Bethesda’s new space exploration RPG Starfield launched this week, and while there is an incredible number of planets to visit, one familiarly red planet makes an appearance. But Starfield isn’t the only game to venture into space and visit familiar spots. Many sci-fi games take players to new planets, solar systems, and universes, while others keep things close, at least within a few hundred thousand miles. With Mars being the closest planet that could possibly sustain human life, video games have blasted off and landed on the rusty red planet in search of great stories, explosive action, and mysterious adventures.
Some games spend their entirety on Mars, exploring the surface or the mysteries hidden underneath, but others treat Mars as a pit-stop, only popping down for the occasional mission. However, even these brief visits to the planet are mixed into great games that are worth experiencing. From shooters to strategy games, Mars is a great host to a great selection of video games for sci-fi fans to explore.
10 Rover Mechanic Simulator
Following in the footsteps of previous Mechanic Simulator games, Rover Mechanic Simulator puts players into a mechanic’s overalls and into a workshop, but this time on Mars. Instead of cars and trucks, players are tasked with repairing and maintaining the various Mars rovers that NASA has sent to the red planet over the years.
Rover Mechanic Simulator is incredibly detailed, from the tiny parts in each rover to the actual information included that players read as they learn about each rover. It’s a great game for anyone looking to learn about the rovers and how they operate or players who just love tightening and loosening bolts.
9 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
In 2016, Call of Duty went to space with Infinite Warfare, and while the jet-packing, futuristic gameplay turned off a lot of fans, the game itself is actually quite good once given a chance. The plot is centered around a battle for the solar system and features new mechanics to the series, like zero-gravity battles.
Infinite Warfare has a ton of big action set-pieces that rock the screen and take the player on a rollercoaster of action and mixed FPS gameplay with a good balance of flying combat. Missions are chosen by the player out of a central hub world, a large spaceship, visiting different planets, like Mars, and space stations. There is also a PSVR tie-in experience that was released alongside the main game.
8 Surviving Mars
Surviving Mars takes the survival genre and expands on it. Rather than just controlling one character and trying to survive in a wild and hostile environment, players are tasked with building a city on a freshly terraformed Mars and then trying to thrive. Surviving Mars combines the city-builder and survival game genres into one engaging experience with information accurately based on real Martian data.
Players can both bring resources from Earth or research them on Mars, all while balancing colony growth with bare-bones survival. There are also storylines that pop up during play that introduce war, plagues, alien contact, and other events to spice up the gameplay.
Destiny and its sequel Destiny 2 both visit the planet of Mars in their intergalactic story of war and redemption. Destiny is an FPS in an online “shared world” where players can see other players during missions and actually interact with them, joining up at the hub world to take on Strikes, Raids, and other cooperative missions.
Mars is the central planet for the Cabal enemies, and there are plenty of missions that take players across and under its surface. Destiny continues to provide its players with expansions and content, taking them to new locations on new planets and old ones. It’s definitely a fun game but can get rather grindy as players strive for level caps and rare weapons and armor.
6 Waking Mars
Waking Mars is a platformer adventure game that began as a mobile game but was ported to PC soon after its release. Players explore beneath Mars’ surface, encountering hidden biomes and ecosystems with strange and interesting plant life.
By collecting seeds and planting them, players can affect each biome, learning what flora and fauna work together or not in order to continue on the mission of discovery. Waking Mars actually has a great story that pulls all the management and platforming gameplay aspects together into a deep, beautifully presented package.
5 Deliver Us Mars
Deliver Us Mars is an adventure puzzle game and the sequel to Deliver Us The Moon. The story picks up 10 years later, with humanity even closer to extinction. The surface of Mars and the structures players explore look gorgeous, and the engaging, emotional story pulls the player in with suspenseful and exciting moments.
Players solve physical and mental puzzles as they explore the planet, searching for the ARKs — the key to humanity’s survival — and discovering the truth behind the mysterious distress call that brought them to the planet in the first place. The game also has a fantastic soundtrack that perfectly captures the mood and creates an immersive atmosphere that must be experienced.
4 Terraforming Mars
Terraforming Mars jumped from tabletop to PC with an adaptation of the board game that works extremely well. In this card-based strategy game, players control one of several corporations competing against others to terraform the planet.
Players can build cities, create lakes and other biomes, and research technologies while trying to reach milestones, earn rewards, and get Mars to the perfect temperature for colonization. There is an online mode as well as single-player challenges to keep players coming back. Terraforming Mars also has two expansions that add new cards and corporations to expand the gameplay.
Starfield is the brand-new, incredibly massive open-world RPG from Bethesda Studios. What some people deem as “Skyrim in space” is actually so much more. Starfield is the first new game universe created by Bethesda in 25 years, and coincidentally, it takes place in the expanse of the universe. Players embark on an incredible journey to answer humanity’s greatest mystery.
While the whole game isn’t set on Mars, players can visit it pretty early on to see what Bethesda’s version of the Red Planet has to offer. There are fascinating plants and fauna to discover, as well as several locations to visit and explore. Mars is just a pit-stop on the journey that is Starfield, as players can visit an almost infinite number of planets in the universe. Still, there’s something nice and familiar about visiting Earth’s closest neighbor.
2 DOOM (2016)
The reboot of the DOOM franchise back in 2016 breathed new life into the series with fast, frantic, explosive, and extremely gory gameplay, along with fresh visuals and fun online multiplayer. DOOM takes players to Mars, where a scientific discovery has broken open the gates to hell, and all the demons are invading the planet.
It’s up to the player, the Doomslayer, to blast them all back to hell and save the universe. DOOM has an epic hardcore metal soundtrack that gets the adrenaline flowing, too. The story of DOOM was never really the point of the games, but it does enough to push the player from arena to arena for a fun, explosive ride.
1 Red Faction Guerilla
Red Faction Guerilla was the third game in the series and shifted the perspective from first-person to third. The antagonist of the game also swapped as the Earth Defense Force, allies in the first game, are now the enemies. Earth’s resources are dwindling, so the EDF has taken to forcing the population of Mars into slave labor.
The player joins the rebellion, appropriately named the Red Faction, and sets about destroying buildings, bases, resources, and the EDF themselves in an attempt to push them back and retake their planet for themselves. The Geo-Mod tech still features heavily and is pertinent in the missions that players must complete to finish the game. A remastered version of the game was released in 2018, updating the visuals and performance.
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