Best RPGs Set in Space – The Final Frontier Just Got a Little Bigger

No matter how many RPGs I’ve played, there never seem to be enough games set in space. It’s a daunting genre, with players likely expecting to travel to hundreds of planets teeming with life. Only some game studios have the resources to pull off a game like that.

And not every space RPG needs to be quite so large, either. Some of the best space RPGs have a tighter scope. Let’s take a look at some of the best RPGs set in space. It may just inspire your next adventure.

eve online game Best RPGs Set in Space

Selection Criteria

RPGs are a versatile genre with fast and loose rules. Some have simplified mechanics, while others go into great detail. Because of their diversity, let’s list a few criteria I used to determine the best space RPGs. The games below all fit the following criteria.

  • The setting has to be in space – duh.
  • It must meet a Metacritic score of 65% or better.
  • Narrative is at its core.
  • There must be some sort of skill, knowledge, or gear system that you can progress or upgrade.
  • Only one game per franchise.

10 Best RPGs in Space – Choose Your Path Among the Stars

1. No Man’s Sky Beyond

no man's sky beyond Best RPGS Set in Space
Exploring a new planet in No Man’s Sky. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: Hello Games
  • Metacritic Score: 83
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, Mac

No Man’s Sky had a rough entry into the space RPG arena. It promised players many things and fell flat when it first launched. Over time, however, and with the launch of No Man’s Sky Beyond, it’s finally the space RPG everyone was hoping for.

As a Traveler, you awaken on some desolate planet and survive radiation, among other terrors, to repair your ship and head to the stars. From there, the universe is truly your oyster. Whether you’re an explorer, a diplomat, a warrior, or a ship’s engineer, you’ll find your place in the huge universe Hello Games created. It’s truly a great space game with its focus on spaceflight, exploration, and diverse planets. There are even planets with glowing fields!

And that’s the sort of magic you can find in No Man’s Sky. With its focus on procedural generation, you never know what you’re going to find. And that’s what makes No Man’s Sky a great space RPG. It unlocks the ability to explore the stars, find new planets, and maybe find one to call home. Got that itch to travel? Satisfy it with No Man’s Sky.

2. Starbound

Best RPGS Set in Space starbound
Civilizing the universe in Starbound. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: Chucklefish
  • Metacritic Score: 81
  • Platforms: PC, OS X, Linux

If you want a little more No Man’s Sky but prefer 2D art, then Starbound may be just what you’re looking for. It fits as a space RPG because of its focus on galactic travel, narrative, and ability to upgrade technologies to survive the harsh world of space.

And the universe in Starbound is pretty harsh. After Earth is destroyed, you end up launching into space in a shuttle and land on a procedurally generated planet. Besides surviving, you’ll discover civilizations that you can befriend or destroy. Making the citizens homeless might not be a bad idea either since you can also build your own towns. Don’t expect to spend a lot of time in those towns though. Your real home is your ship. It allows you to travel to different planets, find new resources, and further upgrade your equipment.

Starbound follows the same playbook as No Man’s Sky in that the entire universe is procedurally generated. With each planet offering new challenges, you can spend hours in Starbound without even realizing it. And let’s be honest here, that’s an unwritten rule of the best RPGs out there.

Explore the universe in a 2D world with Starbound and determine just what kind of explorer you’ll become.

3. Star Wars: The Old Republic

Best RPGS Set in Space star wars the old republic
Hanging outside Coruscant in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer/Publisher: BioWare/Electronic Arts
  • Metacritic Score: 85
  • Platform: PC

Let’s be honest: if you think about space, you’re probably going to think about Star Wars, too. It’s one of the most famous franchises set in space. Naturally, there were going to be games set within the universe. Some have been hits and other duds, but Star Wars: The Old Republic has something special about it.

Set far before the events of the Prequel series, Star Wars: The Old Republic focuses on the brewing war between the Sith and the Jedi. It’s an MMO that lets you play anything from an Imperial Secret Agent to one of the Jedi. There’s a ton of story to get through, with each class having its own tale interwoven into the game’s overarching plot.

The Old Republic is an incredible space RPG because of its sheer amount of story, skill progression, and unique Dark/Light morality mechanic. Even if you’re not a Jedi or Sith, the choices you make will determine whether you’re supporting the Dark or Light side. It makes your decisions more impactful which is what a real RPG is all about.

Even if you’re not a fan of MMOs, give The Old Republic a chance, and it will likely surprise you.

