Ever since Minecraft first launched, gaming has accepted that it’s not a proper video game if it doesn’t have some form of crafting system. Whether involved and detailed, or boiling down to plopping resources onto a workbench and choosing the recipe you want, crafting has become a staple of gaming over the past decade.
With that in mind let’s take a look as some game where crafting is helpful, crucial, or neither, but it’s fun anyway.
Best crafting games
Battle Chasers: Nightwar
|How essential is crafting?||Gives a chance to create powerful items|
Airship Syndicate’s Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a spin-off from Joe Madureira’s 90s fantasy comic book Battle Chasers, and despite being done in full 3D, it perfectly reflects the original artstyle. It also happens to be a really solid jRPG-like, with lots of exploration, procedurally assembled dungeons, deep character builds, and a pretty fun crafting system with a good risk-reward dynamic.
See, in most crafting systems you must have an exact amount of all the necessary components in order to create something. Battle Chasers does away with that. You can dump more ingredients than necessary to enhance the rarity and, by extension, statistics, but you can also reduce the number of ingredients used, which makes crafting success less certain, but the effects can be spectacular.
Don’t Starve (Together)
|How essential is crafting?||Integral to the experience|
Both the base Don’t Starve and it’s cooperative counterpart Don’t Starve Together place you in a delightfully drawn and horribly dangerous world looking like a cartoon tribute to Tim Burton. You have to scavenge for resources to survive and try to find a way out the nightmarish place you’ve found yourself into. Whether in Adventure or Sandbox mode, you’ll craft a ton of stuff.
Before long you’ll be making traps, fishing rods, and all kinds of containers to help you organise your resources. You’re also going to be better off with a base, since the dark of the night hides monsters which pose danger not only to your pitiful life, but also your sanity. If you play the Don’t Starve Together version at least you won’t have to go it alone.
|Genre:||Survival horror, action-adventure|
|How essential is crafting?||Game with weapon crafting|
Dying Light places you as an operative infiltrating a zombie-infested city called Harran. The game has many worthwhile features, from its fluid parkour traversal of the city’s pretty tight streets, through the striking division between day and night experience, to its quite satisfying close range combat system, letting you unleash devastating strikes punctuated with dropkicks.
There are hundreds of possible weapon variants available through crafting, and while none of them are quite as wild as those from the Dead Rising series, you’re well within your rights to make an electricity-powered sledgehammer and go Thor on the infected. Of course first you’ll need to find a relevant blueprint and resources, but this is what daytime Harran sightseeing is for.
|Developer||Bethesda Game Studios|
|How essential is crafting?||Encouraged and well-supported|
Two hundred years after the war that broke the world, vast swathes of the former United States remain a wasteland. Thankfully, the character you control has a chance to do something about it, and, unlike previous Fallout protagonists, the effect will be visible during the playthrough, not just in the ending summaries. And that’s thanks to F4’s sturdy crafting system of rare scope.
Perhaps the most well-known feature of Fallout 4 is that you get to found new settlements, complete with almost-cosy housing, various contraptions, and even a zoo for wasteland creatures, depending on which DLCs you end up getting. And that’s before we even consider armour and weapon customisation. F4 is in equal parts and action RPG and a crafting game.
|Genre:||Open-world, Adventure Game, Survival game|
|How essential is crafting?||Crucial part of the experience|
Developed initially at a game jam, thanks to a very warm reception was developed into a full product, and turned out to be really good and entertaining to play. It mixes the relaxing joy of Stardew Valley with sort-of roguelike combat seemingly seamlessly. It’s openly described as an “idle game you want to actively keep playing”, and delivers on that promise with aplomb.
Of course you’ll end up crafting new items, and building structure which will allow you to craft more items. From basic bricks to various weapons, traps, or magical talismans, you won’t lack for things to make, and in time you’ll even make devices which will make resource collection effortless. It’s up to you to use the space given to you to maximum effect.
|How essential is crafting?||Optional, but very helpful|
Kenshi is mostly a single person’s, Chris Hunt’s, passion project, a brutal, unforgiving fantasy world without any overarching, predefined narrative. Dying is easy, surviving is hard, but if you manage to get the hang of things, you’ll eventually become a scourge, or a saviour, of the land. Or anyone else, because the game doesn’t force you into any single profession or activity.
Eventually you’ll get to build your own base, giving you the ability to research new technologies and, indeed, craft new items like swords to turn your from a pathetic scavenger into someone potentially powerful. You’ll even be able to set up settlements to hole up in when the going gets rough, or to turn them into trading hubs. Your ambition is your only direction in Kenshi.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
|Genre:||Action role-playing, hack and slash|
|Developer||38 Studios, Big Huge Games|
|How essential is crafting?||The most powerful items are only accessible through crafting|
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning isn’t a widely discussed game, but it has many features which merit bringing them up. It has a story penned by R.A. Salvatore of Dungeons & Dragon novels fame, and its artwork bears the fingerprints of Todd McFarlane of Spawn fame. It has a great, dynamic combat system, pretty deep roleplaying, and an engaging (and rewarding) crafting system.
