11 Space Exploration Games to Discover the Cosmos

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Want to experience driving around in the space without actually being there? You might want to try out some excellent space exploration games!

The space holds deep mysteries and thrilling experiences. Space games allow players to explore the unbelievably beautiful cosmos and discover secrets of space.

These games have recently gained immense popularity, and with advancements in technology, they have evolved with the experiences they provide. Players assume the role of an astronaut discovering the hidden truths of space, a space pirate on a heist for different planets, or even colonizing an entire planet. It allows exploring different galaxies, black holes, stars, and planets. Furthermore, it allows players to experience jobs like mining, trading, and crafting space-related objects.

Games of this type are often set in an open world, allowing you to explore while completing campaign or multiplayer missions. They consist of different courses and paths that revolve around the mysteries of space. A critical factor that makes these games popular among players is that it allows players to make unique decisions at each point in the game, which influences the story’s outcome. Apart from this primary campaign, these games also consist of small side stories allowing you to collect bonus weapons or cash that can help you in the journey.

Space games

From the first space game, Spacewar!, released in 1962, we can see evolution in these games and technological development and innovation, especially concerning graphics. Today’s GPUs are more powerful and advanced than ever, which allows game developers to create games with high pixel density and unique visuals that create an immersive experience.

Moreover, with the introduction of Ray-Tracing, the visuals of these games have become more realistic. These technological advancement has allowed room for stunning visuals, immersive sounds, and much more; that allows you to explore and discover the wonders of space.

Reasons People Love Space Games

Space games are pretty popular today. However, the primary question here is – why? Below, we’ll take a look at a few possible reasons why games of this nature have peaked in terms of popularity.

#1. Vastness and Exploration

One of the primary reasons to love space games is because of the vast space and the entities it consists of. These games allow a player to explore and learn about space through different planets, stars, galaxies, black holes, supernovae, and much more while enjoying the game. Moreover, these games enable players to travel from one planet to another while covering a distance of millions of lightyears.

#2. Open-World Environment 

Most often, these games are set in open-world scenarios, where players are allowed to explore at their will and discover aspects of space outside of their story campaign. Furthermore, these games consist of side stories and courses a player can complete for better rewards. As these games are set in open-world scenarios, the outcome depends on the choices made by the players during their journey. It adds a sense of uncertainty and surprise during the gameplay.

Open-World Environment 

#3. Game Modes

Space exploration games can consist of different game modes, but we most commonly see campaign and multiplayer modes across all the games. The campaign mode consists of the game’s main storyline, along with the player assuming the roles of protagonist or antagonist, depending on the player’s choice. The multiplayer mode on these games allows you to team up with your friends to complete missions or compete against friends and strangers online in the game’s open-world environment.

#4. Immersive Visuals and Sounds

Accompanied by the latest GPUs and sound cards, these games have evolved into a visual extravaganza. Using Ray-tracing and Dolby Atmos sound architecture, games appear and sound more realistic. Moreover, developers can create detailed and immersive maps, courses, and realistic weapons and equipment.

#5. Learn While You Play

Learn While You Play

Space games are fun to play. On top of that, these games are also educationally rich. Want your kid to learn about the supernova effect or the mystery of the black hole? These games help kids learn and explore these concepts independently while enjoying the game. Hence, space exploration games provide the best of both worlds in one package, increasing in popularity among kids.

#6. Real-life Influence 

As we try to reach Mars and beyond, human civilization is trying to unveil the lost secrets of space by launching different missions to different planets. From the likes of Elon Musk’s (SpaceX) visionary plan to colonize Mars to NASA, ISRO, and other agencies’ search for Exoplanets, all of these influenced a spark in young kids and teens for space, which has resulted in the overall popularity of space games.

Let’s get to some OG space games for you to try without delay!

Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous is an open-world game that provides players with a unique way to explore an open-world experience set in a futuristic Milky Way galaxy. Created by Frontier Developments, it places players in the cockpit of their spaceship and allows them to explore a realistic 1:1 scale representation of the galaxy. This virtual version of the galaxy is replete with billions of star systems, planets, and celestial phenomena.

