The best space games on PC

Subscribe to PCGamesN on YouTube

What are the best space games on PC? That’s a big, galaxy-size question. Developers have been churning out space adventures since the ‘70s, and with everyone getting excited about Jupiter, and with Kickstarter and crowdfunding allowing studios to strike out alone, we’re currently just a little bit obsessed with what's beyond our little blue and green marble. 

First time here? Be sure to check out our homepage for news, reviews, features, and everything else you need to know about PC games.

Let’s take a look at the best space games on PC that you can play right now, from old classics to new triple-A titles.

EVE Valkyrie

Space games Eve Valkyrie

There are a lot of pretty cockpits in VR, but EVE creators CCP did it best when they hired Mirror’s Edge producer Owen O’Brien to head up their scrappy space dogfighting sim. 

Like the parkour cult classic, Valkyrie is lent unparalleled first-person immersion through a hundred tiny touches in animation, art and sound design - from the way your ship tips forward as it accelerates out of the hangar, through the sight of your arms at the control panel, to the muffled roar of your thrusters.

What Valkyrie captures that other space games don’t is scale - the sense that you’re piloting a rubber duck in a bath owned by EVE giants like the Amarr Titan. It’s impossible not to become acutely aware that you’re only a cracked windscreen away from a cold and unforgiving void, with just your maneuverability saving you from the ferocious and unyielding fire of enemy players.

Want more? Here's our EVE Valkyrie review.

Star Trek Online

Best space games Star Trek Online

In movies and online, Star Trek has come a long way in a comparatively short space of time, though arguably it’s the initially troubled MMO that’s had the longest journey. Ravaged a little upon release for effectively being a bad fit, the game has ended up filling its replica uniform rather well, even if remains non-regulation for the most part.

It’s helpful to think of Star Trek Online not just as a game that manages to capture the spirit of the Roddenberry-enforced universe, with its pioneering forays into the unknown, tactical one-on-one battles and meeting with curious aliens with an abiding love for human history, but as being part of an online fan convention. Players display their affiliations for TOS, TNG or DS9, indulge their series knowledge and take part in various games on the side, namely via structured away team missions and battles in space. Being a game funded by microtransactions, you can also buy loads of tat, but the point is that Star Trek Online is not so much a sim for gamers who like Star Trek, but a hang-out for Star Trek fans who like to game. 

And there's a lot of game to like, from the way in which you develop your character and bridge officers, to playing through regular episode missions. It's akin to riding an open-topped shuttle around every nook of Trek lore and history. Where the game excels, however, is during open team space battles, in which small groups of player ships combine to bring down indomitable NPC vessels. With a need to manage shields and power levels, consider speed and positioning, veteran fans of the Starfleet Command games will find much to engage, especially when part of a well-drilled team of frontline and support vessels tearing up the galaxy.

Want more? Here's our Star Trek Online review.


Star Conflict

Best space games Star Conflict

Star Conflict is a free-to-play, dogfighting MMO-ish affair, where pilots clash amid asteroid belts and above planets in fast-paced scraps. While it's mostly concerned with PvP battles, you can grab a few quests, explore ruins and dabble in a spot of crafting. 

It's the ships that make the game, of course. From nimble fighters to beefy frigates and bulky destroyers, there are a copious amount of vessels to unlock and upgrade, determining your role in whatever conflict you find yourself duking it out in. There's over a hundred ships to choose from, but getting access to them all takes some doing. 

There's a metagame, too, as you fight for your chosen faction, hunting down foes and getting in pitched battles in an effort to spread your group's influence and net yourself some lovely rewards.

Want more? Here's our Star Conflict review.



Best space games Stellaris

Stellaris, Paradox’s 4X grand strategy hybrid, makes space surprising again thanks to event chains that are, at first, evocative of Crusader Kings II, but end up going much further. Expect mutant uprisings, robotic rebellions and the discovery of alien texts that make your citizens question their place in the galaxy. 

