, this one set on a space station orbiting Earth's moon. Like the other horror games on this list, Prey succeeds both for its setting and its villains. The space station on which it is set is made to reflect 1960s-style luxury. It also designed to reward repeated exploration as you retrace your steps with new powers. The horror comes from alien creatures called mimics, which take the form of any object on the station. That results in a tense and frightening search. Everything you see from a coffee mug to a health pack could be a mimic in disguise.

All of the horror games on this list have a unique spin on their gameplay to make them stand out. Prey is a first-person RPG. That means your character has a set of skills you can choose to upgrade. That lets you adjust the play style to your preference. IGN says that these skills are the strength of Prey. While they are not necessarily unique to this game, the level design lets you use these strengths to solve problems. You aren't restricted by any one solution. Prey is available on Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 for $ to $$.

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Rouge Galaxy

Rogue Galaxy
  • German (Subtitle)

Rouge Galaxy follows a sandbox space adventure format but, as its name suggests, takes you on something of an outlaw's path. Most of the game focuses on spaceship combat. This gameplay is meant to be visceral, fast-paced, and dangerous. While the combat doesn't take advantage of all three dimensions, this core element still holds steady throughout. Unlike other space exploration-based games on our list, Rebel Galaxy makes sure to keep you invested no matter what's going on. Despite the size of space, you won't be left bored.

IGN's review mainly focused on the space battles. Although the ships move too quickly to make you feel genuinely tactical, there is a level of strategy and skill to fighting. Your vessel is crewed partially by AI, which helps you feel like you have an actual crew. The world feels lived in, even if the characters lack some personality. IGN rated Rebel Galaxy 8 out of 10. The game is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, and Mac for $ to $$.

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Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth

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Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth- Rising Tide - PC
  • Colonize the Ocean: Build floating settlements and access natural resources hidden beneath the seas of the alien planet....
  • Dynamic Leader Traits: Players and AI Leaders alike unlock new Traits through gameplay and activate different...
  • New, Enhanced Diplomatic Options: Shape the diplomatic landscape by using political capital to upgrade your traits,...

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth takes the classic Civilization strategy games and launches them to far-off worlds. Beyond Earth retains the core victory components of the main Civilization series. But, it moves to alien planets with new technologies and future versions of existing cultures. With expansions giving you the ability to build cities on water, Beyond Earth adds a level of depth by taking advantage of science fiction tropes.

In an updated 2015 review of Beyond Earth, Gamespot focused on a new expansion which added depth to the game's diplomacy. They included new factions and reworking of the core game's components. Through this, the expansion made the civilizations feel more realistic, and the game more nuanced. They rated Civilization: Beyond Earth at 9 points out of 10. This game is available for Windows and Mac at $ to $$.

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Starbound

Steam
  • Get Steam on your mobile device
  • Connect with friends
  • Steam chat

Starbound blends space exploration with the crafting and survival aspects of games like Terraria. Starting on one planet with a damaged ship, you work your way through tiers of technology. As you mine and build, you can explore new worlds. These will have new resources and items that will help you start winging your way across the galaxy. You can play Starbound with your friends as well, and add mods to change the game. Starbound adds a sci-fi bent to the now-classic survival/building game. Follow the questline or make your destiny across the galaxy.

IGN found that the gameplay made its name by being diverse. Each planet has a unique biome filled with semi-randomized aliens. Under each of these are layers of dungeons, mines, and caves that literally add depth to each world. IGN was also impressed with the richness of each of the six playable races. On your travels across the galaxy, you can interact with settlements from each of these, all with their own stories to tell. If you choose to follow the quests as well, you won't miss out on any of these features. IGN rated Starbound "Amazing" with a score of 9.1 out of 10. Starbound is available on Steam for PC and Mac for $ to $$.

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Star Trek: Bridge Crew

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Star Trek: Bridge Crew - PlayStation VR
  • Playable in both VR and non-VR, serve as an officer with hand tracking with full-body avatars and lip-sync.
  • Operate as a crew to make strategic decisions and coordinate actions as Captain, Helm, Tactical or Engineer.
  • Take command of the unique U.S.S. Aegis, the first ship of her kind.

Star Trek: Bridge Crew is unique among the best space games, as it launched as a virtual reality (VR) exclusive. While it recently has dropped the VR requirement, that gear is still part of the core experience. You and your friends can team up to man the bridge of the Starship Enterprise in true Star Trek fashion. Each person controls a different aspect of the ship, and teamwork and communication are vital to your survival.

IGN said that the experience of Star Trek: Bridge Crew is a little more like a theme park ride than a true simulation. In VR, it's easy to test the limits of your virtual world, and the same often happens in Bridge Crew. But for Star Trek fans, there's something wonderful about being able to exist in an onscreen world. Even though the game loses its shine after a little bit, that magic of sitting on the bridge of a Federation starship is still worth it. For that experience, the game still deserves to sit among the best space games. It is available for Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and HTC Vive on the PlayStation 4 and PC. It costs $ to $$.

