10 Planet Landing Games Like No Man’s Sky

Seamless space-to-planet landings to whet your galactical adventuring appetite!

Games Like No Man's Sky Games Similar to No Man's Sky Featured Image

Helmed by Sean Murray, No Man’s Sky is a space adventure survival game featuring a procedurally generated Universe of 18 quintillion planets, diverse ecosystems, resource scavenging, ship and suit upgrades, trading systems, and other ambitious features. Yet, perhaps one of the most talked-about aspects of No Man’s Sky is the ability to fly from space to any planet’s surface, all without a single loading screen. Impressive! However, this raises the question: are there other games like No Man’s Sky that lets players land their ships on planets in a similarly seamless manner? The definitive answer is ‘yes’!

To be clear, not all the planet landing space adventure games listed here are of the same variety. Some have been fully released for quite a while. Others are still in their prototypical / alpha / beta stages. Gameplay may also be different (i.e. not all space games are created equal). A few might showcase more multiplayer space combat while others may emphasize creative engineering or open exploration. Still, all of the games listed here do meet the following criteria:

Selection Criteria of this List

  • Each game must allow players to actually land on planets’ surfaces. Orbiting close to the atmosphere or merely hovering above the surface does not count.
  • Space-to-land transitions must be seamless. So no loading screens or major scene skips.
  • For upcoming games not fully released, planet landing must at least be showcased in videos revealing seamless transition footage. Concept art and conceptual promises from developers are not enough.
  • Varying levels of landing difficulty / atmospheric detail are okay.
  • Being able to get out of your ship to explore a planet on foot is optional.

 

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1. Elite: Dangerous

Planet Landing Games Like No Man's Sky Elite Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous lets players explore a truly humongous universe that’s practically a life-sized copy of our own Milky Way Galaxy with 400 billion star-systems. Like No Man’s Sky, most of Elite: Dangerous is procedurally generated, although some areas have been hand-crafted. Players can also visit space stations, partake in trading, upgrade their spacecrafts, complete various missions, and so on. However, unlike the more streamlined aspects of No Man’s Sky, Elite: Dangerous does place a heavier focus on being a ‘straight up space sim’. This may be for better or worse. Some claim the game to be a bore of vast endless space while others strongly applaud the stunning attention to relative realism. Those opting for the latter will find Elite: Dangerous’ attention to scientific detail to be immensely satisfying.

Planet landings have been a core selling point of No Man’s Sky from the get-go. This was not the case for Elite: Dangerous. The game was originally released without any planet landing support. However, this feature has since been added thanks to a recent expansion pack. True to its traditional ‘space sim’ roots, Elite: Dangerous’ planet landings can get a bit technical. Players will need to keep a close eye on their ship’s pitch, altitude, and velocity indicators. Compared to No Man’s Sky, planet surface textures are much blander. They can even be quite blurry on landing approach. Additionally, while No Man’s Sky’s planets are teeming with life, planets in Elite: Dangerous are pretty much barren, although some corners are mildly populated with space stations which players can explore with their SRV. The development team is currently working to add atmospheric effects to their planetary landings. All in all, Elite: Dangerous is most definitely worth checking out for those looking for other planet landing games like No Man’s Sky with an added touch of ‘simulation’. Flight control sticks are a must for full immersion.

Read more honest player reviews of Elite: Dangerous.

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2. Kerbal Space Program

Planet Landing Games Like No Man's Sky Kerbal Space Program 2

Kerbal Space Program is an almost entirely different kind of space game from No Man’s Sky. While No Man’s Sky is about near-infinite planet discovery and exploration, KSP’s encourages players to creatively tinker with the construction of rockets and spacecrafts. The fun of the game lies with hands-on engineering experimentation as players fight against gravity to get their marvelous custom creations into space. KSP also has a huge modding community that add tons of enhancements and tweaks to existing features. Even NASA has gotten involved!

Kerbal Space Program has an incredibly fun landing feature that, in that aspect, makes it similar to other planet landing games like No Man’s Sky. Best of all, each landing in KSP feels like a very unique experience, thanks to highly customizable craft designs and technical specs will greatly impact the success of touch-downs (be sure to get those thrusters working right!). Players can also get out of their crafts to walk on the surface as a cute little Kerbal.

Read more honest player reviews of Kerbal Space Program.

 

3. Evochron Legacy

Planet Landing Games Like No Man's Sky Evochron Legacy

Evochron Legacy is an expansive space exploration game that lets players partake in a huge range of activities: trading, mining, weapon / craft upgrading, the works. However, more so than most other games like No Man’s Sky, Evochron Legacy specifically prides itself as a “tightly focused technical flight ‘space sim’ with options and gameplay specifically geared toward that objective”. What this translates to is a steep – but ultimately rewarding – learning curve that, like Elite: Dangerous, empowers players with in-depth control over their galactic adventures.

