Star Citizen

There are many space games available on PC, so finding the best ones can be a challenge. We rounded up some of our favorites to get you started.

Space games have been around for decades on PC. The genre is more popular than ever before and with titles like Star Citizen on the horizon, it's easy to get lost among gorgeous nebula, massive planets, and endless space. Not all space games are worth your time, however. This is a list of titles we believe you should have in your collection.

X3: Albion Prelude

X3

This is the godfather of space games. While not perfect, X3 ($19.99) offers incredible value for the money allowing the player to embark on various journeys and create their own story. Be a trader, stock broker, pirate, fleet general, company executive, explorer, miner, and much more. The sheer scale of the game is impressive, but it's showing its age.

Hopefully, X4 will pick up where Egosoft left off with Albion Prelude and take advantage of the latest hardware.

See at GOG

EVE Online

EVE Online

EVE Online is an online space role-playing game (RPG) that has hundreds of thousands of active players, many of whom take EVE gameplay and role-playing extremely seriously. You may have read about massive wars occurring in-game, lasting more than 24 hours and resulting in the scrapping of thousands of ships. But fear not, as it's an expansive universe, allowing players to do essentially whatever they desire. Wish to spend hours mining rock? Go for it.

Everything within the EVE-verse is player-driven, including the economy. Think of it as a space simulator that simulates a living, breathing community of star explorers. Best of all, you can get started for free.

See at Steam

Stellaris

Stellaris

If you wish to take control of an entire species and dominate (or integrate into) a galaxy, you'll want to pick up Stellaris ($39.99). This 4X title by Paradox Interactive is as in-depth as it is gorgeous. There's something about sending hundreds of ships into battle and watching all the lasers, missiles and mass particles fly across the screen. That is, if you're on the winning side.

As well as offering a strategic fix for players, Paradox worked hard implementing dynamic events and more variables to help make each playthrough feel slightly different.

See at GMG

Elite: Dangerous

Elite Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous ($29.99) is impressive in the scale of the Milky Way galaxy Frontier, the developer, managed to accurately reproduce. Much like X3, you're able to take part in trading, be a pirate, take on other players and even particpate in a war. The game is also being continuously updated by the developer, adding in a bunch of features for free, and there's VR support if you own a headset (and powerful enough PC).

While the game itself can prove difficult to get the hang of from the get-go — seriously, who would have thought docking your ship would be such a pain? — Elite is incredibly rewarding once you master the controls and combat system.

See at Steam

Faster Than Light

FTL

Faster Than Light, commonly known as FTL, ($9.99) is a roguelike space adventure game that is terribly hard to master. You're in charge of manning a ship and leading a crew as you flee a rebel fleet through many sectors. Everything is randomized to offer unique playthroughs, and it's of paramount importance that you select upgrades, manage crew, buy weapons, switch load outs, and oversee resources to succeed.

Combat is fast-paced and fluid, as is movement across each sector. Just don't get too comfortable in your well-armed ship as FTL has every desire to pull you off your high horse in a few seconds. And seriously, buy the soundtrack to FTL — it's excellent and worth every penny.

See at GOG

Sins of a Solar Empire

Sins of a Solar Empire

Ironclad Games and Stardock brought PC gamers the excellent Sins of a Solar Empire back in 2012, and today it remains a top pick for anyone seeking a space-based real-time strategy experience. Picking from three races and two factions within (for a total of six) allows you to take on the mantle of responsiblity to start with a single planet and expand your empire. Various victory conditions are available, including diplomatic and warfare.

The multiplayer is also really good, especially when you have a full game of friends in multiple alliances. Let the fierce battles take place. Sins is helped a fair deal by being such a great looking game. It;s well worth picking up. The $51.19 price tag includes various extras and additional content.

See at GOG

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Homeworld Remastered Collection

Developed by Relic Entertainment and published by Sierra Entertainment in September 1999, Homeworld is a stunning space game that captivated the lives of many. Gearbox recently released the Remastered Collection ($34.49), which adds more up-to-date graphics and sound, but retains the magic that made the original so brilliant. But don't get too cozy in Homeworld, as it's a difficult game to progress through and you'll find yourself drawing the short straw more often than not.

As you progress through the single-player campaign, your task is to gather resources and build up a massive fleet, which you keep when moving between levels. If only it were that simple. My only gripe with the Remastered Collection is the lack of Cataclysm, a superb expansion pack that's sorely missed in playthroughs.

See at GOG

Rebel Galaxy

Rebel Galaxy

Rebel Galaxy ($19) is somewhat of a strange entry on our list because while it's an excellent and rather unique experience, it can become a little grind-like and repetitive. Still, it's a fun arcade shooter that requires you to ensure you're rocking the best equpiment your funds can afford.

Think of Rebel Galaxy as a wonderful mashup of Freelancer and Firefly. What makes it feel so unique is instead of relying on front-mounted weaponry, you're engaging with the enemy as if you were an assassin on a pirate ship. Everything is settled once your broadsides take aim and fire.

See at GOG

Notable mentions

  • Freelancer: A gem of a game that offers an immersive galaxy to explore, if you manage to secure a copy.
  • Freespace 2: Just an awesome classic space combat sim.
  • Mass Effect: This is not technically a "space game" in the same sense as other titles in our list, but it is still set in space and a kick-ass trilogy (sorry, Andromeda).
  • Star Citizen: This game isn't complete yet, but it certainly looks promising (if we ever make it to the finish line).
  • Star Wars: TIE Fighter: You're a recruit of the Imperial Navy under the command of Darth Vader. Need we say more?
  • Wing Commander: A truly retro space combat title with a great story and awesome gameplay. (Wing Commander 4 is also brilliant.)

Your favorites

What are the top space titles that keep you returning for more? Sound off in the comments and tell us why we should have included your choice.