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5 Best Sandbox Games on Steam (May 2024)

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Astronauts explore vibrant alien world in sandbox Steam game

Sandbox games are like big virtual playgrounds. Instead of telling players what to do, these games say, “Here's a world, now go have fun!” On Steam, there are tons of sandbox games that let players build, explore, and create their own stories. Excited to find out which ones are the best? We have curated a list of the five best sandbox games on Steam.

5. Manor Lords

Manor Lords - Official Trailer (2020 Announcement)

Manor Lords is a medieval strategy game that places you in the role of a lord. You start with a small village and work to expand it into a thriving city. The game features realistic city-building mechanics inspired by historical developments in medieval Europe. You must manage resources carefully to build and maintain your city. Trade routes and the natural landscape influence how your village grows. Your decisions determine whether your city thrives or struggles through the seasons.

In Manor Lords, you also engage in complex economic and social simulations. You will oversee the production of goods, from basic necessities to luxury items. Production chains transform raw materials into finished goods. For example, iron ore extracted from mines can be turned into weapons. You need to balance the production of essential goods for your people's survival with the creation of items for trade and warfare. Managing your resources wisely leads to a prosperous city, and you also face environmental challenges.

Furthermore, Manor Lords introduces tactical combat where every soldier's life matters. The combat decisions must be made with great care, as battles consider many factors, such as weather and soldier fatigue. A well-commanded smaller force can often overcome a larger one. Your role as a leader is to defend your lands, conquer new territories, and ensure the safety and growth of your domain.

4. Myth of Empires

Myth of Empires Official V1.0 Release Trailer

Myth of Empires is a multiplayer sandbox game where you can experience a world filled with freedom and diverse civilizations. Players start their journey in a richly detailed environment that includes a variety of landscapes, ecosystems, and an ever-changing day and night cycle. You have the chance to explore new territories, especially with the addition of the Dongzhou Island map. This map brings fresh adventures and challenges to the game. Players can discover new areas and gather resources that are essential for their empire.

In Myth of Empires, you have the opportunity to build your own empire from scratch. The game offers more than 1300 crafting recipes, allowing you to construct everything from basic shelters to intricate mechanical tools and robust base defenses. Plus, a new planting system has also been introduced, which further enhances your ability to cultivate and manage resources effectively.

Additionally, the game includes features that let you recruit NPCs and tame wildlife to assist in expanding your empire. These elements introduce a dynamic aspect to the game where you can train powerful beasts or utilize smaller animals to fortify your defenses. With the introduction of new boss NPCs and formidable creatures in the latest update, players have even more options to harness additional forces for both combat support and resource production.

3. The Planet Crafter

Planet Crafter - Official 1.0 Launch Trailer

The Planet Crafter offers a unique challenge to players. You arrive on a barren, hostile planet with the goal of transforming it into a home suitable for humans. To do this, you must survive the harsh conditions, gather resources, and build a base. Over time, you will construct machines that are essential for heating the planet and producing a breathable atmosphere. This game combines survival skills with the ability to create and manage complex systems that alter an entire planet's ecosystem.

In this game, building your base is just the beginning. As you progress, you'll craft tools and equipment necessary for your survival and mission. Here, exploration is encouraged; discover old shipwrecks and mysterious ruins scattered across the planet. These sites often contain valuable resources that can aid in your terraforming efforts. The more you explore, the more you can expand and upgrade your base, which allows for further exploration and more advanced terraforming.

2. Denizen

Denizen - Early Access Trailer

In Denizen, you enter a bustling city brimming with opportunities. This open-world life simulator allows you to carve your own path through interacting with locals, discovering unique locations, and climbing your way to the top. You can start by finding a job at one of the many local businesses to earn a steady income. For those who prefer flexibility, picking up side hustles offers a way to make money while exploring the city. You can also help out local residents for some extra cash, enhancing your connection with the community and boosting your earnings.

When it's time to unwind, Denizen offers plenty of options. You can visit a car dealership to pick out a new ride, shop for the latest fashion at local clothing stores, or relax at various entertainment spots like casinos, clubs, or bars. For those looking to settle down, the game provides a choice of living spaces—from cozy suburban houses to chic apartment buildings. You can personalize your home with a selection of furniture and decorations. Plus, managing your life is made easy with a smartphone in-game; use it to apply for jobs, manage tasks, find a place to live, play music, and handle your finances.

1. Foundry

Foundry Official Gameplay Trailer

Wrapping up our list of the best sandbox games on Steam, Foundry stands out with its immersive and intricate gameplay. In this game, players land on an uncharted planet with the goal of building a vast, automated robot production facility. You start from the basics, manually mining and harvesting resources. Gradually, you transition into designing and managing an expansive network of production lines. Your trusty AI companion, Carl, guides you through the process, and ensures your factory's efficiency is optimized.

In addition to this, the game offers a procedurally generated voxel landscape that you can mold and shape to fit the needs of your growing industrial empire. You can construct and customize your machinery and infrastructure from deep underground to towering heights above the surface. This flexibility extends to a grid-based construction system, giving you precise control over every block you place. Additionally, the game challenges you to integrate your sprawling complex into the varying terrains you encounter, from dense jungles to vast plains.

So, which of these best sandbox games on Steam have you dived into? And did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know your thoughts on our socials here.

Amar is a gaming aficionado and freelance content writer. As an experienced gaming content writer, he's always up-to-date with the latest gaming industry trends. When he's not busy crafting compelling gaming articles, you can find him dominating the virtual world as a seasoned gamer.