What are the best crafting games? At the moment, it feels like, for better or worse, every PC game has some sort of crafting system, so you’ve got plenty to choose from if you’re keen to indulge some architectural creativity. Thankfully, then, we cowboy builders of PCGamesN have our pickaxes at the ready to dig out the best building games around.
Related: Check out the best sandbox games on PC.
There’s more out there than Minecraft, too. From compulsive free-to-plays to fully-fledged triple-A titles, crafting games allow us to stake our claim on another world and bend it to our will. Whether you need a base to defend against oncoming dinosaurs in Ark: Survival Evolved or are scrabbling together rusted scrap in the post-apocalypse of Fallout 4, there’s nearly as many reasons for crafting as there are videogames. Here are the best building games on PC.
We thought we’d expand your horizons when it comes to the best building games by sharing this obscure art house title with you. Ok, so you’ve probably heard of Minecraft, the game that captured the imaginations of millions of gamers worldwide, and established itself as the first game that comes to mind when we think of crafting games.
But, if you’ve been living under a landslide of blocks for some years now, Minecraft is a sandbox game with blocky graphics and an emphasis on creativity. In a seemingly endless world, you can build impenetrable fortresses to fend off the creatures of the night - not that kind - in survival mode or ramp up the danger in hardcore mode. The possibilities are pretty much limitless, and that’s before you expand the game with Minecraft mods and pre-made maps - just in case your creative juices aren’t quite flowing.
Creative mode is where Minecraft shines as one of the best building games on PC, though. Free from the constraints that face builders of the poxy real world, in creative mode you have access to an unlimited number of blocks and items. All limits on your creativity are lifted in this mode, allowing you to have all the fun of making more elaborate creations than you ever could with Lego, and without any of the clearing up too.
Ready to discover even more? Generate amazing new worlds with the best Minecraft seeds.
Ark: Survival Evolved
Where base building is a bit of frivolous fun in other crafting games on this list, in Ark: Survival Evolved it’s all about one thing: cold, hard survival. If you’re lucky enough to endure the first few moments amidst some dangerous dinos, you’re going to need to whip something up sharpish to keep yourself safe in this game’s world. Unless you want to see only your freshly savaged corpse when you log back in.
Yes, when you log out of Ark, your body stays exactly where you left it in a perilous state of purgatory. If you haven’t put together a smartly designed base to protect yourself from the elements, prepare to see your progress swiftly eaten up. That counts for your food supplies as well as farming and crafting equipment, too.
All bases require some core elements but, other than that, you can make them as ridiculous as you like, as long as you have the required resources. You can get even more creative with Ark’s wide range of mods. So it’s helpful if you opt for a location close to the materials you need. In ascending order of durability these materials are thatch, wood, stone, and metal. Metal, obviously, is going to be the best at staving off any would-be looters.
Want more? Here’s our Ark: Survival Evolved performance review.
Fortnite takes plenty of inspiration from the best crafting games: Epic Games’ founder, Tim Sweeney, described it as “Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead.” And, it’s every bit as enticing - and successful - as that sounds.
It’s up to you and three intrepid heroes to reclaim your homeland after it’s been ravaged by the mysterious darkness known as ‘The Storm’. Then you’ll need to survive. That’s where the building game element comes in: you’ll need to build forts and traps to ward off the monsters that remain.
As you switch seamlessly between your character’s building and combat mode, you’ll gather resources, craft materials, construct insane weaponry, plant dastardly traps, and construct increasingly extravagant fortresses to stem the tide of the monster threat. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, Fortnite is bright, accessible, and soon to be free-to-play. It’s a building game that’s not to be missed.
Looking for tips? Check out our introduction to Fortnite’s heroes, squads, quest, and skills with our guide.
Trove is a free-to-play building game and sandbox MMORPG featuring countless realms and biomes with quests, loot, and enemies. It’s an open-ended adventure from Trion Worlds that lets you build to your heart’s content. Trove is also a voxel-based game, like Minecraft, Cube World, or games on Roblox.
For those interested in building games, you’re going to want to get your cornerstone up to scratch, sharpish. A cornerstone is your home base that you take from world to world. You can craft new weapons, creatures, and environments when you’re not tricking out your cornerstone with the help of Trove mods and console commands.
