In this article, the author ranks the top 25 sandbox games available. Sandbox games are open-world environments that allow players to explore, create, and shape their own experiences. The list includes popular titles like Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, and Terraria, as well as lesser-known gems like RimWorld and Stardew Valley. The rankings are based on factors such as gameplay mechanics, graphics, replayability, and overall enjoyment. The author provides brief descriptions of each game, highlighting their unique features and why they deserve a spot on the list..
What are the best sandbox games?
Determining the best sandbox games is a tricky business because so many different series fit under its umbrella.
To put it simply, sandbox games describe anything that gives players a large amount of freedom and tools to do almost anything they wish.
With that in mind, we’re taking a look at the best games that fit this definition and what makes them great sandboxes!
The 25 Best Sandbox Games
When creating this list, we considered the amount of freedom each of these games gives players and ranked them accordingly.
Additionally, many games we’ve chosen span different genres, as we’ve tried to find a little something for everyone!
Now, without further ado, let’s get right into our list of the 25 best sandbox games:
Factorio is a game that spent a long time in early access, and because of this, it is incredibly polished and complex.
Possibly one of the best construction management games ever made, Factorio tasks players with creating an industry on an alien planet.
While the main goal is to build a rocket to leave the planet you’ve crashed on, as a sandbox, you can choose to continue once the story is over.
Featuring both real-time strategy and survival elements, this game can be played alone or with friends.
It’s really easy to lose hours arranging your conveyor belts to be as efficient as possible and watching your industry expand is so satisfying!
24. Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas is one of the best post-apocalyptic games of all time, and it is often considered the best Fallout game.
Set in the post-apocalyptic world of the American West, New Vegas gives players a load of freedom.
Seriously, the only unkillable characters are Yes Man and three kids; if you want to kill everyone else, you can.
The only reason Yes Man can’t be killed is because he’s a robot who keeps coming back so you can get an ending to the story.
Aside from that, the entire Mojave is there for you to do with as you please, and the possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
23. Just Cause 3
While the main storyline of Just Cause 3 is all about Rico Rodriquez trying to free his home from a dictator, that’s not what makes this game fun.
The real selling point here is the huge open world and free reign to cause as much chaos as you want with a variety of fun toys.
If you want to fly around with your grapple hook like you’re Spiderman, you can. You can also blow up cars and buildings!
Why is blowing things up in a sandbox so entertaining? We don’t know, but it certainly is incredibly fun!
22. Stardew Valley
As of 2022, Stardew Valley has sold over 20 million copies, and for good reason. It gives players a lot of room to roam!
At the start of this game, all you’re given is a farmhouse and a plot of land to do what you want.
There’s no overarching goal or objective to complete; you basically just live out your life in a chill, laid-back environment.
While you can create a thriving farm, you can also explore caves, go mining, go fishing, pick up seashells, or just hang out with NPCs.
Stardew Valley is basically the most stress-free game in the world, and we highly recommend trying it out for yourself!
21. The Sims 4
The Sims is a classic sandbox franchise, and this latest game in the series has been going strong since 2014.
In this game, you can live any life you want, and there are even the best Sims 4 career mods for more variety!
In this game, you can build houses, create families, and basically play god while manipulating the lives of animated humans.
With all of the mods and in-game cheat codes you can download and use, there really isn’t a limit to what you can do in this game.
Oh, and don’t worry, we won’t judge you for all of the wacky ways you’ve tried to kill your poor Sims. They probably had it coming anyway.
This is the ultimate action-adventure sandbox game, and you can easily get thousands of hours out of it.
Terraria features almost everything you could think of, including painting, building, crafting, exploring, and combat.
When you first start off, you’ll be in a procedurally generated world with basic tools, and it will be up to you to survive and thrive.
Like Minecraft, Terraria is an absolute classic, and there is even a large modding community that keeps adding to it.
If you’re a fan of sandbox games, this is one that you have to try for yourself, though you won’t want to stop once you start playing!
19. Going Medieval
Going Medieval has quickly become one of the best real-life simulation games for fans of the middle ages.
This colony simulator has some of the best building mechanics of any simulation sandbox game, and it gives players a ton of freedom.
However, Going Medieval isn’t just about building a town, it’s also about tending to the citizens who live there.
As the god of this world, you will have to keep them happy and, of course, alive, as starvation and raider attacks are constant threats!
If you’re up to the task of looking after a Medieval town filled with people whom you can make or break, this game is for you!
18. Cities: Skylines
After Sim City fell out of popularity, Cities: Skylines swooped in to corner the market, and it has been very successful!