4. Star Trek: Bridge Crew The Next Generation

Best RPGS Set in Space star trek crew the next generation
Meeting the new bridge crew. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Metacritic Score: 79
  • Platforms: PS4, PC, Meta Quest

You can’t have Star Wars without some Star Trek content, too. Star Trek: Bridge Crew the Next Generation puts you in the hot seat on a starship bridge. You call the shots as you take your ship through different missions. Your choices will definitely impact whether you come home from your exploration or end up another casualty of space.

The game basically lets you LARP out your own Star Trek fantasies–it’s roleplaying at its best. As you progress, you also unlock new enhancements to your ship so you can survive more dangerous encounters. This feeds into that space RPG element of ship customization and skill progression.

One of its best elements is its focus on multiplayer experiences. You and your friends can all fight over who gets to be Captain, among the other roles, on the Bridge. The goal is to work together to make missions successful, but let’s be honest, everyone has that one friend who just wants to set everything on fire. The point is you’ll be making some great memories.

Start your voyage into the blackness of space with your friends in Star Trek: Bridge Crew The Next Generation and make Starfleet proud.

5. Starfield

starfield Best RPGS Set in Space
A clunky ship worth renovating in Starfield. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
  • Metacritic Score: 83
  • Platforms: Xbox Series X, PC

Any time Bethesda is working on a new project, there’s a lot of hype for what it will include. Starfield was no different, especially since it was the studio’s first attempt at making a game in space. Starfield feels like a typical Bethesda game, and it has a freedom to it that lets you walk whatever path you want to walk in it.

Starfield takes place three hundred years after humanity had to leave Earth. While much of space is still in its frontier days, there are Settled Systems with more civilized cities, too. You end up as a miner on a moon who comes into contact with a strange artifact. If you were hoping to mine for the rest of your days, you’re out of luck. There’s a higher calling for you which you’ll uncover by following the main plot of the game. But the main plot doesn’t determine who you are in Starfield.

The ability to become whoever you want to become is what makes Starfield a great space RPG. From background traits to in-game decisions to even what you choose to spend time on in the game, your fate is entirely your own. Fight enemies, customize ships, build homesteads, or steal people’s desserts. This RPG lets you be whatever you want.

If you love exploration, narrative, and player-driven choices and outcomes, then give Starfield a try.

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6. Citizen Sleeper

citizen sleeper Best RPGS Set in Space
Meeting a new “friend” in Citizen Sleeper. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: Jump Over the Age
  • Metacritic Score: 82
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Cloud Gaming, PC

Tabletop fans will adore Citizen Sleeper’s intricate stories, skill trees, and choice-driven outcomes. It’s a game in the same vein as Disco Elysium, so if you enjoyed that RPG, you’ll probably enjoy Citizen Sleeper, too.

This isn’t the type of space RPG where you’re out in the world and exploring the different planets. You’re stuck on a space station, and you really need to leave before someone enslaves or kills you. Your ability to survive comes down to your skills and abilities. Much like in DND, you’ll build your character’s stats and skills, and then use them during certain challenges to progress the story. If a check fails, then things could end badly for you. Play your cards right, and you could end up with some strong allies at your side.

With the skill system, focus on narrative, and grim space station setting, Citizen Sleeper scratches the itch for players looking to have a DND campaign set in space. Give it a look to see if it inspires your next tabletop game.

7. EVE Online

eve online Best RPGS Set in Space
Docking at a space station in EVE Online. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: CCP Games
  • Metacritic Score: 69
  • Platforms: PC, Mac

When it comes to player-driven choices and narrative, you can’t quite leave out EVE Online. It has some deep lore that tells the story of how humanity exhausted Earth of its resources. Which is a bit too close to real life to make me comfortable. Players enter the world 20,000 years after this mass exodus, and you’d think we’d have learned a few things. But clearly not because capitalism and violence still reign supreme.

EVE Online is an MMO set in space with players primarily using their starships as their main avatars. There’s a significant amount of skills and upgrades that players can sink their teeth into, but the way EVE Online handles skill progression is a bit different than other RPGs. Skills progress in real time even if you’re logged off. Most other games require you to stay logged in to gain experience, so this is a unique difference.

The game is also known to break records like having a player-wide battle that lasted for 21 hours. So, if you really want to immerse yourself in a universe and set up your own resource empire or become a mercenary for hire, then check out EVE Online. Just be ready to sacrifice all your free time in the process.

