Space games make up a relatively niche but often overlooked sub-genre of games that put the player in space, often behind the pilot station of futuristic space ships either to do battle or explore alien worlds.
Many titles currently in production are threatening to take the space games genre to the next level, including many VR based titles that put the player in a hyper realistic cockpit of the future and taking the cosmic immersion to a whole new level.
To help you sift through the gems and various types of space games we’ve compiled this list of the best space games on offer globally categorized by type and style to help you find a space game that will give you a true glimpse into the future.
Best Space Exploration Games
Space exploration games as per our definition are primarily non-violent (thought not always) and involve exploring alien words or chasms of the universe in order to allow the player to go on wild and whacky cosmic adventures in the name of exploration.
Be sure to explore our other space game guides to find the right match for you if pure space exploration isn’t enough.
Outer Wilds (2019)
Outer Wilds is space exploration with a twist – you’re also stuck in a time loop and only have 20 minutes at a time to explore before being sucked back to the start again. This creates for an interesting puzzle adventure style game where you slowly get a better picture of the environment you are exploring one little bit at a time before taking the old time loop back again.
Reviewers praised the game for its beautiful design, gripping underlying narratives and challenging puzzles. When it comes to space games Outer Worlds is about as unique and brilliant as they come.
No Man’s Sky (2016)
Although it received some rocky reviews to begin with, the team behind No Man’s Sky have not taken a back seat and have been updating their game like crazy in order to live up to the hype of their initial launch with amazing results. Recent updates include the ability to build based on planets you explore, complete missions and vast improvements to its world building engine to create for prettier and more immersive environments.
Last Man’s Sky has received dramatically improved reviews since its initial launch, with players praising its enhanced features. That said, some reviewers were also critical ofa lack of diversity in the procedurally generated worlds, with many planets being seemingly identical even this far into its launch. Either way, No Man’s Sky is surely worth an adventure or too thanks to its gorgeous design.
Take On Mars (2017)
If recently developments in the world of space colonization excite you, Take on Mars might give you something to chew on before you take the final step to becoming a Mars colonist. It’s based primarily on real world science and is one of the most realistic space games out there based on real world technology (for now that is).
Kerbal Space Program (2011)
Kerbal Space program is another space exploration title that is likely to excite the maths and science whizzes out there – the catch being unlike most other space games you have to build your own working rocket before you can even head out to explore the cosmos. This involves a lot of science and a lot and puzzling (and potentially a lot of failed launches too).
SpaceEngine is an early access sandbox game that aims to be a full on universe simulation. Expect to spend endless hours exploring vast constellations, planets and chasms of unexplored space. If you are looking for a relaxing and beautifully crafted space exploration game where you can simple bumble around space at your own leisure, SpaceEngine is the game for you.
Best Space Combat Games
Let’s be honest – on top of humble space exploration, some of us might prefer to get knee deep in some futurist space combat and strategy games. Look no further than the list below of the best space battle games which put the player in the captains seat of some incredible battleships of all shapes and sizes. After all, space combat has come a long way since the days of Space Invader, and it’s only going to get better from here.
EVE Online (2003)
EVE Online is a popular space combat and exploration game you are certain to have heard of if you have ever explored the space game genre. It is well known for having staged the largest ever MMO battles on the internet of all time, most recently breaking its own previous record with a total of 8825 players involved over the course of the battle. Battle isn’t all that EVE has to offer though – if you are so inclined, you can also peacefully explore New Eden, the cluster of stars where the EVE experience takes place a cluster of stars “approximately 106 light years long“. We’re no rocket scientists here, but that sounds pretty big!
Elite Dangerous (2014)
Another space combat game that you are sure to have heard of if you have ever dreamed of flying a galactic battle cruiser through the depths of space, Elite Dangerous is the largest competitor in terms of popularity to EVE Online and a more recent addition to the space combat arena. The combat elements of two games are also quite different – EVE Online is more about large epic scale space fights that take many hours, whereas Elite Dangerous leads itself more to one on one more intense action style combat requiring real time skill in maneuvering your aircraft. Overall, Elite Dangerous is probably the number one space combat game to recommend if you are looking for intense action involving one on one dogfights and in-your-face action. Although lacking in the space exploration department, if you are a fan of in-your-face fights to the death and big explosions, we’d highly recommend giving this title a spin.
Another “sci-fi dogfighter“, Everspace is another slightly lesser known space combat game with what many reviewers describe as an arcade-like feel. On top of captivating combat, it also received positive reviews for a captivating story and nice visuals. Although not quite as popular as games such as Elite: Dangerous, it has some solid features that could make it more appealing to many players. This includes an RPG loot style system and procedurally generated maps and content to explore. That said, fans of both titles have described Everspace as more of a casual arcade-style space fighting game versus Elite Dangerous which is more of a space simulation and has a lot more depth. At the end if the day, if you’re looking for an action packed space combat game and aren’t sure, why not play both?
Star Citizen is a highly publicized and somewhat conversational space game with combat elements. The reason it’s controversial has to do with the fact that it is a crowd-funded game which has received over $300 million in funding, making it the highest crowdfunded game of all time. It has also been in development since 2012 and has received a lot of criticism for overpromising and underdelivering and slow development progress that lacks transparency. That said, the game still has a lot of potential and it’s current alpha version has some nifty features that could be worth exploring including more of a focus on PvP space combat and also a first person module. Although it’s hard to recommend a game with such a track record of slow development and controversy, there’s certainly still potential for Star Citizen to turn into an amazing space combat game worth checking out.
Best Space Horror Games
Although most space adventurers are in it for the adventure of space exploration or the glory of space combat, there are some games out there that take things in a very different direction. Space horror games take the eery and otherwordly idea of space and turn it into a fight for survival against mysterious forces and alien creatures.
Dead Space Series
Dead Space is an award winning space horror game that in many ways helped pioneer the genre itself. The original game, released in 2008, received critical acclaim for its dark and engrossing atmosphere and original concept. You play as a space engineer on a routine mission who discovers that the entire crew of his ship is being ravaged by an unknown alien force. What ensures is a desperate fight for survival against both the hard unforgiving elements of space and the unknown alien threat which is taking your crew apart. Dead Space 2 takes the series a step further introducing more weapons and a more direct form of conflict with your alien assailants. The third title in the series, Dead Space 3, involves a different setting on an alien planet. Needless to say, you are not alone!
Dead Space 2:
Dead Space 3:
Bonus: Best Space Games Gaming Laptops
Now that we’ve listed our top space games for your perusal, it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t also help point you in the direction of a new gaming laptop that will be able to play all the epic space games you want in case you are on the hunt for a new gaming PC.
Luckily, as many of the best space games are usually quite old and involve continuously updated content and universes, many of the top space games don’t have system requirements that are out of reach for most gamers.
Although there are a lot of elements to a gaming laptop, the most important one by far is the graphics card which will determine which games you will be able to play and which you won’t. For the sake of simplicity, we have listed the top gaming laptop graphics cards we recommend below for a few budgets.
- Read More on our Guide to Choosing the Best Gaming Laptop
- Read Our Guide to the Best Gaming Laptops Under $500
There you have it folks, a a list of the best space games spanning a multitude of sub-genres to help you take the next step in finding your ultimate space adventure. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us here as we’d love to here your feedback.