This focus on technicality filters into the seamless planet landing feature of Evochron. Players are required to plot the angle of their trajectorial approach, keeping an eye out on their velocities to avoid impact damage. Achieving the perfect landing actually takes quite a bit of time and practice. This might turn off gamers looking for more arcade-style planetary exploration but is bound to please those wanting a bit more ‘simulation’ in their ‘space simulators’. Planet terrains are not the most detailed although, overall, they still look pretty decent. Similar to most planet landing games like No Man’s Sky, players will be able to explore the surface after purchasing a Terrain Walker.

Read more honest player reviews of Evochron Legacy.

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4. Rodina

Planet Landing Games Like No Man's Sky Rodina

Like most games like No Man’s Sky, Rodina’s planets are procedurally generated on a truly huge scale, though the Universe itself is much smaller. The game also features plenty of ship upgrades that marginally impact space movements and traversals. Players can also expect pretty intense space combat battles with a number of alien enemy types equipped with diverse weaponry. Rodina’s orchestral soundtrack has also been highly praised for its incredible production value.

Similar to No Man’s Sky, Rodina allows players to fly right down to a planet’s surface, land, and get out of the cockpit to directly explore their surroundings. Admittedly, planets in Rodina are far more barren than in No Man’s Sky. Some may also not be fans of the game’s minimalistic voxel graphics (though we personally love it!). However, none of these things detract much from the sheer fun of blasting through planetary atmospheres with seamless velocity. Rodina currently enjoys a Very Positive Rating on Steam. Impressive, considering the game is being developed by one lone man. That’s commitment!

Read more honest player reviews of Rodina.

 

5. Star Citizen

Planet Landing Games Like No Man's Sky Star Citizen

No list of planet landing games like No Man’s Sky would be complete without Star Citizen. Although still in early development, this game is inarguably the most ambitious title on the list (even more so than No Man’s Sky?). Star Citizen is set to showcase a truckload of features. A persistent MMO world? Check! Accurate Newtonian physics? Check! Intense space combats? Yes! Intricate economy systems? Double yes! Multiple ship varieties and upgrades? Most definitely. First person shooting akin to Call of Duty? Wait, what?! That, too? Yes!

Now, whether or not Star Citizen actually delivers on all these grand promises is another matter (we’re crossing our fingers!). However, what tickles our fancies for now is the incredible looking and completely seamless planet landing feature. Seriously, everything looks stunning! Surface terrains are crisp and varied. There are also a ton of amazing atmospheric touches (i.e. realistic cloud covers, sunbeam hues, etc.). Best of all, players will be able to dock at space stations, disembark, and explore incredibly gorgeous urban environments brimming with NPCs and other real-life players. Needless to say, Star Citizen is a mega-title that fan of games like No Man’s Sky will need to keep an eye on.

Read more development news of Star Citizen.

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Alfie is Editor-in-Chief of Games Like Zone and has been an avid gamer since the age of 6. His also enjoys reading comics, B-grade horror movies, and travelling to obscure places in the world.

31 Comments

  1. ramspite@yahoo.com'

    Star Citizen is NOT currently focused on VR support.

    Reply
  2. tflpoliceblade@hotmail.com'

    Old school but Star Fighter 3000 I think was the first ever game to have space to planet and back again flight back in the 90’s. Played it on Risc OS Acorn A3000 and other Acorn PC’s..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueae6bfPYaM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPUQkfcZ-Hw

    Reply
    • Thank you for the awesome suggestions! Will check them out and add them to the list! 🙂

      Reply
  3. forthevoyeur@gmx.com'

    So here’s a thing.

    Elite dangerous does not let you land on a planet seemlessly. There is an instance change when going into the Glide phase. It would appear that whoever wrote this article hasn’t played horizons… at all.

    Reply
    • Yes, there are three phases: orbital cruise, glide and surface flight.
      But, yes, it is seamless in the sense of not having an interrupting loading screen or a major scene cut (e.g. Mass Effect 1). I mentioned this in the selection criteria. 🙂

      Reply
    • warren.edwards97@gmail.com'

      Thats due to your internet connection though. It doesn’t actually load anything

      Reply
  4. pfilipchyk@gnail.com'

    Limit Theory

    Reply
    • Thank you! Appreciate the suggestion! We will look into this and add it to the list ASAP!

      Reply
  5. slott.hansen@gmail.com'

    What about some of the classic ones like FOFT, Starglider 2 and Damocles 🙂

    Reply
    • Starglide 2 was amazing! Thanks for the suggestions! We will just double check that all the games meet the ‘seamless’ criteria we mentioned and will put them in the list. Appreciate your ideas! 🙂 Always trying to improve the lists!

      Reply
  6. azrael_dawn@hotmail.com'

    You forget Empyrion: Galactic Survial. Planets, Planetlanding, FPS, Dogfights, NPCs, Basebuilding, Exploration, and more…
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUvQ-4JhWXGQqezlYhN0fiNjLhB3Llu09

    Reply
    • Hey there! Thanks for your suggestion! We didn’t forget Empyrion Galactic Survival though. It’s No. 7 (ranked in no particular order).
      It’s actually one of our favorites for being able to implement most of the promised features in a really integrated way! Overall, perhaps the top 3 best space adventuring experiences we had from the ones on the list.