Crafting is split between Alchemy, Blacksmithing, and Sagecraft which lets you create powerful gems enhancing your gear. Improving relevant skills will improve your chances of looting rarer gear from enemies, allow you to use more components, or create unique masterpieces. Looking for the rare ingredients, and finding out the optimal combinations can be quite riveting.
|Genre:||First-person shooter, survival horror|
|How essential is crafting?||Strongly integrated into the game|
Arkane Studios’ departure from its famous Dishonored series resulted in a really interesting and exceptionally well-designed spiritual successor to System Shock: Prey. It puts you on a space station which is in the process of becoming completely overrun with an alien life form known as Typhon. Prey is happy to provide you with tools and let you find a way to use them to your advantage.
One of the tools which will help you on your journey will be a fabricator, a handy device working like a 3D printer, which will consume some basic resources in order to print you a crucial, or just useful, items in short order. Whether new weapon, some ammo, or a plot-relevant object, the fabricators will see you coming back quite often with new blueprints.
|How essential is crafting?||It’s the point of the game|
Scrap Mechanic is a third person open-world sandbox… crafting game. It’s not necessarily crafting in the same way Minecraft or Terraria are crafting games. Here, it’s takes hints from titles like Besiege, and through a cartoony avatar it will have you build moving systems ranging from simple, to complex, to probably needlessly convoluted. And you don’t have to worry about space much.
If Minecraft is LEGO Basic, then Scrap Mechanic is LEGO Technic. You can assemble all kind of vehicles, of both ground and flying variety, but why limit yourself? Even one of the trailers shows a house which turns into a vehicle, walls folding away to some extradimensional space, and a pilot’s station appears. You can really flex your logical and engineering muscles.
|How essential is crafting?||Running the farm makes crafting a necessity|
There has been a lot of praise towards the Western version of the Harvest Moon games, and with good reason. Stardew Valley is a charming game, which will make you work for every moment of happiness you get out of it and crafting is an integral part of the experience.
There is around 100 various recipes in SV, ranging from food and tools to furniture and bombs useful in mining. Much like the game itself, the system is easily accessible to give the players as much time as possible to actually do stuff around the farm. All you need to do is click a recipe for which you have all the necessary ingredients and you’ll have your desired item in no time, ready to be put in the inventory or somewhere in the world.
Perhaps the most profitable things you can craft is classified as Artisan equipment, all of which allow you to convert certain resources into something you can sell at much better prices, like a loom, which lets you turn wool into a fine cloth.
|Genre:||Survival, battle royale, sandbox|
|How essential is crafting?||Nobody will force you to craft, but it will help immensely|
Fortnite is a pretty cool game, all things considered. Aside from its upbeat visual style, it makes crafting much more exciting than it is in other games by the virtue of it being integral to the moment-to-moment gameplay, not just a planning phase or downtime.
Nowhere is this as visible as in Fortnite Battle Royale mode, where you can literally run around and build structures around you, either to get to higher ground or build a barrier between yourself and people who try to sacrifice you to the Battle Royale gods. The only limits are imposed by the amount of resources in your disposal, and keeping things supported somehow. You can’t create floors floating mid-air as if Newton never existed. The extremely dynamic crafting system can also be used to trap other players in a sandwich made of steel and stone, provided you have a team or are very fast yourself.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
|How essential is crafting?||Not obligatory, but that’s how the best items are made|
Creative craft game
Dragon Age: Inquisition was a mixed bag of pretty cool stories and tons of faff keeping you from them. However one part of that faff is perhaps the most sensible crafting system in an RPG to date, and a good reason to go hunting or scavenging.
See, the crafting blueprints aren’t for the specific items as much a an “idea” of an item. Every recipe specifies several slots, like Armour and Defence for shields, as well the amount of a type of resource needed for these slots, like 6 Metal or 12 Leather. But exactly what specific kind of metal or leather you put there is up to you, and it changes the stats of the final item, and the bonuses scale with the amount allowed in a recipe, so a lot of effort goes to finding blueprints with the highest resource capacity.
Even better: the appearance of an item changes depending on the resources used, so a blade with from Blue Vitriol will have a different tint than one made of Bloodstone.
Overall this system is a far cry from most crafting in video games, and easily one that allows the most freedom.
|Release year:||2006 (first game), 2016 (the most recent release)|
|Genre:||Survival horror, beat ’em up, hack and slash|
|Developer||Capcom, Capcom Vancouver|
|How essential is crafting?||Produces absurdly entertaining and deadly results|
Some people would say that a photographer riding around in a laser-shooting golf cart with a front-mounter lawnmower is unrealistic and stupid. They would be right, of course, but it doesn’t mean it’s not fun!