It’s not just a 4X game; it’s a galactic roleplaying game and empire sim, bestowing a vast array of options upon players, allowing them to create unique, eccentric space-faring species. You can play as a fundamentalist society built on the backs of slaves, or hyper-intelligent lizards that rely on robots whether they are fighting or farming. The robust species creator and multitude of meaningful decisions mean that you can create almost any aliens that you can imagine. 

And underpinning all of that is the game’s focus on exploration. While most space 4X games stick with one method of interstellar travel, Stellaris gives you three to choose from, each with their own strengths and counters. In one game, the galaxy might be a network of hyperlanes, but in the next, you might find yourself building wormhole stations and blinking across the galaxy. 

Stellaris’ multiplayer isn’t to be overlooked either, transforming decent human beings into Machiavellian alien tyrants at the drop of a hat.

Want more? Here's our Stellaris review.

Elite: Dangerous

best space game Elite: Dangerous

30 years since it first graced the BBC Micro, the Elite series returns in the form of Elite: Dangerous. It’s been around for a while in alpha and beta forms, enough time to be written about thousands of times and played by countless pirates, bounty hunters, traders and explorers. So we already knew it was going to be a bit impressive. 

A whole galaxy, that’s our playground. Not just any galaxy, either. The Milky Way is the setting of Elite: Dangerous, built to terrifying scale. It’s a galaxy populated with black holes, gargantuan suns, space anomalies, and space ships that flit around like tiny specks of dust on an inconceivably big table. It’s still familiar and authentically Elite, but elevated by tech that would have boggled minds in 1984, where 256 planets was massively impressive. How you carve out a life in this galaxy is much the same, though, whether you become a trader, filling your cargo hold with algae and microchips, or a mercenary, fighting in an interstellar war. 

It’s great, and players are already improving it with things like chatting ship AIs that react to voice commands, while Frontier continues to fatten it up with free updates along with the new Elite Dangerous: Horizon expansion. And if you’re lucky enough to have an Oculus Rift, then you’re in for a treat, right up to the point where your ship spins out of control and you dive head first into a sick bag.

Want more? Here's our Elite: Dangerous review.

EVE Online

Best space game EVE Online

EVE has been the preeminent space game for so long that you might be forgiven for thinking it’s the only space game in existence. Unquestionably it’s one of the most interesting, partly down to the fact that its half a million online inhabitants play on the same mega-server rather than having to endure the severed realities offered by its many fantasy contemporaries. 

Players join together to form fleets that number in the thousands and alliances in the tens of thousands, all laying siege to entire regions for months on end, supported by an extensive supply chain of miners, traders, researchers and manufacturers. In terms of scale and substance there really isn’t anything else like it. 

The game is not without its downsides. It has a reputation for being bastard-hard to get into, but after updates to the user interface, graphics and the near-constant streamlining of some of the game’s more obscure systems, the EVE of today is no more difficult to approach than its single-player bosom buddies X and Elite. Much more of a concern for the newcomer is how difficult it can be to succeed, especially if your aim is to carve out a small empire for yourself within a few weeks.

Want more? Here's our EVE Online review.

Kerbal Space Program

Best space game Kerbal Space Program

The first order of doing anything in space is of course to get there. Unfortunately most games in this otherwise splendid list make the rather wild assumption that rocket science isn’t all that important and skip to the business of spreading violence, free market capitalism and all manner of other human diseases to all corners of various galaxies. Thankfully the space program to which the Kerbals fatefully apply is rather more grounded in reality, in the sense that the aim of the game is to avoid crashing into the stuff.

Kerbal Space Program is ostensibly about trial and error, first in building a vessel capable of getting its payload off the ground, which is relatively easy, second by actually getting the damn thing launched and steered into some kind of orbit. You soon realise that getting past the Karman Line is one thing, while delivering your payload safely to its destination another entirely. Thankfully, because your gurning passengers seem quite happy to be sacrificed for the greater good of the basic understanding of astrophysics, the trial and error is every bit as involved and entertaining as any fleeting success.    

And there’s plenty of successes to aim for: reaching the Mun (nee Moon), deploying a modular space station, and mining on distant planets are all attainable, albeit after a great deal of crushing but entertaining failure, made bearable thanks to a combination of hard science unpinning a soft and cute interior. As well as being a bloody good space game, KSP may well be the most entertaining community-enriched sandbox since Minecraft - massively helped along by Kerbal Space Program mods.

