Greetings, my fellow Sci-fi RPG enthusiasts! Today we are finally deciding on 5 of the best roleplaying games set in space! Aside from Mass Effect, which is the best sci-fi roleplaying game trilogy ever. (sorry, not sorry, Cyberpunk 2077 defenders)
Note: full disclosure, when discussing Mass Effect and its features, I will mean the trilogy plus Andromeda but refer to the series as a whole as simply Mass Effect.
What Players Love about Mass Effect Games
Mass Effect is the gold standard for sci-fi roleplaying games because it portrays everything fans want in a grand adventure set in space in a game. Here’s a quick rundown of everything Mass Effect does right:
- Epic storyline with gripping emotional scenes and mindblowing twists.
- Decisions that shape the narrative.
- Fast-paced, visceral action like shooting aliens in fun squad-based tactical gameplay.
- Progressive and meaningful character customization and leveling up.
- Character interaction and funny banter.
- Open-world exploration where you spend hundreds of hours.
Based on the above factors, I’ve got 5 games for you to scratch your sci-fi itch. They’re not for everybody, but there’s a nice variety of games, so there’s something for everybody. Let’s go!
5. Gears of War 5
Release Date: September 6, 2019
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Microsoft Windows
Coming in at number 5 (Haha!), we have Gears Of War 5 or Gears 5. I initially wrote it off as more of the same as the franchise’s previous entries, but after a couple of hours into the game, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
An Overview of Gears of War 5
Gears 5 is a fast-paced third-person shooter game that instantly pulls you in with the action. The cinematic feel of the story and its pacing is perfect. The lead protagonist, Kait Diaz’s backstory, has depth because of her character development from Gears 4. Her journey leads to a big revelation at the end of the campaign.
There is a sense of continuity in Gears 5, you will get a lot of enjoyment out of the story if you’ve played the previous games, but new players can also enjoy Gears 5 without feeling lost. For long-time fans of the Gears of War franchise, the game hits differently with the emotional stakes.
How Are Mass Effect & Gears of War 5 Similar?
Gears 5 has fantastic on-point shooting mechanics that are second to none and enough of the light RPG elements that you’ll get the Mass Effect vibe the developers aimed to achieve.
The exploration aspect of the semi-open world and the alien threats are common elements in Mass Effect and Gears of War 5.
The third-person cover-based shooting mechanic is almost identical in both games, and honestly, I don’t blame the developers. It’s like the saying goes, ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’
4. The Technomancer
Release Date: June 28, 2016.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows.
We tend to be lenient with games that experiment and try to emulate the essence of what makes a good RPG. Spiders are much more-experienced game developers now than when they released The Technomancer, and I can forgive them for The Technomancer’s shortcomings.
A Brief Look At The Technomancer
Technomancer is like a grandchild of Mass Effect, trying to do its own thing to step out of the shadow of its legacy. It may have had lofty goals and ambitions, but ultimately the effort left much to be desired. However, we enjoyed the game more than I anticipated because of what it brought.
The Technomancer has a solid sci-fi setting with Mars as the primary location. The story involves corporations and espionage, with our lead character Zachariah caught in the middle of the central conflict.
Each quest is doable through deception, intimidation, or mutually beneficial outcomes, which add replay value. Choices impact how the NPCs react to you; the game’s ending can also change with your accumulative decisions.
The combat is highly gratifying when you unlock the end-game Technomancer abilities, especially with companions by your side. The crafting and different gear based on your character class add enough variety that encourages experimentation.
How Are Mass Effect & The Technomancer Comparable?
Mass Effect’s choices significantly impact the type of character Commander Shepard is perceived as; The Technomancer also does this exceptionally well. Zachariah’s personality and how the companions and NPCs react depend on how you play as the character.
If you enjoy narratives shaped through choices and companions with charming personalities, something Mass Effect excels at doing. In that case, The Technomaner is an excellent alternative that you can check out.
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One (available on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S via Xbox Cloud Gaming), Microsoft Windows.
Arkane’s legendary streak of creating hit games one after the other is a testament to the creative leads of the developers. With Prey, the devs succeeded in making one of the greatest FPS games in all gaming.
The developers did not pitch Prey as an RPG, but it is one. Trust me, because the game has multiple endings, and how you play the game, you will be rewarded or punished. Won’t say more and spoil things.
A Look At Prey
The story and gameplay of Prey combine brilliantly to create a masterpiece. The story has a horror element when the shocking twists at the beginning and end slowly unravel for the players.
The combat of Prey makes you feel powerful enough to combat the alien life forms that are after you on the space station Talos I, but you can also play passively. You can help the remaining humans or let them die. Whatever you decide, you will see the consequences of your actions later in the game.