The Dead Rising games from Capcom make zombie outbreak into an excuse to go on a fun rampage using a variety of ridiculous tools, and the games’ protagonists been through so much that they’re not above posing for cheerful selfies even as zombies rush him from behind. Ever since Dead Rising 2 the players have been able to jury-rig two seemingly unrelated things to create something that makes no sense but works anyway, like an electric chair made from a wheelchair and a battery. Or a toy helicopter with a machete attached to it. Why? Because why not.
For a series that doesn’t really all that much cheer in it, the combo weapons and vehicles sure are a wacky addition, and very memorable.
Divinity: Original Sin 1&2
|Release year:||2014 (DOS1), 2017 (DOS2)|
|How essential is crafting?||Can be helpful, but it’s not game changing|
The Original Sin games land a place mostly for one reason: they let you make a tomato sauce by smashing a tomato with a hammer.
Jokes aside, both games have a wealth of various crafting recipes, many of which can make your life a lot easier. Most blueprints require two things and can be made anywhere, such as mounting arrowheads on arrow shafts, but others might require specialised equipment, such as an anvil or a cooking pot. Some items require several steps to be taken. For instance the steps to make a pizza are the following:
- Smash a Tomato with a Hammer to makes Tomato Sauce (we can’t stress this enough).
- Grind Wheat with a Mortar and Pestle to make Flour.
- Add Milk or Water to the Flour to make Dough.
- Add Tomato Sauce to Dough to make Pizza Dough.
- Put Pizza Dough in an Oven
Just like in real life, only there’s less cleaning up afterwards.
|How essential is crafting?||The default way to get most items: warframes, weapons, and more|
Warframe is either infuriating or motivating, depending on how much fun and luck you’re having farming for blueprints and resources.
Either way nearly everything that matters for your gameplay can, and should, be crafted. New weapons, consumables, ability-improving Arcanes, Warframe armours themselves, basically if you can equip something, it probably has a blueprint somewhere. The two notable exceptions are pets (Kubrow, Kavat, and Helminth Charger) and cosmetic attachments like pauldrons or cloaks (syandanas).
Of course every blueprint requires a number of resources for which you can farm or complete special missions, during which you might get a new blueprint… it never ends.
|How essential is crafting?||Fundamental to the experience|
Like an ant farm
Terraria is a game that is just as good as a dungeon crawler with rogue-like features, and as a sandbox letting you just build.
Either way, crafting is an integral part of the experience, whether you’re working on a room for one of your castle’s visitors, or a new piece of equipment which would allow you to descend even further down the deep caverns. Although it lacks the third dimension of, say, Minecraft the fortresses one can build can still be impressive, perhaps even more so, given the engine’s limitations.
|How essential is crafting?||Crafting is largely the point of the game|
What, you thought Minecraft wouldn’t be here? Nonsense. Minecraft’s broad and deep crafting system is probably the most iconic of them all, has been with us for 11 years already, counting from the first release. Time flies, no?
Crafting in Notch’s magnum opus requires players to place required resources in a specific arrangement on a crafting grid. Often the arrangement makes sense and resembles the final product to a certain degree. There are two grids: 2x grid of your inventory, accessible at any time, and a 3×3 workbench, which usually isn’t just a click away.
Regardless of limitations, players prove time and again that with patience, dedication, and mods many different structures can be created, including logic gates. Can be play online
|How essential is crafting?||Usually necessary to survive|
The lot of them
Although grouping them under one entry might seem absurdly unfair to the fans of this title or another, all the ARKs, Rusts, and Conans boil down to very similar ideas with their respective settings being responsible for the largest differences.
Craft a bedroll, build a fire, put a stone on a stick and go hunting for meat. Move through the more and more advanced recipes to create weapons, armour, and a place to safely hide when either of those breaks in a crucial moment. Oh, and don’t forget to stay hydrated and fed, because realism.
Dismissive though that might sound, these game make no secret that crafting is essential to survival, and they often add that it’s easier to be with friends, not only because it allows everyone to focus on a specific type of crafting and specific resources to collect. To be fair, however, ARK’s dinosaur taming and riding is pretty rad.
|Release year:||2016 (Early Access), 2020 (full release)|
|Genre:||Construction and management simulation, real-time strategy|
|How essential is crafting?||Fundamental to the game|
Did you ever wonder what would happen in The Martian’s protagonist was an engineer rather than botanist? Factorio seems to answer that question. In Factorio you play a man who has crashed on an alien planet and needs to create the entire industry that would let him build a rocket and escape. Good luck, have fun.
Factorio’s entire shtick is crafting your way through progressively more complex blueprints to the point where nearly everything can be automated: mining for resources, transportation, assembly etc. Although the end-goal is set, you can always ignore it and, say, make your factory play the video for Darude’s Sandstorm instead. I’m still baffled that it’s possible.
Build your own conclusions
That concludes our list of best crafting games enriching or even enabling the gameplay in the first place. As always, it’s not exhaustive, and we’re always open to seeing your own picks mentioned in the comments.