Best Space Exploration Games Starfield Mass Effect No Man's Sky

Best Space Exploration Games to Play Before Starfield

Space, the final frontier. Since humanity reached for the stars, we’ve always dreamed about exploring uncharted worlds in the vast reaches of unknown space. To fill in the blanks of our imaginations, several movies, TV shows and video games have delivered some artistic interpretations of space travel and digging through new worlds. Ahead of the launch of Bethesda’s sci-fi RPG Starfield, we’re taking a look at the best space exploration games that you can play right now, from Mass Effect to No Man’s Sky.

For this list, we’re mainly looking at games that allow players to freely explore space and perhaps some planets along the way. Bethesda’s Starfield boasts that it will have several hundreds of planets to visit and explore, though these seven choices more or less offer a similar sci-fi adventure. The list also isn’t in any particular order, just mentions of space-faring games that we think deserve your attention.

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Best Space Exploration Games to Play Before Starfield


A 4X grand strategy game doesn’t sound like it offers the most interesting options for space exploration but with Paradox Interactive’s Stellaris, sci-fi adventure comes in massive doses of content. At its core, Stellaris is a real-time strategy game all about managing resources and engaging in combat both in space and on the ground of several alien planets. Players can also design their own ships in great detail and order around fleets that govern a solar system, setting up defensive and offensive armadas on the borders of the galaxy. It’s remarkably in-depth and rewarding once it sinks its claws into you.

Stellaris is now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Elite Dangerous

It sounds daunting to successfully replicate the staggering scale of actual space but Elite Dangerous does this effortlessly. Set in a realistic, 1:1 scale open-universe of the Milky Way, Elite Dangeous drops players in the thick of galactic politics where choices matter and your actions pave the way for your very own unique space adventure. It’s not quite Mass Effect but it easily offers a lot more options for customisation and incredible freeform gameplay that lets you decide which direction to wander in. It requires a bit of patience to get to the good stuff, though.

Elite Dangerous is now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Kerbal Space Program

There aren’t many games quite like Kerbal Space Program, both in its aesthetic and gameplay. Assuming the role of a space administrator, players must manage lovable green aliens called Kerbals to construct and operate a variety of tech, equipment and structures while exploring space and its unknown territories. Surprisingly charming and addictive, Kerbal Space Program should win you over if you’re looking for less realistic visuals and a more “inspired” presentation.

Kerbal Space Program is now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC.

Outer Wilds

Merging space exploration with time travel shenanigans, Outer Wilds became a massive hit in 2019 and it’s easy to see why. Players control an unnamed character in a solar system caught in a time loop. Before the system’s star goes supernova, players have only 22 minutes to gather intel, explore and learn all they can about this mysterious pocket of space. Thus, the time loop repeats itself and you’re back at square one. Don’t let the game’s weird structure fool you, though. It’s imaginative, wondrous and surprisingly moving where it counts.

Outer Wilds is now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Nintendo Switch.

The Outer Worlds

Not to be confused with Outer Wilds, Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds is more than just Fallout in space. Sure, it may play out like one with branching dialogue, similar combat and janky facial animations but this game has a trump card: outstanding writing. Obsidian’s talent as writers shines here with each character, location and story beat packing more personality than most AAA games. If you’re in the market for a game that engages you with words as much as draws you in with its vibrant space exploration, look no further.

The Outer Worlds is now available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Mass Effect

The Mass Effect trilogy, particularly the first game, gave players a galaxy to explore as Commander Shepard and his ragtag crew rush to stop an impending apocalyptic invasion. While the sequels just let you scan planets for resources, the first Mass Effect actually let players drop onto remote planets and explore sizeable chunks of the landscape for secrets, anomalies and side missions. Most planets are pretty empty but the incredible world designs, characters and gripping stories keeps you planet-hopping from one cluster to the next.

Mass Effect Legendary Edition is now available for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

No Man’s Sky

The undisputed king of space exploration games, No Man’s Sky didn’t exactly start out as one. Despite an infamous launch, developer Hello Games poured its heart and soul into transforming the game into something extraordinary today through numerous free updates and overhauls. As it stands, No Man’s Sky features thousands of fully explorable planets on an unimaginable universal scale. An entire article could be dedicated just to explain what you can do in the game, from customising your character and ship, meeting aliens, building a base, scouting for resources, commanding a fleet, engaging in space combat, unearthing ancient technology – it’s all there and much more.

No Man’s Sky is now available for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC and Nintendo Switch.

Editor-in-Chief of Nexus Hub, writer at GLITCHED. Former writer at The Gaming Report and All Otaku Online. RPG addict that has wonderful nightmares of Bloodborne 2.

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