Skip to main content

25 Best sci-fi games to travel into the future with

best sci-fi games - mass effect 2
(Image credit: Twitter user @CaseyDHudson)

The best sci-fi games come in all shapes and sizes. After all, who really knows how next week will unfold at this stage in time, far less what the world will look like centuries from now? And that's not taking into account the best sci-fi games that take us back in time! From sprawling RPGs to story-generating colony sims, isometric turn-based strategy games, voyeuristic walking sims and more, take a journey with us to explore the best sci-fi games in this universe and beyond. 

Best sci-fi games

25. VA-11 Hall-A 

best sci-fi games - VA-11 Hall-A

(Image credit: Sukebean Games)

In this visual novel slash bartending sim set in future San Francisco, you serve androids, cat girls and hackers, among others. Each of your customers comes to you with their drink orders and their worries, and thanks to great writing, your chats with the people on the other side of the bar do not only feel realistic, but leave you thoughtful about modern life and the direction we as humans are taking. 

Even though you only hear from the outside world in snippets, VA11 HALL-A’s cyberpunk SF feels fully realised, it’s people grappling with many of the same problems we’re already dealing with now.

Available on PC, PS4, Switch

24. Oxygen Not Included

best sci-fi games - oxygen not included

(Image credit: Klei Entertainment)

Space is generally a pretty perilous place, but hardly any game drives that point home as well as Oxygen Not Included does. That’s no surprise, as it’s been developed by Klei Entertainment, the studio behind the survival sim Don’t Starve. Here, you’re tasked with building a colony, and Klei’s usual love for detail means that everything can kill you and your colonists, unless of course you approach space with the necessary dose of realism – you need to prepare rooms in order to be habitable, then immediately invest in food, items and research to get ahead. 

Oxygen Not Included is challenging without being frustrating, and it’s an intricate take on colony/city building. As with many of the greatest games of this genre, flow will definitely set in, causing you to spend hours upon hours with your duplicates.

Available on PC

23. X-COM 2

best sci-fi games - xcom 2

(Image credit: Firaxis Games)

The innovative X-COM style of combat as conceived by Julian Gollop is so popular it’s now a brand of its own, inspiring many other games. The theme of an alien invasion on the other hand is as classic as they come. 

Films and literature have always made us want to become heroes who take on the intruders from up above, but X-COM turns that pretty simple premise into a highly tactical nail-biter which will have you invested into your squad not only because of the danger of losing the squad members with the best stats to permadeath, but also because we humans get attached to the things we get to give silly names. X-COM 2 is bigger and not always better than its predecessor, but the War of The Chosen DLC’s campaign adds a lot to the fun.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

22. RimWorld

best sci-fi games - rimworld

(Image credit: Ludeon Studios)

Another great colony builder on this list, RimWorld lets you grow and manage a space civilisation to the point at which you actually get to build your own spaceship and go home.

What makes this game stand out is that it isn’t simply about buildings and crafting recipes. Your people, elsewhere just a visual representation of stats to keep an eye on, have their own stories, form relationships and generally really need your help, which is why you manage them right down to their psyche, a pretty fantastic concept, intricately implemented.

Available on PC

21. Observation

best sci-fi games - observation

(Image credit: Annapurna)

With Observation, developer No Code wanted to make a game that’s basically 2001: A Space Odyssey from the perspective of the ship’s artificial intelligence. While the gameplay may take some time to get used to, Observation simply oozes atmosphere. All the details of a real NASA space station have been implemented in the virtual version you inhabit, and player actions closely mirror what real astronauts have to do in order to deal with difficult situations. Things get dark as soon as the story adds a pinch of the supernatural, using the various theories surrounding interdimensional travel to create an interesting, if slightly confusing, whole.

Available on PC, PS4

20. Into The Breach 

best sci-fi games - into the breach

(Image credit: Subset Games)

Into the Breach simply is a great turn-based strategy game for those who like to make difficult calls, you know from the beginning that you won’t be able to make it out of a battle completely unscathed. 

The aliens that oppose you are too many, too ruthless, to allow for you to win without making sacrifices, and there are simultaneously so many options for what to do next that you just end up staring at your mechs and oddly cute aliens for minutes at a time. The endless nature of the game, made possible through time travel, makes you wonder whether you can ever truly win, but once you’ve funnelled hundreds of hours into sessions, you’ve probably long given up on the notion.