If you’re going to make a cornerstone to envy all the other Trove players worldwide, you’re going to need resources and loot. Thankfully, procedurally-generated dungeons keep loot collecting a fun experience as you scamper through unique worlds and complete quests with your pals.
In the mood for more voxel-based crafting games? Here are the best titles on Roblox.
Like Ark, Rust is up there with some of the most punishing crafting games around. And, akin to Studio Wildcard’s survival effort, you start your adventure with nothing, cowering away from other potentially hostile players before you can find two sticks to rub together.
But once you’ve skilfully scavenged some supplies, you’re going to need to defend them. First, you need to craft a building plan in order to create a ‘twig tier’ foundation - there goes your two sticks. This first tier is one of five, with the wood, stone, sheet metal, and armoured tiers increasing your protection from raiding. There are plenty of other ways to buff your base such as locks and strategic wall placement, but be wary that it will decay. Just like everything does...
Mastered Rust? Check out some more great survival games.
In previous Fallout games we had to be satisfied with merely collecting loot and blowing raider brains out with a massive laser. Meanwhile, in Fallout 4, you can make your mark on the wasteland, too.
Once Preston Garvey has, once again, asked you to liberate an area on behalf of the Home Guard-esque Minutemen, you can start to use the junk burning a hole in your carry weight to give post-apocalyptic Boston a new lick of paint. You can choose prefabricated structures to get your base going tout suite, but the tools you have at your disposal can lead to some quite astonishing settlements, so long as you put the hours in.
As the population of your burgeoning town grows it’s easy to ignore the main quest and treat Fallout 4 as a de facto crafting game. Inviting wandering entrepreneurs to set up shop and trade in your settlement is one of many perks you have access to as you attract more bodies; you can even set up supply lines between multiple settlements and establish yourself as a veritable property magnate of the post-apocalypse.
The bigger your ambitions become, however, the more time and money you’ll need spare to keep everything running smoothly. Your settlement’s denizens can’t get into the agriculture game without the necessary resources and land after all. And the more built up your location becomes, the more attractive to bandits it’ll be.
Want to make your settlements better and quicker? Here are some handy Fallout 4 console commands and cheats.
The Sims 4
The Sims 4 is about taking a bunch of humans and performing horrific experiments on them - or, at least, it is for us. But, after you’re done starving your Sims or maliciously locking them away until they pee their pants, The Sims 4 can be one of the most satisfying building games on PC.
Perhaps your behaviour towards your much-maligned human pets is making you feel guilty, so why not treat them to a tastefully designed pad with The Sims 4’s myriad building tools? Enter build mode to create anything from a trendy place to crash in the city to a full-on mansion.
Building in The Sims 4 takes some getting used to, so it might be worth having a pen and paper to hand to properly realise your dream abode (or torture chamber if your sadism hasn’t yet been sated). We recommend starting simple by keeping your exterior to a square shape to start with before you make your way to something more complex. Once you’ve chosen a roof you can start experimenting with room layouts, decor, and furnishings. Then, once you’ve added a pool and a tricked-out sound system, even the cool kids might stop by.
Want more? Check out our Sims 4 review.
No Man’s Sky
No Man’s Sky was more of a crafting game than a building game. At least it was until the Foundation Update allowed us to let loose our inner architect - with a little help from some excellent mods, of course.
Offered in all four game modes, you can now have a single home base at a time, which you can use for farming, storage, healing, shield recharge, and as a home for the NPCs you can recruit across the galaxy.
Space is a dangerous place, so you’ll need to make sure your home can actually support life. Do this by flying over the planet’s surface, using your ship’s scanner from space, or craft a signal booster. Once you’ve found a planet that can support your intergalactic taskforce, you can start using your resources to build a home in a galaxy far, far away. You don’t want to get lonely in your space pad, though, so upload your base so it can be discovered by other players. Just make sure you’ve put the hoover round first.
The No Man’s Sky building fun doesn’t stop there. Here’s our look at the game’s racing and track building tools.
That’s it for our favourite building games on PC. Let us know what games you’d like to see on this list and all the totally family friendly creations you’ve come up with.