With that said, separating the good base building games from the bad ones can be challenging, considering the sheer number of titles available on Steam alone.
In this list, we’ll be recommending the best base building games on PC to play in 2021. We’ll be focusing on a mix of popular base building games as well as a few hidden gems to spice things up.
If you feel like we overlooked your favorite game, let us know in the comments. And lastly, make sure to check back as we continue to update this list with new games in the future.
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Developer: Trion Worlds
Publisher: Trion Worlds
To get us started, we’re highlighting Trove, a unique sandbox-MMO hybrid with vibrant voxel-based graphics reminiscent of games like Roblox and Minecraft. Although it doesn’t offer as many in-game creation tools as either of those titles, you can build your own home called a ‘cornerstone.’
The game features an impressive number of character classes to level up and gain mastery over, in addition to cool late-game perks like ridable mounts and enhanced player customization. When you consider the fact that Trove is free to play, the amount of content you get by default is pretty staggering.
Developer: Roblox Corporation
Publisher: Roblox Corporation
Speaking of free base building games, Roblox is a well-known MMO that offers near limitless base building potential, allowing you to craft your own custom items, skins, and mini-games using a wide array of tools and features.
Since the game’s community is centered on sharing and playing creations, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to show off your skills or get inspired. While it may be more popular with younger gamers, the fact that Roblox doesn’t cost anything to get started means there’s no risk in giving it a try.
No Man’s Sky
Developer: Hello Games
Publisher: Hello Games
It’s been a bumpy ride for No Man’s Sky but the game is in a much better place nowadays than it was at launch. Developer Hello Games has spent the last four years adding highly-requested features ranging from base-building to online multiplayer and mod support, resulting in a resurgence of popularity.
It also helps that the game’s engine has been redesigned and upgraded over the years, ensuring it runs buttery-smooth on just about any machine. If you were a fan of the original concept but felt short-changed, you may want to give NMS another shot, even if to check out how it approaches base building.
What makes Minecraft such an amazing base building game is its flexible crafting system. Whether you’re trying to build a massive castle fortress where you’ll rule as a magical wizard or a makeshift rollercoaster that all your friends can ride, there’s usually a recipe for anything you can imagine.
And when you run out of ideas in the vanilla game, you can always start experimenting with the best mods for Minecraft. These allow you to visit new worlds, customize blocks, and craft all sorts of ridiculous items, including a jetpack to marvel at your architectural masterpieces from the heavens.
Ark: Survival Evolved
Developer: Studio Wildcard
Publisher: Studio Wildcard
Ark is one of those games you either really love or really hate. It all comes down to a matter of personal preference and your tolerance for excessive grinding, griefing, and game-breaking bugs. With that said, it injects some fresh ideas into the survival game genre, namely the ability to tame wild animals.
We’re talking slave dinosaurs that will let you ride them, carry your items, and defend both you and your base from predators. While playing in PvP can be brutal, especially for new players, the single-player mode allows you to craft intricate fortresses without worrying about another person blowing it up.
Developer: Facepunch Studios
Publisher: Facepunch Studios
What’s that you say? You like the idea of someone potentially destroying your precious virtual home? Although many of us would much rather play it safe, Rust is a game all about taking risks and learning to adapt to the hellish rules of an ungoverned society.
Starting out in Rust is an uphill battle and it’ll probably take several attempts before you can manage to scout out a good location, build a base, and put security measures in place without another player showing up to smite you. However, once you get past the initial hurdles, you’ll be surprised by what you can build in this game.
Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
Publisher: Coffee Stain Publishing
Swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction, Satisfactory is a relaxing base building game that emphasizes automated resource management. Things start off small until you’re eventually drowning in conveyor belts and assembly lines.
It can be easy to obsess over efficiency to the point you forget you can actually make stuff with all your gathered resources. There are many ways to put your materials to good use, from weapons and tools to buildings and vehicles. Doing so opens up new areas, revealing more creatures, resource types, and opportunities to explore.
Developer: Wube Software Ltd.
Publisher: Wube Software Ltd.
Factorio is another base building game centered on automating machines to gather and refine resources for your very own production paradise. At first, you’ll have to manually chop trees, mine ores, and craft parts until you’ve conducted enough research to unlock automation.
Continue expanding and you’ll encounter new obstacles you had never even considered, such as local wildlife that isn’t too keen on you stripping away their homes. Factorio’s progression system offers an assortment of upgrades to boost efficiency, harness alternative power sources, and program AI for your machines.
They Are Billions
Developer: Numantian Games
Publisher: Numantian Games
Switching over to the strategy genre, They Are Billions is a colony sim/base building game that has you commanding the last remaining humans as they fight to reclaim civilization from hordes of flesh-eating zombies.
As you gather resources, build housing, and set up defenses, more and more undead enemies will try to storm your settlement. While the game can be overwhelmingly difficult at times, the ability to pause mid-action and give yourself time to strategize helps alleviate some of the stress.
