The tagline for Starbound is a pretty good summation of what to expect: "survive, discover, explore, and fight." Beyond that, an infinite universe means there are loads of possibilities in its generous heaps of 2D co-op gameplay, not least when it comes to shaping the world and discovering new locations to set up shop. Exploring the game with friends - whether it's just to farm, try your hand at space exploration, or create weaponry for quests - is designed to be enjoyable in itself, rather than just a means to an end. And while it is an open-ended experience, the addition of quests and NPCs imbues the game with contextual purpose, unlike the narrative-free adventuring of Minecraft.
19. 7 Days to Die
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
There are few things associated with survival and scavenging more than the horror of having to survive a zombie outbreak, and 7 Days to Die leans heavily into those apocalyptic sentiments. The realistic, dark world may not look like other sandbox games made in the same vein, but that doesn't mean it shies away from the genre's tried and true gameplay staples. Scavenging, crafting traps, and building shelters are all well represented here, as is the likelihood of catastrophic failure. What turns the proceedings into a real fright fest, though, is when the blood moon rises on every seventh night, which brings a relentless horde of faster, stronger zombies right to your doorstep.
18. Colony Survival
At first glance, Colony Survival is another game which could easily be mistaken for Minecraft (albeit Minecraft with some very nice shaders), but it’s actually a very different beast. An unusual blend of tower defence and survival strategy, you’re tasked with building a colony from scratch (or assigning your various colonists to build it for you) and defending it against the hordes of monsters that attack your settlement each night. The colonists are the core of the gameplay, able to be assigned by you to different roles including guards, farmers and miners, and generally being a lot more clever than your average mumbling Minecraft villager.
17. Kerbal Space Program
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
At its core, Minecraft is all about unleashing creativity and problem-solving. You need a bed, so you gather the materials, arrange them as needed, and construct a bed. Kerbal Space Program is much the same way. No, you're not out in the wilderness building massive replicas of famous locales, but you're using critical thinking skills to help cute cartoon critters survive the harsh reality of space travel. And, like Minecraft, Kerbal Space Program has been used by teachers in schools as an educational tool. See, games can be fun and educational!
16. Block Fortress
Platforms: iOS, Android
Defense is a matter of life and death in Block Fortress, where the strength of your barracks is tested by an endless onslaught of enemy hordes. For the player, that means most of your time will be spent constructing armaments, walls, and other features to make the sturdiest, most robust base possible. The scope of construction is limited only by your intuition… and the ability to mine valuable resources as quickly as possible. If your favorite part of Minecraft is figuring out the best defenses against the world's creepy crawlies, you'll like Block Fortress.
15. Don't Starve
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
The Creeper will always remain the king when it comes to survival crafting scares, but Don’t Starve’s consortium of creatures come pretty close to dethroning that Minecraft icon. The similarities also extends to Don’t Starve’s emphasis on staying alive through the crafting of tools and shelter, despite your incredibly limited resources. However, the game stands apart thanks to its wonderfully gothic aesthetic, which looks like a children's book fused with H.P. Lovecraft. And, as the title implies, Klei Entertainment’s roguelike uses hunger as merely the first challenge for players to race against in a tough-as-nails survival experience. Staying nourished has never been so intense, and fire has never been a greater friend.
14. Dragon Quest Builders 2
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC
Another game which wears its Minecraft inspiration on its sleeve is survival-craft action RPG Dragon Quest Builders 2. The game drops you into a charming block-based fantasy land being oppressed by an evil cult. The cult’s aims? To eliminate all those who dare to be creative. As a result, the world is falling to bits, and it is your job to defy the cult and help the people reconstruct their destroyed land. Building on the decades-long success of the Dragon Quest series, the game differs from its inspiration with the inclusion of a variety of RPG-style quests, as well as familiar series elements such as slimes, quirky dialogue and an enchantingly retro soundtrack by series regular, composer Koichi Sugiyama.
13. King Arthur's Gold
The freedom to design and build a castle is just as fun here as it is in Minecraft. You'll dig into the medieval land around your abode, and generally use the environment to fend off invading players. Both the rewards of construction and hilarity of destruction are where King Arthur's Gold excels. And with up to 32 players in multiplayer, King Arthur’s Gold can become ferociously chaotic, but always in a good way. Players will have to learn how to properly utilize the three classes, while also getting used to the physics of the game’s combat tools, like the catapult. Also, there are sharks, and sharks are awesome.
12. Lego Worlds
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Lego Worlds is based heavily on Minecraft, which itself takes a lot of inspiration from Lego itself, so yeah, you could say these two games have quite a bit in common. You can destroy and build ‘en masse’ in Lego Worlds, tearing down entire environments in one foul swoop to build fantastical structures using its suite of robust crafting tools. But there’s also a campaign mode, collectibles, classic Lego-style gameplay, and a wonderfully theatrical Peter Serafinowicz narrating the whole thing. Lego Worlds brings that classic Lego charm to the genre that it’s partly responsible for creating, which lends the game an infectious quality that manages to constantly charm the pants off of anyone messing around in its brick-based biomes.
Survival meets resource management in this time-eater from Wube Software. After crash landing on an alien planet, it’s up to you to build the machines to survive (and potentially escape) this hostile new world. The developers have made it no secret that they were inspired by Minecraft mods such as IndustrialCraft, and the spirit of building and surviving is no secret in Factorio. The game is one of the more complex ones on this list, but with time to invest and careful organisation, you could soon be the owner of a shiny new industrial sprawl. However, beware: The alien wildlife has been taking lessons from the zombies and creepers, and will grow increasingly hostile to you the more you build and pollute their planet!
Turn to the next page to reveal our pick of the top 10 games like Minecraft...