Science fiction has long history, and it comes in many shades, from cyberpunk, through space hard SF, to even niche branches like retrofuturism. Since it is an infinitely inspiring genre, there’s also no shortage of science fiction-themed video games, digging both into the high-tech trapping and the deeper themes of the genre, in various proportions.

Below we’ve collected ten games which do science fiction justice. They look the part, have something cool to say about a possible future, or perhaps have awe-inspiringly detailed SF setting. Let’s take a look at the many futures of humanity in this list of…

GameReleaseGenreDeveloperSale
Into the Breach 2018-02-27 Indie Subset Games 90%
Prey (2017) 2017-05-04 Adventure Arkane Studios 77%
Titanfall 2 Origin 2016-10-28 Action & Shooter Respawn Entertainment 61%
Portal 2 2011-04-18 Adventure Valve
The Outer Worlds 2020-10-23 Action RPG Obsidian Entertainment 70%
No Man's Sky 2016-08-12 Adventure Hello Games 64%
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Deluxe Edition) 2019-11-15 Action Respawn Entertainment
Outer Wilds 2020-06-18 Action Mobius Digital 49%
Detroit: Become Human 2020-06-18 Adventure Quantic Dream 71%
Observation 2020-05-21 Adventure No Code 95%
Death Stranding Standard Edition 2020-07-14 Sci-fi Kojima Productions 70%
Stellaris 2016-05-09 Strategy Paradox Development Studio 58%
Half Life 2 2004-11-16 Action & Shooter Valve
Xcom 2 Collection 2016-02-04 Strategy Feral Interactive (Linux) 89%
Xcom 2 2016-02-04 Action & Shooter Feral Interactive (Linux) 96%
Outer Wilds 2020-06-18 Action Mobius Digital 49%
Dead Space (Origin) 2008-10-20 Adventure EA Redwood Shores 75%
Dead Space 2008-10-20 Adventure EA Redwood Shores 35%
Alien Isolation 2014-10-06 Action & Shooter Creative Assembly 80%
Alien Isolation Collection 2014-10-06 Horror Creative Assembly 76%
Homeworld Remastered Collection 2015-02-25 Adventure Gearbox Software 95%
Homeworld Deserts Of Kharak 2016-01-20 Strategy Blackbird Interactive 95%
Mass Effect Trilogy 2012-11-06 Adventure BioWare 30%
Deus Ex Human Revolution Directors Cut 2013-10-25 Action & Shooter Eidos Montreal 81%
Deus Ex Goty 2000-06-22 RPG Ion Storm 64%

EVE Online

Release:2003-05-06
Genre:Space sim, MMORPG
Developer:CCP Games

We’ll begin this list with something really big. If you’re looking for a complex space sim/MMORPG, you probably won’t find anything better than EVE Online.

Yup, it’s overwhelming in scope and extremely detailed. There’s just a single, shared world where players engage with other players in terms of economy, war, and politics. Just talking about the complexity of this title is headache-inducing, not to mention actually delving into the game and starting your adventure there.

Let the tale of the Battle of B-R5RB be a testament to the greatness of EVE Online. This one was probably the biggest PVP battle in the history of gaming. Lasting 21 hours, it saw thousands of players fight for control over the star system B-R5RB. The destruction was immense, as thousands of ships were destroyed, including 75 Titans, the largest vessels that you can obtain in the game. The developers commemorated the battle with a monument erected in the system and named it The Titanomachy.

Key features
  • An incredibly detailed and complex space simulation
  • Griefing is permissible here, so beware
  • Playing the game solo is possible, but it’s dangerous to go alone, better form alliances
  • It’s a testament to what players can accomplish together

Titanfall 2

Release:2016-10-28
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Respawn Entertainment

If you love giant mecha, then you won’t find many games better than Titanfall 2. This fresh and innovative FPS made by the veterans of the genre is one of the most overlooked gems on the market.

Titanfall 2 improves on its predecessor in every possible way. It features a robust single-player campaign which puts you in the shoes of Jack Cooper, a member of the Frontier Militia who bonds with his deceased mentor’s Titan (a giant mecha-style robot) and seeks to stop the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation from destroying the Militia planet Harmony.

