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Video Games to Play If You’re a Space Nerd Like Me

I’ve been an aspiring astronaut ever since I was in high school.

Outer Worlds

Outer Worlds takes place in the far future when a distant star system has been colonized by megacorporations. Two colony ships were originally sent to this system, but while one succeeded in its mission to colonize the star system, the other mysteriously disappeared. You play as one of the colonists on the ship that was lost in transit, and you awake decades later, teaming up with a mad scientist to wake your fellow passengers from cryosleep. As you explore the star system, you encounter various characters and factions, all with their own values, agendas, and desire for power. Your decisions in this game affect the world around you and your relationships with your companions.

One thing I love about this game is the customizability of my character’s personality, as well as the freedom I have when it comes to solving problems. I play as a character who has high charisma and intelligence, but low strength. For example, I can choose to use technology or diplomacy instead of violence to solve conflicts. I also love the non-playable characters in this game, even the most minor characters have a lot of personality. I recommend this game if you’re looking for a lot of player freedom, plenty of humor, and a game that will encourage you to find multiple solutions for a problem.


Astroneer is an adorable adventure game where you explore multiple planets with various environmental conditions while unraveling the mysteries of the galaxy. In this game, you gather resources, build bases and vehicles, and explore the surfaces and underground areas of various planets. The art style is simple, but vibrant and interesting, and each planet looks and feels distinct from the last.

There’s a lot to do in this game, from gathering resources, to building bases, to creating vehicles and rockets. This game is great to play with friends. It’s always a lot of fun when you and your friends are working together to accomplish a goal one minute, and they’re laughing at you for falling into a cavern the next minute. Astroneer gave me and my friends a lot of laughs, so I highly recommend Astroneer for a group of friends looking to have an adventure in space together.


Destiny is a multiplayer online game that takes place in the distant future. In this universe, humanity discovers an entity known as The Traveler, leading to a period of exploration and technological advancement, where humans spread to planets across the Solar System. The Traveler’s ancient enemy, known as The Darkness, causes an event known as “The Collapse”, causing humanity to be on the verge of extinction. Following The Collapse, the Traveler creates defenders of the Last City on Earth. In Destiny, you play as one of these defenders, known as Guardians.

I started playing Destiny 2 during the pandemic, and I fell in love with the world and the story that is continuing to evolve. I loved my character, the characters around me, the lore, the soundtrack, and the environments. The past few seasons’ story content was entertaining, captivating, emotional, and got me excited for the upcoming seasons and expansion content coming out in 2022.

No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky is an open-world game where you can explore any planet, in any system, in any galaxy. The planets are procedurally generated, so no two planets are the same. In addition, you can form diplomatic and trade relationships with aliens, manage your own fleet, complete bounties, build bases on your favorite planets, and much more.

What I love about No Man’s Sky is how much freedom there is. No matter how much I explore, there will always be undiscovered planets and star systems out there for me to find.  This game allows me to create my own adventure, and it continues to give me new challenges, areas to explore, and places to discover. When you land on a planet and you look up into the sky above you, every star you see is a discoverable star system in the game, so you really feel like you are a small part in an infinite universe, and it is beautiful.

Screenshot of No Man\'s Sky
Screenshot by Alison McCall, captured on Xbox One S

Outer Wilds

Outer Wilds is a gorgeous game where you play as an alien on their first solo space exploration mission. During the game, you solve a mystery by traveling from planet to planet and collecting information and data left behind by another alien race. The game doesn’t give you any hints to start with, and you have the freedom to explore any planet at any time. During the game, you are stuck in a time loop, and the environments of multiple planets change over time. Some areas fill will sand, some areas crumble beneath your feet. Over multiple loops, you need to explore hidden areas before they become inaccessible.

I recently started playing this game, and I fell in love instantly. Every time I find a silly way to get my character killed, I laugh at myself and then adjust my strategy for exploring areas without perishing. The environments are beautiful, and each planet feels completely unique. The soundtrack is relaxing and timeless. This is a great game if you want to make a cup of tea, put on some fuzzy socks, and relax for the evening.

Mass Effect

Out of all the video games I’ve ever played, Mass Effect reigns as my all-time favorite. I just completed my second playthrough of the original trilogy, and I’m halfway through Mass Effect 2 in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition, the remaster of the trilogy that came out in May 2021. In Mass Effect, you play as Commander Shepard, an elite human soldier who becomes the first human Spectre, selected to preserve galactic stability by any means necessary. Over the course of the whole trilogy, you unite the entire galaxy against one threat: The Reapers. One of the greatest strengths of the trilogy is its characters. These characters have distinct personalities, interesting backstories, and satisfying character arcs. The soundtrack has a classic, epic, science-fiction feel. The story hooked me from the beginning of Mass Effect 1 and held me until the credits rolled until Mass Effect 3. Throughout the trilogy, I have laughed, I have cried, and I keep coming back to it to play it over and over again. 

Screenshot of Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
Screenshot by Alison McCall, captured on Xbox One S
Alison McCall

CU Boulder '23

Alison is a first-year graduate student majoring in Electrical Engineering, and specializing in Control Systems, Dynamics, and Automation. She hopes to someday work in robotics or avionics. In her free time, she enjoys playing flute in a concert band, playing video games, and swing dancing.
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