In Prey, multiple paths and backtracking options open up after progressing to a certain point in the story, and you can freely explore the open areas at your preferred pace.
Similarities Between Prey & Mass Effect; How Is Prey Like Mass Effect?
The big one-to-one similarity between Mass Effect and Prey is that both games are in outer space. Seriously, looking out the windows of Talos 1 has got a similar vibe and feels as if you’re viewing the map selection screen on the Normandy from Mass Effect.
Other similarities Involve fighting hostile aliens and how you can be a good guy in Prey and save everyone you come across, like the Paragon path in Mass Effect. Alternatively, like the Renegade path in Mass Effect, you can be selfish, do anything you want, and act on your violent impulses.
2. Everreach: Project Eden
Release Date: December 4, 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Everreach: Project Eden is the black sheep on this list for two reasons. The first is that it’s even on the list; there could be better options; secondly, it’s placed high, like number 2! Why?! Well, we’ll tell you.
Starved for a good space-themed RPG, we were eager to try the game when it was released, but word of mouth wasn’t helpful.
The critical reception labeled Everreach: Project PlayStationaverage-at-best game, but we tend to form our own opinion on games, so we checked it out.
After playing the game for a few hours, we concluded it was much better than its general perception because we had a blast playing Everreach: Project Eden.
Now let’s see why Everreach Project Eden is such a great game.
Breakdown of Everreach: Project Eden
The game starts with a promotional advertisement for the Everreach Corporation that’s colonizing different planets. Now there’s trouble at an off-planet colony, and we play as a security division recruit for Everreach, Nora Harwood.
Traveling to other planets is such a fascinating and inviting premise that the game hooked me. I was exploring different sections of the world while riding the Zues hoverbike, which was exceptionally fun. Though clunky, the combat felt refreshingly fun because it didn’t require mastering complex skills.
Graphics may seem outdated, but that’s not a deal breaker, and there are far more hideous-looking games out there.
How Is Everreach: Project Eden A Game Like Mass Effect?
The level of polish and game mechanics of Everreach Project Eden is nowhere near the detailed and excellently integrated Mass Effect games. However, it’s evident that Everreach: Project Eden took a lot of inspiration from the Mass Effect series.
The Mako travel and exploration from Mass Effect 1 parallels the Zues hover-bike in Everreach: Project Eden. We can explore vast vistas of a foreign planet, which both games have in common.
There are dialogue options in responding to companions in Everreach: Project Eden; you can be assertive or empathetic. The Mass Effect games also have these kinds of conversations with companions and NPCs.
Aside from the mentioned commonalities, both games are third-person cover-based shooters. Both games also have skill upgrades that enhance combat.
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows.
Aaaaaand we’re finally at the last game on the list of 5 games like Mass Effect. The honor goes to ELEX. Technically, the game isn’t even in space, but it has enough of a sci-fi edge that makes it more than qualified. Let’s see how.
A Quick Look At ELEX
The world in ELEX has rich lore, and the game has a well-crafted story with multiple endings. You can join different factions and see how your decisions in the game create a morally complex narrative.
The combat and traversal are super engaging, and the upgrades are meaningful. You can become overpowered, but the enemies also scale to balance things out. There are technology and magic-based abilities that not only pack a punch but have unique visual effects.
ELEX encourages exploration and rewards players for grinding.
We play as Jax (No, not the one from Mortal Kombat, now that I think about it, it would make for an awesome crossover), who was part of one of the factions in the game known as Albs. He gets the typical main protagonist’s amnesia after an attack on his ship and is the sole survivor of the crash.
After the prologue, Jax works for one of the three factions to restore his power using the source of conflict in the game, ELEX. The missions and conversations give players chances to make Jax more inclined to be helpful or coldhearted.
What Makes ELEX Similar to Mass Effect?
ELEX has a lot of elements from Mass Effect, but instead of blatantly ripping off the ideas, ELEX brings enough originality that it quickly steps out of Mass Effect’s shadow.
Both game stories are original and have morality-based decisions for shaping the persona of the lead character.
Mass Effect brings rapid cover-based shooting combat with Sci-fi skills, while ELEX has guns, magic, and tech-based melee weapons. Both games are in the third-person perspective and have fantastic enemy variety.
The point is, if you like Mass Effect, you’ll love ELEX.
Well, there you go—our list of 5 games like Mass Effect. I want to reiterate that other games are also eligible to be here. I didn’t want to include the obvious choices because I wanted to show some love to underappreciated titles by throwing the spotlight on them.
If you like to read more about the Mass Effect games, then check out our ranking of Mass Effect games.