It can be hard to find the best space games when there are so many to choose from. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 20 best space games you can play on your PC right now. If you want to be a space cruiser captain, a space conqueror, or a space explorer, there’s a game for you here.
We’ve tried to keep our definition of “space game” pretty traditional here. This isn’t the only type of game on our best space games list. There are RPGs and strategy games, as well as roguelikes and roguelikes, but most of them involve flying across the universe in a ship of some kind. That means there won’t be games like Surviving Mars or Astroneer. If you want to play games like Destiny 2 and Alien: Isolation, you can’t get them. That’s because even though these games are set in space, you don’t actually get to go to space.
If you have a PC, there are a lot of great space games. We’ve chosen 20 of the best below. Still, there are a lot of great games on this list, but we’ve chosen the ones we think you should play right now, not the best space games of all time. Disagree? Tell us about your favourite space game in the comments below, and maybe you’ll get someone else to play it.
1. Mass Effect Legendary Edition
The Mass Effects are “Captain Kirk” games. Your job isn’t to blow Klingons out of space or drive a ship. You’re in charge. And being the boss mostly means telling people what to do – and kissing them on the cheek.
Commander Shepard’s second mission is still their best, but now that the entire trilogy has been remastered as part of the Legendary Edition, there’s really no reason not to play the whole thing from start to finish now. It turns out that, in the end, no Mass Effect is a desert island. People say the middle game might be the best. The first game is what makes everything else possible, so it’s very important. As for the critics, don’t pay attention to them. The ending of the third game is a little sloppy, but the whole thing is still a great game.
Slipways looks like a 4X game at first glance, but it’s actually a strategy-based puzzle game that’s addictive. When planets are linked together in networks across the galaxy, they can all get the resources they need to first survive, then thrive. However, the “slipways” can’t cross each other, so you need to think about how each new expansion will connect to the rest of the game.
However, Slipways does a lot more than just keep track of where resources go when they’re swapped. There are a lot of planet types to choose from, and each one has its own imports and exports to deal with. You’ll also need to send out probes to find out what’s beyond your current borders, which takes time and could be bad for your empire in the long run. A good mix of efficiency and risk management. The best thing about Slipways is that each run lasts just 45 minutes, so you can get all the puzzle-y, 4X goodness in bite-sized chunks. Slipways is a great place to start if you don’t want to make a big deal out of playing a 4X.
A magazine called CGW called Descent “Doom on Benzedrine in a vacuum” when it came out. Descent’s many new ideas have been overlooked too many times to count. That’s true, but it didn’t have a lot of big-name developers working on it. There were no demons from hell running around the small, claustrophobic corridors, and there was no blood to anger or delight the people who played the game. It had speed, 3D levels that looked like mazes, and a range of movement in all directions that was at odds with the small space in which it could move.
A lot of people got motion sickness while playing. But they were able to rescue trapped colonists and escape each quaking level before it was engulfed in a nuclear fireball, so the game was worth it. After more than 20 years, is Descent still important in the same way that Doom is important? Given that it would become Freespace and still be a part of Red Faction’s DNA, it is. More importantly, though, it’s still fun, and in many ways better than the game that made it.
4. Galactic Civilizations II: Endless Universe
In Galactic Civilizations II, Stardock’s intergalactic conquer-’em-up, there aren’t many surprises in the story. It’s more about making a good, solid 4X game than it is about making a great story. In this case, you lead a space-faring race across all of the stars and claim all of the galaxy as your own.
This is what makes Galactic Civilizations II different from other games: Its clever AI makes it stand out. Not only does this game offer a tough challenge for your space exploration, but it also makes it feel more personal each time you play. If you buy the Ultimate Edition of Galactic Civilizations, you get both expansions (Dark Avatar and Twilight of the Arnor), as well as the option to destroy entire solar systems. It’s been a while since the game came out.
5. Star Wars: TIE Fighter
X-Wing wasn’t a direct attack on Wing Commander, as many people think. It was a way to try to use the systems and success of Totally Games’ first series to make the second one even better. Battlehawk 1942 and Their Finest Hour, on the other hand, has more Wing Commander and less X-Wing or TIE Fighter. You don’t need to play a lot of either game to figure this out. Just like Star Wars’ space battles are based on footage from WWII, the X-Wing series is mostly based on Totally’s WWII fight games. The fact that they all had a mission builder, a combat recorder, and historical missions only shows that that is true.
It doesn’t matter, though. If X-Wing was meant to be Star Wars’ answer to WingCo, then X-Wing 2 would have followed. To avoid this mistake, Totally and Lucasarts decided that the story should go to the Dark Side instead. This way, players could fight for the Empire for the first time while avoiding the mistake of painting everyone in it as completely and irredeemably bad. In spite of the facts, our hearts felt right. Even though our guns were pointed at the good guys, we thought our hearts were right, even though we knew we were on the wrong side.
So if you want to see how TIE Fighter might look with modern graphics, check out the recently released TIE Fighter: Total Conversion mod for X-Wing Alliance. This mod basically recreates TIE Fighter from the ground up and adds VR support, too.
6. Star Trek Online
People who like Star Trek have seen a lot of movies and played the game, but the game that started out bad has been there for a long time. Star Trek Online was a little slammed when it came out because it looked like it didn’t fit right. But now, it’s one of the best MMORPGs out there.
It’s good to think of Star Trek Online not just as a game that captures the spirit of the Roddenberry-created universe, but as part of an online fan convention. It has pioneering explorations into the unknown, tactical one-on-one battles, and interesting aliens who love history. Players show off their love for TOS, TNG, or DS9, as well as their knowledge of the show. They also play games on the side, like away team missions and space battles. To be fair, you can also buy a lot of tchotchke, but the point is that Star Trek Online isn’t really a game for people who like Star Trek and like to play games.
As for the game itself, there’s a lot to like about it, from how you build your character and your bridge officers to how you play through the regular episodes. It’s like riding an open-topped shuttle around all the places in Star Trek history and lore that you can. In open team space battles, however, the game is at its best. Small groups of player ships work together to defeat indestructible NPC ships. Veteran fans of the Starfleet Command games will find a lot to keep them busy, especially when they’re part of a well-oiled team of frontline and support ships that’s tearing up the galaxy.
Even though Star Trek Online came out a long time ago, it still gets new content and even new games. The most recent one, Rise of Discovery, tells the story of a moment in both Gabriel Lorca and Ellen Landry’s lives that changed them for the better. You get to see the events that led up to the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery, as well as a new way to get the best ships in the game. This is a better update for new players.
7. Star Conflict
There is a free MMO called Star Conflict that is all about dogfighting. You can play as a pilot and fight against other pilots in space and on the ground. While this game is mostly about fighting each other, you can get a few quests, explore ruins, and try your hand at making things.
The ships make the game, of course. From small fighters to big frigates and big destroyers, there are a lot of different types of ships you can get and upgrade. This will help you figure out what kind of role you play in the conflict you’re in. There are more than 100 ships to choose from, but getting to them all takes a while.
Metagame: You fight for your chosen faction by hunting down foes and getting into fights. You want to spread your group’s power and get some nice rewards.