There is something about the he endless expanse of sand and sky. It literally makes you feel irrelevant, a humbling experience. Though not all of us have opportunities to visit a desert in real life. Still, you can get a glimpse of that experience by playing video games set in desert. To be your guide, I’ve made a list of 21 desert games that will change your perspective.
Not all but most of the desert games I’ll mention in a second are open-world. Which is great because that way you can fully explore the desert in a way you see fit yourself.
1. Assassin’s Creed Origins
Best desert game you can find is Assasin’s Creed Origins without a doubt. It has no competition in that regard. Because it’s the one and only triple A game set in the deserts of Egypt.
AC franchise already known for its top-notch depictions of unique settings. Such as Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, and Medieval Middle East. As for Assassin’s Creed Origins, it’s set in Egypt, near the end of the Ptolemaic period from 49-43 BC. Ancient Egypt is truly breathtaking, and Ubisoft did a really great job capturing it.
You’ll be freely riding camels in the vast deserts of Egypt. Also, it’s possible to explore pyramids, sphinx, and settlements of the Great River Nile.
2. Prince of Persia Franchise
Prince of Persia franchise always set in the desert atmosphere. Especially the Prince of Persia Two Thrones. It’s one of the cult classic games that must played by all gamers.
It’s an adventure video game franchise features the journeys of, you know, prince of Persia.
There is also a 2010 movie adaptation of Prince of Persia starred by Ben Kingsley, Jake Gyllenhaal, and couple other famous actors.
Journey is a chill, relaxing, adventure game set in a vast desert. If you want some casual relaxing, hop into the journey of exploring mysterious world of journey.
You’ll soar above ruins and glide across sands. Stunning visuals and grammy-nominated musical score will escort your thought your journey.
The game has online co-op option too. So that you can chill with friends or random strangers.
4. Dune: Spice Wars
When desert and sci-fi gets mixed, you find Dune media franchise. Dune is a 1965 epic sci-fi novel. When it became mainstream again with the 2021 Dune: Part One movie, they decided to develop this amazing game.
Dune: Spice Wars is a 4x real-time strategy game from the developers of Northgard. Which is a great game by the way, you should check it out if you like RTS genre.
Spice is the most valuable resource in the universe, and spice must flow. You play as one of several factions all competing for the control of spice. So, choose between House Atreides, House Harkonnen, Fremen, or Smugglers and being the struggle.
5. Homeworld Deserts of Kharak
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a real time strategy game set in the planet Kharak, a Mars like planet that is filled with desert.
Plot is rather unique. Planet of Kharak is dying, and the desert grows larger each year. Then, a satellite detects an object in the Great Banded Desert. An expedition had been sent by the Coalition to check it out, but all members of expedition had disappeared. The campaign centers around a second expedition.
You’ll take control of fleets of land and air vehicles build to conquer the desert. Fight your way across massive dune seas, craters, canyons, and more desert environment.
Starsand is a survival game set in a Dune like desert setting. It’s released just before 2023 and received overall positive reviews. So, if you like the survival genre and want to experience desert, you should try Starsand for sure.
We all played survival games but none of them was focused on water, heat, and storm like Starsand. So, hunt, craft, build, tame your environment, and survive in a Dune like atmosphere.
Here is a game you’ll truly feel alone in a vast desert full of dangers. In essence, it’s a free-roaming squad-based RPG, but it takes a lot of time to form squad. You’ll be drifting alone for a very long time.
The game is set in an alien planet, which combines sci-fi and samurai elements perfectly. About the story, it’s not linear, Kenshi is an isometric sandbox game where you create your own story.
You can become a trader, a thief, a rebel, a warlord, an adventurer, a farmer, a slave, or just food for the cannibals in the first 5 minutes of your gameplay.
8. Starship Troopers: Terran Command
Starship Troopers 1997 is a cult classic sci-fi action movie based on the 1959 novel of the same name. In 2022, finally Starship Troopers got a game.
Starship Troopers: Terran Command is an epic real-time strategy game where you control Mobile Infantry squad and fight against the alien Archnid threat.
Fight to the last drop of your blood and defeat the hostile insect aliens for the survival of human civilization.
9. Mad Max
There you go, another desert game based on a movie. Mel Gibson’s 1979 – 1981 -1985 Mad Max movies was already a hit of their times. But 2015 Tom Hardy remake of the movie was the reason this 2015 Mad Max game release. It’s only natural that a popular movie franchise gets its own game.