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Players assume the role of an explorer and are free to choose their path and play style. Thus, it allows players to become traders, miners, explorers, bounty hunters, or even engage in piracy. The robust combat system allows players to engage in thrilling dogfights and participate in large-scale conflicts.

Preview Product Rating Price
Elite Dangerous: The Legendary Edition - PlayStation 4 Elite Dangerous: The Legendary Edition - PlayStation 4 No ratings yet $42.50Amazon Prime

One of the standout features of Elite Dangerous is its attention to detail and immersion. The game’s stunning visuals, realistic planetary surfaces, nebulas, and space stations are fantastic. The physics simulation is meticulously crafted, providing a sense of realism and weight to the spaceships and their maneuvering. Elite Dangerous also offers a shared multiplayer experience.

Developers: Frontier Developments

Publisher: Frontier Developments

Release Date: December 16, 2014

EVE Online

EVE Online is a science fiction-based, massively multiplayer online game (MMO) developed by CCP Games. The game is set in a persistent universe and offers an expansive sandbox experience. This allows players to explore, trade, mine, and engage in complex player-driven politics and warfare. Moreover, it is known for its player-driven economy, deep social interactions, and its emphasis on strategic decision-making.

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Players assume the role of spaceship pilots, known as “capsuleers,” and navigate through a vast universe comprising thousands of star systems. The game offers various activities, including mining resources, manufacturing goods, engaging in interstellar trade, and also embarking on challenging PvE (Player versus Environment) missions.

Moreover, it includes an intricate player-driven political landscape, where alliances and corporations compete for control of resources, territory, and power. Eve Online offers a unique and immersive experience for those seeking a complex and socially-driven MMO set in the depths of space.

Developers: CCP Games

Publishers: Atari

Release Date: May 6, 2003

Check it out on Steam.

EVERSPACE 2

EVERSPACE 2 is a fast-paced captivating game developed by Rockfish Games. It combines roguelike gameplay elements with stunning visuals and intense combat, creating a thrilling and immersive experience. It takes players on an unforgettable journey through space, filled with danger, exploration, and discovery.

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Players pilot their spaceship and embark on a procedurally generated adventure. Each play offers a unique experience as the universe is dynamically generated, ensuring that no two runs are identical. Players must navigate through stunning environments, engage in epic dogfights, and gather resources to upgrade their ships and equipment.

Moreover, it features a compelling storyline that unfolds through encounters and interactions with various characters and factions. It offers an engaging mix of action, exploration, and also strategic decision-making. This makes it a must-play for space shooters and roguelike game fans.

Developers: Rockfish Games

Publishers: Rockfish Games

Release Date: January 18, 2021

Check it out on Steam.

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

Hardspace: Shipbreaker, developed by Blackbird Interactive, is a unique and immersive space simulation game. It puts players in the role of a shipbreaker. Moreover, it includes salvaging and dismantling spaceships. The game is set in a dystopian future, offering a realistic and challenging experience as players navigate zero-gravity environments and carefully disassemble massive spacecraft.

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Players are supposed to operate cutting-edge tools and equipment to carefully cut, salvage, and process various components of the spaceships they encounter. The game emphasizes precision and strategic decision-making as players must extract valuable materials while avoiding potential hazards and meeting specific objectives within a limited time frame.

The salvaged materials can be sold to earn money, which can then be used to upgrade equipment and unlock new opportunities. Its realistic gameplay, engaging mechanics, and immersive experience offer a unique space simulation experience.

Developers: Blackbird Interactive

Publisher: Focus Entertainment

Release Date: May 24, 2022

Check it out on Steam.

Kerbal Space Program

Developed by Squad Studios, Kerbal Space Program is a space simulation game. It consists of designing and managing space programs and guiding a race of green extraterrestrial creatures called Kerbals in their quest to explore and colonize the cosmos. The game uniquely blends realistic physics, creative engineering, and strategic planning. This makes it a favorite among space enthusiasts and aspiring rocket scientists.

