Since time and millennium humans have gazed upon the stars wondering if we were truly alone. Humans have crafted stories out of the random clusters of stars and light traveling for millions of years to make contact with our eyes. While most cultures used the stars to create images and tales, a few cultures used the space in between the lights to create a story.
Today, in the modern world, colorful lights are still used to craft whole worlds and epics set in the stars. However, today humans have built these amazing worlds in pixels and on graphics cards rather than their mind’s eye. Here are the top 10 greatest games set in space.
No Man’s Sky
Unlike most other space-themed games, No Man’s Sky takes out all the plasma pistols, enemies, and alien overlords, but leaves the cool tech. At its core No Man’s Sky is a game near and dear to human hearts’; it’s an experience about exploration. You start in a plucky little ship with very limited capabilities and limited range. You explore the endlessly expanding universe to find new planets and resources to upgrade your ship to venture deeper and deeper into the cosmos.
No Man’s Sky was widely hated at launch giving the game a bad name. However, the developers actually listened to the gaming ecosystem and made a massive overhaul to the game and its game world. Today we have a peaceful piece of art to explore.
Much like the previous entry in this list, Alien: Isolation also follows the themes of deep space and exploration. However, not everything you find in the universe is peaceful. As the player you’ll follow the story of Amanda Ripley as she is forced to explore the Sevastopol as a Xenomorph hunts her through its decks. With limited resources and no way to call for help Ripley aka you, the player will have to use all of your wits to survive and get out of this space coffin. This game makes for a terrifying, yet beautiful adventure so tense that players might snap their controllers in half.
Dead Space 2
The Dead Space series gave the gaming world some of the best world-building in history. Space can be a dangerous place and you’ll never know what you’ll find deep in planets. The original game, released in 2008 planted the player in a relatively small ship called the USG Ishimura. In Dead Space 2 the player is dropped onto the Sprawl. A massive station was built in the remains of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. The curse found in the Ishimura never ended. Issac Clark will have to face off yet again against the Nercomorphs with nothing but simple engineering tools and a superhuman amount of luck. Easily one of the best horror games set in space.
Mass Effect and its later sequels added something different to the space opera genre of sci-fi. Yes, this game has all the elements of sci-fi. Faster-than-light travel, awe-inspiring machines the size of stars, and aliens. However, Mass Effects offers something in a softer format. These games are less about the nature of space but more about the creatures and humanoids that occupy it.
The player commands Commander Shepard an elite warrior and soldier vital in humanities exchanges with alien races and politics after first contact. This world feels alien and the stakes feel real. The writing, worldbuilding, and gameplay come to life in a way that makes putting the controller down a challenge.
Despite being stuck in development limbo for almost 10 years, Prey comes as one of the best sci-fi games ever created. Set in a small space station orbiting Earth’s moon, you take on the role of Morgan Yu, a scientistic working on discovering the power of psionic abilities in humans. Unfortunately for everyone else, you’ve been in a trance for weeks and wake up to the station completely taken over by shapeshifting aliens. You’ll have to use psionic powers, shotguns, and stealth to uncover what truly happened on the station and why you are one of the few people still left alive. Prey gives softer Dead Space vibes with the feeling of a choose-your-own-adventure RPG rolled into one.
What do you get when you mix massive mech suits, elite spec-ops operators, and alien worlds set in the far-flung parts of the universe? Simple, you get Titanfall 2. While this game is mostly set on terraform the addition of various planets around multiple galaxies firmly puts this game in the sci-fi space genre.
Titanfall 2 comes shortly after the original with a single-player campaign that is touching enough to make anyone cry. Follow the story of Jack Cooper a nobody grunt wishing to become the elite soldier known as a pilot in a rebel group. Through a series of unfortunate effects, Jack Cooper is thrust into being a pilot in control of a mech suit known as BT-7274. Only they can stop a universe-ending weapon from being set off. For those who have played the game before, BT-7274’s main directive is simple: “Protect the Pilot.”
Star Wars Battlefront II
Any list of the best games set in space would be incomplete without Star Wars: Battlefront II. This game was played long until the sun came up on birthday parties, in college dorm rooms, and in some of the first widely used online servers.
While Star Wars: Battlefront II did a basic campaign of a generic Star Wars story, this game was loved and praised for its multiplayer options. The standard battles, game modes, and maps that we take for granted today were popularized in part thanks to Star Wars: Battlefront II. Releasing in 2005 this game had to jungle up to 64 players in a battle all at once with varying levels of lag, upload speed, and the best internet connections 2005 had to offer.
If you have felt like you need to feel the rush of being an X-Wing-style fighter pilot then Elite Dangerous is the game all players need to have in their library. Welcome to a 1:1 version of space dog fights in the Milky Way galaxy. This game was ambitious, to say the least. The idea was to have an always online-style game mode where anything could happen. At any point, another player may come and try to rob or kill you without warning. If you die then you lose everything. If you feel you have what it takes to become the Milky Way’s elite dangerous pilot then pick up a copy as soon as possible.
Easily, without contest or argument, Halo 3 is known as one of the greatest games set in space of all time. The story, the writing, the characters, the worldbuilding, the weapons, absolutely everything is perfect. Down to the last detail, everything about Halo 3. For those gamers who have been living under a rock for the past few years, this space odyssey follows the story of Master Chief, an augmented super-solider in a galaxy far away from Earth. Forced to fight a new hive-mind enemy named The Flood Master Chief will have to join forces with his alien enemies to save the universe.
This game gets the top spot on this list due to the cultural and powerful impact Halo has had on the gaming and media world. Master Chief is in movies, books, and even other video games as a special character or nod to the original series. In a lot of ways, the Halo series created the modern FPS space shooter and adventure.