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10 games to play while you wait for Starfield

A screen shot of a ship cabin from Starfield
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield was one of the most anticipated games of 2022 — until it wasn’t. Microsoft announced it's delayed Starfield until the first half of 2023

Gamers of all stripes had been looking forward to Bethesda’s game, both as an ambitious sci-fi RPG in its own right, and as one of the biggest Xbox exclusives of the year. Now, the game could debut up to seven months later than expected, assuming that Bethesda and Microsoft don’t delay it again before the new 2023 launch date.

Still, Starfield isn’t the only way to explore the galaxy. One bright side to Starfield’s delay is that it gives gamers time to check out other games in the meantime — and if those games are also open-ended sci-fi adventures, so much the better. 

The Tom’s Guide staff has come up with a list of games that may scratch that Starfield itch, from space exploration RPGs, to Bethesda’s other, more fantastical fare. Read on to discover 10 games to play while you wait for Starfield.

Anachronox

anachronox

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Anachronox is one of those cult classic games that probably would have been a big hit in a later era. This turn-based RPG casts you as Sylvester “Sly” Boots, a futuristic private eye who works on the neo-noir planet of Anachronox. 

In this agreeable cyberpunk adventure, Sly recruits a party of oddball heroes and explores half-a-dozen different planets as he uncovers the ancient secrets behind MysTech. This strange technology lets ordinary humans (and aliens) use something akin to magic, which also gives the game’s battle system some strategic depth. 

With an intriguing setting and a solid sense of humor, Anachronox has a lot of heart — and probably should have had a sequel.

Doom (2016)

doom

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Fans love Bethesda’s sprawling, immersive RPGs, but the company publishes a variety of other games, too. The 2016 reboot of Doom is one such title, and it’s arguably one of the best games Bethesda has ever shipped. 

This reboot of the classic FPS series casts you as the Doom Slayer: a heavily armored, shotgun-wielding space marine. Fueled by rage and righteousness, the Doom Slayer has made it his personal business to tear every demon on Mars limb-from-limb. 

While Starfield will probably be slower and more thoughtful than this game, Doom is still a fantastic sci-fi romp, with a keen sense of style and an incredible soundtrack.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Best open world games: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

(Image credit: Bethesda Game Studio)

While The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes place in a fantasy setting rather than a sci-fi one, it still may be the closest thing we get to Starfield for a while. Bethesda hasn’t shared any hard details about Starfield’s gameplay yet, but we do know that it will be a sci-fi simulation, with heavy emphases on exploration and customization. Skyrim has essentially the same pitch, only with swords and sorcery rather than starships. 

In Skyrim, You create a character, then set off into a mind-bogglingly big world, doing essentially whatever you want and making your own story as you go. (The main narrative is a little on the rote side.)

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

mass effect legendary edition review

(Image credit: EA)

While we don’t know exactly how Starfield will play, if we’re lucky, it will be something like Mass Effect Legendary Edition. This action/RPG series from veteran developer BioWare first charmed gamers back in 2007 with its ambitious story, open-ended exploration, rich characters and entertaining third-person shooter gameplay. 

You customize a space marine called Commander Shepard, who must lead his or her team of experts on a mission to stop the extragalactic Reapers from wiping out all intelligent life in the galaxy. 

The Legendary Edition collects the first three games and almost all of their DLC, complete with a graphical overhaul and some gameplay improvements.

The Outer Worlds

the outer worlds screenshot

(Image credit: Private Division / Obsidian)

On paper, The Outer Worlds sounds almost exactly like what we want from Starfield. In this first-person RPG, you create your own avatar, then set off into the Halcyon system, where you can explore three varied planets and take on a variety of quests in any (almost) any order you choose. 

The game is open-ended and gives you a ton of choices, both in how you build your character and how you advance the story. You can also recruit a variety of charming party members, each of whom can lend special skills to your cause. 

Granted, The Outer Worlds is not a huge game, so it may differ from Starfield in terms of scope.

Prey (2017)

prey

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Prey (2017) isn’t exactly what series fans were hoping to get, but in retrospect, it may be exactly what they needed. 

The original Prey was an ambitious sci-fi FPS, but a planned sequel, Prey 2, never materialized. Instead, Arkane Studios and Bethesda rebooted the whole franchise, moving the action from an alien spaceship to a creepy space station, Talos I. You play as Morgan Yu: a researcher who must fend off hostile aliens while scrounging for equipment and resources. 

Prey is more of a horror game than a full RPG, but it’s still an intriguing look at how Bethesda handles sci-fi properties.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

(Image credit: Sony)

If you’re not absolutely married to the Xbox ecosystem, then consider Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart as one of your placeholder games for Starfield. While Ratchet & Clank isn’t a high-minded RPG, it does seem to check a lot of the Starfield boxes. You get to explore a bunch of different planets with open-ended levels, collecting and upgrading weapons and gear as you go. 

If you’ve never played a Ratchet & Clank game before, Rift Apart is also a perfectly good jumping-on point, as it kicks off a new arc in the long-running series. While Starfield will probably be less zany, Rift Apart still offers some solid sci-fi thrills.

Star Trek Online

star trek online

(Image credit: Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment)

When it comes to exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and civilizations and boldly going where no one has gone before, even Starfield has nothing on Star Trek. 

If you’ve always dreamed of commanding your own Federation starship, Star Trek Online is the way to do it. This free-to-play MMO lets you create your own Federation, Klingon or Romulan captain, then recruit a bridge crew and outfit your starship for battle. While there’s an involved and satisfying story to complete, you can also just venture out into the enormous galaxy and see what’s out there. 

The F2P elements in Star Trek Online are unobtrusive, so you don’t have to spend a penny if you don’t want to.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

star wars: knights of the old republic

(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is perhaps one of the best projects to ever come out of George Lucas’ venerated space fantasy franchise. In this classic BioWare game, you’ll customize your very own Jedi Knight, recruit a party of quirky adventurers, and explore four huge planets as you prepare to do battle with the evil Darth Malak. 

What’s great about KOTOR is that your choices affect whether your character tends toward the Light or Dark side of the Force, and big chunks of the story will change accordingly. There’s also an excellent combat system, based on the classic Star Wars d20 tabletop ruleset.

Tales of Arise

Tales of Arise review

(Image credit: Bandai)

Possibly the biggest reach on this list, Tales of Arise is still well worth considering if you’re in the mood for a long, satisfying sci-fi RPG. Unlike most Bethesda RPGs, Tales of Arise isn’t a sprawling simulation. Instead, it’s a linear Japanese RPG, where you gather a party of attractive young misfits and save the world through the power of friendship. 

Still, Tales of Arise breathes fresh life into old tropes, thanks to its affable cast of characters and its tight, technical battle system. The story is, indeed, more sci-fi than fantasy, with starships, space stations and superweapons, although the game saves most of these elements for the back half.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.