If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to fly a plane, run a city or control an entire country, the simulation video game genre is for you. Some of the most popular franchises out there like Kerbal Space Program, The Sims, Star Dew Valley and Microsoft Flight Simulator offer a unique experience for gamers with different tastes. Simulation games, or “sims” for short, let you discover new careers, lifestyles and worlds you never thought possible. Let’s explore all the different types of simulators and find an experience that’s right for you!
Building and organizational simulation
These building sims challenge players to create structures or entire communities with limited resources. One series that is the most synonymous with this style of gameplay is Sim City, dating all the way back to the late 80’s. The game has players focus on creating a city from building infrastructure, development and taxation to support it all. This formula continued to evolve with games like 2001’s Tropico mixing politics, business and construction elements.
Top picks for building and organizational simulation
If you are looking to build a strong virtual community and test your skills as a leader, be sure to check out these titles:
Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition
Release Date: Available now for PC and via Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
The classic game makes its return with a plethora of modes, unique civilizations, and deep strategy. The in-game assets have been rebuilt in 3D and now support 4K ultra-HD graphics along with a remastered soundtrack and audio effects. In addition, two new modes and civilizations are now included to expand your empire’s reach.
Jurassic World Evolution 2
This sequel to the critically acclaimed Jurassic World Evolutions takes you on an adventure where you’ll manage your own park. You’ll team up with characters like Dr. Ian Malcolm and Claire Dearing, working with more than 75 species of dinosaurs. Play in Chaos Theory mode to change the outcome of some of the films’ most important moments.
Life simulation games
If you are more of a “people person” when it comes to your video game simulation experience, there are plenty of unique options. This subgenre was popularized by The Sims released in 2000, a game that was the first of its kind. It focuses on creating virtual characters, building a home and managing relationships. This formula is one that has endured through multiple sequels and expansions. Other games that also focus on developing and fostering social relationships are Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons, and Stardew Valley.
Top picks for life simulation games
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Looking to carve out your own little piece of paradise? The sunny shores of Animal Crossing: New Horizons await! The simulation game takes you to a deserted island where you can personalize your own little utopia. Make it your new island home all your own by customizing your character, home, decorations, and more. Book your getaway today!
Think of “The Sims” except with your own custom-built Nintendo Wii-era characters and the fun premise of MiiTopia starts to come together. This new adventure, coming to the Nintendo Switch, let’s you customize your characters with all new accessories like wigs, make up and more. Along with life sim elements the game has light RPG elements allowing you to assign your Miis to roles like mage, warrior, and pop star.
The Sims 4
Create your very own Sim and build a new life for yourself, construct your dream home and pursue a new career. The Sims 4 is a life simulation game that gives you the power to create and control people. Play with life like never before leaving your virtual home to explore new vibrant locales and expand your social experiences and fun.
Larger than life simulation games
The simulation genre is one of the biggest in video games and it’s growing rapidly with a wealth of experiences from all walks of life. Everything from emulating professional cooking careers to pinball sims you’re sure to find a unique, challenging experience. Here are some of my top picks for sim games that march to their own beat as they trailblaze in their own categories.
New Pokémon Snap
If you are into Pokémon, exotic islands and photography then New Pokémon Snap will be right up your alley! The follow-up to the Nintendo 64 classic is now available on the Nintendo Switch. The title has some exciting additions to its gameplay and mechanics. In the game, you hop into the NEO-ONE hovercraft to help Professor Mirror and his assistant Rita research Pokémon in their natural habitat. The game boasts over 200 different Pokémon for you to capture in order to help the Professor’s research efforts. Get ready to put your photography skills to the test!
Overcooked! All You Can Eat
Looking to simulate the frantic nature of a busy kitchen? Overcooked offers the culinary calamity you crave! This collection includes Overcooked!, Overcooked! 2 along with all other released content for both titles. It’s up to you to save the Onion Kingdom by serving up a 5-star meal in some of the world’s most dangerous and challenging kitchens.
