Do you want a game with creative freedom? An experience in which you can explore as well as create? With our ranking of the best sandbox games, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Many games have elaborated and exciting storytelling. But as great as that may be, sometimes we want to be the ones writing the story. These five games offer an excellent opportunity to do just that – and not just alone, but also cooperatively with your friends if you like.
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15. Lego Worlds
The effortless placement of brick on brick continues on the digital screen with sandbox games like Lego World. Find your perfect place in this iconic world and build the way you like it. Thanks to terraforming, you can shape the landscape to your liking, and it even allows you to set mountains and rivers. Take your creativity to a new level and create your Lego universe, alone or with friends.
Lego Worlds is available for PS4/PS5, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It can be purchased for PC via Steam.
14. The Long Dark
A plane crash leaves you in the middle of the harsh Canadian wilderness. Your adventure begins in the midst of fire and debris, and you’ll have to search in the cold forest for a friend you’re missing. Besides the very well-written story, the game also offers you a sandbox mode where you can explore, collect and build as you like. Beware of dangerous bears and wolves, while you have to take care of survival mechanics such as hunger, thirst, and energy.
You can play the title on macOS, and Linux. Get a free copy for PC via Steam.
13. The Forest
A sequel to this survival sandbox game, Sonst of the Forest, is already in the starting blocks and will be released in February 2023. Therefore, it is even more worth taking a closer look at this title. If you want to combine survival and crafting with horror, besides sandbox games like The Long Dark, you’ve made a no less significant find in this area with The Forest. Alone or with friends, you’ll build your own settlement on an island, while you have to watch out for bloodthirsty cannibals and other scary creatures.
The Forest is available for PS4/PS5 and can be purchased for PC via Steam.
12. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
Role-play sandbox games like Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord take you to the harsh times of the Middle Ages. The game gives you a lot of possibilities to develop, which are really remarkable. For example, you’ll be able to lead your created army (which can consist of hundreds of soldiers) from your leading hero’s perspective or from above in an isometric perspective, which will give you a very good overview as a commander. Besides, the game offers stunning graphics and great effects that make for truly epic battles.
You can play this title on PS4/PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. Get a copy for PC via Steam.
11. EVE Online
This title has a very epic reputation: Fleets of ships with thousands of real players that fight each other in space, form alliances, plunder and establish space colonies. These are stories that are told here without the pretense of the developers. As a capsuleer pilot, you’ll find yourself in a vibrant galaxy with many alliances, corporations, and a complex economy. Enter the sci-fi universe and play your part in one of the best sandbox games set in space. The recently released expansion EVE: Uprising makes an entry particularly appealing.
Even though this title can’t be declared as a typical sandbox game, there are special areas (so-called nullsecs – zero security areas) where, within the limits of the game mechanics, complete anarchy reigns. While this is successively restricted in Lowsec and Highsec, there is freedom in Null if you decide to go for it. But beware, there are no authorities to protect you when you’re in Null.
You can play the title on macOS, and Linux. Get a free copy for PC via Steam.
10. Just Cause 3
The Just Cause series traditionally gives the player a very large, expansive world. In the third installment, Rico Rodriguez’s task is to free his home island Medici from the creep General Di Ravello. The strength here is, again, clearly the creative freedom to leave a lot of explosive chaos on the island and blow up a lot of buildings and vehicles. Jump into the depths with a wingsuit, perform impressive stunts and really let it rip with your rocket launcher.
Just Cause 3 is available for PS4/PS5, and Xbox One. It can be purchased for PC via Steam.
9. The Sims 4
In your search for good sandbox games, you should definitely check out The Sims 4. The latest installment in the series is still supported with updates and DLC. Create your own Sims, build a house for them and watch them live their best or worst lives at home. Here you have a lot of creative freedom. Watch them travel to other parts of the city, go to work, pursue their hobbies, or encourage them to do certain actions that you can direct. Great fun awaits you – since recently totally free!
You can get it for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and macOS. Grab a free copy for PC via Steam.
It’s a kind of new futuristic Minecraft, which advertises itself as an adventure game as big as your imagination. And the game fully lives up to this claim! There are all kinds of different treasures, monsters, and resources to discover, and you can even create your own creatures and items. Build and design according to your wishes. In addition to decorating your own realm, you can also easily explore the game worlds of other players, alone or with friends.
You can get Creativerse for PC via Steam.
In short, this is a sort of futuristic Minecraft. However, the graphics are more realistic and less pixelated. Here you can construct your own robots. But that’s not all, of course. It’s free, and you can also introduce your self-built mech into the world and pilot it through it to hunt down and destroy other robots/players. Sandbox games like Robocraft are made for all fans of the sci-fi genre and offer a lot of creative freedom. Have fun tinkering around!
Robocraft is available for macOS & Linux. Play it for free on PC via Steam.
6. Arma 3
Possibly one of the most complex military simulations, Arma 3 offers an exciting multiplayer mode, a vast campaign, and a very extensive editor. The latter includes an extremely large number of assets and tools for creating your own missions, campaigns and worlds. Popular standalone titles such as DayZ have been created from this editor, which clearly speaks for its design potential that makes Arma 3 one of the most remarkable sandbox games.
You can get it for macOS & Linux. It can be purchased for PC via Steam.
In YLands, there are no limits to your creativity. Grab your partner, friends, or family and collect resources together to build anything you can think of. Explore the lands or waters by building vehicles or a ship and setting sail. A creative adventure awaits you, and you are the author of it! And the best part is that this title is playable completely for free.
Get a free copy for PC via Steam.
4. Albion Online
This free 3D sandbox game has a high degree of freedom as well. Take possession of land, find and collect resources, and construct buildings and items of all kinds. Equip yourself with weapons and armor to fight against players in open-world PvP, or focus on collecting, trading, and selling resources to other players to expand your empire.
Albion Online features cross-play and is available for Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. You can play the title for free on PC via Steam.
3. No Man’s Sky
Dive into a Sci-Fi adventure as a spaceship pilot and explore countless procedurally generated planets. There is always something new to see and discover: Collect valuable resources or carnivorous plants, build a base and upgrade your equipment or terraform planets. Just do whatever you feel like doing. The game has already received many updates, making it even more fascinating. Here you can both relax and engage in intense battles with alien creatures.
You can get it for PS4, PS5, PlayStation VR, SteamVR, Oculus Rift, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. You can purchase it for PC via Steam.
If you want to play a free alternative to Minecraft, we can recommend Trove. In this game, you’ll have a lot of fun with numerous creations and inventions. Create items, dungeons, and classes, and build your own adventure. The entire environment is completely destructible, and you’ll be able to create your own dream buildings in it. What sets the game apart from other titles of its type is its sophisticated combat system, which can be very exciting.
The title is available for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Mac. Play it for free on PC via Steam.
Have you ever wanted to build impressive historical Viking settlements and appoint yourself Jarl? Although the world of Valheim isn’t made of blocks, it can still be modified to your liking. Thus, you’ll get numerous resources that you can use for tools and construction materials to build impressive bases. Besides, you’ll be able to fight against many huge mythological creatures and level up. Are you ready for Valhalla?
Valheim is available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Linux. You can buy it for PC via Steam.
Even more sandbox-like games that focus on freedom and exploration
In case you feel like faster-paced action, check out our ranking for the Best Free FPS Games.
What is your favorite thing to do in Sandbox games? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.