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Star Wars: Battlefront II (2005 version)

Star Wars Battlefront II - PlayStation 2 (Renewed)
  • Choose one of dozens of characters from the Star Wars universe, hop into famous vehicles, and then duke it out online in...
  • New space battles allow you to dogfight in X-wings, TIE fighters, Jedi starfighters and several other starcraft, or...
  • Special opportunities throughout the game for players to wield a lightsaber and use their favorite Force powers as a...

Recently, in 2017, EA released Star Wars Battlefront II to widespread disappointment. The game was beautiful and fun but made a grave error in relying on loot boxes for gameplay advancement. If you were upset by this turn, you'll be happy to know there's another option. The 2005 edition of Star Wars: Battlefront II is one of the oldest of our best space games. This game puts you into some of the most iconic Star Wars battles, both in space and on the ground. Battlefront II puts you in the boots of everyday soldiers, rather than making you the main character. While this game was available on PlayStation2 and Xbox, it is now only for purchase on Steam.

Fortunately, recent events have revived this game. It has remained popular for PC gamers since 2005 but lost online support in 2014. That means there was no way to play with other people. In early 2018, though, a new update restored that function. Despite the game being over a decade old, you can still have the full experience on your computer. This game has over 26,000 reviews on Steam, with an overall rating of "Very Positive." It costs $ to $$.

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Stellaris

Stellaris [Online Game Code]
  • Deep & Varied Exploration.
  • Enormous procedural galaxies, containing thousands of planets.
  • Infinitely varied races through customization and procedural generation.

Stellaris is a sandbox space strategy game based on exploration and interaction with other alien races. In Stellaris, you guide your chosen civilization through space, expanding your empire across thousands of planets. You can design your own fleet of ships, gather scientific knowledge, and participate in advanced diplomacy. It is customizable in ways other space strategy games aren't. It's a beautiful and expansive game, charging you with conquering an enormous galaxy of thousands of planets.

Your chosen alien race and culture determines a lot about how you play the game. You will have certain restrictions on your government and play style, making you approach the game differently each time. That also makes the story different each time, tailored to your unique people. Unfortunately, despite the diversity of races in the game, Polygon says diplomacy in Stellaris is very lackluster. But, if you're interested in large-scale multiplayer, the game supports up to 32 players. Polygon rated Stellaris 7.5 out of 10 points. Currently, the game is available only on Windows and Mac, although console support is due for early 2019. It costs $ to $$.

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Tacoma

Tacoma (Limited Run #213) - PlayStation 4
  • Tacoma on physical disc for the PlayStation 4.
  • Limited to 2,800 copies available worldwide.
  • Region free.

Tacoma is easily one of the more sedate games on our list, going so far as to be called a "walking simulator." Like several other games on this list, it takes place on an abandoned space station. It is a fairly short game, running about four hours. You are tasked with discovering what happened on the station as the oxygen supply ran low. This game examines capitalism taken to extremes in the near future, as well as the relationships of the crew. You uncover the mystery peacefully, one holographic recording at a time. It's a refreshing change of pace from other abandoned space stations on this list. It is one of our only best space games that does not involve you killing, or being killed.

The IGN review of Tacoma was relieved that the setting came without enemies. You are free to explore the station at your own pace and let the story play out. IGN said the world that developer Fullbright had built was worth exploring outside of the game. The game presents the recordings of the events out of order, which gives nuance to the storytelling. IGN gave Tacoma an 8.5 out of 10. Tacoma is available on Windows, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One for $ to $$.

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Universe Sandbox 2

Universe Sandbox ² [Online Game Code]
  • Create & destroy on an unimaginable scale
  • Reveal the beauty of our universe and the fragility of our planet
  • English (Subtitle)

If there's any game that deserves to be on this list of the best space games, it's Universe Sandbox 2. That's because, unlike all of the other games here, space is the game. It is a physics-based space simulator that allows you to make your own solar systems and planets. And then, of course, you smash them together. Whether you want to see how certain celestial bodies interact or you just want to crash Earth into itself, you can make it happen with Universe Sandbox 2.

Of course, the physics of Universe Sandbox 2 are impressive and fearsome. Far from simply being an "Earth destruction game," you can interact with mass, time, and scale to create unique scenarios. Even playing this game lightheartedly, Universe Sandbox 2 is a useful educational tool. With it, you can learn about bodies in our solar system such as dwarf planets, and see how long it takes Pluto to orbit the Sun. Steam players gave Universe Sandbox 2 a rating of "Very Positive." This game is available on Windows and Mac for $ to $$.

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Which Space Game Will You Choose?

Some of the best space games on our list will appeal to a wide audience. Some fit much more specific tastes, requiring you to get a bit used to their particular flavor. But whether you need to learn to love them, or love them from day one, all of these space games are a blast to play. What one person considers the best space game of all time, another person will leave on the shelf. But our list of the best space games has something for every taste.

If you have a PC, you'll get the most mileage out of this list. Nearly every game comes on Windows. But there are plenty of options for Mac users, as well as for major consoles. Whether you like fast-paced shooters, cerebral thrillers, or detailed strategy games, one of our best space games will scratch your itch. And if all you really want is to take to the stars, there's no limit to how many ways you can achieve that dream.

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