A sweeping cosmic ocean filled with emergent possibilities, for the longest time space has been just been the ‘final frontier’, but so too has it long enjoyed being an enticing frontier for the imagination. Given the vast creative opportunities that exist within space, there has been no shortage of video games that have taken us to the stars, allowing us to experience galaxy spanning adventures on our lonesome without another soul involved.
With that in mind, here are the best solo space games you can get on PC right now.
With a design heritage that spans nearly four decades, Elite Dangerous continues the grand work of Elite, the game that started the whole space exploration shtick all the way back in 1984. Set in a far-flung, spacefaring future, Elite Dangerous is an endlessly immersive first-person space effort which thrusts players out into the sprawling cosmos with just a few credits and a basic ship.
Whether you become a trader, an explorer, a cutthroat mercenary or something entirely different, it’s all up to you as you soar across space, land on planets and alter the very course of a sprawling, nearly infinite galaxy as you seek to define your own destiny.
Describing Everspace 2 as a space looter shooter would be a little reductive, not least because it does that and so much more. As a privateer thrust into multi-faction war in the far future, Everspace 2 is all about soaring through the cosmos, taking on missions, upgrading your craft and uncovering new planets and locations in the process.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Everspace 2 is that it’s eminently approachable and doesn’t require players to be massive space buffs or simulation savants to get the most from its engaging cosmic combat scenarios. A much more open-world effort than its more linear predecessor, Everspace 2 is a gorgeously accessible take on space combat that everyone should play. It also doesn’t hurt that Everspace 2 is extremely easy on the eyes to boot.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Bringing together a decorated trio of epic space bound adventures that arguably defined BioWare in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Mass Effect Legendary Edition is the quintessential solo space RPG extravaganza. Encompassing a veritable bounty of space RPG goodness in which furious third-person combat and non-linear narratives coalesce with engaging and beautifully well-written characters, Mass Effect Legendary Edition drags some of the most revered RPGs of the previous decade kicking and screaming into the current era.
Including Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Mass Effect 3 and all of the associated DLC for each title, Mass Effect Legendary Edition also boasts updated visuals across the board too, with 4K textures and support for 120 frames per second (and beyond).
Arguably representing one of the best redemption stories in the entire games industry, it wouldn’t be a lie to say that when No Man’s Sky originally launched back in 2016, it fell someway short of the expectations that had been placed upon it at the time. In the more than seven years that have passed since then however, developer Hello Games has diligently not only patched up and fixed all of the issues that fundamentally affected that game at release, but so too has it also surpassed the original scope for No Man’s Sky.
A massive sandbox space adventure at its core, the seven years of additional (and free) content that has been added to No Man’s Sky since launch has included support for VR, multiplayer functionality, pirates, mechs, extended crafting systems, revamped visuals, reworked space fleets and so much more besides. Generously stuffed with ambition and tantalising player driven exploration, not to mention a talented developer that just doesn’t know when to quit adding worthwhile new content at no extra cost, No Man’s Sky is as essential now as it ever has been.
Out of all the games in this feature, Outer Wilds leverages its cosmic setting in perhaps the most ingenious way. As the latest hire for Outer Wilds Ventures, an emerging interstellar outfit looking to uncover the secrets of a forever changing solar system, you find yourself trapped within a time loop and, as you might expect, you need to find some way to try to break out of it.
With a strong emphasis on exploration, Outer Wilds has you travelling across a hand-crafted solar system that finds itself at odds with time itself as you uncover alien ruins, visit planets just minutes before they are destroyed and discover forgotten settlements that are buried underground in the future. Outer Wilds is also somewhat unique among its peers here in so far as rather than having enemies in the traditional sense that you must destroy, your adversaries here are cataclysmic environment weather and time itself. If you fancy your solo spacing outings doing something completely different from other titles in the genre, Outer Wilds absolutely has you sorted.
Just the very notion of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls developer Bethesda Game Studios translating its sprawling RPG pedigree to a boundlessly creative canvas such as space is an enticing prospect to say the least. Bearing that out, Starfield is a massive, non-linear RPG which combines the same bountiful choice seen in previous Bethesda games with real-time combat and space battles.
Providing a veritable kaleidoscope of creative latitude when it comes to defining your character, Starfield invites you to forge your own path across more than one thousand different planets as you take up for different factions, build your crew, complete missions that span the galaxy all the while trying to solve an ancient mystery that threatens to upend the very nature of existence itself. Put simply, Starfield fulfils that old Star Trek maxim of ‘to seek out new life and new civilizations’ with aplomb and will bring you along for the ride for hundreds of hours.
Directly based on the sci-fi novel of the same name by Polish writer Stanisław Lem, The Invincible is a first-person narrative adventure in which players take up the space boots of Yasna, an extremely smart, and silver-tongued astrobiologist that finds herself on the mysterious planet of Regis III.
What begins as a seemingly tame planetary exploration endeavour soon changes into a harrowing search for Yasna’s missing crew members, as The Invincible draws players into its beautifully crafted alien world, mixing in philosophy, science and emotional character development to create an offering that sets a thoughtful stage for its sophisticated narrative.
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