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10 Immersive Hard Sci-Fi Video Games

Lose yourself in these prescient worlds...

hard sci fi video games
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  • Photo Credit: Bethesda Game Studios and EA Redwood Shores

As much as we enjoy escaping into implausible fantastical galaxies, sometimes we want to explore a world that's relevant to our own reality. Hard science fiction, which is rooted in real life tech and science, does just that.

When it comes to video games, hard science fiction universes immerse players in a world that is at once very different from our own, and familiar. 

Whether it’s a space-faring adventure that feels like the natural evolution of our current space program, or a far future that's an extrapolation of the world as we know it, these 10 hard hard sci-fi video games present gripping visions of the future. 

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

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  • Photo Credit: Eidos Montreal

For all of its cyberpunk trappings—and very few, if any, currently available games capture the cyberpunk aesthetic as well as Deus Ex—what makes the game truly shine is the level of attention paid to every detail. From the bustling neon streets to the futuristic tech and its impact on everyday life, this is a fully lived-in world. 

Set before the events of the original game, Human Revolution follows Adam Jensen, a security consultant who is gravely wounded during an attack on a biotechnology firm, and thrust into the middle of a deadly conspiracy.

RELATED: The 11 Best Sci-Fi Video Games

VA-11 Hall-A

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  • Photo Credit: Sukeban Games

Like a cross between a graphic novel and a bartending sim, VA-11 Hall-A hinges on immersion and clever, often emotional writing. Fortunately, it is in those areas where the game excels. 

Set in a cyberpunk future where corporations control virtually everything, players sling drinks in a hole-in-the-wall bar and listen to the problems of varied and occasionally bizarre clientele. In doing so, you gain hilarious, thought-provoking, and sometimes tragic insights into the world around you. 

RELATED: 9 Surprisingly Accurate Hard Sci-Fi Movies You Can Stream Tonight 

Dead Space

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  • Photo Credit: EA Redwood Shores

Dead Space remains an atmospheric masterpiece that holds up remarkably well. Set in a far future where scarce resources have forced humanity to colonize the universe, players step into the boots of engineer Isaac Clarke. 

Isaac has joined the crew of the repair ship Kellion in the hopes of finding his girlfriend, Nicole. Nicole serves as a medical officer on a planet-cracking mining ship, the Ishimura

When circumstances isolate Isaac on the Ishimura, he discovers the true horrors lurking in the corridors, and must fend for himself with whatever meager tools and limited supplies he can scavenge.

Mass Effect 2

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  • Photo Credit: BioWare

Mass Effect introduced gamers to the remarkably detailed world of Commander Shephard and the crew of the Normandy

Mass Effect 2 improved on virtually every facet of the game and created a bigger, deeper experience. 

It continues the fight against the Reapers, and adds a terrifying new villainous threat. This gives players yet another perspective into the deep and well-developed world of the series.

RELATED: 8 Books for Fans of Mass Effect

Fallout 3

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I was tempted to go with Fallout New Vegas here. It’s a close call, but I can’t deny that my heart remains in the post-apocalyptic DC. 

Fallout 3 took the classic framework of the Fallout series and carried it into modern, open world design with fantastic results. Fallout 3 turned players loose into a remarkably well-realized version of the U.S. capitol ravaged by a nuclear holocaust. 

What follows is a morally-ambiguous story populated by an eclectic and truly memorable cast of misfits, mutants and villains. 

Hardspace: Shipbreaker

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  • Photo Credit: Blackbird Interactive

Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a fascinating sim that sees players taking on the role of salvager in deep space. You are tasked with the dangerous—and often deadly job—of dismantling abandoned space ships for cash. 

Armed with a space suit, a laser cutter, and a tether, the player must work methodically to dismantle the monolithic spacecraft while also avoiding hazards like live electrical wiring, pressurized tanks, and working nuclear reactors. It’s a tense but meditative adventure in problem and puzzle solving. 

RELATED: 10 Space Adventure Books That Will Have You on the Edge of Your Seat


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In terms of immersion and potential real-world implications, few games match EVE Online.

The long-running MMO is not for everyone—it is stunning in its depth, level of detail, and intricate systems (including a staggeringly large and fully functioning economy). 

For players who have dreamed of testing their mettle as ship captains in the vacuum of space, there is no better or more realistic experience than EVE

FTL: Faster Than Light

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  • Photo Credit: Subset Games

With its deep combat, nearly endless customization, and randomly generated encounters, no two sessions of FTL are ever the same. 

This starship simulator has players lead their crew through a randomly generated galaxy in search of space-faring glory. With a heavy focus on managing the operation of ship systems and defense, as well as power usage, FTL is a near-perfect space combat simulator. 

RELATED: 7 Classic Fantasy Games that Revolutionized the Genre


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Taking cues from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Observation sees players interacting with the crew of a space station. The catch? Players control a HAL 9000-like artificial intelligence known as SAM (Systems Administration and Maintenance). 

SAM players are tasked with maintaining the day-to-day operations of the station, and assisting Dr. Emma Fisher in unraveling the potentially deadly mystery currently gripping the station. 

Metro 2033

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  • Photo Credit: 4A Games

This 2002 classic was remastered in 2014 to high acclaim. 

Metro 2033 imagines a world ravaged by nuclear war. The remnants of humanity have fled underground, and an entire generation has never seen the surface. 

Metro 2033 features a richly-detailed underground world that feels eerily plausible as the potential response to nuclear disaster. It’s a world where resource management is key, combat is tense, and every decision carries weight. 

Featured photo: Bethesda Game Studios and EA Redwood Shores