Titanfall 2

One thing’s for sure: the missions are large and designed to offer players different ways to complete the objectives, as well as some fresh gameplay mechanics, including time travel. It’s kind of like the old Shogo: Mobile Armor Division, but done right. Couple that with excellent multiplayer and community support and you have a fantastic shooter that you will most likely love.

Key features
  • Phenomenal single-player campaign with lots of fresh ideas
  • It’s just too bad it’s a bit short
  • Excellent multiplayer
  • Piloting Titans is super fun

Fallout (series)

Release:2017-09-26
Genre:RPG
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

War, war never changes. The Fallout series is pretty much the most famous video game example of post-apocalyptic science fiction.

A spiritual successor to Wasteland which seems to have been strongly influenced by the Mad Max movie, the series has captured the hearts of RPG fans all over the world.

Fallout (series)

The first two Fallout games are classic isometric RPGs with turn-based combat. Your task in the first Fallout is to recover a water chip in order to save your home, Vault 13. This later pits you against super mutants led by the Master. In the second game, your objective is to save your village, Arroyo, which has you come to grips with the Enclave.

Starting from Fallout 3 , the series was taken over by Bethesda. The biggest changes include full 3D, first/third-person perspective, and action-oriented combat instead of a turn-based one. There’s also a bunch of spin-offs, including New Vegas (made by Obsidian), which is considered to be the best Fallout since the 90s, Fallout 76, the series’ first multiplayer game, and Brotherhood of Steel, a tactical game released in 2001.

Key features
  • The world’s most famous post-apocalyptic game series
  • The first two games feature turn-based combat
  • Starting from Fallout 3, the series switched to action-oriented combat and full 3D
  • A couple of interesting spin-offs

Halo (series)

Release:2019-12-03
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:343 Industries

Fans of military science fiction know which series in this genre is probably the best one. Halo, Xbox’s killer app and a major critical and commercial success back in the day, is one of the greatest franchises of all time.

The series began with Halo: Combat Evolved, released in 2001. Set in the 26th century, it depicts a conflict between humans and an alien collective known as the Covenant. As a super soldier known as Master Chief, you crash land on a strange ringworld and embark on a mission to discover its secrets.

Halo (series)

The game spawned an entire franchise, including a bunch of sequels and a couple of spin-offs. Among the latter are Halo Wars 1 and 2, a fun RTS series, as well as Spartan Assault and Spartan Strike, twin-stick shooters made by 343 Industries and Vanguard Games. The latest installment is Halo: Infinite, released in 2021. It’s considered a return to the series’ form.

Key features
  • One of the best video game franchises of all time
  • Excellent first-person shooters, first and foremost
  • There are also real-time strategies and other more unusual spin-offs in the series as well
  • The Halo Theme

Portal (series)

Release:2011-04-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Valve

Now, this one puts science back in science fiction. The Portal series is a clever application of physics in order to create a fascinating series of mind-bending puzzles.

The first Portal game puts you in the shoes of Chell, a woman forced to complete various tests by GLaDOS, a malicious AI controlling the mysterious facility where the protagonist is stuck in. Most of these involve using the so-called portal gun to manipulate various objects or traverse the area by creating wormholes connecting two flat surfaces, but there are also other interesting puzzles to solve.

Portal (series)

The sequel, Portal 2, introduced more mechanics and a co-operative mode where you play as two robots, Atlas and P-Body. There are also some special editions of the games. If you love puzzle games, this series is one of the best choices around.

Key features
  • The series is set in the Half-Life universe
  • Excellent, creative puzzles
  • Portal 2 features a co-operative mode
  • Lots of dark humor

Stellaris

Release:2016-05-09
Genre:Strategy
Developer:Paradox Development Studio

Starting the list with a bang, Stellaris is easily one of the most complex sci-fi games out there. It’s a grand strategy playing on a gorgeous, 3D map of a galaxy filled with all the amazing vistas that space has to offer.

Your primary goal is to advance your civilization beyond their native star system through clever diplomacy, technological supremacy, or just a good ol’ military conquest.

Stellaris

Before you begin your galactic exploits, Stellaris gives you a very robust system which allows you to create your starting civilization, from the general appearance down to the nitty gritty, like political doctrines and ideals. The game has evolved significantly since release, and currently stands as a wonderfully complex and, somehow accessible, grand strategy/4X mix.

