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Minecraft‘s debut was a revolutionary moment in gaming. Was it the first game to do what it did? Not at all. Was it an instrumental title that reinvigorated the survival sandbox genre? You bet. It’s one of the main reasons why “sandbox” is so popular these days.

But perhaps Minecraft has grown stale for you over the past few years. The good news is that there are plenty of other games like Minecraft that provide a compelling survive-in-a-sandbox environment.

What counts as “like Minecraft“? For us, it means a sharp focus on creativity, survival, and freedom. All of the games in this list fulfill at least two of those three criteria. For fans of Minecraft who haven’t yet tried these titles, you really ought to give them a shot.

The Forest

Produced by Endnight Games, The Forest is an open-world sandbox game with a closed premise: you’re alone, you’re in the wilderness of an island, and your only goal is to survive. It was made available on Steam Early Access Steam Early Access: These 5 Games Are Worth Buying Early Steam Early Access: These 5 Games Are Worth Buying Early Would you like to play games before they're even released to the public? With Steam Early Access, you can! Read More  (and it definitely feels early) back in May 2014 and is currently available for $14.99 USD.

Like in Minecraft, you start with nothing and make progress by collecting resources, fashioning weapons, building structures, all the while contending with mutant humanoid predators that are native to the island and fearful of fire.

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The graphics are beautiful, the environments feel realistic, and the day-night cycle is a boost to immersion. Plus, it truly is free form: you won’t find any built-in quests, missions, or other forms of guided content.

While the game is partially classified as horror, it’s not the kind that will give you nightmares. It’s more atmospheric than a jump-scare or graphic horror, though startling moments are definitely possible.

Rust

At first glance, Rust will probably remind you of that other popular sandbox game Play It Your Way: 4 Sandbox Games That Reign Above the Rest Play It Your Way: 4 Sandbox Games That Reign Above the Rest A poorly executed sandbox game is a waste of time, but when it's done right, it can transport you to an entirely new world full of wonder, excitement, and experiences. Read More (hint: DayZ). While the game is openly inspired by its sandbox predecessors, it does try to distance itself in terms of theme and content. For example, zombies were removed early on and won’t be coming back.

Rust is currently available on Steam Early Access for $19.99 USD. Despite the risky nature of Early Access I Promise Steam Early Access Isn't Ruining Gaming [Opinion] I Promise Steam Early Access Isn't Ruining Gaming [Opinion] Steam's Early Access program allows developers to sell Alpha versions of games currently in development. The system gives players the opportunity to speak with their wallets if they want to support a work in progress... Read More , I think Rust has shown itself to be a serious endeavor. It has already sold over 1.6 million copies and people love it.

Unlike Minecraft, Rust is a multiplayer-only game. While player vs. player combat can be toggled depending on a Minecraft server’s options, Rust forces this sort of inter-player conflict at all times. Who are your friends? Who are your enemies? You’re always kept on your toes, which is key for a thrilling experience.

Unturned

Unturned is the endearing little game that you’d get if DayZ and Minecraft had a child. It’s an open-world survival sandbox with zombies and can be played in singleplayer and multiplayer modes. It’s not just a hybrid, though; there are a lot of cool features that set it apart.

Unturned is currently available on Steam as a free-to-play game. It’s technically an Early Access game in beta phase, so don’t expect it to be completely polished. That being said, there’s plenty to enjoy so far.

There are three difficulty levels. In Easy mode, you start off with a couple of items and loot spawns more frequently. Normal mode is the standard mode. For those who want a challenge, Hardcore mode increases difficulty by limiting the user interface, reducing loot spawn rate, increasing the danger throughout.

For $4.99, you can upgrade to a paid account that unlocks Gold mode, which doubles experience gain and loot spawn rates.

This game is constantly updated and often sits in the rankings for the top 10 most played games on Steam. Worth a try? You bet it is.

Kerbal Space Program

There are few games that reward creativity as much as Kerbal Space Program. For those who were drawn into Minecraft by its gathering-and-building aspects and didn’t care for its adventure-survival side,Kerbal Space Program might just be the perfect step up.

Kerbal Space Program is available on Steam Early Access for $29.99 and it’s worth every penny.

The core of this game is a spaceflight simulator: you build rockets and vehicles from a number of provided components, then attempt to complete missions using what you’ve built. Due to the wide array of possible choices and combinations, there’s a whole lot of room for freedom and creativity.

And don’t be put off by the graphics Graphics Aren’t Everything: 5 Ugly Games That Are Crazy Fun Graphics Aren’t Everything: 5 Ugly Games That Are Crazy Fun Not all games look good. Here are five fun games that’ve received strong reviews in spite of ugly graphics. Read More . Just like in Minecraft, the gameplay more than makes up for it.

Ultimately, it’s a tough game. There’s a lot of information to digest, so the learning curve can be a bit steep at first, particularly because the game tries its best to model orbital mechanics as realistically as possible, but it’s an absolute blast (no pun intended) once you get the hang of it.

Life Is Feudal

Looking for a hardcore survival sandbox MMORPG? If so, you don’t have many choices to pick from. There’s EVE Online New to EVE Online? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do New to EVE Online? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do Unlike most MMORPGs, EVE Online doesn't hold you by the hand and guide you along with signposts. You need to forge your own destiny or die trying. Read More , which is the current standard for sandbox MMORPGs, followed by several lackluster titles like Darkfall and Mortal Online. The landscape is depressing for sandbox enthusiasts.

However, with Life Is Feudal, there may be light at the end of the MMORPG tunnel. It’s another Steam Early Access game—the trend is really catching on—and the price tag is rather hefty at $39.99.