Untitled Goose Game
An indie gaming gem like Untitled Goose Game comes along every few years taking the gaming industry by storm. Its success is no accident, the instantly charming and accessible game features a delightfully original concept. You play as a mischief-making goose intent on creating havoc in a quaint English village. The beauty is in the game’s simplicity; through its art style, gameplay and lighthearted objectives it’s accessible for all ages.
Nintendo Switch Sports
Unleash a new world of gaming experiences with the Nintendo Switch Sports for Nintendo Switch. Featuring six different sports, this switch lets you play your favourite sport with a far-away opponent or as a team sitting in the same room. With the intuitive Leg Strap accessory and Joy-Con controllers, you can curve the bowling ball, hit a tennis shot or even kick a soccer shot.
Sports management simulation
If you are a fan of professional sports leagues, their gaming equivalents have been meticulously recreated on a gaming console near you. From basketball to pro golf all major leagues like FIFA soccer, the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and PGA have games out now to help live out your pro sports dreams. Many of these series allow you simulate the day-to-day operations of a franchise, here are some of my top picks:
Experience a whole new world of basketball in the NBA 2K22. Play against the best teams and choose among international, renowned players in the real NBA and WNBA environments. With MyCAREER feature, embark on your own pro journey to rise to the top of the National Basketball Association. Build your custom player with MyPLAYER as you take him to the heights of stardom.
NHL 22 features a host of improvements from visual upgrades like overhauled player likeness and animations bring the game to life with the Frostbite engine. Superstar X-Factors system allows you to compete higher, unleash your players’ abilities to reach the top, and dramatically refreshes the game experience.
MLB The Show 22
Baseball’s most authentic virtual experience awaits in MLB: The Show 22. Real players, teams and all new legends of the game hit the diamond this year. Whether you’re an aspiring rookie or veteran of the diamond, step up to the plate and take your place amongst Baseball’s legends. Along with Xbox and PlayStation versions, MLB The Show makes its debut on the Nintendo Switch this year!
Vehicle simulation games
This area of the sim genre covers planes, trains, automobiles and everything in between putting you in the driver’s seat. If you are looking to experience what its like to experience life behind the controls of anything with an engine, vehicle sims are for you. Here are some best in class vehicular sim games:
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Take to the skies in the most advanced combat flight simulator to date, with photorealistic graphics and real-world physics. You’ll pilot some of the most technologically advanced war planes ever developed as you defend the skies.
Farming Simulator 22
In Farming Simulator 22, you can get behind the wheel of vehicles and machines to become a “Master of Modern Agriculture.” Build your own farm in three diverse American and European environments. Virtual farmers now have access to over 400 machines and tools for true-to-life farming along with weather and seasonal cycles for an added challenge.
Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC)
Experience untold freedom and exploration alongside the challenges of genuine aviation with the incredible authenticity of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Take to the friendly skies with the most authentic flying simulation yet. With genuine real-time air traffic, dynamic weather and more. The entire world is your playground when you take flight!
Chase the checkered flag with your friends with F1 2021. Enjoy the story experience ‘Braking point’ and modes such as two-player Career and ‘Real-Season Start’ for thrilling races. F1 2021 also features My Team mode, where you can create and compete with your own team, as well as Expanded Driver Stats and Expert options for even more control.
Gran Turismo 7
The real driving simulator is back! Experience the life of a racer by building your professional career, customizing your cars, competing in numerous tracks, and participating in real-life leagues in this visually stunning motorsports game.
Upcoming vehicle simulation games
Redefine your race day in Formula 1 2022 and experience immersive or broadcast race sequences. The full lineup of all 20 drivers and 10 teams are ready to race. Take your team to the front of the grid with new depth in My Team career mode, race head-to-head in split-screen or multiplayer, or change the pace by taking supercars from some of the sport’s biggest names to the track.
Discover a new simulation game today!
There are so many interesting sim games that give you a peak into different careers, lifestyles and perspectives. With the gaming options above you are sure to find something that suits your unique gaming tastes.
Let us know in the comments below what your favourite sim game is!