Best Sandbox Games On PC 2021

Do you enjoy playing sandbox games on your PC? Then you will love this list of the best sandbox games to play on PC.

Sifting through the best sandbox games on PC can be tricky business due to how many different kinds of games fall under the sandbox umbrella.

There are open-world sandbox games where you explore a map and encounter other characters and sandbox builder games that focus on gathering resources and crafting.

One thing that every fun sandbox game has in common is player freedom, allowing you to go anywhere and do anything, sometimes even at the very start of the game.

In this list, we’ll highlight the best sandbox games on PC to play in 2021, including the best sandbox RPGs, sandbox MMOs, and sandbox open-world games.

We’ll be updating this list in the future with new titles, so make sure to check back and let us know if we missed any of your favorite games!

Related:Best Upcoming Survival Games 2021 (And Beyond)Biggest Open-World Games Ranked By SizeBest Farming And Agricultural Games On PC

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While you’ll find no shortage of theme park sandbox games, Indoorlands is a new entry in the genre that has managed to catch our eye during its Steam Early Access window.

In it, players design unique theme parks in strictly indoor environments that offer full control over placement and presentation.

You can build and customize a wide selection of attractions using different themes with the option to mix and match or zero in on a particular aesthetic for your park.

The game also features a management component for ensuring parks are profitable, along with the ability to manually control or ride each attraction.

The Crash Drive games offer a car stunt playground where you can pull off insane feats with ridiculously superpowered vehicles.

Crash Drive 3 is the latest installment and features crossplay multiplayer and free-roam exploration, allowing you to take on challenges throughout a diverse open world with several biomes.

There are also competitive events you can join, such as cops and robbers or steal the king’s crown, which pit you against other players for unique rewards.

The best part of this game is that your car’s performance improves simply by playing; using nitro boosts increases your boost capacity, driving fast raises your top speed, etc.

Black Skylands is a Steam Early Access title that casts you as Captain of a skyship as you explore a top-down open-world comprised of floating islands high up in the clouds.

Gameplay revolves around building up your vessel and arming yourself before setting out to battle factions of pirates and monsters to claim territories for yourself.

Along the way, you encounter various resources and crafting materials that allow you to upgrade your weapons, gear, and skyship.

Skylands’ sandbox world also boasts an assortment of random events such as aerial combat encounters and village distress calls, as well as a base-building component.

From building your own criminal empire to becoming the most famous gardener in all of Willow Creek, Sims 4 covers just about every path in its exceedingly detailed sandbox.

That’s before covering the robust suite of building tools and decorative items at players disposal.

As the series has progressed, so too has its romance system, allowing for new game mechanics and opportunities to roleplay as different characters.

On PC, Sims 4 benefits from the ability to install mods and tap into your inner creative genius.

The fact that Garry’s Mod continues to draw new players despite being more than a decade old proves how truly timeless and well-designed its sandbox tools are.

Do you want to spawn and attach a bunch of random objects? There’s a way to do that; Want to design your own FPS levels and face off with other players? Gmod has you covered.

Basically, if there’s a random activity, mini-game, or concept you’ve always wanted to try to create for yourself, Garry’s Mod likely has a tool or game mode for it.

Sandboxes like this are great for pushing the limits of your imagination, and with the addition of online multiplayer, there’s no telling what you and your friends can achieve.

Another sandbox game that never seems to run out of content is Terraria, which combines the best parts of 2D pixel art, open-world survival crafting, and unbridled exploration.

That is, assuming you have the right gear to protect yourself from the game’s exhaustive number of diverse enemy types and bosses that gate progression to new materials.

Additionally, the world is overflowing with secret areas and hidden items that can be a lot of fun to track down, though we recommend having a wiki page open to guide you.

If you’re tired of sandbox games that try to hold your hand and prevent you from discovering cool craftable items on your own, then you’re sure to sink hundreds of hours into Terraria.

Speaking of survival sandboxes with steep learning curves, Don’t Starve is sure to hold your attention with its demanding game mechanics and morbid-looking monsters.

In it, you play as a brilliant scientist who gets targeted by a demon and ends up transported to a mysterious forest brimming with sinister hazards that only get stronger at night.

Stranded with no supplies, you’ll have to learn how to live off the land and guard yourself against the local wildlife for as long as you can.

If you’ve got a friend who’s willing to come along for the ride, we recommend checking out Don’t Starve Together, which adds online multiplayer functionality.

For a less creepy and challenging sandbox experience, consider picking up Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, which lets you create custom battle scenarios using wonky physics.

We suggest you start with the campaign mode, which attempts to recreate wars from throughout history, ranging from medieval battles to modern warfare, and the more bizarre.

This serves as the perfect opportunity to answer life’s most pressing questions, such as “what happens when an army of Roman soldiers face off against a dozen wheelbarrows?”

You have the ability to take control of any of your units during the simulation to turn the tide of battle or more likely, make matters much worse.

What makes Minecraft such a good sandbox game is the limitless potential of its crafting system.

Whether you’re building a massive fortress to rule as a wizard or a makeshift rollercoaster that all your friends can ride, there’s a recipe for anything you can imagine.

And when you run out of ideas in the vanilla version, you can always start experimenting with some of the best mods for Minecraft.

These allow you to visit new worlds, customize blocks, and craft all sorts of ridiculous items, including a jetpack.

