[Top 15] Best Sandbox Games That Are Amazing

sandbox games, best sandbox games, best open world games
Go absolutely insane!

What would you do if you had no limits?

The world is truly your oyster when it comes to sandbox games. It doesn’t matter if you find yourself in a block-based map or a zombified wasteland, you get to decide how to play! 

Are you new to the genre and not sure where to start? Or perhaps you’re a seasoned sandbox veteran who wants to see if we know our stuff? Regardless, read on to find out which games we think are the best of all time!


15. Hitman

Hitman 2 Gameplay Launch Trailer

To be honest, Hitman 3 was a divisive release. This was due in part to the price and gameplay but also largely due to issues with its availability on Steam. 

Hitman 1 and 2 (released in 2016 and 2018 respectively), however, are still held in high esteem!  They're the perfect blend of the stealth and sandbox genres with a very high replayability factor. In these games, you play as Agent 47, traveling around the world as you master your assassination skills to become the most renowned hitman. 

Though you'll often have a main objective — a target to kill — the way you go about doing so is entirely up to you.t Full disclosure, though: you may lose some potential bonus points for stealth if you go full slaughterhouse!. From more “conventional” weapons such as guns and knives, to pretty much anything your character picks up along the way, just get the job done and you’re golden.

Though subtlety is preferred, you can carry out your mission in Hitman any way you please.


14. The Sims 4

The Sims 4 Launch Trailer

The Sims 4 is a life simulator where you can customize every character and build every lot from the ground up, if you so please. You can orchestrate extravagant scenarios between your Sims, or let nature (or algorithm, I suppose) take its course. See what your Sims get up to of their own free will, based on their traits and environment. 

This latest installment of the Sims franchise has mixed reviews, and most players have a love-hate relationship with the game. The main source of contention is the fact that fan-favorite features of Sims 2 and 3 were removed.

One thing’s for sure, The Sims 4 excels in its visuals and much better accessibility. Customization and decoration have never been easier in the series. Not to mention having more dynamic interactions between Sims! If you love customization, building, narratives, or all of the above, Sims 4 is worth your time.

Detailed character customization is one of The Sims 4’s most amazing features.


13. Planet Zoo

Planet Zoo Official Trailer

Planet Zoo was released in 2019 and lets players build and manage a zoo with any of 74 species of animals (FYI, that number is just the base game. You can unlock 48 more species through DLC.)

The game has 4 modes: sandbox, challenge, career, and franchise. Sandbox mode strips the game of all limitations imposed by the other 3 modes, and lets players be as creative with their design as they want to!

The gameplay can be quite complex, which may be a plus to some players and a turn-off to others. This title definitely deserves praise, however, for how lifelike the animals it portrays are (both in appearance and behavior). The game’s focus on the conservation, rather than exploitation, of wildlife is also admirable.

Planet Zoo is something of a spiritual successor to the old Zoo Tycoon series.


12. Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid Trailer

Project Zomboid declares that surviving “isn’t just about blowing zombie heads off.” In this hardcore RPG, you play in a zombie apocalypse world based on Kentucky. You must build and defend your base, as well as protect your health (both physical and mental) to survive this wasteland.

Technically, you could live forever if you play your cards right but it’s not an easy task. Project Zomboid features permadeath in the form of zombification — if your character becomes a zombie; you’ve lost them! Anything you've built, however, stays in the world. 

In sandbox mode, you can choose factors such as the amount of zombies spawned and how quickly the virus infects people. In addition to sandbox mode, there are several difficulty modes and challenge scenarios featuring unique maps and gameplay.

Zombies and sandbox mechanics, what could make for a more thrilling combination?


11. Rust

Rust Official Trailer

I’ve heard people describe Rust as something along the lines of “PVP Minecraft if it was violent and gory” and, honestly, that’s a pretty good description. Rust is unique among the rest of this list in that it’s multiplayer-only. 

Players are dropped into the world with little to no materials and must find a way to survive the wilderness. Hostile wild animals are all around, but you should be much more scared of your fellow players. It’s an open, dog-eat-dog, world. 

