What are the best planet and space exploration games?

Space: the final frontier. While astronauts continue exploring the vast star ocean, we can also experience the thrill of simulated exploration in our own homes. Here are some of the best planet and space exploration games that will leave you starstruck, sometimes quite literally!

86 contributors
8 solutions
  1. 18

    #1Elite Dangerous

    Elite Dangerous

    Elite Dangerous is a space simulation game developed by Frontier Developments and first released in 2015. It lets players explore an open-world cutthroat galaxy where players battle it out to freedom and glory.

    Games

    Windows, PlayStation 4

    $29.99

    Carl Hayes
    Written on May 21, 2018
    "hat has compelled you to come down to the reviews anyway. Maybe it's morbid curiosity, or maybe the game still intrigues you in some way. Hopefully you're not the type to take a single score as the entire basis for a decision. Either way you're expecting the reviews to clear things up a little. Not really happening, is it? There's a lot of vitriol spewed over this game. A lot of it is entirely valid opinion highlighting genuine flaws. A large amount though is vicious, disproportionate, entitled whining, much of which comes from players with many hundreds of hours in the game. The retort there is they love the game so much and would hate to see it die. The reality is the continuous negativity is damaging Elite more than any perceived missteps by the developers. Let's state the obvious: Elite:Dangerous is not for everyone. It is slow paced, it features repetetive game loops and it can be inaccessible without relying on third-party tools. All that's true. It's also true the game is hugely immersive, massive in scale and at times jaw-droppingly beautiful. The flight mechanics are also some of the best I've ever experienced in any comparable game. Elite is not a game where you are meant to cram in the hours to reach an end goal. There is no end goal, and if you try to do anything intensively you'll get burned out real quick. The game can get grindy, yes, but it is almost always a self-imposed grind, when it's also fine to take things slowly. I've been playing this game for a good couple of years now and I still haven't reached the 'top' of any metric - no Elite ranks, no maxed military ranks, no big ships (lots of smaller ones though) and barely a couple-hundred-million in the bank. I'm totally fine with that. Many others wouldn't be. The game will be appreciated most by those who are happy to set their own goals and take it at their own pace. It's the kind of game you can just get lost in. REA"
  2. 17

    #2Mass Effect 2

    Mass Effect 2
    Recruit. Explore. Control. Two years after Commander Shepard repelled invading Reapers bent on the destruction of organic life, a mysterious new enemy has emerged. On the fringes of known space, something is silently abducting entire human colonies.
    Games

    Xbox 360, Windows

    Check price

    Douglas Perry
    Written on May 12, 2018
    "This is a really good solution. I really like this game. It's a lot of fun to play. You can explore space and fight aliens. I would recommend it to everyone. "
  3. 12

    #3No Man's Sky

    No Man's Sky
    Inspired by the adventure and imagination that we love from classic science-fiction. In No Man's Sky you can explore and survive in a procedurally generated universe with 18.4 quintillion planets.
    Games

    Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

    $59.99

    Gilberto Marín
    Written on May 15, 2018
    "I love sci-fi space games and I'm I like original content games. I came across No Man's Sky and thought this would be a fun play. It was pretty enjoyable at first as I felt like a space explorer. The visuals were really spectacular. I was getting into the game and then realized there were things missing that had drawn me into the game. Who knows what's going on here. The game looks promising but it just feels very incomplete. I would love to play the game as it was intended and not what I have. "

DID YOU KNOW?

Planet and space explorations (Space Sims, for short) have been around for more than 30 years now. One of the first ever space sims that introduced actual flight mechanics was the 1982 game, “Space Shuttle: A Journey Into Space”, simulating landing, takeoff, and stabilizing the ship. Building upon this but taking it a step further was “Elite” in 1984. Elite incorporated resource management and trade in the space exploration genre, allowing players to earn resources through trading, piracy, bounty hunting, and other missions. This pioneered the sub-genre of space trading, setting a legacy that even games of today still follow, like with two of this list’s entries: No Man’s Sky and Kerbal Space Program. But for those who wanted a bit more of a rush in the vast star ocean, there was also the space combat genre, found in games like Mass Effect 2 and Star Citizen. Space combat dates as far back as 1977, when Gene Ball developed a simulation of the Death Star destruction sequence for the Xerox Alto, all while still a student at the University of Rochester! The genre then took a huge leap on March 16, 2000, with the release of Microsoft Allegiance, the first-ever online multiplayer space simulation, combining all three sub-genres of space flight, space trade and exploration, and space combat. This laid the groundwork for arguably the most popular and most successful space MMOs, EVE Online.

