Get started with sandbox games

Whether it’s vast, open worlds full of nooks and crannies to explore, or city-builders that can realize your urban planning dreams, sandbox games allow you to build, create and play to your heart’s content.
Given their scope and the opportunities abound, getting started with sandbox games can seem intimidating. Thankfully, we’re here to help you get the lay of the land in this quick and handy rundown of the genre.

What are sandbox games?

Just like a traditional sandbox stimulates creativity and imagination by allowing you to build (and destroy) anything you can think of, sandbox games share the very same concept. Be it castles, cities, or even silly sculptures, everything is possible within a sandbox so it’s no wonder they share a name.
While there’s freedom to explore and play in your own way, that freedom actually manifests in many different ways depending on the game. Whether you’re building the world around you one block at a time, or going rogue to explore each and every corner of a sprawling map, what’s important is that the choices you make are all yours.
As it’s one of the most versatile genres out there, you’ll find a wide variety of games within the realm of sandbox. But don’t worry, we’ll give you some starter options to explore.

What should I know?

Many sandbox games are nonlinear in nature, meaning you can pick and choose which objectives you want to pursue.
This could mean putting off the main quest in favor of dallying off into the wilds to collect resources or meet new NPCS. Maybe you’ll stop into a salon to change your look, discover a mysterious cave brimming with secrets, or put everything on hold to chase down an interesting creature that popped up during your travels.
Player agency is the true beauty of sandbox games. While some allow a freedom of exploration, others give the player the power to mold the game’s environment and narrative based on the choices they make, opening up innumerable possibilities.
There are even titles that encourage players to design their own levels and game modes, or feature extensive customization options to make the game as adventure-heavy or exploration-focused as you like.

Where should I start?

Don’t know what to play first? Take a gander at our hand-picked selection of sandbox games to find a starting point.
Roblox
Roblox Corporation
In-app purchases
4.4
39M reviews
1B+
Downloads
Content rating
Teen
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Anyone can be a game designer in this massive virtual universe where players create and share oodles of content tailored to many different interests. From battle royales to job simulations and murder mysteries, Roblox features millions of experiences made by other users in Roblox Studio.
It’s not just the games that are totally customizable either, as your Roblox avatar can be changed to show off your own special flair with a vast array of clothing, animations, emotes, gear, accessories, and more. While you’ll still have a great time discovering all the single-player games, Roblox is all about community, so don’t hesitate to jump into multiplayer for all of the laughs and mayhem.
Terraria
505 Games Srl
4.6
385K reviews
5M+
Downloads
Content rating
Teen
Free with a Play Pass subscription Learn more
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Become a farmer, explorer and combat artist all in one when you venture into the retro-style world of Terraria. Each time you start a new game you’ll find a unique, procedurally generated world waiting for you to uncover all of its intricacies.
Traverse through diverse biomes, chart dangerous dungeons and ruins, and play around with an elaborate crafting system that’ll push you to your full potential as a builder. You can team up with friends in multiplayer mode or go at it solo – either way, you won’t be bored.
Minecraft
Mojang
In-app purchases
4.5
5M reviews
50M+
Downloads
Content rating
Everyone 10+
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It’s impossible to bring up sandbox games without also mentioning Minecraft. A true leader in the field, Minecraft gives you the power to build anything - and we do mean anything. From a massively detailed recreation of the Death Star to moat-surrounded castles and functional treehouses, or even a scale model of the UK, it’s all possible in Minecraft.