Collecting materials and crafting is integral to your survival. This is how you’ll be able to build your base and make weapons. You can even form and join alliances with other players. The game can be a bit challenging and grind-y for beginners to this kind of gameplay but if you’re up for a wicked challenge in PVP combat and survival, try out Rust.

Despite being released in 2013, Rust had a resurgence in late 2020 and early 2021.


10. Slime Rancher

Slime Rancher Launch Trailer

Slime Rancher is a cute, wacky, and undeniably well-executed take on the farm sim and sandbox genres. Its charm is in its laid-back nature. 

You play in the first-person perspective as Beatrix LeBeau, exploring the alien world known as the Far, Far Range. It’s here that you begin your path as a slime rancher: collecting, raising, and breeding slimes. Your main source of income is selling the “plorts” that they produce. With the money you earn, you can upgrade your equipment and ranch, both functionally and aesthetically. 

Though Slime Rancher lacks a true sandbox mode, the Far, Far Range is vast and full of diverse environments, with little pressure to play any certain way. You get to decide where to go, what to farm, and when to do so.

A sequel, Slime Rancher 2, is to be released later in 2022.


9. Totally Accurate Battle Simulator

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator Release Trailer

Otherwise known as TABS, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator is endearing in more ways than its tongue-in-cheek name. TABS is a ragdoll physics simulator with two separate game modes: Sandbox and Campaign. 

In Sandbox mode, players build two armies with a choice of over 130 units in any configuration they wish. The armies are let loose to see who wins, and the player can also decide the conditions for victory (for example, total defeat of the opposing army or killing a specific unit). As you can imagine, it’s not difficult to get some pretty funny scenarios going. 

Campaign mode is more structured, with players having to use the money provided to create one army to go against a premade one. TABS has two equally amazing and hilarious spin-offs — Totally Accurate Battle Zombielator and Totally Accurate Battlegrounds.

Though it’s largely a parody of the battle simulation genre, TABS is an awesome game in its own right.


8. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley Trailer

The success of Stardew Valley is every indie developer's dream. Released in 2016 and crafted solely by ConcernedApe, Stardew Valley became a steady and undeniable success; it's now one of the most popular casual RPGs. It’s also an homage to the classic Harvest Moon titles. 

The story begins with your world-weary character inheriting their grandfather’s farm. Once the first few tutorial missions are over, introducing you to the townsfolk and teaching you the basics of the gameplay, the rest of your experience is variable. You can make a living by: farming crops, raising livestock, fishing, looting the mines, and more! 

If you’re looking for a laid-back sandbox experience, Stardew Valley is the way to go. Farm management, dungeon exploration, romance, and home decoration - all at your own discretion! 

Stardew Valley shines in its simplicity and quaint atmosphere.


7. Raft

Raft Launch Trailer

It would honestly be surprising if you’ve never watched a single Let’s Play of Raft. It quickly achieved widespread popularity, partly due to how many YouTubers and streamers have been enjoying it since release.

The game begins with the player, unsurprisingly, stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean, with nothing to their name but a hook to fish with. With the materials you fish up or collect while swimming, you can craft items to expand your raft and increase your range of gameplay. There is a storyline to Raft, but it’s not necessary to follow it. 

Raft is a fun and adventurous addition to the survival sandbox genre that can be enjoyed alone or in co-op with friends. In 2018, it was one of Steam’s most successful games and continues to be updated with rich additions to gameplay.  

Raft was originally released as a free download on itch.io, where it’s still available!


6. Don’t Starve

Don't Starve Together Gameplay Trailer

Don’t Starve is a survival sandbox game with Minecraft-inspired design, Tim Burton-inspired visuals, and roguelike combat. Name a better trio, go on. 

You play as Wilson, a scientist whose health, hunger, and sanity you must protect in a dangerous world. The game’s main mode is Sandbox mode, where Wilson is plopped into the world with little explanation or instruction. Adventure mode can be enabled, which expands on the plot throughout five levels and even introduces a villain into the mix. 

A standout feature of is its permanent death — if you lose, you have no choice but to start over. This game has a standalone multiplayer version, Don’t Starve Together, where you can team up with your friends as you aim for survival.

Don’t Starve is known for its high difficulty compared to similar games..