Available on PC, Switch

19. Tacoma

best sci-fi games - tacoma

(Image credit: Fullbright)

Sci-fi games often assume that the practices in place now will be in places many many years from now, their effects exacerbated. That’s true for the depiction of the gig economy in Fullbright’s walking simulator Tacoma. As someone hired by an intergalactic insurance company, you find yourself on the spaceship Tacoma, puzzling together what has happened to its crew via  the ship computer’s last recordings. 

Fullbright games shine thanks to consistently great dialogue. It’s a feat that even in a game with fairly short runtime, you will come to care so much for characters you can’t even see, learn about their pasts and their dreams and thus start to root for them. For how it efficiently does a lot with seemingly little, Tacoma is one of the best narrative games out there, and definitely some of the absolute best the walking sim genre has to offer.

Available on PC, PS4

18. Detroit: Become Human

best sci-fi games - detroit: become human

(Image credit: Quantic Dreams)

Developer Quantic Dream uses its patented lightly interactive gameplay in a story about the rebellion of household androids in the near future. Detroit: Become Human impresses with its immense number of possible outcomes, both to the ending of the game and the relationships of characters among each other, but also to hundreds of seemingly small decisions. It’s a gorgeous game with a cast that’s sure to give you the feeling of playing an interactive movie that the studio was going for.

Available on PC, PS4

17. No Man’s Sky

best sci-fi games - no man's sky

(Image credit: Hello Games)

The pull of No Man’s Sky is pretty easily explained – sheer freedom. With its procedurally generated planet there’s always something new to explore, and a plethora of crafting options will have you boldly go where no man has gone before in order to collect and refine ores and flesh-eating plants.

If you haven’t played the game, now is the best time to do so, as the recent big updates have made No Man’s Sky into something much more intriguing than it was at launch, and now accommodates both the need to just relax and take a few nice screenshots and to get into wild battles with the local fauna.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

16. Stellaris

best sci-fi games - stellaris

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

To play Stellaris is to make a pretty large commitment – you haven’t played a 4x grand strategy game before, there’s a steep learning curve to deal with, and once you’re comfortable, there are just heaps and heaps of DLC to keep you playing. But the beauty of this game lies just in that love for detail. Once you’ve painstakingly built a colony on a planet and watched your civilisation grow, you don’t want it to perish at the hands of invaders, and you do want to ensure their success across the galaxy. 

Stellaris shines especially because it puts a lot of stock into your species and their individual behaviour, and because it uses Total War-esque crisis events for the endgame to keep things balanced.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

15. EVE Online

best sci-fi games - eve online

(Image credit: Frontier)

Much like Minecraft, EVE Online is one of those games that show how massively creative a gaming community can become. It’s almost a possible version of our future, as players are dropped somewhere in space and need to engage with the virtual society and economy to keep the game running. The most well-known part of EVE Online however, are likely the large-scale intergalactic wars in massive spaceships. Its completely communal nature has garnered EVE a lot of attention outside of traditional gaming spaces – it’s been discussed as an experiment of human self-organisation and exhibited at the MoMa in New York and the V&A in London, citing player’s social achievements.

Available on PC

14. Nier: Automata

nier: automata

(Image credit: Square Enix)

It doesn’t get more sci-fi than robots fighting a proxy war for the glory of mankind, but Nier: Automata goes deeper than that. If you’re looking for a game that discusses similar topics as Detroit: Become Human with a little more depth (but similar amounts of drama) and you enjoy challenging action and bullet hell combat, Nier: Automata is unmissable. Don’t let the anime look  fool you – the subjects of morality and autonomy are handled with great care, all within the package of a great action title.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

13. Destiny 2

best sci-fi games - destiny 2

(Image credit: Bungie)

Bungie’s next big foray into space after Halo never got its story off the ground in the way many of us hoped, but it’s still one of the most engrossing looter shooters out there, chiefly because there’s always something to do. By now Destiny 2 is free to play, and you don’t even have to have played the first Destiny to find your way around. 

