It really isn’t better at it’s current stage. No content. It’s fun to mess around with though.
Well let’s see.
There’s Dwarf Fortress, the unbelievably awesomely complex and detailed inspiration for casual blockbuster Minecraft.
Blockade Runner, which is an in development game that’s like Minecraft in space.
Starfarer, which is a top down space fleet combat game that has a lot of similarities in premise to Mount and Blade.
I suppose most of the games Paradox Interactive publishes are unheard of and yet quite awesome. Crusader Kings 2 has you take on the role of the head of a medieval dynasty and work to make it the most powerful in Christiandom through successive generations and exploitation of diplomacy, politics, war, and most importantly, lines of succession.
I dunno if ARMA2 is unknown, especially after DayZ mod has apparently inspired it’s sales to double, but I’m sure a lot of people haven’t heard of it. It’s a highly detailed military sim game with infantry and vehicle combat. Think Battlefield 3 but with some attempt at realism. Multiplayer is awesome as you really have to work together and it’s also heavily modifiable. There’s this one mod that combines with Teamspeak to let you have directional audio from other players in the game so that when they talk into their mic it actually comes from their character.
Speaking of realistic first person shooters there’s Red Orchestra 2 which is sort of midway between arcadey games like CoD and BF3 and more really realistic ones like ARMA2. It’s a WW2 game set on the eastern front and focusses on using realism to enhance the gameplay with all sorts of cool things most games don’t bother with. Like using the iron sights on a sniper rifle for close quarters. It’s also got an awesome first person cover and penetration system, and the best way of identifying friend from foe without using HUD elements that I’ve seen in any game. Germans sprint with their weapon in their right hand, Russians sprint with it in both.
E.Y.E Divine Cybermancy: A weird ass FPS/RPG/Puzzle/WTF… Seriously, it’s weird. It’s a source engine game, and it’s got this weird weird gothic cyberpunk setting. It’s weird, but interesting.
Hammerfight: Not about homeless people fighting in gladiatorial combat. It’s actually this cool indie game that used to have a much less silly sounding title until they realized someone else owned the rights to it. It’s a 2d melee combat game with airships wielding over sized weaponry and this odd middle eastern vibe to the world.
Culpa Innata: It’s this odd graphic adventure game set in a weird world where a one world government has taken over that is neither apparently perfect on the surface nor clearly pure evil once you get under it. The interesting thing is that the game is about investigating a murder so you spend a lot of time interviewing witnesses for clues instead of combining random objects to make other random objects to solve contrived puzzles. Not that adventure games are generally like that.
Men of War: A World War 2 tactical strategy game where you control individual soldiers with their won inventories and each vehicle requires a crew to be operated allowing you to damage an enemy tank, then repair and hijack it for all sorts of awesome hijinks. The maps are also usually completely destructible, and aside from cones of fine basically all the balistics are simulated rather than abstracted like say, Company of Heroes. Also, you can take direct control of soldiers to increase their efficiency. The game is all about coming up with creative solutions to problems of overwhelming odds on the fly. Utilizing your limited manpower resources with a very versatile set of options. A key example is sneaking up behind a tiger tank your AP rounds can’t even scratch from the front and lighting it’s engine on fire with a well placed AT grenade from an infantry man causing the crew to abandon the flaming deathtrap.
I’ve got tons more in mind, but my fingers are getting tired of typing.