Starfield is the talk of the town right now, but is it the best Space RPG ever? It’s hard to say, but there are games in the genre that do certain things better. Believe it or not, the Space RPG is rare in the gaming industry. They are few and far between, but it’s usually a unique, memorable experience when released. Here are 8 Space RPGs that do some things better than Starfield.
8. Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic
In 2003, a little game nicknamed KOTOR was released from a somewhat innocuous studio called Bioware. Licensed games were a huge risk and often produced terrible results, so seeing a Star Wars game in an action RPG setting was both intriguing and concerning. That concern goes away the second you start this one up. It’s one of the best Sci-fi stories ever told, surpassing even its source material, and provides countless hours of Star Wars action, complete with blasters, lightsabers, force powers, and some fascinating companions and villains along the way.
The gameplay is real-time in the vein of an MMORPG, so while you’ll be auto-attacking, you’ll be manually inputting powers and abilities throughout combat to make it far more than a point-and-click affair. This game constantly gets requests for a remake, and Bioware has taken the bait in that regard. If you can withstand a little bit of old-school jank, you’ll find one of the best RPGs of all time here with an incredible use of different planets and interplanetary exploration.
7. System Shock
Before there was Bioshock, there was System Shock. This harrowing space horror plants you on a spaceship suspiciously void of human life, and it’s up to you to unravel the mystery in this space RPG. It doesn’t have the scale of Starfield but instead focuses heavily on how you build your character and take down the malevolent AI known as SHODAN. With the recent remake, you can play this gem with modern graphics that will terrify and dazzle you.
Enemies come in various horrifying monstrosities that persist throughout levels and even respond to SHODAN’s orders, swarming you at times when you least expect it. It’s a shorter experience, lasting around 12 hours or so. Still, it’s an incredible one that demands your full attention and keeps you invested with creative gameplay concepts, such as navigating cyberspace. It’s laser-focused as an RPG, which is rare, and it executes on all fronts in scaring the hell out of you while constantly giving you reasons to push forward.
6. Rogue Galaxy
Another oldie dying for a remake, Rogue Galaxy was initially supposed to be Sony’s answer to Final Fantasy. That didn’t quite pan out as JRPGs were on the downswing when this was released in 2005, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fantastic game. Rogue Galaxy takes you to various planets on an exciting, old-school feeling romp through space with a colorful cast of characters that rival some of the best in the genre.
Rogue Galaxy gives you a real-time combat system akin to the Tales series that allows you to pause combat to select abilities or items during fights. The story is somewhat typical of the JRPG fair. However, this space RPG has a lot of depth, and despite some cliches here and there, it sticks with you. We follow Jaster, a young farmer who gets swooped up into a battle for the galaxy’s fate, and the ride is memorable. The variety of characters you join up with considerably changes the gameplay and keeps the combat fresh and exciting.
5. Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Star Ocean is one of the only JRPG franchises out there that deals with space consistently, and they have knocked it out of the park for the most part for almost three decades now. The journey of Edge Maverick (real name, not kidding) on his mission to save the galaxy from an overbearing ancient force of doom might seem cookie-cutter on paper. Still, the twists and turns woven into it make it among the best stories the series offers.
The combat is the real selling point, as the multiple playable characters, each with a unique fighting style, lend much variety. This is one of the hardest JRPGs out there, and careful attention to detail is often required to come out victorious, especially with the boss battles. The excellent anime take on the universe is on full display here, and the different planets all have something unique to offer regarding exploration and the side stories that take place within each.
4. Elite Dangerous
RPG is a flimsy term sometimes, and while Elite Dangerous may not seem like one on the surface, no game on this list defines playing a role more than this one. You play as a pilot exploring the vastness of space, and that’s not just wordplay; you explore the entire universe. Unlike Starfield, you have to travel to the planets you want to visit and successfully land there to explore them properly. You do all of this in an MMO space that has you engaging with other players in a variety of ways, and the result is arguably the most immersive space sim ever made.
You will go on missions, choose factions to work for and engage in some of the most challenging and rewarding spaceship mechanics that video games offer. There are micro-transactions, which are unfortunate, but they aren’t required. While initially, you were restricted to exploring on ship only, you can now explore planets in first person. The total package makes for an unforgettable but unforgivingly hardcore RPG experience that will demand unending hours of your time and immerse you in ways that few space RPGs, let alone games in general, are capable of. It’s also entirely in VR, which ups the immersion by an incredible amount and feels like the proper way to experience the game.
3. Eve Online
Eve Online has surpassed gaming in many ways to become a legitimate second-life simulator. The scope of this game is unreal, and it provides such an accurate depiction of space that its players have been hired to help find new actual planets in the real world. The opening hours are a lot to take in, but if you can get past that, you have the godfather of immersive MMO space sims, and it’s still running strong today. Initially released in 2003, Eve Online now looks as good as its peers, with constant upgrades to graphics and quality-of-life systems over the years that barely resemble its original release.
You choose from various races and set out across the galaxy to do as you please. You can take on assassination missions, be a miner, a space trader, a pirate, or a soldier. The options are numerous. Throughout the years, many players have also spent real-world money to create the ships of their dreams, resulting in hard-to-believe scenarios like people losing 300,000 real-world dollars. The commitment you need to put in here is immense, and you’ll need to be persistent to engage with this Eve Online fully. If you do, you will feel what it means to travel the universe as a spacefarer. It is the standard of the genre, and although it has some older qualities, it’s easily one of the best space RPGs ever.
2. No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky had one of the worst releases ever, but it has become gaming’s most remarkable comeback story since then. Playing the game today is an absolute joy, and whether you’re playing in VR or on a flat screen, exploring the universe is unendingly fun in this game. Each planet has a unique species to discover and countless things to explore. The whole game is online, and exploring with a friend is among the most enjoyable experiences. The combat is solid enough on foot, but once you take to the deep reaches of space, the real fun begins.
Ships all perform differently with different handling, weapons, and defensive abilities between them, and the dog fights in space that sometimes stretch to the surfaces of planets are just amazing to see, considering it’s all seamless. There is also a story here, and it’s both thought-provoking and engaging. Adding side stories like expeditions also adds a ton of content to the game. No Man’s Sky is still going strong and receiving consistent updates, so if you want a less hardcore version of Elite Dangerous that’s just as fun, this space RPG game is for you.
1. Mass Effect Legendary Edition
Choosing which Mass Effect to put on this list was like pulling teeth, but luckily, the entire trilogy is available in one game these days. Mass Effect: Legendary Edition gives you three of the best sci-fi games of all time in one highly upscaled package. The story of Commander Sheppard and his companions as they try to stop the existential threat to the galaxy known as the Reapers is one of the best stories gaming has ever crafted. There are over 150 hours of gameplay here. Combat goes down in three flavors of third-person shooter combined with futuristic powers. You can spec Sheppard and their party up any way you see fit, from customizing armor to the types of powers they use and build, which will change how you approach combat.
The Gunplay is top-notch, with tons of different guns with wild effects, and it’s the perfect vehicle to get you through some intense battles. The side quests available are fantastic, making the various planets you visit feel alive, and the backstories and optional missions for all your companions each have a lot to offer. With incredible voice acting, compelling villains, and fascinating storytelling, you’re looking at the complete package here. Every decision you make throughout the games will factor into the final result in some way, and to have a running thread like this is something few games have ever attempted, but Mass Effect nails it. Even with the third game receiving polarizing opinions, the full experience here is easily the best space RPG you can play.