Space Engineers

Year: 2013 Developer: Keen Software House Minecraft in space, basically. Harvest asteroids for building materials then craft them into floating bases and flyable spaceships. You can hover around with a jetpack or build a gravity generator to walk on the surface of bigger asteroids. One of the best co-op build-’em-ups on PC, and new features are being added regularly.
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Elite: Dangerous

Year: 2014 Developer: Frontier Developments An entire galaxy is your playground in this massive, beautiful space sim. Starting with a basic ship and a handful of credits, it’s up to you to shape your own destiny. Do you become a fearsome pirate? A master trader? An explorer? The beauty of Elite: Dangerous is being able to play in a way that suits you. From thrilling dogfights to gentle exploration, there’s something for everyone. Its ships are a dream to fly, from nimble fig...
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FTL: Faster Than Light

Year: 2012 Developer: Subset Games FTL mixes turn-based and real-time strategy together to capture the experience of captaining a Star Trek-style spacecraft. It’s a strong roguelike, too, with a backdrop of a familiar yet fun sci-fi universe that comes with its own semi-humorous lore and a neat set of narrative beats that make the journey to its finale endlessly exciting. Being able to name your ship and crew makes it all the more heartbreaking when they die together in enem...
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Kerbal Space Program

Year: 2015 Developer: Squad Wrestle with gravity and the laws of physics as you build your own spacecraft and attempt to explore the cosmos. A robust, compelling sandbox of possibilities that’s as funny as it is clever. Escaping Kerbin’s atmosphere and landing on the Mun for the first time with a ship you’ve built is about as satisfying as PC gaming gets.
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Take On Mars

Year: 2013 Developer: Bohemia Interactive If you like your space games a little more grounded, try Arma developer Bohemia’s Take On Mars. It’s a space exploration simulator based on real astro-science. You can build a Curiosity-style rover and explore the surface of the red planet or construct your own Moon base. A game for people who want the sci without the fi.  
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