GTA V presents the biggest and boldest experience to date, introducing three new playable characters in its single-player story as well as the ability to create your own in GTA Online.

The game’s sprawling open-world sandbox is comprised of two regions: Los Santos and Blaine County, with both offering an exhaustive amount of side activities.

Whether you’re looking to flip stolen cars, participate in street races, or clean out every bank vault, there’s a near-endless number of ways to get into trouble while making money.

The online version of the game is well-supported with post-launch content and benefits from a host of community-made servers, mini-games, and more.

Red Dead Redemption 2 revisits the Western motif of the original Red Dead but from the perspective of Van der Linde gang lieutenant Arthur Morgan.

Arthur and his gang go around robbing stagecoaches and evading the law, but there’s a lot more to see and do throughout the game’s open-world spanning five fictitious US states.

You can take your horse for a ride around the countryside, head up to the mountains to hunt exotic animals, get into bar fights, or just take a nice long bubble bath before hitting the hay.

If you ever grow tired of messing with NPCs, you can always switch to Red Dead Online to team up with other cowboys or start an all-out war.

No Man’s Sky has come a long way since its controversial 2016 release, which saw the game panned for “less than honest” marketing on the part of Hello Games Lead Director Sean Murray.

However, the developer has spent the last four years adding player-requested features ranging from base-building to multiplayer and mod support, resulting in a resurgence of popularity.

It also helps that the NMS engine has been redesigned and upgraded over the years, ensuring it runs buttery smooth on just about any machine.

Other refinements such as better procedural generation and broader mission selection have resulted in a much more engaging and varied experience for players.

One of our favorite parts of playing a sandbox game is pushing its systems’ limits to see how the world responds.

A great game to do that in is Teardown, an Early Access Steam title that offers a fully destructible, voxel-based world.

In it, you play as the owner of a construction company that’s fallen on hard times, prompting them to take on increasingly sketchy jobs ranging from car theft to demolishing an entire building.

Each scenario can be tackled in many ways depending on your tools of choice, and the game includes a dedicated sandbox mode for those that want to play around with unlimited resources without worrying about enemies.

Hitman 3 is the final entry in IO Interactive’s World of Assassination trilogy and smooths out its predecessor’s rougher edges for more stealth sandbox hijinks.

The story builds off of the events of the two previous games, following Agent 47 and his team as they wipe out the leaders of a secret world-controlling organization called Providence.

New features such as permanent shortcuts and VR support help streamline and broaden the gameplay opportunities at players’ disposal.

It really delivers on the idea of roleplaying as an assassin with levels that offer a myriad of disguises, weapons, and restricted areas to poke around in.

Space flight sim Kerbal Space Program sees you building and piloting an array of aircraft, rockets, rovers, and more with help from little green aliens known as Kerbals.

Anything you build can be test-driven in the game’s open sandbox, which extends past Earth and into outer space.

Since the goal is to get the Kerbals into space successfully, you’ll find yourself taking to the skies again and again only to run out of fuel or make a wrong turn and end up plummeting to Earth.

Since the KSP engine can replicate real-life orbital maneuvers, you can even use it to train yourself to be a NASA pilot…or just chain together as many rockets as you can. 

Factorio is a resource management game that sees you converting untapped sandboxes into production paradises.

At first, you’ll have to manually chop trees, mine ores, and craft parts for your machines; however, once you’ve conducted enough research to achieve automation, things quickly ramp up.  

As you expand your factories, you’ll encounter new obstacles you had never considered, such as the local wildlife that isn’t too keen on you stripping away their homes.

One of our favorite aspects of Factorio is its progression system, which offers an assortment of upgrades to improve efficiency, unlock solar power, oil refining, and AI for your machines.

Satisfactory is another resource management game like Factorio but places a much bigger emphasis on combat and exploration.

In it, you’re tasked with surviving an alien planet by building a self-sustaining network of machines to gather and refine materials for you.

From weapons and tools to buildings and vehicles, there are lots of ways to put your refined materials to good use.

Doing so allows you to access new areas in the open world, revealing more creatures, resource types, and opportunities to explore.

Similar to No Man’s Sky, Astroneer offers a vibrant space sandbox to explore as you set out to colonize an alien planet.

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.

What sets Astroneer apart from other sandbox games is its Terrain Tool, which allows the wielder to bend the environment to their will.

This has many applications that can benefit traversal, production, and creativity; lastly, Astroneer is continually updated with new explorable planets, cosmetics, hazards, vehicles, and craftable items.

Currently in Early Access on Steam, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord is the long-awaited sequel to 2008’s Mount & Blade.

Like the original, Bannerlord is centered on a systems-driven medieval sandbox that lets you role-play as various character classes.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a famous jouster, rich tradesman, sword-for-hire, thief, or more, there are numerous paths to explore.

The game also features a party system and management component that sees you leading armies of hundreds or more into battle.

Rust presents a brutal online survival sandbox where everyone starts off as vulnerable “nakeds,” spawning on a beach with nothing but a single rock in their inventory.

From that point on, it’s up to them to scavenge for supplies, kill wild animals, and build fortresses to guard their precious loot.

Maps are procedurally generated and range from humble islands to diverse ecosystems with multiple biomes.

Depending on the environment, you’ll have to deal with hazards like high or low temperatures and radiation; however, the biggest threat in Rust is other players.

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Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.

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