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Players are assigned tasks like constructing rockets and space planes from various modular parts, considering aerodynamics, fuel consumption, and weight distribution. The game’s physics engine accurately models the challenges of space travel, including orbital mechanics, gravity, and atmospheric re-entry.

Players also learn about real-world concepts like orbital mechanics and rocket science in a hands-on, engaging manner. The game encourages trial and error method. It allows players to learn from their mistakes and iterate on their designs to achieve tremendous success. 

Developers: Squad Studios

Publisher: Private Division

Release Date: April 27, 2015

Check it out on Steam.

Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is developed by BioWare studio. It is an iconic action role-playing game that takes players on an epic space-farming adventure. The game is the second installment in the Mass Effect Trilogy. It continues the story of Commander Shepard, a heroic protagonist tasked with saving the galaxy from a mysterious and powerful threat, the Reapers. Moreover, it is known for its immersive storytelling, memorable characters, and player-driven choices that have lasting consequences.

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The game requires players to assemble a diverse team of skilled individuals from various species across the galaxy. Each team member has unique backstory, abilities, and loyalty missions that delve into their personal histories. Moreover, it combines third-person shooter combat with deep role-playing elements.

Preview Product Rating Price
Mass Effect Platinum Hits - Xbox 360 Mass Effect Platinum Hits - Xbox 360 No ratings yet $20.00Amazon Prime

Players engage in thrilling battles against hostile alien species, utilizing various weapons, biotic powers, and also squad tactics. Mass Effect 2 is widely regarded as one of the greatest space-based RPGs ever, offering an immersive and unforgettable gaming experience.

Developers: BioWare

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release Date: January 26, 2010

No Man’s Sky

Developed by Hello Games, No Man’s Sky took quite a while to take off since its launch, thanks to a fair bit of controversy. Nonetheless, it is an ambitious open-world exploration game that immerses players in a procedurally generated universe of infinite possibilities. The game offers a vast and diverse galaxy to explore, with billions of planets to explore from, each having its ecosystems, creatures, and resources. No Man’s Sky is renowned for its sense of discovery, allowing players to chart their course and uncover the mysteries of the universe.

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In No Man’s Sky, players take on the role of a planetary explorer equipped with a spacecraft and a multi-tool. They can traverse seamlessly between planets, moons, and interstellar space, encountering various environments and celestial bodies. The game’s unique feature is its sense of scale and the freedom it offers players.

Preview Product Rating Price
No Man's Sky - Nintendo Switch No Man's Sky - Nintendo Switch No ratings yet $32.50Amazon Prime

It also features a procedurally generated universe that is virtually infinite, providing endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. Players can engage in activities such as trading, mining, space combat, and even building their bases. In conclusion, No Man’s Sky provides an extensive and captivating space exploration experience for players to enjoy.

Developers: Hello Games

Publisher: Hello Games

Release Date: August 9, 2016

Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds is an award-winning exploration and puzzle-solving game set in a small solar system trapped in an endless time loop. Developed by Mobius Digital, the game offers a unique and captivating experience.

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Players take on the role of an astronaut in a miniature universe, where they must unravel the mysteries of the cosmos. The players embark on a space-faring adventure, exploring different planets, moons, and celestial objects within the solar system. Moreover, they uncover clues, solve puzzles, and piece together the history of an ancient alien race. 

Preview Product Rating Price
The Outer Worlds Playstation 4 The Outer Worlds Playstation 4 No ratings yet $19.95Amazon Prime

The game is known for its immersive atmosphere, beautifully crafted environments, and non-linear narrative that encourages player curiosity and discovery. Moreover, the time loop mechanic adds an intriguing element to the gameplay, as each loop reveals new information and opportunities for exploration. With its unique gameplay mechanics and thought-provoking storytelling, Outer Wilds offers a captivating and reflective experience for players seeking an unforgettable space adventure.