Key features
  • Gorgeous galaxy for your civilization to expand into
  • Plenty of political and cultural traits shaping your custom culture’s playstyle
  • Exceptional science fiction grand strategy
  • Crisis events making endgame more exciting

Half-Life 2

Release:2004-11-16
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Valve

An absolute classic, one of the most beloved games in history, a sequel to a legend, and one of the best science fiction first-person shooters you could ever hope for.

It should be absolutely no surprise that Half-Life 2 made this list. Starring the “strong silent type” Gordon Freeman, once again asked to face the interdimensional Combine invaders and do the G-Man’s mysterious bidding.

Half-Life 2

What awaits you is a tightly polished FPS taking place in a city dominated by dimensional aliens and featuring both normal weapons and creative tools, such as the famous Gravity Gun. Half-Life 2 is almost twenty years old, but it still holds up wonderfully, and truly, if you’re looking for SF shooters, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check it out.

Key features
  • An absolute genre classic, both for shooters and science-fiction stories
  • Excellent level design with awesome architecture
  • The Gravity Gun still holds up, powered by a solid physics engine
  • Great storyline

XCOM 2

Release:2016-02-04
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Feral Interactive (Linux)

XCOM 2 takes place twenty years after the events of the original game. The aliens have won, and control virtually the entire world, ruling by propaganda and the ADVENT military/police.

Only the few scattered resistance groups, including the remnants of the original XCOM, still fight for humanity. That’s the cyberpunk reality presented to you in XCOM 2, before you even start to play in earnest.

XCOM 2

XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactics game with an additional strategic layer about managing your mobile base of operations and flying around the globe to address crises and exploit opportunities. You are given four classes by default, with more unlocked in the story and through DLCs, including the game-changing War of the Chosen expansion. Aliens, robots, energy weapons, psionics. Everything is here!

Key features
  • Exciting turn-based missions
  • Four very distinct classes available right off the bat
  • Massive War of the Chosen expansion
  • Extensive soldier customization

Outer Wilds

Release:2020-06-18
Genre:Action
Developer:Mobius Digital

One of the highest rated games on Steam, Outer Wilds is a fascinating game about being caught in a time loop in an unstable star system. You have 22 minutes before the loop restarts, but you do retain the knowledge of what you discovered on the previous run.

Your task is to figure out why the time loop is happening, why is the nearby star going supernova, and what aliens have to do with it.

Outer Wilds

Much of the game revolves around exploration and logic puzzles. The environment of the system is often shifting, which might block or reveal different areas in each loop. Outer Wilds is a great mix of a science fiction story with captivating gameplay which rewards logical thinking and the ability to use previously gained knowledge to uncover more of the lingering mystery of that weird star system.

Key features
  • You’re stuck in a time loop and trying to get out
  • Based on exploration and puzzles
  • An interesting mystery you uncover bit by bit
  • Dynamic environments

Dead Space

Release:2008-10-20
Genre:Adventure
Developer:EA Redwood Shores

Dead Space (soon to receive a remake) is one of the finest SF horrors in video games. The year is 2508, engineer Isaac Clarke travels to a mining ship USG Ishimura, following a message from his girlfriends, the craft’s medical officer.

Unfortunately, Ishimura is malfunctioning, and mostly deserted, unless we count undead, warped, grotesque monstrosities which seemingly killed everyone else.

Dead Space

Dead Space takes the setting inspired by Alien, adds monsters inspired by The Thing, and uses them to create a terrifying, tense story and gameplay. You don’t even get proper weapons, mostly just repurposed tools, the best of which is the plasma cutter, which can dismember the necromorphs. It’s an excellent horror, has a great, immersive SF setting, and a suitably weird, unsettling storyline.

Key features
  • Minimal HUD, mostly limited to the diegetic health display
  • Terrifying body-horror enemies
  • Sequels and supplemental media which expand on the story
  • A remake is coming

Alien Isolation

Release:2014-10-06
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Creative Assembly

Two horrors back-to-back, Alien: Isolation is a spin-off from the renowned series of movies, following Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda. She is looking for her mother, at the time lost in space, and the search brings her to a space station, which has fallen silent, because it turns out that there’s a xenomorph on board, making short work of the crew. A bad time to look for one’s mother.