5. Terraria

Terraria Official Trailer

Terraria borrows a fair many elements from Minecraft but it does more than enough differently to not be a clone. The main tenets of gameplay are to explore and build in a randomly-generated world while fighting for survival against monsters. 

You don’t get much guidance here. With nothing but your ingenuity and a wandering guide character (and, well, I guess the online fan wiki too), you’re free to explore the world of Terraria as you wish.

With its main draw of sandbox freedom, plus its nostalgic visuals and combat system reminiscent of classic action platformers, Terraria shapes up to be quite distinctive in the sandbox genre.

Terraria features charming, nostalgic pixel graphics reminiscent of early video games.


4. Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines Building Gameplay Trailer

Cities: Skylines is a magnificently detailed sandbox game in which you build and manage a city. You play as the mayor who’s also essentially an urban planner — overseeing construction, transportation, public services, theeconomy, and much more! 

Cities: Skyline takes the best of its genre and improves it even more. The intricacy of its gameplay can be challenging but learning to maneuver and master the ins and outs of your city is such a rewarding experience. 

There’s hardships and limitations involved with this process but players can disable all that in the game’s mod menu if a true sandbox experience is what’s desired. Cities: Skyline is also extremely supportive of its modding community, where players create astounding maps and builds for download.

Cities: Skyline is described as “a modern take on the classic city simulation.”


3. Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V First Person Experience Trailer

Released in 2013, this is the fifth main installment in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. GTA V takes the best of the elements from its predecessors and improves on them, as well as takes inspiration from Rockstar Games’ other titles, such as Red Dead Redemption.

Grand Theft Auto V follows three main characters — a gangster, a drug dealer, and a bank robber — as they attempt heists. Though the main game has a clear storyline with set goals, a sandbox mode can be toggled which gives the player full reign in San Andreas and the fictional Los Santos. Wreak as much havoc as you want!

GTA V is less sandbox in the traditional building sense, and moreso in its gameplay: an open world and non-linear story. It also has a multiplayer component: Grand Theft Auto Online.

Grand Theft Auto V is the second best-selling video game of all time.


2. Garry’s Mod

Garry's Mod Trailer

If you played Garry’s Mod back in 2004, when it was just a mod for Valve’s Source engine, you’re a real OG. But, if not, don’t fear —t’s never too late to try out this timeless classic.

Garry’s Mod (which many players just call “GMod”) is perhaps the most textbook example of a sandbox game. There are absolutely no objectives or predetermined goals. The game instead gives you the freedom to “create your own contraptions” using its physics system and the objects that you spawn in. From making elaborate builds, to crafting entire action minigames, you have free reign to do whatever you want!

16 years past the game’s official release in 2006, it still has an active community that is creating thousands of maps, models, game modes, and more. Add that to its overwhelmingly positive rating on Steam, and you know GMod's got nothing but fun to offer.

The possibilities are truly endless in Garry’s Mod.


1. Minecraft

Minecraft Official Trailer

It’s impossible to not put Minecraft on a list like this when it’s literally the best-selling video game of all time! 

Creative mode is where the sandbox capabilities of Minecraft truly shines, giving the player access to every single block and mob in the game, to make whatever builds and mechanisms their heart desires. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s an absolutely vibrant community of servers, where users can play elaborate mini-games such as the popular Bed Wars, or join fantasy role-plays come alive with amazing mods. 

Though Minecraft has a biome called “The End” where you fight a boss literally called “The End Dragon,” the game is far from over even once you reach that point — if you even decide to! Whether you’re a builder, explorer, collector, or role-player, there’s something for everyone in Minecraft.

As of 2021, Minecraft has sold more than 200 million copies across all platforms.


You may also be interested in:  

- The 15 Best Sandbox Games – Kill, Craft, Build, and Survive! 

- The 17 Best Simulation Games for PC 

- [Top 15] Minecraft Best Mods For Creative Mode 

Near the turn of the century, Rebecca was dropped by a stork onto a tropical island. They spend their free time leveling up their gaming skills, enjoying nature's bounty, and basking in the sunshine.
Gamer Since: 2001
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Hades, Pokémon Legends: Arceus
Top 3 Favorite Games:, ,

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