Space may be the final frontier, but it is a frontier that is far from its final stage. This list of the best planet and space exploration games can let you experience it from the comfort of your own home. All you need to do is strap in and go where (possibly) no man has gone before!

  1. 11

    #4FTL: Faster Than Light

    FTL: Faster Than Light

    FTL: Faster Than Light is a strategy and simulation game for Windows and Mac. This "spaceship simulation roguelike-like" allows you to take your ship on an adventure through a randomly generated galaxy. It was developed by Subset Games.

    Games

    Windows, Mac, iOS

    $9.99

    Ishan Dasgupta
    Written on May 20, 2018
    "The gameplay and mechanics of this game are brilliant. It's a great space exploration game that requires lots of deep thinking and tactical intuition. The graphics are very stylish and the soundtrack is great. I'd recommend this game to anyone as long as they enjoy high difficulties. "
  2. 8

    #5Star Citizen

    Star Citizen
    Star Citizen is a space trading and combat simulation game with tens of millions in crowdfunding raised so far. The game has been developed by Robert Space industries and takes exploration in a sci fi level to a new level.
    Software

    Windows

    $45

    Ajay Jayaraman
    Written on May 17, 2018
    "Start your adventure today and launch into the Persistent Universe with your Mustang Alpha. Snagging this pack also lets you experience a taste of intense dogfighting and FPS action with two distinct multiplayer game modes: Arena Commander and Star Marine."
  3. 7

    #6Kerbal Space Program

    Kerbal Space Program

    Kerbal Space Program is a sandbox science and space simulation video game developed by Squad and published by Private Division. It can be played on Microsoft Windows and macOS computers, and on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One gaming consoles.

    Games

    Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac

    $39.99

    Nicholas Hoffman
    Written on May 12, 2018
    "Kerbal is agame available on the GOG.com store. In Kerbal Space Program, take charge of the space program for the alien race known as the Kerbals. You have access to an array of parts to assemble fully-functional spacecraft that flies (or doesn’t) based on realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics."
  4. 4

    #7Galactic Phantasy Prelude

    Galactic Phantasy Prelude

    Galactic Phantasy Prelude is an Action Space RPG in which you have to drive a spaceship and gather a fleet. Plan your strategy and develop tactics to rule the entire galaxy.

    Games

    Android, iOS

    Free- with in-app purchases

    Russell Robinson
    Written on May 15, 2018
    "I needed to find one of the best planet and space exploration games and this one is perfect. It's exactly what I was looking for and runs like a dream."
  5. 1

    #8Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) is the first computer RPG set in the Star Wars universe. The game was developed by BioWare and published by LucasArts and was first released on November 19, 2003.

    Games

    Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Xbox

    $9.99

    Johnny Henry
    Written on May 18, 2018
    "SW:KotOR is a hugely expanded world that allows you more freedom to explore than ever before. There's a seemingly unlimited combination of character models, skills, and places you can combine together to make your playtime unique. The story will pull you in with its immersive telling and the open world aspect makes it truly seem like there's unlimited paths to take. If you're looking for a game that really does well on the worldbuilding and gameplay, look no further than SW:KotOR."

Summary

Best What are the best planet and space exploration games
RankSolutionsTypeVotesPrice
1Elite DangerousGames 18 Paid
2Mass Effect 2Games 17 Paid
3No Man's SkyGames 12 Paid
4FTL: Faster Than LightGames 11 Paid
5Star CitizenSoftware 8 Paid
6Kerbal Space ProgramGames 7 Paid
7Galactic Phantasy PreludeGames 4 Free
8Star Wars: Knights of the Old RepublicGames 1 Paid
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