8. The Outer Worlds

the outer worlds Best RPGS Set in Space
Traveling to Halcyon. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
  • Metacritic Score: 85
  • Platforms: PS4, Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

The Outer Worlds is best described as “Fallout in space.” Considering that Obsidian has made Fallout games before, it fits the bill. The Outer Worlds is a proper action space RPG with plenty of combat, companions, upgrades, a skill tree, and a story that has you traveling from one planet to the next.

It scratches that Mass Effect itch with its romanceable companions, even if the number of companions you can have is small. But each companion is unique and offers their own skills to the party. Whether they’re an engineer or doctor, they all find a home on your ship.

Where The Outer Worlds really shines is with its story. It has a hyper-focus on consumerism, capitalism, and worker’s rights that mixes the art style of We Happy Few with just a hint of Bioshock’s political undertones. Its skills and skill progression system also lets you push the story in a certain direction based on your choices. While the lack of explorable worlds may make the game feel a little shallow, its unique narrative will keep you engaged.

If you’re curious about what Fallout-based-in-space is like, then The Outer Worlds can give you a pretty good idea. Try it out and determine the fate of the citizens of Halcyon.

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9. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

marvels guardians of the galaxy Best RPGS Set in Space
Time to do crimes! Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer: Eidos-Montreal
  • Metacritic Score: 80
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the perfect mix of space and superheroes. This unique game blends action and RPG elements that mimic Mass Effect. For example, you have a strong party of companions with you (the Guardians, of course), and you’re able to give them instructions in battle. You can even hold conversations with them which can influence the decisions they make, too.

Playing as Peter, you and your companions grow stronger by gaining experience. You’re able to use that experience to unlock new abilities which can make certain foes a bit easier to defeat. Considering that you’re going up against the Universal Church of Truth, you could use all the help you can get. They’re using mind control technology to gain power, and it’s going to take all the skills and wits of the group (mostly Gamora) to stop them.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an excellent space RPG because of its use of a galactic setting, focus on abilities and skills, and its unique dialogue system that can help gain affinity with your fellow Guardians.

Whether you want to jam out to its stellar soundtrack or save the galaxy, try out Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy for a unique space RPG experience.

10. Mass Effect

Best RPGS mass effect
THE Commander Shepard. Image Credit: Will Butterworth
  • Developer/Publisher: BioWare/EA
  • Metacritic Score: 91
  • Platforms: Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox Series X, PC

It’s hard to picture the space RPG world without Mass Effect. A beloved franchise by BioWare that continues to explore its universe to this day, fans love this series for many reasons, but one stands out from all the rest–the narrative.

As Commander Shepard, you’ll face Geth, Batarian mercenaries, and put a stop to the 50,000-year cycle of Reaper annihilation. Along the way, you can find love, support your companions, and even become the owner of a swanky penthouse. Perhaps most importantly, you become intimately involved in the world of Mass Effect and all those inhabiting it.

Aside from the narrative, you’ll travel to different worlds and deal with the various problems plaguing the local civilizations. Traveling is half the fun, too, since it’s all done on the famous Normandy–Shepard’s personal starship. With explorable rooms, easy access to your companions, and the ability to decorate your quarters, the Normandy becomes the beating heart of the game. And a homey starship is always a crucial part of an excellent space RPG.

When it comes to space RPGs, Mass Effect is by far the epitome of a space opera. Even if you’ve already played the trilogy before, consider starting a new playthrough. The Normandy is waiting.

Questions and Answers

Question: What space RPGs have open worlds?

Answer: Of those listed, No Many’s Sky Beyond, Starbound, The Outerwilds, EVE Online, and Starfield have open worlds.

Question: Why aren’t there more space RPGs?

Answer: RPGs are expensive to make. Space RPGs are even more costly with the amount of content that players expect from them. Only some studios have the funds to create a space RPG that matches the fanbase’s expectations.

Question: What space RPG is best for new gamers?

Answer: New gamers should try out the Mass Effect series. It’s a favorite for a reason. It’s also an excellent introduction to shooter games with a limited world that can avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Take to the Stars with Your Next Adventure

starfield game

Space RPGs allow most of us to explore something we may never have the chance to in real life. We can travel among the stars, meet new civilizations, and save the universe. The RPGs listed here have strong followings, and the hard work of the teams behind them deserves all the credit. Now, it’s time to do a systems check and lift off by playing one of these fantastic space RPGs.

See you in space!

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