As is often the way with games as service, over the years Destiny 2 just grew, and by now, especially if you’re committed to playing the full package with DLC, you get not only a good-looking game with fun raids, but also a campaign experience that does the story justice.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

12. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

best sci-fi games - star wars jedi: fallen order

(Image credit: EA)

A list of sci-fi games is nothing without one of the absolute evergreen franchises of the genre. While there are a lot of Star Wars games, and many of them have something going for them (Knights of the Old Republic!), they do look their age. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is just incredibly modern with its lush looks and Dark Souls-style combat. Being a Jedi has simply never felt as fluid or satisfying, and the story works even if you haven’t studied Star Wars lore for decades.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

11. Outer Wilds

best sci-fi games - outer wilds

(Image credit: Mobius Digital)

Games are about exploration, about traversal, and about uncovering secrets. Seldom has a game captured the feeling of giddy discovery as well as Outer Wilds. You go out to uncover the history of a prior civilisation in your little solar system, because solving the mysteries they themselves were working on it the only way to save everything you’ve come to know from certain doom. That may sound very stressful, but a weird tranquillity sets in wherever you’re creeping through a cave on the hunt for left-behind messages or meet a previous explorer on his lonesome near a campfire.

Ironically, sometimes you need exactly what Outer Wilds doesn’t endorse – patience. Some pathways can only be found if you’re willing to let the planets and their carefully thought-out physics do their thing, and sometimes the journey can get lonely. Stunningly, that makes the payoff even bigger when you find a hint and the hunt for your ancestors suddenly looks promising again.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

10. Doom (2016) 

best sci-fi games - doom

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Do you like “badass demons, big guns and moving really fast”? According to executive producer Marty Stratton, that makes Doom the game for you. It’s also a staple in sci-fi games, aka the genre in which everything in our future that can go wrong will go wrong. (Listen, just don’t harvest energy from Hell and you’ll be fine.) What you get is an incredible visceral, fast-paced shooter that doesn’t really have any comparable competitors out there. Doom is a raw power-trip of an FPS with satisfying shooting that everyone can get into – for good reason it’s made the top of GamesRadar’s list of best FPS games of all time.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

9. Dead Space 2 

best sci-fi games - dead space 2

(Image credit: Visceral Games)

Combat in Dead Space is actually not all too different from Doom – while you play from a third-person perspective, the general idea is still to enter a room, figure out where your enemies are coming from and then try to dispatch them one by one in an orderly manner. Where Doom was made to make you feel powerful, Dead Space, and especially Dead Space 2, the best instalment of the series, is frankly terrifying. It was the best kind of Alien-style game before the release of Alien: Isolation, and it plays with your constant sense of anticipation as you creep ahead in the dark. 

Dead Space 2 gets you time and again with its jump scares, even though or especially because you know they’re coming, and even though you have a multitude of weapons to defend yourself with, this is a game that makes it very clear that you’re fleeing for your life.

Available on PC, Xbox One (via backwards compatibility)

8. Alien: Isolation

best sci-fi games - alien isolation

(Image credit: Creative Assembly)

Game adaptations of films are often questionable at best (and vice versa!), but with this survival horror game, Creative Assembly delivered proof that it can be done if you know what makes the source material so beloved. More than thirty years after its release, Ridley Scott’s Alien is still terrifying. If it’s not broken there’s no need to fix it, so it made sense not to change the original idea and simply put players in the shoes of a character, in this case Ellen Ripley’s daughter Amanda, hiding for her life. 

In Alien: Isolation, everything just works together to transport you straight into the film, from the art direction to the story and of course the brilliant AI of the alien we all…love?

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

7. The Outer Worlds

best sci-fi games - outer worlds

(Image credit: Obsidian)

One of 2019’s most successful games, the Outer Worlds combines many of the elements people like about the Fallout games, including corporate satire, quirky companions and and RPG elements. Unlike Fallout however, at about 15 hours for the main campaign this is the perfect game to not lose your entire life over while still enjoying the full experience. 

Similarly, the narrative doesn’t ask for too much commitment – it deals with the well-known trope of the evil megacorporation you so often see in sci-fi, but in a genre where things can often get dark, the humour is refreshing.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One (Switch on June 5, 2020)

6. Prey (2017)

best sci-fi games - prey

(Image credit: Best Buy)

Science fiction wouldn’t be the same without alternate timelines to change the course of the human race. In Prey, the failed assassination of John F. Kennedy accelerates research into space, leading to the establishment of the Talos I, an intergalactic research station built to examine the Typhon, a newly-discovered alien race. As numerous examples have already shown, researching potentially deadly aliens all alone out in space is generally a really bad idea, but Prey is more than another solid first-person shooter.