Anyways, Mad Max is a video game about a hero and survivor who wants to leave the madness behind and find peace somehow.
Embark on a unique and unforgettable journey with Sable and her ride. She rides a flying desert vehicle just like young Anakin rode in Star Wars. The setting is pretty same too.
In essence, Sable is an exploring game where you encounter remnants of past civilizations, other nomads, sand dunes, quests, and puzzles along the way.
It’s almost Zelda like. More art than a game.
11. RAGE Series
RAGE 2 is an action FPS game played in a post-apocalyptic open world. The game is set in a Mad Max like world where 80% of earth’s population annihilated after an asteroid hit.
You’ll travel across lush jungles, treacherous swamps, but most of your time will be spend in the wasteland desert.
12. Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line is a third-person military shooter game set in the Dubai which is wiped off the map by a cataclysmic sandstorm. Desert atmosphere of Dubai offers stunning visuals and dynamic sandstorms make the game a true desert experience.
6 months after the sandstorm, a radio from Dubai sent a distress signal. As a taskforce you’ve assigned to investigate, only to find out it’s not from survivors but from rebels.
13. Stronghold Crusader
Stronghold Crusader games take you on a journey to distant middle east lands, holy lands. The game throws you into historical battles from Crusades in it’s historical campaigns and unique skirmish missions.
Design and build your desert fortress, set up defenses and siege engines, and command your units in the battlefield.
Stronghold Crusader HD and Stronghold Crusader 2 can be found on Steam.
14. Death Trash
Death Trash is a combination of RPG, action, and player freedom. Its world is where magic, technology, and occultism mixed together.
Humans have travelled to the stars and some of them settled on the planet Nexus, which is a planet holding terrible secrets. When those secrets were unearthed, people had to flee to the closest habitats. Now the wasteland of Nexus is reigned by outcasts, Skynet like machines, and offsprings of the worm…
As an outcast yourself, your path will take you through deserts, ruins, underground, and beyond.
15. The Long Drive
The Long drive is not a racing game but a road trip one. Get ready for the weirdest road trip of your life through random generated desert.
The game focuses on freedom, driving, exploration, and immersion. Still, there are some car maintenance and survival elements.
16. Red Dead Redemption
RDR is the winner of over 175 GOTY awards, and recipient of over 250 perfect scores. It’s considered one of the best games of all times. The game is set in 1899 old west of US which is hosting huge desert areas.
The story features Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang, outlaws on the run who must rob, steal, and fight their way across the America in order to survive.
I don’t know what else to say, the game is just another Rockstar masterpiece and must be played by all gamers.
17. Dakar 18
Dakar 18 is a rally racing game, desert rally to be specific. The game is based on the world-famous annual rally raid organized by Amaury Sport Organization in South America.
It’s pretty realistic simulation of real-life rally tracks. You can use vehicles such as cars, motorcycles, quads, trucks, and SxS UTVs.
18. Desert Skies
Desert Skies takes survival to the air! It’s like the game Raft, but instead of ocean you have desert. You are flying with your airship through the deserts of the Wild West.
You know the story. So, look for places to land and scavenge, expand your airship, craft new equipment, fight, and survive long enough to reach the heart of the desert.
ReCore is a full-on action-adventure set in a desert planet called Far Eden. A great mix of action, adventure, shooter, platformer, and sci-fi genres. The game also features female protagonist if that means anything to you.
The game released in 2016 and criticized for its buggy state. However, developers released a Definitive Edition in 2018 which is beautiful. So, don’t mind older bad reviews, the game is great.
Elex is an action role-playing game from the creators of cult classic Gothic series. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world. So, the desert in this game is a nuclear desert, a wasteland.
The game is a great choice for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi RPG enjoyers.
Both ELEX 1 and 2 are underrated single-player games that should’ve been more popular in my opinion.
Did you know that the Fallout set in a desert? Well, nuclear desert because of the mutual destruction. Still, a desert is desert.
Though the highest rated Fallout game, Fallout: New Vegas is indeed set in the Mojave Desert of United States.
For those who don’t know, Fallout is a game franchise featuring open-world RPG just like Skyrim. But instead of fantasy setting, Fallout uses post-apocalyptic setting with a little bit of sci-fi added to it.