The Best Crafting and Exploration Games for Consoles and PC!
The crafting game genre is a relatively new one; we can say it all started with Minecraft, but there are now hundreds of games which focus on crafting and exploration, with or without survival elements. I personally love crafting games; there’s something about starting off with absolutely nothing, having to obtain and collect materials and then build up a world from scratch that I find really challenging and fun.
If you’re a fan of crafting games and looking for more to add to your collection, here’s a list of the best ones you can purchase for your computer or console:
Where would this list be without the essential crafting game: Minecraft? This massive sandbox crafting game was created by one man (Markus Persson) and first released for PC back in 2011. It has changed the gaming world (specifically sandbox/building/crafting/procedurally generated games) since! Minecraft is the second best-selling game of all-time (second only to Tetris!) and it’s easy to see why:
You start off in a 3D, procedurally generated world (meaning no two worlds you start in or explore are exactly alike), and you can completely change the world around you, by mining blocks and crafting new ones to create whatever you want.
Want to build a castle? You can do it! How about a flying ship? It can be done. Build whatever your imagination can dream of, and Minecraft players certainly have! There’s a survival mode, where you actually have to manage health, hunt and fight monsters, but you can also play in sandbox mode where you can just build, with full access to all the block types available in-game.
This game is ultimate starting game for anyone who’s interesting in the crafting genre. There are very few limitations in Minecraft, and if you play on PC or Mac, you can download mods and expand your world even more.
Minecraft is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, and Android and iOS mobile devices.
“Dragon Quest Builders”
At first glance, Dragon Quest Builders probably looks like a Minecraft knock-off, but it’s much more than that! Sure, there are similar-looking blocks (though definitely a lot smoother than Minecraft’s pixelated style), but there’s also a story in DQB (inspired by the Dragon Quest RPG game series) and a lot more recognisable things to craft.
The first part of the game is playing through the story as the protagonist hero; bringing back order to the towns you travel to, rebuilding their city and protecting them from monsters. Once you complete the first chapter, you unlock the Terra Incognita (free play) mode, which is a sandbox environment that you can build in.
DQB has lots of mining and collecting to do, plus you can craft furniture, build medieval buildings and castles (or modern ones if you have the right kind of imagination) and more! If you feel Minecraft’s world is too vast or directionless, but like the mining/crafting gameplay, DQB might be a better match for you.
Dragon Quest Builders is available for purchase on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, as well as Nintendo Switch.
“No Man’s Sky”
No Man’s Sky is all about exploration and crafting in space! This game is also mainly about survival; you start off in a crashed ship and it’s up to you to explore the world around to you find the required objects to get your ship back off the ground.
Through exploring and adventuring, you can craft all sorts of things: tools for trading, tools for creating a base (on one of the 18 quintillion procedurally generated planets in the game), tools to improve your ship, and more!
I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing this game, and there’s so much to see, do, explore, collect and craft! Mining for resources to craft into more expensive things, to then, in turn, sell, and buy a better ship or freighter becomes an addictive cycle and it’s hard to put this game down once you’ve picked it up. A free update coming this July adds VR support to the game as well as more quality of life improvements.
No Man’s Sky is available for purchase on PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows and Xbox One.
“My Time at Portia”
My Time at Portia is a fairly new game on this list, but it definitely deserves its spot. The main storyline revolves around running your own workshop and crafting objects for the charming town and people of Portia.
Like the others on the list, you can mine for and collect hundreds of resources, which in turn can be used to craft new objects: functional things to keep the town running, furniture, food, and more.
This game gives the player a bit more direction and purpose than the other ones on this list; while most crafting games allow you to craft for aesthetic reasons, or sometimes for survival, My Time at Portia asks you to craft because it’s your job. There are commissions each day for you to fulfil and quests from townsfolk which require to you craft specific objects. It’s a whole lot of fun working as a full-time crafter in Portia!
My Time at Portia is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
“Craft the World”
This game has “craft” right in its title, so that tells you exactly where the focus is! Craft the World is a quirky crafting game where you’re in charge of a world of dwarves. You don’t actually do the crafting yourself, though; you actually direct the dwarves to do the mining, collecting and crafting for you, and simply design the world that they’ll craft!
In the meantime, there are a lot of survival elements too; your dwarves need protection from the monsters around them, so you need to help them build adequate and sturdy shelter, tools, weapons, and armour, and direct them to craft food to eat, too.
Though the gameplay is pretty simple and straightforward, Craft the World is extremely fun and charming. I’ve dumped a lot of hours into this game, trying to craft the perfect world for my dwarves, and it’s likely you’ll get just as addicted as I did.
