There are a ton of great space games out there. We even have a list of the best new space video games coming out or have recently released this year. However, if you’re strictly after some fun space simulation games to play today then we also have you covered. In this list, we’re highlighting ten great games that we think you should keep on your radar or at least try out sometime this year. Meanwhile, there’s a slew of great games coming out next year as well so you’ll want to be on the lookout for our list of great space simulation games to play.
#12 Nebulous: Fleet Command
Platform : PC
Release Date : February 11, 2022
Genre : Simulation
Nebulous: Fleet Command is one of the most realistic space sims out there. As the name suggests, players take control of a fleet of warships as they battle it out in different types of missions. Tactical combat is based on the realistic physics of space battles. Think The Expanse if it were a game. The game is currently in early access on Steam so expect plenty of updates before the full release.
#11 Heavenly Bodies
Platform : PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC
Release Date : December 7, 2021
Genre : Simulation
Heavenly Bodies is a game heavily based around the realistic function of operating in zero gravity. Players control a 1970s era cosmonaut as they try to navigate the missions ahead of them. Players will need to master zero-g maneuvrability if they want to assemble space telescopes, maintain solar arrays, and research space botany. This difficult game is incredible rewarding once players get the hang of the challenging conditions of space.
#10 Everspace 2
Platform : PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
Release Date : TBA 2021
Genre : Action, Shooter, Flight
Everspace 2 is a highly anticipated game and the reason we have it on our list first is that this game is not fully out. Right now, it’s an early access title so like the next two video games on our list we have to wait and see how they shape up over time. As a result, you’re going to see this game get tweaked a bit with new features or updates to further improve the gameplay experience before it’s readily available for players to pick up as a complete title. With that said, Everspace was a big hit and already fans have been praising the sequel.
Here you’re once again thrown into the cockpit of a spacecraft as you go through various missions. It’s a ton of exploration, firefight in space, gathering loot, exploring tight corridor areas, and racing around. You’ll get to tweak your equipment and of course, sell your cargo from your various battles and prized loot from winning said battles but as it stands right now, this game is not quite done yet. We’re eager to see just how this game handles when everything is complete and out of a work in progress state but that doesn’t mean pass this game up. As mentioned already, there are plenty of fans out there who have praised this game so far.
#9 Dyson Sphere Program
Platform : PC
Release Date : January 21, 2021 (early access)
Genre : Factory simulation
If you’re after a strategy simulation game then there’s always the Dyson Sphere Program. This is another early access game out there right now which has gained a strong following from fans so far. It’s a title that’s set in space and has one goal in mind, obtaining energy to sustain life on Earth. Within the game world, players will find that Earth has drastically run down their supply of resources and need energy. This is where you step in leading the Dyson Sphere project. The thought process here is that mankind could build up a factory that will run around a star from which you’ll obtain its energy.
That stored energy is then transported to Earth. However, it’s not all easy as you’ll need to power your factory itself so it’s a bit of a strategic management game as you keep the factories running while also getting enough energy to send back to Earth. With that said, the game is procedurally generated so there will be different stars and obstacles players will likely have to deal with as they progress through the game. With that said, we’re still waiting for the full game to launch as it’s currently slated to stay in early access throughout 2021.
#8 Hardspace: Shipbreaker
Platform : PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release Date : June 16, 2020 (early access)
Genre : Simulation
Lastly, when it comes to early access titles we have Hardspace: Shipbreaker. This is a physics simulation game set in space. Players in this game are tossed into the distant future where cargo ships traverse space regularly to deliver various goods. You’re taking the role of an ordinary blue-collar worker. After packing on some serious debt, the protagonist is forced into working as a member of LYNX tech. Here you’re a salvager where you’ll take on different contracts from ships that are considered wrecked in space. Without the ability to safely return to orbit, a salvager is sent out to the wreck where they’ll recover all the valuables from that ship. It’s very much based on physics and strategy.
These ships are all dangerous for one reason or another. You’ll need to use your tool to make necessary cuts and even avoid potentially cutting through an area that may result in a massive blow out of cargo into the open or even result in explosions that would not only destroy that precious cargo to pay off your debt but also cost the protagonist their life in the process. Think out where you plan to make the cuts, carefully maneuver fragile cargo and make the necessary upgrades to allow bigger contracts to land your way. Similar to the previous points on our list, Hardspace: Shipbreaker is also quite a popular game with fans but we’re not entirely sure just how much longer we’ll see this title get stuck within early access.
#7 X4 Foundations
Platform : PC, Linux
Release Date : 30 November 2018
Genre : Space trading and combat simulator
Now starting with a game that’s currently complete and not in early access we have X4: Foundations. This is a game that’s attached to an established series known as just X, such as X: Beyond The Frontier, X-Tension, X2: The Threat, the list goes on and on. X4: Foundations just happens to be one of the latest installments available. This is a space simulation game that’s based around a sandbox kind of universe. Here you’re starting with a character that has some of their specific attributes, however, after that initial start, it’s up to the player on how they’d like to progress. It’s a living universe with NPCs with an economy that’s constantly shifting around from supply and demand needs.
Where you fit in with this universe is generally up to you. Become an honest working explorer and mine for goods, build up an empire, or just stick to illegal trades and thievery, whatever you’d like to do with your protagonist is up to you. A good portion of this game is also based around ships whether it’s making upgrades, building up space stations, or just flying around in your favorite cruiser. It’s not a game for everyone, but if you never played an X series game then this might be a solid start to try it out.