Want more? Here's our Kerbal Space Program review.

The Ur-Quan Masters

Best space game Ur-Quan Masters

Here a quick sell for The Ur-Quan Masters: it's not only free, it's also one of the greatest free games you’ll ever find. 

Played from a top-down perspective, UQM is a hitchhiker's’ fight for the galaxy in a game of exploration, diplomacy, role-playing and combat. You play the commander of a lost research mission sent to re-establish contact with Earth. However, upon reaching the Sol system you soon discover the third planet has been conquered by the unpleasant Ur-Quan. Without the means to free the planet’s inhabitants or oppose its oppressors, your quest is then to head out to distant worlds and find the resources, allies and clues to help overcome the three-eyed tentacle-beasts that hold humanity in bondage.

While UQM’s flight model isn’t much more evolved than a game of Asteroids, the extensive galaxy, populated by hundreds of planets, stars and moons – all of which can be scanned, visited and plundered – making for a deeply involving game. Constantly having to land on planets and collect materials to trade can get a little tedious, but discovering ancient secrets and conversing with the game’s 18 unique and often hilarious races (20 if you separate the Zoq from the Fot and Pik) more than makes up for having to constantly take in so many identikit planets. If meeting the cowardly Captain Fwiffo doesn’t make you immediately fall in love with the game then you’re probably dead inside.

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Best space game Homeworld Remastered Collection

Homeworld’s the sort of game that gets inside your head and just stays there. It came out 15 years ago, eventually spawning an expansion, an excellent sequel, and most recently the Remastered Edition, and it’s a series that remains unsurpassed. It’s one of those rare strategy games that has a great story, both tragic and hopeful, filled to the brim with tension. It’s a voyage of discovery, of learning about the past and desperately struggling to create a future. It’s beautiful and a bit sad.

It’s more beautiful thanks to Gearbox’s Homeworld remastering efforts, too. Now the game looks like it does in our memories, even those clouded by nostalgia, with its beautifully detailed ships and its gargantuan space backdrops. And thanks to its minimalist UI, none of that beauty is obscured. 

Watching the game in action is like viewing an epic ballet. Tiny ships fly in formation in all directions; massive, heavily armed capital ships float around the vast mother ship; diligent resource gatherers work away to fuel a massive undertaking. Even the biggest vessels are dwarfed by the size of the 3D maps, and when the camera is zoomed out, they look alone and vulnerable. Which is exactly what they are.

Want more? Here's our Homeworld review.

Master of Orion 1 + 2

Best space game Master of Orion

Fans have been arguing since last century over which of the Master of Orion games is the better of the series and they only seem to agree that the third most definitely isn’t it, which makes the widely-available double pack featuring the first two MOOs something of an essential and stress-free purchase – at least until Wargaming finish their MOO reboot with the help of some "key members" of the original team.

Released in 1993, Master of Orion took the concepts of Sid Meier’s classic turn-based Civilization and applied it across a galaxy of planets rather than one, so that instead of various flavours of human settlers and terrestrial biomes, players were given a wide range of planet types and races to control and conquer, such as the Silicoids; able to thrive in the most hostile of environments, albeit at a glacial reproductive rate. 

While the driving force behind Master of Orion and every 4X game since has been technological advancement and colonialism, Master of Orion was the first game of it’s type to really nail diplomacy and offer a route to victory in which some measure of galactic peace could be achieved. The sequel went even further, with customisable races and a political victory that required you to be elected as the Supreme Leader of the galaxy. 

What is undeniable is that MOO I and II are important historical references, as seminal an influence on turn-based space conquest as the first two Doom games were establishing and defining the FPS. Unlike Doom however, MOO has cast such a long monolith-shaped shadow over the entire space game genre that many would argue that the Orion games have yet to be eclipsed.

Want more? Here's our Master of Orion review.

Mass Effect 2

Best space game Mass Effect 2

Admittedly there’s not much fizzing and fwooshing of spaceships to be enjoyed in Mass Effect, but it's still a planet-hopping, alien-seducing space adventure, and one of the best sci-fi RPGs you're likely to play.

