There’s a huge galaxy to explore in No Man’s Sky, but a week after it was released, lots of players are finding it pretty thin. It turns out that the 18 quintillion planets in No Man’s Sky’s don’t add up to 18 quintillion things to see and do.
However, there are a lot of science fiction games set in space that run the gamut of genres already out there, so you can supplement the exploration in No Man’s Sky with other titles to scratch your various gameplay related itches. Here are eight such games that’ll fill your desires to be a space marine, space cowboy, space explorer, and space trucker.
No Man’s Sky lets you drop onto a variety of planets, where you’ll generally drive around, picking up rocks and other fairly uninteresting objects off the ground. If you want to scour mostly empty planets for fairly boring objects, Mass Effect has you covered. A big chunk of the side mission portion of BioWare’s trilogy opener has players driving the Mako space rover across the surfaces of planets, finding beacons with snippets of story attached —just like in No Man’s Sky. The difference is, once you get bored of finding medals, crashed ships, or weird alien stones in Mass Effect, you can go back to the portion of its galaxy that actually has civilization. And a story.
The core tenets of Elite: Dangerous are very similar to the exploration-heavy gameplay of No Man’s Sky. You can mine objects in space, get into dogfights, game the economy, or become a pirate as you work your way through a universe that features some procedural generation, similar to the near infinite worlds of No Man’s Sky. Elite: Dangerous also has a giant, scale version of a galaxy to explore as an open world with more than 400 billion star systems. It is not quite as big as No Man’s Sky, but this galaxy actually has other players in it.
Out There, released on iOS and Android before making its way to PC, feels like a pared-back version of No Man’s Sky, focusing more on covering vast distances while trying to stay alive. The game has you piloting a ship, seeking out a strange ancient alien forces in a distant system, while managing your air and resources to keep yourself breathing and flying. There are also planets to land on, where players will interact with aliens and slowly earn their language. Out There is definitely a bit thinner overall than No Man’s Sky, given that it’s a mobile title expanded for PCs, but it also focuses harder on the uncomfortable feeling of exploring, following the directions of a benevolent alien, and being driven on a strange cosmic journey.
Related: No Man’s Sky review
Rebel Galaxy, another exploration-heavy indie, is built on “pillars” similar to the ideas fans expected to find in No Man’s Sky, like combat, trade, and exploration. The primary difference between Rebel Galaxy and No Man’s Sky is character. Developer Double Damage described its game as “swash-buckling,” which is way interesting than the stoic tone of most of No Man’s Sky. Playing Rebel Galaxy, you will interact with lots of aliens as you make your way through the void, and they’re much livelier than the office worker aliens you meet in No Man’s Sky.