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The best sandbox games 2024

Our guide to the best sandbox games for Nintendo Switch and mobile is here to help you explore an open world, create something new, and roam around at will.

Custom image for best sandbox games guide with the goat from Goat Simulator on a purple background

If you’re looking for a new world to turn into your own, our list of the best sandbox games is here to help. We’ve got plenty of options for vast games on Switch and mobile that put exploration at the forefront. So, it’s time to pack your bag, stick on some comfy shoes, and make your mark on a brave new world.

When you’re done here and are in the mood for your next huge open-world adventure, why not check out our many guides to the upcoming RPG behemoth Xenoblade Chronicles 3. We’ve already covered all you need to know about Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Noah, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Nopon, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Mio, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 heroes, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3 amiibo.

So, let’s dig into our list of sandbox games for Switch and mobile

Sandbox games: a male character stands in the middle of a forest clearing, with an axe in hand

Minecraft – Switch and mobile

Minecraft is a bit of a given for any list of the best sandbox games, but it’s well worth its status. This game has been entertaining millions for over a decade now, whether it’s creatives building iconic structures inside the game or a team of pals coming together to tackle survival mode. It really is the epitome of the sandbox genre, allowing you to play your way, and we don’t see it losing any of its popularity any time soon.

Creativity pushes this beyond and has seen some truly remarkable things made all in the name of fun. Players have created enormous recreations of real-life locations, Ocarina of Time, and even painstakingly recreated the fantasy world of Game of Thrones. There’s no limit to the possibilities, hence why we are still seeing fantastic creations to this very day.

Sandbox games: a goat runs towards the camera

Goat Simulator – Switch and mobile

Here’s another iconic sandbox game, but one that’s a lot sillier than Minecraft. It’s the one and only Goat Simulator. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent running around causing chaos as a goat, driving farmers to frustration, and exploring places no goat should ever be. It’s great fun.

There’s a lot to discover and so much to do, with it all sold beautifully by the physical comedy of lobbing a ragdoll goat off a rooftop. If you still don’t know that joy, it’s well worth giving this one a go yourself.

Sandbox games: a 2D pixelated scene showsd a large collection of buildings

Terraria – Switch and mobile

A fantasy exploration and building game on a 2D plane, Terraria is so much deeper than its brilliant but modest visuals might imply. It’s always satisfying to gather resources, make a little cabin, and fight enemies to gather even more goodies.

Here everything just feels right, with slick controls and so much to see and do. Players might be surprised even to discover just how much is on offer here, as this is one journey you could potentially never finish.

Sandbox games: a character rides a dinosaur armed with guns through several other animals

ARK: Survival Evolved – Switch

Alright, listen, imagine an open-world game where you explore and create things, but with dinosaurs. If the elevator pitch doesn’t work, I’m not sure what will. ARK: Survival Evolved is a fun game where payers explore a post-apocalyptic world overrun by dinosaurs and must work alongside them to stake their claim on this barren planet.

It’s great fun to fortify your settlement, and there are a lot of different ways to interact with the world. It’s also recently had a major update on Switch so runs better than ever before, so this is a great time to pick it up.

Sandbox games: a male presenting character with blond spiky hair stands proudly in front of a large farm

Dragon Quest Builders 2 – Switch

HOO BOY. Hold on to your hats, as I tell you about a little game called Dragon Quest Builders 2. It’s perfect, comprehensive, a masterpiece, and certainly not appreciated enough in its time. Built on the bones of the peerless fantasy RPG series Dragon Quest, Builders 2 takes that world and some mechanics but instead delivers the best open-world creative (or building) game I’ve ever played.

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Imagine Minecraft had a story so good it could make you cry, had amazing new twists that simplify and expand upon regular building tools, and then slapped on some fantastic visuals and music. Folks, I am begging you to go play Dragon Quest Builders 2. It runs great on Switch and has a huge demo (which also transfers save data when you purchase) but it is also available on PS4 and Xbox, just go and play it.