By far, this is the best city builder around, and it really gives players free rein to build whatever they want!
If you want to build a boat full of sewage around your city? You absolutely can! You can even call down natural disasters!
Oh, and there are also a ton of mods that can basically give you any tool you could ever ask for.
In Cities: Skylines, you can truly be a benevolent god or an absolute monster to your citizens, and we are totally here for it.
17. Crusader Kings 3
Crusader Kings 3 has become one of the most popular video games of all time, and it is certainly an amazing sandbox!
Set in the Middle Ages, players can begin this game in either 867 or 1066 and choose to play an almost endless number of characters.
In this game, you can start at almost any location across the globe, even tiny provinces like the Åland Islands nestled between Finland and Sweden.
While the UI can be a bit intimidating at first because there is so much you can do, once you get used to it, it’s pretty straightforward.
What makes this game so great is that, no matter how small your starting location is, if you play your cards right, you can rule the world.
Crusader Kings 3 is the ultimate sandbox where you can play for thousands of hours and still encounter something new!
16. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt won more GOTY awards than any other at the time of its release, and it’s easy to see why!
Not only is this game gorgeous, but it features a huge open world for players to explore as Geralt of Rivia.
There is no shortage of things for players to do in Wild Hunt, and you can literally do as much or as little as you please.
This game also boasts a lot of choices that players will have to make, many of which will have lasting consequences.
If you’re looking for a sandbox open-world game that also has an incredible story, The Witcher 3 is for you.
15. Scrap Mechanic
This game readily calls itself a creative paradise, and it certainly lives up to that title and more.
While the goal of this game is to create machines and vehicles using scrap, there is also a ton of exploration to be done!
If that wasn’t exciting enough, don’t worry, because there are also monsters to be fought and a full survival mode to make things more difficult.
Scrap Mechanic may not have one of the biggest open-world maps, but there are hundreds of hours of things to explore.
Overall, this is a very perky and fun game that gives players a ton of freedom to create whatever their hearts desire!
14. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey features a ton of things to see and do throughout the Greek mainland and isles.
This game gives players a ton of freedom that other games in the franchise don’t, including the ability to murder citizens without penalty.
You can also flip-flop between taking over land for both Athens and Sparta, triggering conquest battles whenever the urge strikes you.
While you can’t really customize Alexios or Cassandra’s appearance, there are a ton of armor and weapon options, as well as upgrades.
If you’re a completionist, it will easily take you over 130 hours to do everything in this game, which is the most in the franchise!
Although Rust has no shortage of performance problems, that hasn’t stopped players from embracing it with open arms.
This sandbox survival game is one of the best online games to play with friends, though you can take it on solo.
In Rust, you will have to build, survive, and work together — or against — over 100 other players.
However, the servers reset weekly, so you will always have to start over fresh, adding to the overall challenge.
While it can get to be a bit of a grind, Rust is highly addicting, and once you start playing, it is really hard to stop!
Hitman is an interesting type of sandbox game, as each mission does have a specific goal, but players are given complete freedom in how they complete it.
There are several different ways to go about assassinating targets, from dressing up as a runway model to straight up just shooting them.
Every level also comes with its own challenges that you will have to creatively overcome, forcing you to think outside the box.
In Hitman, there are almost an unlimited number of ways to complete every task, giving you an incredible amount of freedom to explore.
Valheim is an indie hit that transports players to the Viking era, specifically the afterlife, where players must prove themselves worthy of Valhalla.
Starting off, players will have to survive in an open world using tools to craft shelter and weapons to fight off enemies.
Every new character is plopped into a procedurally generated world split into several different biomes.
Each biome has its own unique enemies, resources, and bosses to find, and you will have to be careful before venturing out.
If you’re a fan of Minecraft, you will absolutely love this game and will easily lose hundreds of hours exploring all it has to offer.
One of the most popular video games, the sheer amount of freedom you’re given in RimWorld is astonishing!
As a construction and management simulation game, there are a variety of starting scenarios to choose from.
These are designed to help players create their own stories as they are stranded on a procedurally generated planet.
Characters can also have a series of random negative or positive traits that influence how they can contribute and influence growing communities.
While the game is technically over when you escape the planet with at least one colonist, one playthrough isn’t enough to see everything in the game.
With so many possibilities to explore, you can easily go through multiple playthroughs and still be left wanting more.
9. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Many previous Spider-Man games have been sandboxes in their own right, but this one really stands out.
One of the best open-world PS4 games, Marvel’s Spider-Man, gives players a massive map to swing across.
With this game, you really feel like you ARE Spider-Man, and there is always something new to find around every corner.