Mass Effect 2 merits inclusion here for two reasons: one is the obvious strength of the story and the characters, a story that sprouted strong in the first game and blossomed throughout its middle act to such a degree that the conclusion was always going to wilt a little bit. Secondly, in spite of a complete lack of direct spaceship control, you felt not just part of a crew, but in command of a functioning ship with an ability to explore the galaxy.

Parallels have been drawn – not least by Bioware themselves – between the Mass Effect trilogy and the classic exploration series Starflight, which was notable in the late 1980s for being one of the very first space exploration games and is notable today for not having been bettered in that regard since. In terms of storyline, with all that ancient technology end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it gubbins, Mass Effect’s storyline is remarkably close to Starflight’s. Indeed Starflight could almost be seen as the 70s original to Mass Effect’s BSG-style gritty reimagining, only without the risible Galactica 80 spin-off series to besmirch its reputation.

While the Mass Effect trilogy has ended, there's a new game on the way. Here's everything we know about Mass Effect: Andromeda

Want more? Here's our Mass Effect 2 review.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Best space game FTL

Space is awful and will probably kill you: that's the lesson that FTL attempts to impart on brave spacefarers. The permadeath ship management game is, on the surface, a simple race to deliver information to the hands of your allies, but you’re being chased. With ever diversion explored, the enemy fleet gets closer and closer, and even if you do stay ahead of them, random death lurks around every corner. 

Random violent encounters, shopping sprees, new worlds and races, unlockable ships and configurations, loads and loads of weird and wonderful weapons and tools -- there’s so much in FTL that every game has the potential to be dramatically different. One could see you managing a tough vessel that employs ion cannons to disable enemy systems and drones to pepper them with lasers. Another might inspire you to use mind control to defeat your enemies, or teleporters to fill their ships with your own crew. 

So much can go wrong. Sometimes it’s your fault, like when you mess up a fight and end up rapidly attempting to patch up hull breaches and put out fires. But sometimes luck just isn’t on your side, like when you agree to help a space station deal with a plague and one of your crew gets sick. But every failed attempt is a complete story full of adventures and misadventures, and a great excuse to make another valiant attempt.

Want more? Here's our FTL: Faster Than Light review.

Distant Worlds: Universe

Best space game Distant Worlds: Universe

Another 4X game to add to the list, but really, Distant Worlds is whatever you want it to be, and we were rather taken with it our Distant Worlds: Universe review. It's an exploration game where you have one vessel that's part of a massive empire, and you spend the whole time just flitting around the galaxy. A trade game, where one eye is always on your bank account, while the other is hungrily looking at aliens, searching for good deals and diplomatic opportunities. A game where you are the master of everything, sticking your finger in every conceivable pie, from military matters to colonisation. 

It's huge; mind-bogglingly, overwhelmingly massive. An entire galaxy is simulated from private traders going about their business, to pirates getting up to no good. It’s the most ambitious 4X space game that you’re ever likely to find.

At its core, it’s a tool for creating your own galaxies to play in. Players can curate the game to such a degree that one game could bear no resemblance to the next. Everything from the age of the galaxy to the aggression of pirates can be dictated before a game even begins.

Want more? Here's our Distant Worlds: Universe review.

Star Wars: TIE Fighter Special Edition

Best space game Star Wars: TIE Fighter Special Edition

LucasArts might be gone, and one could argue that it died long before it officially shut down, but we’ll always have reminders of what once was, with brilliant games like Totally Studio’s phenomenal Star Wars: TIE Fighter, the villainous sequel to X-Wing.

Its predecessor was great, there’s no doubt about it, but TIE Fighter let you play as an Imperial, and the Devil is always more fun. It was also, across the board, an improvement over X-Wing, from its graphics – now very dated, admittedly – to a targeting upgrade that allowed pilots to focus on specific parts of an enemy capital ship or station. 

