Best space games 2022: Outer Wilds, No Man's Sky, Kerbal Space Program and more

astronaut standing on spaceship with other vessels flying in the sky behind
No Man's Sky a 'galactic sandbox' role-playing game, is one of the top games of 2022. (Image credit: Hello Games)

The Force is strong with the best space games right now, with a range of options available no matter what kind of experience you prefer. From space horror adventures with creepy crawlies, to space exploration that soars across alien planets and galaxies, entries in the best list of gaming are a fun romp through the genre.

The video game industry has been working on bringing in new entries as well as breathing in fresh life to older franchises, either through complete reboots or remasters for new consoles or by offering expansion packs to keep you playing. The list below offers some of the best games we've enjoyed in 2022, regardless of when they were released.

If you’re looking for games tied to the stars which are already available, you might want to check out our list of the best space exploration games or maybe the all-spooky best space horror games list. And if you're excited about the future of space games, then our list of the most exciting upcoming space games will reveal what's in store for you later this year and beyond.

1. Outer Wilds

(Image credit: Annapurna Interactive)
  • Release date: May 28, 2019
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Mobius Digital, Annapurna Interactive

Outer Wilds is open-world gaming at its best, as it creates a non-linear playing experience that allows you to crisscross the solar system. It's a timed adventure, actually, as you're going to find yourself in a 22-minute loop that finishes with the sun dying. Your goal is to explore the planets in front of you in hopes that some alien race has a secret to show you how to stop the sun from its supernova explosion.

Besides the overall arch of the gameplay, which is fun enough on its own, Outer Wilds comes with compelling characters, gorgeous puzzles, and mysterious situations that will require some creativity to solve.

2. Kerbal Space Program

(Image credit: Private Division)
  • Release date: June 24, 2011
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
  • Developer: Squad

Now is the time to sharpen your skills in Kerbal Space Program, because the successor game is coming to all platforms starting next year. This romp through physics encourages players to create a space program and operate it using Kerbals, or little humanoid astronauts. Create vehicles and starships to explore the universe and you'll be well on your way.

The original game is packed with mods and forums to get you going through the learning curve, and Kerbal has a loyal community that includes real-life space engineers and space agencies. This is a real fan favorite among space geeks, so make sure to join the program now.

3. No Man's Sky

(Image credit: Hello Games)
  • Release date: August 8, 2016
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Hello Games

No Man's Sky has come a long way since its difficult 2016 release and has been through a lot of reshaping to make it user-friendly and full of things to do. There's a lot of content to enjoy and every player will find a unique experience within the universe, as everything is automatically generated. Multiplayer options are also available to share the fun with friends or other players.

The universe Hello Games aim to present is supposed to be optimistic, full of opportunity and perhaps, a little bit of danger. You'll never quite know what to expect when landing upon a planet, but that's the fun of it. Give yourself the time to explore and you will greatly enjoy the opportunity.

4. Eve Online

  • Release date: May 6, 2003
  • Platform: PC, mobile
  • Developer: CCP Games

Don't be fooled by the 2003 release date for Eve Online; it's been accruing updates like barnacles in the decades since. The most recent one, released in fall 2022, saw a suite of eight new ships arrive in the already massive universe. New quests and campaigns are also related to these vessels, so take a close look.

Eve Online, like Kerbal and No Man's Sky, does tend to have a steep learning curve. Maker CCP Games have fought against the criticism with a user-friendly beginner's guide, as well as other content to bring in people new to space. For those invested in this universe, they say the time is well worth it.

EVE Online's November 2022 expansion includes a boatload of space vessels. (Image credit: CCP Games)

5. Stellaris

  • Release date: May 9, 2016
  • Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
  • Developer: Paradox Interactive

Stellaris combines exploration with enemy strategy, as you will be moving across a set of planets while trying to keep ahead of others who are looking to stop your empire before it can really get started. Paradox call Stellaris a "sci-fi grand strategy game" and it has been expanding the universe regularly through various packs.

Stellaris Overlord is the latest expansion pack of the set, having come out in May 2022. The game is billed as allowing you to level up your empire with new mechanics to specialize what your vassals do as they serve you. If you prefer megastructures, there are a bunch of new ones there to get where you want to go a little faster.

6. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition

(Image credit: Bioware)
  • Release date: 2021
  • Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
  • Developer: BioWare

The masterful rerendering of Mass Effect brings the compelling space exploration game from 2007 to a fresh generation of consoles. The trilogy allows you, as a space captain, to grow a space crew from recruits to seasoned veterans and your choices will have an influence upon the ending. 

Along the way, you'll meet numerous alien races, explore a bunch of planets, take part in more than a few space battles and probably, find yourself getting very connected with all the NPCs making up your team. This is a classic of space exploration that you will not want to miss.

7. Elite Dangerous

(Image credit: Frontier Developments)
  • Release date: December 16, 2014
  • Platform: PC for the latest updates. Legacy gaming is available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
  • Developer: Frontier Developments

Elite Dangerous is best experienced on PC after the company elected to turn away from consoles to shore up development. But even with that caveat, the massive game is an incredible journey through the universe, with maker Frontier Developments attempting to recreate the Milky Way and its planets at scale and to a high degree of realism.

Joining up with other players, you'll find yourself making some tough choices that will influence how the gameplay goes on. You'll start with a small spaceship and attempt to grow your commercial enterprise through activities like bounties, piracy, mining and even assassination.

8. Star Wars: Squadrons

(Image credit: EA)
  • Release date: October 1, 2020
  • Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
  • Developer: Motive Studio, Electronic Arts

Star Wars Squadrons brings first-person space combat right into a cockpit. Play the light side or the dark side, which will give you a choice of fan favorites like TIE Fighters or X-Wings. It is your destiny.

The game is set in after The Return of the Jedi and the Rebels' victory in the Battle of Endor and has been praised by critics for its multiplayer options and flight mechanics. It's well worth the ride, although parents will want to note the T for teen rating by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) for combat.

9. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy

(Image credit: Square Enix)
  • Release date: October 26, 2021
  • Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Just like in the movies and comic books, you find yourself as Star-Lord in an epic action adventure tale. Assemble your crew, find some pranks to pull on a galactic scale, and that will get you going. But look out, as your actions may actually affect the fate of the universe.

Fans really love the tools you can deploy in this game, like Element Blasters, jet boot-powered dropkicks and tag-team beat downs. These moves will really help you when running across powerful creatures.

10. Alien: Isolation

  • Release date: October 6, 2014
  • Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5
  • Developer: Creative Assembly, Sega

Your job in this space horror game is to help Amanda Ripley (daughter of the famous Ellen from the series) to escape the Sevastopol station. We don't want to reveal too much, except to include a line from the game's synopsis: "Unprepared and underequipped, you will need all your wits and daring to get out alive."

The game is considered one of the top entries of the Alien franchise and if you want to keep exploring, check out some of the expansion packs offered by maker Creative Assembly.


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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace