10 Most Immersive Sci-Fi Games, Ranked – Screen Rant

Sci-fi can make for some imaginative worlds in gaming, and these are some of the most immersive titles in the genre.
Fans eagerly anticipate Bethesda's next showcase for its original sci-fi epic Starfield, as the upcoming RPG is set to become another example of how engaging the genre is in gaming. It's one of the most popular core genres arguably alongside fantasy, especially since it helped pave the way for many iconic games and entire franchises.
And like with fantasy, immersion is one of the core elements of making a successful sci-fi game that keeps players hooked through to the end. Many games accomplish this in their own ways, from sweeping RPG sagas like Mass Effectto pulse-pounding horror like Alien: Isolation.
Though Cyberpunk 2077 has taken up the lion's share of attention when it comes to this specific subgenre of sci-fi – and the RPG genre in gaming – developer Eidos Montréal's Deus Ex: Human Revolution was an acclaimed experience for its time. It's a shame that it hasn't received the full recognition it deserves, especially since the franchise is still lying dormant since the 2016 sequel.
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Following the story of Adam Jensen, a cybernetically-enhanced security officer for Sarif Industries, players investigate the shadowy machinations behind an attack on the company. Human Revolution was lauded for its moodily immersive, Blade Runner-like cyberpunk world and the freedom of choice players had to interact with it as Jensen, bolstered by the thought-provoking story's social commentary on the human condition and corporate exploitation.
Hello Games' No Man's Sky became one of the most infamous games of all time due to its disastrous launch back in 2016. Gameplay was barren, with few features to justify its existence or the price tag. However, after several years worth of dedicated post-launch support, the game also became known as one of the best comeback stories in gaming.
Massive expansions reinvigorated the game to become what it was promised to be at launch, including multiplayer, base building, surface-level vehicles, and more. With such welcome improvements, No Man's Sky's vast, procedurally-generated universe has become a genuine joy to explore and get lost in – and it makes for a stunning gameplay experience on Steam Deck.
For fans of horror, developer Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation is immersive in the best ways imaginable. Video game adaptations of movie IPs have commonly been regarded as mediocre at the best of times, but this survival-horror spin on director Ridley Scott's landmark sci-fi franchise earns its stripes.
The story centers around engineer Amanda Ripley as she investigates the disappearance of her mother on the space station Sevastopol, with the titular Xenomorph lurking around the corners. As one would expect for a game of this genre, Alien: Isolation's praises largely went to how it puts the player in the shoes of the protagonist. It namely does so by forcing an impending sense of dread of being hunted by an apex extraterrestrial predator in claustrophobic environments.
Developed by Mobius Digital, Outer Wilds is one of the most uniquely ambitious sci-fi indie game experiences available. In addition to the beautiful art direction and graphics, the game's sense of mellow ambiance does wonders when it comes to immersing players in the gameplay loop. Likewise, the way Outer Wilds tells its story and incorporates puzzle-solving mechanics helps make it even more investing.
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The player plays as a space explorer stuck in a 22-minute time loop that ends in the sun going supernova as they try to uncover the mystery behind it. It's a game that's best experienced knowing as little as possible about it, and it will prove to be an emotionally arresting adventure with each revelation.
Though arguably more known for its The Elder Scrolls franchise, Bethesda has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to sprawling open-world RPGs. The Fallout series is an incredibly lore-rich video game franchise that, naturally, lends itself well to immersion and overall world building.
Fallout 3, specifically, could be argued as the series' mainstream breakout hit, as it was praised for expanding the sci-fi dystopia's universe onto an open-world slate. It was an endeavor that greatly paid off, and even more so for 2007, with its dynamic and open-ended world proving to be rewarding for player exploration, dialogue choices, and character customization.
Bethesda's Fallout franchise has made for several memorable experiences, but even so, it was Obsidian Entertainment's New Vegas that became the series' fan-favorite entry. Players take on the role of the Courier, who recovers from having a package stolen, shot, and left for dead. They then go on a countryside quest to retrieve the package, encountering a diverse list of characters, enemies, and everything in between.
New Vegas was extremely buggy at launch, but a combination of post-launch support and a deep modding community gave it renewed life. The game was lauded for its gameplay improvements, but even more so for the RPG's myriad of engaging side quest content in addition to the main story. The post-apocalyptic world of New Vegas is both grimy and immersive, with the story and character writing proving more than enough to keep players engaged, even over 12 years later.
In 2017, Guerilla Games' Horizon Zero Dawn came as one of the PS4 console generation's biggest welcome surprises. The studio was predominantly known for the first-person shooter Killzone series, which made this a refreshing and triumphant change of pace to the RPG genre. Horizon Forbidden West was released early last year to similar critical success, with much of both games' high marks going to its inventive and breathtaking open world.
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Cleverly combining elements of prehistory, sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic settings, the ruined lands of the U.S. populated by robotic animals incentivized and rewarded exploration and becoming invested in its world. Despite civilization crumbling, Zero Dawn and Forbidden West excelled in depicting the various biomes in naturalistic beauty.
CD Projekt Red's latest major title was also marred with a disastrous launch. Upon release, critical reception was positive for the substance of what Cyberpunk 2077 had to offer, but it was understandably lambasted for its plethora of bugs and performance problems.
But similarly to No Man's Sky, Cyberpunk also underwent an extensive redemption arc thanks to post-launch support. No in a more widely playable state, the game is properly able to show how richly layered its neo-noir world is. Cyberpunk 2077 does well with its main narrative and side quests to create an enthralling and atmospheric setting.
Now having premiered a critically-acclaimed HBO TV series, Naughty Dog's The Last of Us series is celebrated as among the best PlayStation-exclusive video games. The first game was released as a sort of swansong for the PS3 before ushering in the PS4, pushing the technical boundaries of the former.
Both games feature a post-apocalyptic zombie-themed setting and story that serves as the foundation for their conflict. Many might think the "zombie" premise is played out, but it's the storytelling, characters, and gameplay that shine here. The Last of Us games have some of the most emotionally invested and gut-wrenching storylines in gaming, easily keeping players glued to the screen and controller through it all.
When it comes to the sci-fi and RPG genres, BioWare's Mass Effect series has become an icon of the gaming industry. The series has admittedly fallen into a rut alongside the developer studio itself, but the original trilogy still stands among the greatest works of BioWare's golden era.
Inspired by other influential sci-fi works across mediums like Star Trek, the Mass Effect trilogy tells a deeply engrossing story of Commander Shepard and his diverse team of crewmates as they battle a galaxy-ending alien threat. Even better, these games are shining examples of thoroughly immersive story and character writing, with dialogue choices and side quests for the supporting cast being every bit as compelling as the main story while masterfully fleshing them out.
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Guillermo Kurten is a journalism graduate from the University of Houston. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he now resides in Houston. He is a fan of pretty much anything involving nerd culture. Video games, comics, movies, TV, anime, manga, you name it. He also has experience writing about soccer, specifically, the German team Bayern Munich.


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