Best of all, you can take things at your own pace in this game and even spend hours just exploring if you want!
We only hope that Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is able to live up to the high expectations that this game has set!
8. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a delightful game that is perfect to relax with when you just need to de-stress.
This life simulation game plops players down on a new island along with some anthropomorphic neighbors.
It is then up to you how you build your new home and create your own unique story.
There are also many seasonal events to take part in, along with a range of other activities to ensure that you’ll never get bored!
7. Mount And Blade 2: Bannerlord
The successor to Warband, Mount and Blade 2: Bannerlord is a strategy action RPG that gives players the ability to build their own army.
While there is a campaign map you can follow, there is an incredible amount of freedom in how you achieve your goals.
How you create your army and take on sieges is completely up to you, and there are numerous ways to succeed.
Best of all, the multiplayer component allows players to engage each other on a variety of different maps with new game modes!
6. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Along with being one of the best Zelda Games, Breath of the Wild is also an amazing sandbox.
Nintendo really went above and beyond when creating this game, and there is so much to do throughout it.
Breath of the Wild has hours worth of exploring to be done across its open world map, and there is always something new to discover.
What’s more is that quest markers aren’t a thing here, so you will really need to thoroughly explore to make any progress!
5. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
Just like Odyssey, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag stands out as an awesome sandbox, and there is so much to explore here.
Seriously, there are a ton of Caribbean islands to explore, along with the entirety of Cuba and the tip of the Florida peninsula.
You can even just jump off your ship and dive into the depths of the ocean if you want, which we highly recommend doing.
This game also doesn’t shoehorn you into completing anything too quickly, so you can really just sail around taking in the sites.
4. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
What can we say about The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim that hasn’t already been said over its many re-releases?
Regardless of how many times Bethesda remasters this game, the fact remains that it is an amazing sandbox.
There is so much to do in this game that fans are still finding new things even a decade after its first release.
Between the remasters and countless mods that have been released for this game, there is little that it doesn’t offer at this point.
3. Grand Theft Auto V
Almost as old as Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V is one of the best GTA games of all time, and it is huge.
Spanning both a bustling city and backwoods boonies, this game has so much to do that it can easily take you 100+ hours to complete it all.
Best of all, like Skyrim, GTA V has a thriving modding community that has added even more fun things to do in this game.
The game even comes with its own expansive tool kit, the Rockstar Editor, so you can create your own things to add to the game!
With so much potential, it’s easy to see why this game has remained so popular even a decade after its initial release.
Of course, we can’t have a sandbox games list without mentioning Minecraft, a game that has taken the world by storm.
While it has changed a lot since being released in Java form in 2009, it hasn’t lost any of its charm.
Since every world is procedurally generated, you will never have the same experience twice in Minecraft.
With so many things to build, explore, mine, and harvest, you can easily spend hundreds of hours on just one playthrough.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2
Taking our number one spot is Red Dead Redemption 2, a visually stunning game that turns the Wild West into a sandbox.
Although this game does have objectives and a main story, you can also just ride around with friends or go fishing.
There are also random events dotted all around the world to find, and side activities like playing poker, searching for rock carving, or dueling.
Oh, and you’ll also have to pay attention to the weather, or you could freeze, and your character will lose or gain weight depending on what you eat.
Seriously, Rockstar thought of everything when developing this game, and we’re incredibly thankful they did!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the 25 best sandbox games and, hopefully, found some new ones to play!
Although each of these games has something unique that makes them stand out, they all offer players an incredible amount of freedom.
Seriously though, if you’ve been sleeping on Red Dead Redemption 2, you are really missing out on the ultimate sandbox!
Here’s a quick recap of the 25 best sandbox games:
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Mount And Blade 2: Bannerlord
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons
- Marvel’s Spider-Man
- Rim World
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Scrap Mechanic
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Crusader Kings 3
- Cities: Skylines
- Going Medieval
- The Sims 4
- Stardew Valley
- Just Cause 3
- Fallout: New Vegas
Which of these sandbox games is your favorite? Leave a comment below.
Determining the best sandbox games can be difficult, as the genre encompasses a wide range of games. This list explores the top 25 sandbox games, taking into account the level of freedom they provide to players. Factorio, a game that challenges players to create an industry on an alien planet, and Fallout: New Vegas, offering players the freedom to make choices in a post-apocalyptic world, are among the games featured. Other notable sandbox games include Just Cause 3, Stardew Valley, The Sims 4, Terraria, and Cities: Skylines. Each game offers unique experiences and opportunities for creative freedom.
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