This isn’t some arcade space shooter like its not-quite-successor, the Rogue Squadron series. This is a space sim first, which comes with greater complexity but also greater control. For instance, if you’re being battered laser fire from a pesky X-Wing and your ship’s been damaged, then you assign the order in which systems are repaired, allowing you to prioritise so you can survive for a few more seconds. Just enough to win the fight. 

Being an oldie, expect a wee bit of fiddling to get the best experience. Thankfully, we've got a beginner’s guide to X-Wing and TIE Fighter, which should save you from some potential problems.

Want more? Here's our Star Wars: TIE Fighter review.

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

Best space game Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion is a game that successfully manages to combine the very best of 3D real-time strategy – albeit without a proper single-player campaign – with the kind of empire building offered only by the very finest 4X titles. 

Played across a user-defined network of stars, players begin forging an empire around the gravity wells of planets with shipyards, research outposts, extractors and defence systems, then assembling fleets combining frigates, corvettes, cruisers and capital ships to map and eventually conquer neighboring systems. 

In earlier versions of Sins of a Solar Empire, conquest was largely achieved in the time-honoured RTS fashion of dragging a huge box around every single damn ship you owned and directing them towards the enemy systems so as to allow sheer force of numbers to win the day. However, with the introduction of diplomatic victories in a previous expansion and research and occupation victories as part of 2012’s Rebellion standalone – not to mention new Death Star-like titan ships as a much-needed counter to the ultra-defensive starbases structures – the stalemates that would often cause games to peter out can be pursued as potentially winning strategies.

And let's not forget about the mods that let you play out your Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica fantasies.

Want more? Here's our Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion review.

That's it from us, but we'd love to know your thoughts. Remember: in the comments, everyone can hear you scream.

Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
Laccnow avatarZptr avatarFattox avatarSaL avatarthe colonel avatarRhysus avatar+22
Rhysus Avatar
2 Years ago

What ever happened to Battlezone?

NLS Avatar
2 Years ago

X:Rebirth? Hahahaha....

I imagine, "Note to self: Do not put something in a 'best of' category, before actually seeing it".

Homeworld indeed should be there.

Independence War 2, should be there.

ELITE (as series and genre patriarch) itself should be there (you never know where E:D will end up - seeing where X:R ended up - in the bin).

Same reasoning exactly, Wing Commander instead of non-existent Star Citizen.

Good that you put Mass Effect series (for the atmosphere and its universe).

SOASE should be in every list - and is.

Agree with Freespace 2 of course (and Open Source follow up).

Freelancer was pretty good too. The first that did the space thing right with a mouse!

Midarc Avatar
2 Years ago

Independence war 2...

that game was something special.

The Atreides Raccoon Avatar
2 Years ago

Now, only one question remains: WHERE'S FREELANCER!?

MrJinxed Avatar
1 Year ago

Where's freelancer?

Remove ME2 and put that in. You know ME2 doesn't belong on this list. Not because it's a bad game (because.. it's not), but it's not the right genre.

Fraser Brown Avatar
1 Year ago

It's not a list of a single genre. There are space sims, an MMO, 4X games, RTS games, even a management roguelike. Why not an RPG? We've expanded most our lists to 20, though, so I might do the same with this one, and I'd probably add Freelancer.

MrJinxed Avatar
1 Year ago

While being a a solid game, the focus isn't about "space".

If you open up the door to such games that takes place anywhere but earth, then where are games like for example Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. That's a fantastic game off the top of my head which takes place on several planets where you travel between them. Or for example Martian Dreams (Ultima series). That game takes place on Mars, but again, it's not something I'd consider belonging in this category.

I'm sure there are a lot of examples of RPGs, Adventure games, and even first person shooters which take place in "space" that could/should belong on this list far ahead of some games listed here if you opened the flood gates. However, the focus on those games aren't so much "space".

But then, maybe I'm just wrong. That's certainly a possibility.

Tovias Avatar
1 Year ago

Sins of the Solar Empire is great, I just wish I was good at RTS.

Freespace 2 is godly.

Keyboard Cat Avatar
11 Months ago

You have a game about space travel and didn't include Starflight! SMH! This game is in dire need of a modern revamp.

JFTravis Avatar
10 Months ago

Loved Starflight. Rebel Galaxy looks to have a very similar vibe.