Sandbox games: a screenshot from Breath of the Wild shows Link readyign his bow to fire at enemies

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Switch

Yeah, it’s a sandbox game and I won’t hear any arguments about it. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a gigantic open world with its own bespoke physics engine, allowing you to create scenarios entirely depending on chemical reactions and the elements. Use a metal barrel and lightning to start a fire, carry an electric charge through several lightning-based weapons, or float a bomb on the breeze thanks to a balloon pulled from an Octorok’s belly. Breath of the Wild works because of its grandiose story, its beautiful visuals, and thrilling combat.

But, if Nintendo just released the tools on offer here, it would still be one of the best games ever made. It’s phenomenal to think that people are still discovering things in this game, but more, that often these discoveries make sense. Did you know you can boil eggs by placing them in the Death Mountain natural hot springs? Of course, you can. We hope to be exploring another open world soon, so we’ll keep our eye on the Breath of the Wild 2 release date.

Best sandbox games: a screenshot from Two Point Campus shows a large building and many characters walking around it

Two Point Campus – Switch

Growing up in the 90s, Sim fever had taken over the world. Sim City, The Sims, and titles like Theme Hospital were widely popular, and now many years later, some of the team behind the latter are back. The sequel to Two Point Hospital, Two Point Campus takes everything players loved about that title and goes bigger and better.

Design and manage your own university, while trying to meet the demands of your many graduates. The devil is in the details, and while the Two Point games have a lot of comedy in them, there is a very finely tuned management sim game under the hood, with so many different ways to build your site and run things.

Best sandbox games: a screenshot shows an idyllic village floating on water, with the buildings all in different pastel colours

Townscaper – Switch and mobile

If you’re looking for something a little more zen than the other options on this list, Townscaper is a great call. This game offers exactly what it says on the tin. You build a town, without the constraints of budget or organizing the denizens, as big and wide as you like. It’s almost like a coloring book for adults and is a great way of calming down after a long or frustrating day.

With the press of a button or tap of the screen, this barren blue world becomes populated with gorgeous pastel buildings. Another tap will add another room or a little bridge, and as you explore you can build a gorgeous tiny village and fiddle around with it to your heart’s content. If I ever had to describe as “lovely” then I just might pick Townscaper. Pick it up on Switch or also on your mobile device.

Sandbox games: Link pilots a contraptionmade of several Zonai devices

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Switch

We didn’t think it possible, but The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is a step above Breath of the Wild, both in quality and in creativity. The open world of Hyrule is now yours to explore with an entirely new toolset, including the bizarre Zonai devices.

Use rockets, wheels, balloons, and so much more to craft and power your own creations. It’s not often that a game actually lets you think of creative solutions to puzzles, but Tears of the Kingdom is truly about the spirit of experimenting.

Read all about it in our Zelda Tears of the Kingdom review, and be sure to check out our guides covering Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Zonai, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom shrines, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom koroks, and much more.

Screenshot of a farm in autumn in Stardew Valley for best sandbox games guide

Stardew Valley – Switch and mobile

Stardew Valley is one of the most important indie darlings of the last ten years of gaming, and it just so happens to be an incredible sandbox game. You can play this however you want. You can be a formidable farmer, an amazing angler, a money-making miner, or all three at the same time. The sandbox element is your own farm, which you can use as you please. There’s so much freedom here, it’s easy to lose hours at a time without realizing it.

If you need a little assistance getting started in Pelican Town, see our Stardew Valley fish, Stardew Valley farm layout, and Stardew Valley bookseller guides. Or, for more of the same, check out our picks for the best games like Stardew Valley.

That’s all we have for today, but be sure to check back for even more great sandbox games for Nintendo Switch and mobile soon. If you want to find another great game to play today, why not browse our bumper guide to the very best Switch games for some inspiration?