Best Sandbox Games on PC

It’s not uncommon to hear many “open-world” games referred to as “sandbox,” but a real sandbox game has the freedom not only to explore but also to create, typically with little to no restrictions. Sandbox games let you build, craft, explore, and get your creative juices flowing. Great for unwinding after an exhausting day or for just flexing those creative muscles. Whether you’re building massive castles or creating sprawling towns for other players to enjoy, there’s generally something for everyone. Here are our favorite picks for the best sandbox games available for PC!

Minecraft

Minecraft

At a glance

  • Genre: Exploration sandbox
  • Developer: Mojang
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, many others
  • Original Release Date: May 17, 2009
  • Price: $26.95
  • Where to Buy: Minecraft Store

Let’s face it; no list would be complete without Minecraft. Not the first of its genre or even the best, Minecraft’s charming blocky world won the hearts of millions over its lengthy lifespan. Minecraft offers near-infinite possibilities, regularly demonstrated by insanely talented creators. Years of patches and updates added RPG-like elements, including item enchants, bosses, and more. Minecraft also features a rich Creative mode that grants you on-demand access to every block and item in the game.

Terraria

Terraria

At a glance

  • Genre: Action-adventure sandbox
  • Developer: Re-Logic
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, many others
  • Original Release Date: May 22, 2011
  • Price: $9.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

Often touted as “2D Minecraft,” Terraria is so much more than that. In addition to being a great sandbox game, with tons of options for building, terraforming, decorating, and more, Terraria also has rich progression-based RPG gameplay. Players can work their way up, gaining access to great new items to help them defeat even more powerful foes. While Terraria does not feature a Creative mode right out of the box, it does have full mod support. With its already ridiculously low price and regular sales, we consider Terraria one of the best deals in gaming.

Garry’s Mod

Garry's Mod

At a glance

  • Genre: Sandbox
  • Developer: Facepunch Studios
  • Platforms: PC
  • Original Release Date: Nov 29, 2006
  • Price: $9.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

Ah, Garry’s Mod. Originally a Half-Life 2 mod, colloquially known as “GMod,” Garry’s Mod has grown into its own a beast. Players can do whatever they want within Valve’s extensive Source Engine. Spawn NPCs, models, props, and more, and take advantage of GMod’s physics-based universe. GMod supports tons of custom models. We also have GMod to thank for some of the ridiculous YouTube videos in gaming. Bless you, Garry Newman.

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program

At a glance

  • Genre: Space flight simulation
  • Developer: Squad
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Original Release Date: Apr 27, 2015
  • Price: $39.99
  • Where to Buy: Steam

Technically a simulation game, where your goal is to construct a (working) rocket and send it up into space (without blowing up), Kerbal Space Program offers a hilariously fun sandbox mode. You’re still focused on building rockets, but you’re given free access to all parts with little to no restrictions. The game’s Sandbox mode can be daunting, throwing all of the parts at you right off the bat, so you might consider starting in Career mode. There’s also an excellent middle ground in the game’s Science mode, which offers a version of Career mode’s progression system mixed with the freedom of crafting found in Sandbox.

Roblox

Roblox

At a glance

  • Genre: Sandbox MMO
  • Developer: Roblox Corporation
  • Platforms: PC, Mac, many others
  • Original Release Date: Aug 26, 2006
  • Price: Free-to-play
  • Where to Download: Roblox, Microsoft Store

Roblox may be dated, and it’s strange LEGO-esque character models might not appeal to all, but there’s no arguing that it’s a fun sandbox experience. Aimed at kids and teens, Roblox lets you create your custom worlds and adventures and share them with other players. You can access any of these creations for free or build your own from scratch using the game’s Roblox Studio tool. Less Minecraft, more Mario Maker. Roblox Studio is easy enough to use that player with little to no experience in coding can dive in and have fun. If you’re looking to create something more complex, there’s a robust Wiki offering ton of tutorials and instruction on learning the game’s systems. And it’s free!

Trove

Trove

At a glance

  • Genre: Exploration sandbox MMO
  • Developer: Trion Worlds
  • Platforms: PC, Mac
  • Original Release Date: Jul 9, 2015
  • Price: Free-to-play
  • Where to Download: Steam

Trove is a fun MMO sandbox game based in a blocky, voxel world, offering players the opportunity to explore endless worlds and shape them to their liking. The game features an RPG progression system, in which players choose a class, explore worlds, defeat enemies to obtain loot, craft equipment, and unlock a plethora of goodies. Unlike player housing in other MMOs, you can take your custom-build house (a cornerstone) anywhere you go. Seriously, you can summon your house out of thin air. While Trove is free-to-play, it does have a bit of paid content. Trove even features a battle royale mode, Bomber Royale, because what doesn’t nowadays.

Besiege

Besiege

At a glance

  • Genre: Building and physics Sandbox
  • Developer: Spiderling Studios
  • Platforms: PC, Mac
  • Original Release Date: Jan 28, 2015
  • Price: $9.99
  • Where to Download: Steam

Besiege is a physics-based building game. You will need to learn how to use, and abuse, the physics engine to take on multiple levels of enemies and structures. You will also need to build your means of victory, as every vehicle you use is designed from the ground up by you. The defense is as important as offense in this game, and being able to survive your attacks can prove equally challenging. This game is incredibly fun, extremely addictive, and will make you think.

Brielle Bullard contributed to this article.