TE5LA Avatar
4 Months ago

Pretty sad when these are the "best" space games. It's even harder trying to find good MMO ones. Right now, Star Trek is about the only one that is a full MMO.

Burstup Avatar
4 Months ago

This is a very cool list, but I miss the "X" series. X2 and X3 were some of the best space sims ever made. They should be included here.

Ishtenos Avatar
2 Months ago

Checked this article to confirm that it has Star Control 2 aka The Ur-Quan Masters. Not disappointed! One game that would be nice to see on this list as well is Oolite, basically the modifiable successor to the original Elite.

Laccnow Avatar
3 Years ago

If something, then Imperium Galactica I or II REALLY deserves to be mentioned along with the best space games, I'm sad it's not listed here.

Richie Shoemaker Avatar
3 Years ago

But the IG games aren't available, at least not on PC. Had it been it might have made the list, alongside Homeworld, TIE Fighter, etc.

Fattox Avatar
3 Years ago

If you guys want to try something different than the usual ''blow spaceships up with lasers" you could also try SpaceStation 13. It's 10 years old but i only discovered it this week. It reminds me of some kind of weird mix of Project Zomboid, Dwarf Fortress/Gnomoria and... i don't know what else.


You should check it out though, it's one of those strange sandbox experiences that relies on other people to make the experience. But some really weird stuff can go down, so fun!

SaL Avatar
3 Years ago

You forgot Homeworld!!!!! Aaargh!!!!!

Laccnow Avatar
3 Years ago

As far as I knew, the IG games were mainly released on PC. I got the first one with a PC magazine back in '99 and IG II was the first game I actually bought.. Give them a try :)

the colonel Avatar
2 Years ago

BDcraft is cool

Fenix Down Avatar
1 Year ago

x:abortion and no homeworld?

your list is invalid/

Hal 9000 Avatar
1 Year ago

A lot of good games on this list, but my personal all-time favorite has got to be Escape Velocity: Nova. Such a great game. Way ahead of its time IMO.

jski Avatar
10 Months ago

Hey man, I don't know if you are the same guy that posts on PcGamer as Hal 9000, but if you are, I'm the guy that argued with you that D&D Sword Coast Legends was gonna be shit and you defended it. I could not find your profile there so this is all I got. I told you that if the game released and was good I would be man enough to apologize. It is apparently awesome and the spiritual successor to NWN. As a man of my word, I apologize. You were right and I was wrong and I'm glad because there is a good D&D rpg out now. I bow to your optimism. Take care. my e-mail is [email protected] if you want to gloat :)

DaFlea Avatar
5 Months ago

Nice gesture. But your initial assessment was correct. Sword Coast Legends is absolute garbage.

nevod Avatar
1 Year ago

this list is a shit. where is the Privateer? Where are the Wing Commander series?

Cloaked Gem Avatar
1 Year ago

Add Space Engineers somewhere.

Silentius Avatar
10 Months ago

In the immortal words of William Wallace: Freeeelancer!!!!!

No, but seriously, Freelancer was a classic! Rather than simulate the labyrinthine intricacies of Galactic trade and politics (like EVE), or a vast, complicated, open-ended universe ( as in the X series), Freelancer created a fun and accessible, sandbox-lite experience. IMO it should make any 'top space games' list.

Aside from that I have no problem with any of the other entries on the list. It's refreshing to see a broad interpretation of the title 'Space Game'.

MeatBucket Avatar
10 Months ago

Spaceforce Rogue Universe should have been on this list :-/

Billy1234 Avatar
7 Months ago

There is also Starsector, It's Mount&Blade in space.

Lolssi Avatar
7 Months ago

I'm trying to find game that would have as epic story as Babylon 5 but seems that is hopeless. Kotors worked and Mass Effects to a degree but I'd like bit more space fighting. 4X usually don't have story to speak of other space games have usually turned grindy rinse and repeat games.

Well at least Syfy's Expanse seems to be delivering so far.

Soupseed Avatar
7 Months ago

Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is by far one of the best RTS games, never mind being the best space RTS game.