Is it worth the price? That depends on what you’re looking for. The gameplay of Life Is Feudal does live up to its name by being repetitive, dangerous, and challenging. There’s heavy emphasis on the nitty-gritty (including the rich crafting system) and it’s certainly not as nice or forgiving as Minecraft.

One thing is for sure: it’s different in a niche sort of way. There’s a good chance you won’t like it, but there’s also a chance that you’ll love it. Check out a few YouTube videos and Twitch streams 7 Twitch Streamers To Watch If eSports Aren't Your Thing 7 Twitch Streamers To Watch If eSports Aren't Your Thing If you don't like eSports and you've written off Twitch as "not for you," it's time to reconsider. These entertaining Twitch streamers aren't associated with eSports in any way. Read More to get an idea before you drop any cash on it.

Any Other Sandbox Games?

There are several Minecraft-like titles that deserve an honorable mention, including Starbound, Edge of Space, and Terraria, which is available for cheap on Steam 10 Incredible Steam Games You Can Buy For Under $10 10 Incredible Steam Games You Can Buy For Under $10 Read More . Don’t Starve is a wonderful survival game while Garry’s Mod is the quintessential sandbox game. Give all of these a try if you can.

What other games are close to Minecraft? Which are your favorites? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Image Credit: Minecraft Screenshot Via Kongregate

  1. Michiko Ourth
    November 29, 2016 at 7:54 am

    I have played all the games excluding Platz 4: Warframe. I suppose, it is same as Platz 2 and Platz 3. For Dakota, I can say, this was the best game ever played for short time, but with the time passage. I can say, after 10 years. It will have the same status as Age of empires II. The most addictive one is the last part unturned. I am playing it for last 2 years. My best area is Washington and I love to kill with hands. I love to play in a group and I get the info using unturneditemid.com. It has database of more than 1000 users.

  2. Cik
    November 18, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Wurm Unlimited. All other games are certainly sandbox-light in comparison.

  3. Red407
    May 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    I need to play this game!!!!!

  4. PooPooUndees
    March 16, 2015 at 3:03 am

    I want a sandbox survival game where you start off with nothing, literally nothing, but then you can advance through getting better and better stuff to the point of futuristic tech, but I don't want to know about everything from the start. I want their to be a discovery aspect to it as well and of course multi-player. Now asking for this to be free is probably a long shot but if this exists and is free well i suppose that's kind of nice as well.

    • Joel Lee
      March 19, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      I'd love to play a game like that, too. Not sure if something similar already exists, but I doubt it since what you suggest sounds like the Holy Grail of sandbox survival! :)

  5. People's Voices
    February 1, 2015 at 3:15 am

    Please Tell Me Games like Minecraft or Don't Starve. I enjoy games that crafts and Upgrades... That all I wanted to Play..

    • Joel
      February 1, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      It sounds like you're a fan of open-world survival games, so I'd recommend a game like Stranded/Stranded 2 or Miasmata. If you like roguelikes, you should also check out Unreal World, Rogue Survivor, and Cataclysm (not the WoW expansion).

  6. Frzn
    November 21, 2014 at 11:53 am

    It's been around for a while now but it's still not released; Factorio.
    Great game with some strategy elements to add onto the sandbox/resource genre.

    • Joel Lee
      November 25, 2014 at 5:58 am

      I've never even heard of that game. Just looked it up and it looks interesting enough to follow. Thanks for the heads up, Frzn!

  7. Ronin
    November 19, 2014 at 1:03 am

    The Forest and Kerbal are the 2 most finished games on the list, and neither is what i'd call finished. Steam Greenlight has been disappointing overall.

    • Joel Lee
      November 25, 2014 at 5:56 am

      Steam Early Access is certainly a unique kind of experience. It's not in an ideal state right now, but it's not as bad as Kickstarter!

  8. MoPs
    November 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    You want a challenging sandbox game?
    Wurm Online (Notch's project before Minecraft)
    Enough said.

    • Joel Lee
      November 18, 2014 at 12:59 am

      I'm surprised Wurm Online is still running. Definitely one of the most "sandboxiest" games out there, and it's free! The gameplay is definitely niche and most people will find it boring, but everyone should give it a try at least once in their life. Thanks for bringing it up!

  9. BeTheBall
    November 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    7 Days to Die and Space Engineers are my favorites. 7 Days to Die in particular just keeps getting better with each release. Very excited to see both games moving forward.

    • Joel Lee
      November 18, 2014 at 12:57 am

      Nice mention on 7DTD. I haven't played it myself but I've seen some Twitch streams and it looks like a blast.

  10. stephen
    November 12, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I play and enjoy Space Engineers

    • Joel Lee
      November 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      If Twitch numbers are any indication, Space Engineers has fluctuating in popularity but it's definitely worth trying. What do you like most about it?

  11. Anonymous
    November 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Unturned looks boring imo, I heard horrible things about Life is Feudal's devs, & I haven't tried Space Program but I heard it's good. I have played The Forest & Rust and I can tell you that they are FANTASTIC!

  12. Anonymous
    November 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Unturned looks boring imo, I heard horrible things about Life is Feudal's devs, & I haven't tried Space Program but I heard it's good. I have played The Forest & Rust and I can tell you that they are FANTASTIC!

    • Joel Lee
      November 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      I agree that Unturned is still pretty new and far from finished, but it does have a lot of potential and it seems fun enough that there are always people streaming it on Twitch. Glad you think The Forest and Rust are great, because they are. :)

  13. test
    November 12, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    dasads

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