Best Open-World Games Where You Explore Multiple Planets


  • Science fiction and space games offer immersive open-world experiences that allow players to explore and discover planets.
  • Games like Starbound and Space Engineers provide highly detailed and immersive planet exploration experiences, with rich resources, atmospheric conditions, and player agency.
  • No Man’s Sky and Outer Wilds have transformed over time to offer more immersive and longer-lasting experiences, with procedurally generated universes and meticulously detailed planets to explore.

The genre of open-world games has become bloated over the years, often used as a selling point rather than an integral part of a game’s design. However, science fiction and space games often manage to capture the joy of exploring an open world through the inclusion of planets.


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For fans of sci-fi, discovering and exploring planets in games is something that many yearn for, and as technology has advanced in recent years, both AAA and indie developers have begun to offer more and more immersive, spacefaring experiences that put gamers in the shoes of a space explorer.

Updated on March 15, 2024, by Harry Ted Sprinks: Exploring space is a fantasy for many fans of science-fiction. Unfortunately, many space exploration games such as Elite Dangerous and old-school classics like Freelancer don’t feature extensive planet exploration (or planet exploration at all, for that matter). On the other hand, games such as No Man’s Sky and the more recently released Starfield have failed to live up to their promises. Despite this, games like No Man’s Sky and Starfield are still among the best video games that feature open-world exploration on multiple planets.

9 Starfield

A Flawed But Ambitious RPG

Starfield - Gameplay


September 6, 2023

It’s no secret that Starfield has taken a lot of flak since its release, and that’s for good reason. The game’s lackluster open world, rough-edged AI, abundance of loading screens, and general lack of polish make Starfield a tough sell.

However, there’s no denying the breadth and ambition on display in this open-world title. Starfield is packed with locations to discover, big and small, and while some may be less fleshed out than others, there are many enjoyable planets to explore. It’s just a little hard to find them.

8 SpaceEngine

An Interactive Planetarium

planet in SpaceEngine

  • Platform(s): PC
  • Released: 2019
  • Developer(s): Cosmographic Software
  • Genres: Simulation, Adventure

SpaceEngine is more of an experience than a game. There are no goals. Instead, players can freely move about a simulated universe, complete with physics and photo-realistic graphics. SpaceEngine won’t be for everyone, but it’s a mesmerizing experience for those who don’t mind its lack of gameplay.

However, SpaceEngine also features a Flight Simulator Mode that allows players to fly spacecrafts with Newtonian physics, for those who want a little more interaction from the experience. Furthermore, SpaceEngine features support for modding and virtual reality.

7 Starbound

Terraria In Space



December 4, 2013

This Terraria-style open-world exploration game tasks players with making a character from one of seven races and embarking on a campaign across a procedurally generated universe in a customizable starship, which can be decorated and expanded upon.


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Starbound has players landing on and colonizing various planets and attracting tenants to the colonies, much like in Terraria. These tenants can even join the starship crew, should players want them to. Although the game is 2D, it manages to capture the feeling of exploring space, and being able to captain a customizable starship makes exploring an almost cozy experience.

6 Space Engineers

A Creative Sandbox In Space

Space Engineers gameplay

Space Engineers

October 23, 2013

Keen Software House

Simulation , Sandbox

Space Engineers is a deep and complex game that borders on simulation. It’s a sandbox game with gameplay focused on the engineering and construction of spaceships, and players can use these ships to explore not only space but planets, too.

These planets are rich in resources and are fully destructible. Not only this, but the planets persist throughout a playthrough and even have their own atmosphere, gravity, and climate. Because the planets are so highly detailed, exploring them is a highly immersive and sometimes dangerous experience.

5 Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic

An Old-School Planet-Hopping RPG

Promo art featuring characters in Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

This classic Star Wars RPG is one of the most iconic Star Wars video games ever made. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic, originally released in 2003, is the first of two Knights Of The Old Republic games and takes place 4000 years before the rise of the Galactic Empire.