      Reply
  7. Curtneedsaride@yahoo.com'

    If you’re on an iOS device, I’d recommend the very well-supported lo-fi space exploration/trading app Stellar Horizon. Such a huge game in a small package.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your recommendations! Are you able to land on planets in the game too? We’ll definitely check it out and include it in the list!

      Reply
  8. cybersleuth58@yahoo.com'

    I must be the only person not interested in VR technology. Let me clarify – if you want to play VR supported games on PS4 or XBox One, be prepared to drop a hell of a lot of money bc the compatible VR equipment is almost $1000. I don’t have that kind of cash. The same goes for VR equipment compatible with Steam. I’m focused on putting food on my table. I just don’t have the kind of liquidity to drop huge amounts of cash on gaming equipment. And I never see this mentioned. Am I the only person afflicted with cash flow issues???

    Reply
    • Hmm… you’re right. Everything is pretty expensive, or going to be. For example, the PS4 VR will cost quite a bomb — and this doesn’t include the price of the PS cameras and the move controllers. That being said, VR tech is truly rather immersive, and will probably work excellent with upcoming games like the new Resident Evil. Whether or not it proves financially sustainable is another issue. We personally hope it does — but it’ll only work if they can lower the entry price a little more to expand the market base. If not, the whole tech will collapse on itself. At least there are multiple companies chiming in for this push though (Facebook, Amazon, Sony, HTC, etc.) so they can collectively broaden the base.

      Reply
  9. erikhzzz@hotmail.com'

    What – no mention of Solar Jetman?

    Reply
    • Thanks for the suggestion! We’ll have a look at the planetary landing mechanism and then add it in if it fits the criteria!

      Reply
  10. warren.edwards97@gmail.com'

    You might want to check out Planet Nomads, it’s sort of like Space Engineers and No Man’s Sky had a baby. They’re also in development like Xeno, but the closed alpha comes out in under a week. There’s quite a bit of footage on their youtube channel.
    Here’s an old blog post on planets. It talks about how biome generation works and how it takes into account precipitation and temperature. https://www.planet-nomads.com/2016/08/hows-the-alpha-planet-going-to-look-like-procedural-generation-revisited/ There’s also a recent dev vlog that got uploaded

    Reply
    • Definitely one to look out for! We’ll keep an eye out for this one and see if it fits the criteria to be added into this list. Thanks so much for your wonderful suggestion!

      Reply
  11. rogerwilco@sharklasers.com'

    For those looking for a more relaxed space trading/exploration experience, check out JumpDrive.

    JumpDrive (previously called ‘Paragon’ but changed after a large game company claimed the name for its AAA game) is a sandbox space sim set in an alternative future heavily inspired by classic 80s sci-fi, Fight. Trade and explore in a massive procedurally generated galaxy of millions of planets and stars. Amass money and power, upgrade and purchase new ships, and one day create your own small fleet with a base to call home. Has seamless exploration and planet landings.

    I just bought this and must say, it’s pretty sweet! I like the simplicity of the interface and gameplay, and how it has a much more relaxed feel than many of the more complex MMOs out there. There’s still much work to be done on it (it’s pre-release) but what’s currently there is pretty good.

    Website: http://www.jumpdrivegame.com/
    Available on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/291250/

    Reply
    • Hello! Thanks for your suggestion! We just checked it out on Steam. 🙂
      Does the game feature seamless planetary landings, without a loading screen?
      We tried watching the video but couldn’t see the transition sequence.
      It looks sweet though!! Definitely a lot of potential.

      Reply
      • erikhzzz@hotmail.com'

        Yes – it does have seamless liftoff and landing to planets / space stations / ships, although the landing mechanics are a bit bugged at the moment (you need auto-pilot instead). The scale is done very well – you actually feel like you’re engaged in liftoffs and landings, especially when you change camera views to see the ship itself and the surroundings.

        There’s no walking exploration. I’d rather the devs polish up the existing game before adding it.

        Reply
  12. warjah@gmail.com'

    A) Star Citizen isn’t out yet.
    B) Star Citizen doesn’t have planetary landing yet.
    C) Star Citizen isn’t out yet.

    Really misleading journalism!

    Reply
    • A) We mentioned this repeatedly in the actual paragraph, and also specified it in the criteria
      B) As we also mentioned in the criteria, the developers have shown actual footage from the game and ARE planning on implementing this. That’s why we also mentioned to keep a look out for it.
      C) Just as you mentioned it twice, so too did we mention (that it isn’t out yet – but to keep a lookout for it)

      It’s only misleading if we didn’t emphasize those points many times. 🙂

      Reply
  13. nenadalien@yahoo.com'

    Where PULSAR lost colony?

    Reply
  14. gheorghemosneaga@gmail.com'

    ok, and how many of these are NOT mp-exclusive? >.>

    Reply

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