The best space games on PC

Trying to pick out the best PC space games is a galaxy-sized question. We’re obsessed with the great beyond, so we’ve picked out the best space games on PC to suit all tastes, from simulations to sci-fi fantasy worlds.

Kerbal Space Program

Very few space games bother exploring how you actually get there. Kerbal Space Program has you designing a launcher that won’t disintegrate mid-flight, but watching your test builds go horribly wrong is most of the fun.

Over the years developer Squad has expanded that proposition, so now you can flex your engineering muscles against the task of landing on a planet and driving around its dangerous surface.

Eve Online

Eve Online is the ultimate sci-fi MMO; stories of its galactic battles spread far and wide. Whether you want to play as a miner, trader, hauler, engineer, or soldier, there are virtually no restrictions.

All of this takes a lot of time to get into, but Eve Online is the closest you’ll ever get to taking down a Death Star, unless space travel advances considerably in the next few decades.

Star Conflict

We have Star Wars to thank for the fantasy of dog-fighting in space, but Star Conflict realises that vision with the most flair. Ships are the highlight here, and there are heaps of upgrades and customisation options at your disposal.

Behind all this space warfare there’s a surprisingly detailed metagame, which takes your triumphs in battle and tallies them up to a grand war effort for your chosen faction.

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Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is the pinnacle of BioWare’s sci-fi series and is still one of the best RPGs around. The writing and characters are strong, you’ll face tough decisions, and the combat is solid, too.

You never actually get to pilot your spaceship, but Mass Effect 2 still makes you feel like its captain. Plus, there aren’t too many triple-A games that let you get off with aliens.

Elite Dangerous

Elite Dangerous boasts a lot of roleplaying potential when it comes to etching out an intergalactic living, whether you want to be a space trucker, pirate, trader, or bounty hunter.

Whatever you choose to do, you’ll spend the bulk of your time soaring through the void inside the cosy cockpit of your ship. Just watch out for Thargoids, an alien threat that continues to terrify the Elite community.

No Man’s Sky

It wasn’t much at launch, but developer Hello Games has continued to add and refine this universe-sized space exploration game. No Man’s Sky now lets you build bases, go underwater, and customise freighters - all in multiplayer, too.

The basic premise hasn’t changed much, but No Man’s Sky’s new activities make it feel like a completely different game, or at least the one that fans expected when it launched back in 2016.

FTL: Faster Than Light

Space is really, really mean and wants to kill you. FTL: Faster Than Light is a permadeath ship management game that aims to teach you that lesson, repeatedly.

The sheer number of ways to fail is what will keep you coming back for more and, for the most part, the disasters are learning experiences, arming you with a little more knowledge for subsequent voyages.

Star Trek Online

This Star Trek MMO has had a long journey to secure its place as a worthy addition to the franchise. Expect forays into the unknown, tense strategic battles, alien romance, and no shortage of fan service.

Across the main campaign of Star Trek Online you’re able to develop your crew, take part in missions based on fan-favourite episodes, and basically just geek out over every nook and cranny of Star Trek lore.

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Endless Space 2

4X games aren’t known for their stories, but Endless Space 2 challenges that by fleshing out its myriad alien races with lore for hungry players to feast on. This strategy game is packed with science fiction goodness.

If you want a 4X game where you face off against living crystals, tiny dragons, recycled war machines, and millions of clones of a bloke named Horatio, then there’s no beating Endless Space 2.

Stellaris

Stellaris is not just a 4X game: it’s an empire sim of galactic proportions, not to mention a pretty robust RPG. It’s best enjoyed in multiplayer, where Machiavellian instincts create tense standoffs and intriguing battlegrounds.

With an incredibly powerful species creation tool, you have a vast array of options, and so many variables that there are no certain outcomes. Expect mutant uprisings, robot rebellions, and hyper-intelligent lizard people in your average campaign.