What makes it so interesting is the thoughtful approach to a well-known subject, asking you to make moral choices which can lead to different, equally stunning outcomes. Fans of Arkane’s Dishonoured likely know what type of storytelling to expect, if you’re looking for something both chilling and surprising you can’t go wrong with Prey.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

5. The Bioshock Collection

best sci-fi games - bioshock

(Image credit: 2K Games)

Bioshock is a classic among the sci-fi games with an alternate timeline. For once you’re not going into space, but deep underwater in order to explore Rapture (or the lofty heights of the steampunk city Columbia in Bioshock: Infinite), a city that ate itself. The series is thrilling, from battles with mutated drug addicts to its consistently dark, surprising story that stands among the best for the shooter genre. While it’s not for the faint of heart, no one’s ever made such an intriguing mix of philosophy and horror before or since.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One

4. Mass Effect 2

best sci-fi games - mass effect 2

(Image credit: BioWare)

10 years on, the saga of Commander Shephard and their crew is still one of the best and most engrossing sci-fi RPGs out there. And with the Mass Effect Legendary Edition bringing the second entry in the stellar trilogy back with enhanced visuals and improvements, now's a great time to experience Shepard's space-faring adventure for the first time, or all over again. It’s imbued with the soul of Star Trek – a close-knit crew ventures out into space to solve political tensions, eventually coming across an alien threat. 

Mass Effect features epic shootouts in space, but thanks to great writing it shines more for its characters. Getting to know your favourite and romancing them has become just as important as the action, if not more so. Fighting evil and smooching aliens – what’s not to like? Mass Effect 2 also has the best story of the series, and it works even if you haven’t played the first one.

Available on: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5

3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

best sci-fi games - deus ex: human revolution

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The prequel to the original Deus Ex from 2000 paints a fascinating vision of our future, in which human augmentations have become the norm. This is a game about interesting societal conflict between those in favour of augmentations and those who aren’t, and it’s asking you to pick sides frequently. Your decisions have lasting consequences not just in conversations, but also affect your surroundings. How you choose to augment protagonist Adam Jensen to unlock new paths and skills adds a Metroidvania quality to game progression, and you always have multiple ways to solve situations in this dark, but lovingly realised version of our future.

Available on: PC, Xbox One (via backwards compatibility, Basic version only)

2. Portal 2

best sci-fi games - portal 2

(Image credit: Valve)

Some ideas are just perfect for games, and Portal 2’s teleportation gun testing facility was just great for a plethora of challenging puzzles. The variety Valve came up with is still astounding, and since then the game’s community has added so much of value to Portal II in form of additional levels and fan games. Portal II is also one of the few puzzles that doesn’t skimp on a really fun story, complete with great voice acting. Simply put, this is an evergreen, and by now the portal gun has become a piece of pop culture history.

Available on: PC, Xbox One (via backwards compatibility)

1. Half-Life 2

best sci-fi games - half-life 2

(Image credit: Valve)

It’s ok to admit that Half-Life 2 has aged a bit, but only if you look at it from a purely visual standpoint. Once you play this first-person shooter, if you haven’t already, you’ll realise that a lot of the aspects that make other games on this list great originated with the Half-Life franchise. It was the pinnacle for graphical achievement at the time, and still stands out for its great environmental storytelling, and it engagingly tells the by now tried and tested story of the alien invasion. 

It also gave you a lot of freedom for a game at a time. Simply put, if you like great shooters and want to know more about their origins, or simply play one of the best games that still holds up, play Half-Life 2.

Available on PC, Xbox One (backwards compatibility with The Orange Box Collection)

Malindy is a freelance video games writer for outlets like Eurogamer, PLAY, PCGamer and Edge Magazine, who also occasionally works in game design consultation and localization. As a Japanese speaker, she enjoys Japanese pop culture and is always on the hunt for the next game from the Land of the Rising Sun. She also particularly enjoys narrative-focused games and cute indies, and always seeks to learn more about the business-side of the gaming industry.

With contributions from