Although its combat can be clunky and is certainly not for everyone, Knights Of The Old Republic is still worth playing today for the amount of player agency it provides. The game marketed itself rather accurately on the ability of players to choose between good or evil and offers plenty of narrative choices throughout a playthrough. However, more importantly, Knights Of The Old Republic allows players to visit and explore finely detailed Star Wars planets packed with voice-acted NPCs, quests, and loot. For players looking for a Star Wars game that lets fans explore planets in an open-world setting, Knights Of The Old Republic may not be the most expansive, but its eight planets are a joy to explore.

4 Astroneer

A Co-Operative Sandbox Adventure

Who needs to colonize a planet when they can just terraform their own?


February 6, 2019

System Era Softworks


Astroneer is a sandbox adventure game that can be played in both single-player and co-op. It includes a solar system of seven hand-crafted planets that can be explored and even reshaped. Each planet is unique in both its surface and its caves, which can contain multiple biomes, and all offer different challenges for players to overcome.


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Astroneer‘s gameplay is largely focused on sandbox play; building bases, vehicles, and exploring the solar system are core aspects. It is a game that encourages creativity and exploration, but its sandbox nature doesn’t remove the challenge.

3 No Man’s Sky

Vast Open-World Exploration Across Space

A player flying through space in No Man's Sky

This infamous sci-fi exploration game was slandered on release for its empty, shallow worlds that were frequently repetitive. However, No Man’s Sky has come a long way since its launch back in 2016, receiving a plethora of free content updates that have transformed the game dramatically into a more immersive and longer-lasting experience.


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No Man’s Sky is a combination of survival and exploration that takes place in an infinite, procedurally generated universe, filled with planets to explore. The game allows players to pilot and customize various spaceships of different shapes and sizes, build bases, discover unique locations and wildlife, and engage in space combat. Overall, No Man’s Sky is an extremely immersive experience, and although the developers have put in a lot of work to improve the game, planets can still get a little repetitive after a while.

2 The Outer Worlds

A Satirical Open-World RPG

A player getting shot at in The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds

October 25, 2019

This sci-fi romp from developers Obsidian Entertainment (the same studio behind Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic 2 and Fallout: New Vegas) is a sprawling action-adventure RPG packed with colorful locations and characters. The game puts players at the helm of a spaceship and its crew (in the form of companions not dissimilar to the Fallout franchise), tasking them with exploring various unique and hand-crafted locations to complete quests and further the game’s narrative.

Although there are very few planets in The Outer Worlds, each of them is meticulously detailed and packed with people to meet, quests to complete, items to find, and enemies to defeat. Plus, for those who don’t mind exploring space stations, ships, and moons, there are plenty of other locations to venture to that flesh out the game in between the time spent on planets.

1 Outer Wilds

A Meditative Experience

Outer Wilds Promo Logo

Outer Wilds

May 28, 2019

Mobius Digital


This critically acclaimed and award-winning sci-fi mystery exploration game has players exploring various planets filled with hidden locations that change depending on what time they visit them. The unique part of Outer Wilds is its Groundhog Day-style loop that forces players to play through the same day over and over as they try to uncover the mysteries of the galaxy.

The planets of Outer Wilds are the heart of its gameplay, and exploring them is always rewarding. Outer Wilds is best experienced without any prior knowledge, so players intending to play the game should avoid spoilers to get the most out of its story and exploration aspects.

Special Mention: Destiny 2 (An FPS RPG That Is Packed With Content)

Destiny 2 - Screenshot

Although Destiny 2 is a free-to-play game, most of its content is, unfortunately, locked behind DLC paywalls. Despite this, Destiny 2 is a satisfying first-person shooter with a variety of well-made missions. Although the game is not entirely open-world, it does feature plenty of open zones that players can explore freely, many of which are set on different planets.

Destiny 2 is packed full of interesting places to explore and enemies to fight. Almost every planet players visit is visually striking and fun to navigate, even if the objectives gamers are tasked with can become repetitive.


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