Alien Isolation

Alien: Isolation is a special treat to fans of the original movie: developer Creative Assembly took great pains to recreate the appearance of environments and technology, down to neat details. You’ll spend a lot of time hiding from the surprisingly smart Alien roaming the levels. You do have access to weapons, but they do a better job against regular enemies than against the xenomorph.

Key features
  • Takes place 15 years after the original Alien movie
  • Meticulously recreated technology from the source material
  • Very immersive
  • The xenomorph’s AI is excellent and scary

Death Stranding

Release:2020-07-14
Genre:Sci-fi
Developer:Kojima Productions

Created by Hideo Kojima, Death Stranding is a weird, but fascinating game about reforging connections in a post-cataclysmic, barren version of the United States.

You’re playing as Sam Porter Bridges, a courier specializing in transporting good on long distances across the US troubled both by bandits and by extradimensional creatures related to the afterlife.

Death Stranding

While DS does touch upon the metaphysics, there’s also plenty of neat science fiction stuff everywhere, especially in the tools and gadgets used by Bridges to make deliveries. Between universal fabricator, a semi-transforming bike, and sensors detecting the extradimensional creatures, Death Stranding is on point as far as science fiction trappings go.

Key features
  • A very interesting setting
  • An entertainingly convoluted plot
  • A surprisingly detailed physics of carrying goods across all kinds of terrain
  • Several appearances from well-known actors and a famous director

Homeworld (series)

Release:2015-02-25
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Gearbox Software

Homeworld is an all-time classic science fiction real-time strategy. Planet Kharak was destroyed, but its people managed to escape in a hastily built fleet. Now they have to move across the galaxy, seeking their ancestors’ homeworld.

Unlike many RTSs, Homeworld preserves the state of your fleet between mission, so a rough battle might make the next mission significantly more challenging.

Homeworld (series)

Although the original HW launched back in 1999, it has since received a remaster in 2015, and, unsurprisingly, it still can look gorgeous. Homeworld is one of the rare RTSs that offer fully 3D space combat (instead of just putting all ships on the same plane) which opens the way for interesting tactics. The series lives on and has its second sequel slated for release in late 2022.

Key features
  • One of the RTS classics
  • Your fleet persists between missions, play well to ensure your people’s survival
  • 3D battles
  • Received a remaster, a sequel, a prequel, and there’s HW3 coming soon

Mass Effect (series)

Release:2021-05-14
Genre:Action RPG
Developer:BioWare

This list couldn’t hope to be complete without the Mass Effect series. The famous trilogy takes place in a galaxy filled with alien civilizations, highly advanced technology, and more respect for physics than you’d expect.

The series follows Commander Shepard, the first human special agent of a galactic government, who comes across a threat that the Council refuses to acknowledge until it’s too late.

Mass Effect (series)

One of the biggest draws of the series is that your choices as Shepard have far-reaching consequences, and many play out later in the trilogy. In 2020 the games received a Legendary Edition, bringing all the games together, improving the slightly dated graphics, and smoothing over the appearance and choice import process. It’s certainly the definitive way to enjoy this amazing series.

Key features
  • Three games, dozens of hours of great story and engaging gameplay
  • Rich science fiction setting explored in the robust in-game Codex
  • Your choices carry over between instalments
  • Commander Shepard is an excellent, and customizable, protagonist

Deus Ex (series)

Release:2000-06-22
Genre:RPG
Developer:Ion Storm

Deus Ex presents a rough, cyberpunk future world filled with cybernetic augmentations, world-spanning conspiracies, and experiments bridging the gap between nature and technology.

Whether you’re playing as JC Denton, one of the first nano-augmented people, or Adam Jensen, whose life was saved thanks to extensive cybernetic replacements, you’re in for a tense SF plotline.

Deus Ex (series)

Even the less-popular Invisible War has many interesting concepts and is a solid SF game in its own right. What all DE games have in common is an immersive environment creating opportunities you can exploit by using your tech-fueled superpowers. There are always several ways to complete any task, often only limited by your imagination and tools at your disposal.

Key features
  • Immersive maps enabling flexible solutions
  • Non-linear progression
  • Captures the fantasy of having technological superpowers
  • Branching narratives

The future is bright from all the lasers

This concludes our list featuring some of the best futuristic games you should absolutely check out if you like the genre. There are strategies, RPGs, shooters, even horrors, so everybody should be able to find the vision of the future that feels the coolest to experience in a video game form.