Developer: Bay 12 Games
Publisher: Kitfox Games
While it may not win any awards for best looking PC game, Dwarf Fortress is a complex beast with an exhaustive number of mechanics to learn. Once you make it past the outdated UI and graphics, things will start to fall into place.
You’ll quickly become obsessed with micromanaging every waking moment of your dwarves’ lives, which revolves around two main tasks: gathering resources and building fortresses. There are tons of guides and resources to help you get started, and the DF community is very welcoming of new players.
Developer: Ludeon Studios
Publisher: Ludeon Studios
RimWorld offers a near-perfect blend of base-building, survival, and strategy game mechanics complemented by an AI-driven storyteller that’s prone to generating hilariously morbid and downright ridiculous events.
The game lets you pick from several biomes before crash-landing and ordering your space explorers to collect resources. Colonists possess physical and emotional needs that have to be met for your community to flourish, including providing enough housing and expanding when necessary.
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Klei Entertainment is one of the most talented developers in video games and has released several critically-acclaimed titles, including the 2D survival game phenomenon Don’t Starve. In it, you play as a brilliant scientist finds himself transported to a mysterious forest.
Stranded with no supplies, you’ll have to live off the land and defend yourself from the strange local wildlife. The game sees you exploring randomly generated environments whose resources provide everything you’ll need to get your camp running. Just remember to keep your character’s belly full.
Oxygen Not Included
Developer: Klei Entertainment
Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Another Klei jam, Oxygen Not Included is a challenging 2D colony sim game that sees you commanding a space crew living beneath an alien planet’s surface. As its title suggests, oxygen is exceptionally scarce, meaning you’ll frequently have to take measures to maintain a steady supply of the stuff.
Where things get tricky is the potential for disaster, as your colony is always at the mercy of its environment. Temperatures can rapidly rise or fall, pollution can build up quickly, and the mental states of your colonists continuously change.
Developer: Double Eleven, Introversion Software
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Prison Architect uses its correctional facility setting as a springboard for a host of intertwining gameplay systems, including base building. As the architect of your prison, it’s up to you to design the layout, hire the staff, and manage the day-to-day lives of your inmates.
It’s not always easy, considering every guard and prisoner has distinct needs and character traits that affect their productivity and overall behavior. Although the game provides a decent level of challenge, it never takes itself too seriously, allowing you to focus on the hilarity of its unscripted events.
Developer: Warpzone Studios
Publisher: Team17 Digital
When building a base, who better to enlist than an eccentric clan of hardworking dwarves? Hammerting puts you in charge of a dwarven mining operation experiencing high demand due to an ongoing battle above ground.
You’ll have to work your dwarves to the bone to get them to churn out a wide array of legendary swords and gear while expanding your operation. The further you dig, the more rare materials (and dangers) you’ll find, resulting in an addictive ‘high-risk high-reward’ gameplay loop.
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Currently in Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview, Grounded offers a challenging survival sandbox experience set within a suburban backyard’s confines. The only catch is, you’ve been shrunk down to the size of an ant, and pretty much everything wants to kill you.
One of your primary objectives in the game is to construct a base to rest your head at night. The game provides a host of options for building structures out of different materials, and you can set up shop just about anywhere on the map. Just make sure to keep an eye out for any spiders.
Developer: System Era Softworks
Publisher: System Era Softworks
Similar to No Man’s Sky, Astroneer offers a vibrant space sandbox to explore as you set out to colonize an alien planet. In it, up to four players can work together to mine resources and craft various tools and vehicles, including a spaceship that will let you explore the heavens.
The game features a unique crafting system that sees you creating a network of stations and power plants that can tether your character to provide oxygen as you explore the world. And since Astroneer doesn’t follow a scripted story, you and your buddies are free to do whatever you want.
Developer: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Publisher: Unknown Worlds Entertainment
Subnautica sees your spaceship crash-landing on an alien planet covered almost entirely in water. While searching for oxygen and food to keep you alive, you’ll encounter raw materials and sea creatures that can be used to upgrade tools, expand your base, and craft submersibles.
Searching through crash-sites reveals more about the strange planet and nets you valuable upgrades. The game is pretty open-ended, allowing you to set your own goals and focus on doing what you want, whether it be exploring the deepest parts of the ocean or building the biggest underwater base you can.
Stormworks: Build and Rescue
Developer: Sunfire Software
Publisher: Sunfire Software
If you’re looking for even more customization in a base building game, Stormworks offers an immersive physics playground where you can design, make, and pilot your own air and sea rescue vehicles. Once you’ve crafted something you’re proud of, put your skills to the test in challenging rescue scenarios.
The game’s customization goes beyond just aircraft and submersibles, allowing you to program your own scripts and create unique scenarios to share with other players. Stormworks includes multiple difficulty options, a robust suite of building tools, Steam Workshop support, and a close-knit community.