Today is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing! (Or is it really....) Today 50 years ago marked one of the biggest scientific achievements in human history, and the biggest achievement in space exploration: putting a man on the moon. I can only wish I was able to witness such a moment in space exploration. Readers may not know about this me; but in addition to gaming, I am a huge space nerd. Other amazing achievements in space such as the mars rovers, the international space station, and the Pluto Horizon missions just don't seem to compare to this monumental event. I can only hope in my life time we get to see a human step on Mars. To celebrate this 50th anniversary, we are going to do that the best way a video game platform can! Here are the best video games about space or feature space prominently. A game needs more than to just "take place in space", but somehow heavily feature beautiful "spaces capes" or unique planets; these games need to make space a prominent star of the game. This list will focus more on the esthetic of space rather than the quality of the games themselves. While it may seem like an obvious place to go, I feel like many games, even labeled as "sci-fi" stick to ground level, or earth like planets. I want to go into space and explore! There are some popular well known space sims that I just haven't played personally like Elite Dangerous, Everspace, Eve online, and others, so if you see games missing that are on your list make sure to put them in the comments on social media!
Call of Duty Infinite warfare
Ok hear me out on this one. Yes I know the game itself isn't the most beloved in the franchise, it probably sits near the bottom second only to Ghosts. Now while the games are not the favorite amongst Call of Duty die hards, this game got something really really right. Space was just gorgeous. Forget the multiplayer in the game, that campaign was amazing. This game gave us one of the best most realistic look at what our military will look like once it frequents space. The campaign opens up to a beautiful icy world. We get to explore orbital battle over earth, mars, and so much more. This AAA game contains some of the most beautiful spaces-capes, and while I may be in the minority, I desperately want more of that from Call of Duty. Space combat doesn't have to be all laser guns and Halo. It can be grounded, "boots on the ground in space"
No Man Sky
Yes, No Man Sky is infamous. It is infamous for its admittedly bad launch period. Few games were more hyped up prior to launch than No Man Sky and at the same time failed epically to deliver said promise. The concept, of a infinite procedurally generated universe, with an beautiful art style appealed to us strongly that many gamers stuck around hoping for promised improvements. Finally over the course of several years, NMS became more of what it was promised. Now NMS is an name that refers to a success story or redemption, not failure. What this game is now is why it lands on this list. This game does what few promise and does it incredibly. Hop in a space ship and explore space.
Destiny 2 blew me away. I largely skipped Destiny 1 for its glaring similarities to Halo and boring lack luster story at launch. But the hype machine pulled me back in for Destiny 2 when it arrived and boy am I glad I did. Say what you will about the story, dlc strategy, business decision, Activision, and all that; Destiny 2 had some of the most beautiful space-scapes I've ever seen. You get to see such vast beautiful landscapes on different planets and visiting various worlds in the solar system. My absolute favorite part was in the endgame of the main game where you get to land on a space station called Almighty in low solar orbit. From a cinematic perspective, I can think of few things more beautiful than seeing our Sun in 4K as if I was actually standing on a space station. It was incredible.
The Outer Wilds
A more recent entry on this list, and 2019's first 10/10 score from Game Infinite. This game is truly incredible. You get to explore a miniature alien solar system and with the unique premise of only having 22 minutes to do so before something incredible happens. I won't spoil it for you but the underlying premise includes a solar event that is gorgeous to see. The solar system also includes a cold lonely comet, a black hole at the center of a planet, a gas giant, a white hole, a solar station, an inter-dimensional vine that is larger inside than outside, and just so much more. This game is beautiful, facinating, and is in the run for GOTY 2019. It is on Xbox, also on Xbox Game Pass or available on the Epic Games Store for PC; and is definitely worthy of space on your hard drive.
Mass Effect (The Series)
Was there really any doubt this would top off the list? I have said this before and frequent fans of Game Infinite get to hear it again. Mass Effect is the greatest video game franchise of all time. It is the greatest video game story ever told. For the sake of this list it is also the best example of space exploration and discovery in gaming as well. Not only does this game let you fulfill any starship Captain fantasy you may have commanding your crew and exploring a galaxy, setting aliens and landing on new planets, this game delivers in just vast beautiful detailed story filled planets to explore. From the close to home Lunar mission in the original or the desert sands of Mars in Mass Effect 3, to distant exotic locations such as the galactic core, players are taken to incredible locations. Most of my all time favorite scenery moments in gaming come from the Mass Effect series, such as seeing Earth from the surface of the moon, or looking outside the window of your ship and seeing the planet you are orbiting. You get to command a space ship in beautiful cinematic space battles, meet strange new aliens, and build a team. While Mass Effect Andromeda failed to meet the story and character levels of the OT it did deliver on massive beautiful space-scapes. Players had the ability to see beautifully rendered 4k images of fictional worlds as they traveled the galaxy map picking new destinations. The thing I say about Mass Effect is many games struggle with a difficult balance between detail and scope. Many of these large space sims are vast and empty (kind of like you know...actual space, but boring for a game) Big and empty was a criticism of No Man Sky at launch. While others bring down the scope to perhaps a single solar system but with beautiful views and a more detailed look. Mass Effect achieves the impossible by giving incredible scope, countless worlds, but combined with the detail, lore, and story or a single solar system game.
Most Anticipated - Boundary
In conclusion, Space is just super cool and more modern games need to take advantage of this setting. Don't be afraid to feature multiple environments and physics and make the worlds truly weird. Some upcoming games I'm excited to see are The Outer Worlds, Boundary, and Borderlands 3 promise to take us to some incredible environments. For more gaming news and discussion stay tuned right here on Game Infinite.