Developers: Mobius Digital

Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Release Date: May 28, 2019

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, developed by Double Damage Games, is a thrilling space combat and trading game set in a dangerous galaxy. This one is the prequel to the original Rebel Galaxy (2015). It puts players in the boots of Juno Markev, a former smuggler seeking revenge and redemption in a lawless universe filled with pirates, bounty hunters, and shady characters. With its complex and rich world, engaging storylines, and various gameplay activities, Rebel Galaxy Outlaw provides an engaging experience.

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In Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, players take on various roles, including space combat pilot, trader, and even a jukebox DJ. They navigate different star systems, engaging in intense dogfights, completing missions, and trading goods to earn credits. Moreover, it offers an exciting space adventure filled with thrilling combat, economic opportunities, and a compelling story that will keep players hooked.

Developers: Double Damage Games

Publisher: Double Damage Games

Release Date: August 13, 2019

Check it out on the Nintendo Store.

Star Wars: Squadrons

Star Wars: Squadrons, developed by Motive Studio, is an exhilarating multiplayer space combat game set in the beloved Star Wars universe. It offers both a single-player campaign mode and various multiplayer modes. Players assume the role of iconic starfighters from the Star Wars franchise and engage in intense dogfights across various space battles. The game’s immersive cockpit view, realistic flight mechanics, and also strategic gameplay make for an excellent gaming experience.

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Players can join the ranks of the New Republic or the Galactic Empire as pilots fighting in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor. The game offers a variety of starfighter classes, each with its own unique abilities and customization options.

Preview Product Rating Price
Star Wars: Squadrons (PS4) Star Wars: Squadrons (PS4) No ratings yet $21.71Amazon Prime

Players can team up with friends in cooperative multiplayer modes or face off against each other in competitive multiplayer battles. With its attention to detail, immersive gameplay, and the thrill of participating in epic Star Wars space battles, Star Wars Squadrons is a must-play game.

Developers: Motive Studio

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release Date: October 2, 2020

Stellaris

Stellaris, developed by Paradox Development Studio, is a grand strategy game set in a vast, ever-evolving universe. Players take charge of an interstellar empire and guide its growth, diplomacy, exploration, and conquest across the galaxy.

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Stellaris offers a deep and complex gameplay experience that combines exploration, resource management, diplomacy, and warfare. Moreover, the unique part of Stellaris is its dynamic and procedurally generated galaxy. Each playthrough offers a different set of species, civilizations, and galactic events, ensuring a unique experience with every game. 

Preview Product Rating Price
Stellaris Console Edition - PS4 (Playstation 4) [video game] Stellaris Console Edition - PS4 (Playstation 4) [video game] No ratings yet $21.45

In Stellaris, players begin with a single planet and expand their empires by colonizing new worlds, researching advanced technologies, and interacting with various alien civilizations. The game provides many options for empire customization. Players can shape their society, government, and ethics to suit their playstyle. They can also pursue various victory conditions, such as military conquest, technological superiority, or diplomatic alliances. Overall, it’s a comprehensive experience that’s recommended to every space and gaming enthusiast!

Developers: Paradox Development Studio

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Release Date: May 9, 2016

On a Concluding Note

Space games offer an immersive and thrilling escape into the wonders of the cosmos. From epic battles to exploration and discovery, they captivate players with the vastness and beauty of the universe.

Moreover, these games ignite our curiosity and allow us to experience the excitement of interstellar travel and encounter alien worlds. Whether engaging in intense space combat or managing a galactic empire, space games uniquely blend adventure, strategy, and imagination. They transport us beyond the boundaries of our world, offering endless possibilities and a glimpse into the mysteries of the universe. If all this seems like something you’d be interested in experiencing, check out the games we’ve mentioned here!

Dhruv Parmar
Dhruv Parmar
Dhruv is an enthusiastic content writer and passionate gamer developing content around latest games, tricks, and techniques to rule the gaming world. Other than gaming, he likes to talk about Freelancing, Personal Branding, and LinkedIn Growth.

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