Heavyshelf Select | Games to Play for Space Exploration

Welcome to the first of hopefully many editions of Heavyshelf Select: a shortlist series of the very best of what video games have to offer; that is, depending on what sort of games you want to play.

For our first article, we chose Space Exploration as the theme to explore.

There are lots of games where space is the setting, but which are the best for those who want to venture into the ‘final frontier’? We don’t all have the ambition to conquer a galactic empire, so we’re not here to argue over what is “the best space game”. We are, however, going to narrow down what we feel are the best games to play for space explorers. Or, to put it more succinctly, games with an emphasis on exploration and discovery in space.

Elite Dangerous | Developed by Frontier

Elite Dangerous is the closest thing we have to a realistic space-flight simulator. What sets it apart from most of the other space games out there is the scale. Elite Dangerous lets you explore, trade, and fight throughout a realistic, 1:1 scale of our Milky Way Galaxy. The point of the game is that, to explore and to continue to explore, you’ll need resources. From time to time you’ll have to fight others for those resources or keep them from taking yours.

As with many flight simulators, you’ll probably want to make sure you have a ¬†joystick to fly, though Elite Dangerous will still play nicely with a controller.

Astroneer | Developed by System Era Softworks

Astroneer is a survival sandbox game set in a small solar system of planets. In Astroneer you have a terrain tool that allows you to mine for resources and alter terrain. Though you don’t have an entire galaxy to explore, you do have vibrant and colorful planets rich with terrain and resources to discover.

At first, you’ll be limited by your need for oxygen and energy. With time and enough exploration, you’ll equip yourself with what you need to venture further. You’ll need materials to build tools, facilities, and other vehicles that can help with exploration. Eventually, you’ll have enough to build a spaceship and set out to explore other planets.

I would highly encourage you to play this game¬†with friends. It’s almost a meditative experience playing the game alone, but with friends, the gameplay will undoubtedly give you unforgettable moments.

No Man’s Sky | Developed by Hello Games

No Man’s Sky is a space exploration and survival game. It’s currently the biggest game ever made, with a whopping 255 galaxies, consisting of 18 quintillion procedurally generated planets to explore. The team at Hello Games has set out with the intent to create THE space game it seems.

No Man’s Sky has the size and expanse you would expect out of a space exploration simulator. It boasts unique planets to explore, each with their own procedurally generated creatures, terrain editing, mining for resources, trading, as well as in-depth base-building, and fleet management. From time to time you’ll come across space pirates, and sentinels that protect the planets natural resources.

This game is overwhelming in scope and hours of potential gameplay. You can spend a week in just one solar system exploring planets, or even more time constructing your own base or managing a freighter. Any day now, Hello Games will release a new patch with even more content to be added. Now is as good a time as any to get into this one.


Let us know your favorite space exploration game and what makes it special in the comments! If you enjoyed this article, you can see our full list of articles here.

Published by

David A. Richards

David founded Heavyshelf as a small hobby way back when, but in 2018 he wanted to really push it forward as a new home for gamers, packed full of news, reviews and a community they can rely on. What you see today is the end result.

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