Craft the World is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows and MacOS. There’s also a “pocket edition” available for purchase on the iOS App Store.
Starbound can be best described as a mix of Stardew Valley, Minecraft, and No Man’s Sky. It has elements of each game but despite the mash-up description, it’s definitely in a class of its own. The main focus of Starbound is exploring space (filled with quadrillions of procedurally generated planets), but there’s also an emphasis on mining and crafting.
Mine to obtain ores and minerals you need to craft ship parts and upgrades, mine from the environments around you to create a settlement for yourself or the other species in the game, craft furniture, clothing, armour, food, and more!
Protect yourself from the strange creatures and aliens on each planet, craft better armour or a protective home, explore and collect pretty much everything the eye can see and craft it into something else! This game is a big favourite of mine, and one I definitely recommend.
Starbound is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Factorio is all about resource-gathering, harvesting, and crafting. You start off crash-landed on an alien planet, with the directive to harvest the resources around you to try and create what you need to build a rocket to leave.
It sounds simple, but this game is complex: craft machines to automate your harvesting, rework them to make them more efficient, research advanced technologies; eventually, you can even refine objects and craft robots!
Creating the “end-game” rocket isn’t as easy as it might seem either; you need a HUGE amount of resources to do so, and you’ll only be able to collect them all by eventually crafting a factory which can help you collect and then craft exactly what you need.
Players often describe this game as a real time sink, because you can always improve your automation and make it more efficient.
Factorio is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux.
Terraria has been described as a 2D version of Minecraft, but it’s certainly much more than that. First released in 2011, the game is a 2D survivor/crafting game which focuses on combat, exploration, crafting, building and more, all in a procedurally generated world. Similar to many of the games on the list, the player starts off with just a few basic tools, and must build up their own world, by mining, finding new resources, and crafting objects.
Combat is a bit more advanced in Terraria, as the player needs to protect themselves against a variety of enemies, from skeletons to zombies, to flying eyes and slime blobs. Defeating bosses leads to in-game progression: rare items, and in-game currency. The player can also build communities with NPC characters, travel to a variety of biomes, build and create their own world, and so much more!
Terraria is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
Can you survive in the wilderness? Put your survival abilities to the challenge in this first-person game, where your main priorities are to hunt, build shelter, protect yourself from other players, and essentially do whatever it takes to survive.
Rust is a bit different than most of the games on this list, as it has a more realistic art style, and real-world graphics. The game is certainly more rooted in realism than most other games in the crafting genre; while you do have to craft tools and shelter, you also have to protect yourself from wolves, bears, and even NPC characters who will try to raid or even kill you.
The game has been compared to a mix of Minecraft and DayZ (a first-person shooter/survival game) and is definitely a great choice for players who enjoy crafting games, but are also looking for more realism and a gritty storyline.
Rust is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows and MacOS.
Think back to the time before video games, and the original “crafting game” was probably a set of Legos! What better way can one take a few objects, a lot of imagination, and create something exciting and new? Lego Worlds is an entry in the massive Lego video game catalogue, though unlike many of the Lego games, doesn’t focus on a specific film series (i.e., Harry Potter, Marvel Universe, etc.), but starts off with the player in a procedurally generated world, where you can build using Lego bricks.
Players can travel through the in-game worlds and explore a variety of large landscapes and biomes, collect bricks and objects, and create whatever they like from Legos! There’s character customisation, vehicles (helicopters, cars, motorbikes, etc.), landscaping tools, and so much more.
If you’re a fan of the Lego games and always wanted to create your own world with them, this is the perfect choice!
Lego Worlds is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
The final entry on this list, Subnautica, is another more realistic crafting game, this time, set in an alien ocean world. You start off in a crashed submarine, and it’s up to you to explore the ocean around you. Fight off sea creatures, search for items, craft equipment and tools, upgrade your submarine, explore coral reefs, volcanoes, underwater caves, and so much more.
Survival is a huge component in the game, from managing your oxygen supply, to finding food, fresh drinking water, and equipment to safely explore (things like diving gear, and habitat modules). Crafting is also a big part of the game, and you can eventually build bases underwater, which will allow you to store your collected resources, replenish oxygen, and park your vehicles.
Subnautica is a brilliant crafting/survival/exploration game, with a massive ocean to explore, a huge variety of things to craft and collect, and even a mystery story to unravel (what happened to this ocean planet and can you get off of it?). I just wouldn’t recommend it if you suffer from Thalassophobia.
Subnautica is available for purchase on Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
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© 2019 Brittany Brown