#6 Surviving Mars
Platform : Xbox One, PC, Macintosh, PlayStation 4
Release Date : March 15, 2018
Genre : Simulation
I’m sure you can guess what this game is all about from the title alone, in Surviving Mars, you’re trying to survive on Mars. There’s always a big amusement about the great big red planet in space and over the past several years we’ve not only seen clearer images of the planet but even landed a rover on the planet surface to explore. While the big talk around right now is sending man to Mars, this game will give you the chance to get a head start on the fun.
Surviving Mars has players taking the role of the first human colony on the planet where you’ll need to manage your citizens and build up the colony in all kinds of different ways. You’ll mine for resources, produce water, cultivate your food, and most importantly ensure that the colony is completely safe from any terrible mishaps that might pop up. There are plenty of secrets to unfold, research for breakthroughs, domes to construct, and of course a colony to keep powered. This game might have come out back in 2018 but it’s still relatively new to keep players entertained in 2021 if you haven’t already given Surviving Mars an honest try.
#5 Elite Dangerous
Platform : PC, Macintosh, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date : December 16, 2014
Genre : Action
An even older title than Surviving Mars which is still finding just as many players jumping on regularly is Elite Dangerous. Releasing in 2015, this is a game that’s a bit like X4: Foundations as it’s an ongoing game with no direction on what to do exactly. It’s a game where you can mine and work with players in the trade, survive the grueling depths of space, or decide to take on easy targets through a fight. It’s a living game with players connecting online to play and being a technical title as well, you’ll likely need to spend some time going through guides and tips for what to do or how best to complete your desired objective. Speaking of a technical game, this title does rely on players watching their fuel much like any real-life vehicle.
If you’re out of gas and nearby anything you might be a bit out of luck. This brings me to one of the more popular aspects of this game and it’s the Fuel Rats. There’s an actual group of players that joined together to create what they call the Fuel Rats where their entire goal is to reach stranded players in need of fuel. Players can fly too far away from days on end that they’ll become stuck after miscalculating their fuel reserves. That’s where calling upon the help of Fuel Rats comes into play where they’ll actively plot out a rescue to bring fuel to your ship so that you’ll have enough to reach an area where you can fuel up.
Platform : Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems, Classic Mac OS
Release Date : 23 January 2017
Genre : Sandbox, Simulation Video Game, Indie game, Shooter Video Game
We have a bit of a pattern here right now as Avorion is another game that’s quite a bit like the others mentioned already. It’s a living galaxy where you’re building up space stations and empires. That’s a big portion of this game with the building based around block-type parts. You’re always centered around a ship while you explore, mine, gather up resources, and attempt to reach the center of the galaxy.
Developers have been bringing more updates to this game to help keep it going with new improvements. In fact, at the time of writing this description of the game, developers recently put out a big 2.0 update which has brought plenty of improvements all while adding on to the content they are looking to bring out in the future. Again, like other games on this list, it might not be for everyone, but it’s a title worth at the very least checking out for yourself.
#3 No Man’s Sky
Platform : PS4, PC, Xbox One, PS5, XSX/S
Release Date : 9 August 2016
Genre : Action-adventure, survival
No Man’s Sky didn’t have the greatest launch. It’s a title that we’re all familiar with at this point especially with the game having such a poorly received launch after having such massive anticipation building the title up before its release. Of course, since the original launch, the developers have managed to come out and deliver several updates that greatly turned things around. This is a massive title where worlds are procedurally generated as players take the role of an explorer. You’ll venture out and help build up the atlus by discovering new planets, fauna, and even alien breeds.
Each time you reach a planet you’re greeted with a series of factoids about what to expect in terms of toxicity and temperature. From there, you can hop out and mine for resources, build up bases and scavenge the planet for anything of use before you take off. Meanwhile, in space, you can reach stations to sell cargo or partake in battles where the winner will claim the cargo and useful gear from the wreckage. With that said, there is still plenty of support going to this game with more updates likely to come out through this year.
#2 Kerbal Space Program
Platform : PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date : June 30, 2011
Genre : Simulation
A game we can still recommend checking out for a fun little space flight simulation title is Kerbal Space Program. We know that a sequel is in the works where the game was originally slated to launch in 2021 but has since been delayed to 2022. Within the game, players are controlling a team of Kerbals which are small little critters that are working towards interstellar travel. A lot of this game is based around physics and knowing how to properly build up a ship that can not only successfully take off into space but also land safely. As a result, there are plenty of trial and error creations as you build up rockets, rovers, and ships.
Although, since this game has come out we’ve seen quite a few incredible creations from players. From there you’re managing your crew as you continue to develop new technologies and gather useful resources. This might be the last big year for this game with a large active community of players before the sequel comes out next year, 2022.
#1 Eve Online
Platform : PC, macOS
Release Date : May 6, 2003
Genre : Space simulation, massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Lastly, we have Eve Online, a game that players just can’t kick even years after its release. The game is another MMO title where players are building up a community economy with a game world constantly expanding. This is a single sandbox universe where you’ll join into the mix of thousands of other players all building the game up. Whether you’re after intense PvP, work your way up by trading in the economy, or focus around your ship and equipment, it’s all here.
Since this game was released in 2003, there have been countless updates with expansions to further give more activities and gameplay for veteran fans along with newcomers alike. It’s free to play the game as well, but there are also premium tiers where you can pay a monthly fee for a bit of buff. It’s surprising to see some of these classic MMO titles still be just as actively enjoyed years down the line and if you never played this game before being a free-to-play title won’t cost you anything to try it out.