Best simulator games to play right now

Best simulator games - Microsoft Flight Simulator
(Image credit: Asobo Studio)

The great thing about the best simulator games out there is that they often offer you an alternative life to what you're doing outside of your PC and consoles. Whether that's flying a plane, running a restaurant, becoming a TV producer, or even just building an extremely high-end gaming PC from scratch, there is so much choice here about what to get involved with. 

Here are the best simulator games to try out if you're feeling bored of the real world, no matter your platform of choice.

Recent updates

Our best simulation games list has been recently updated for accuracy and relevancy. 

15. Railway Empire

Best simulator games - Railway Empire

(Image credit: Kalypso Media)

Platforms: PC, Xbox One and PS4

Set during the American golden age of railway, between 1830 and 1930, you are the proud owner of an ambitious young railway company. Plan your railway lines and run a glorious range of over 40 historically authentic trains along them. But remember- although a direct line might be more profitable in the long term, it might also bankrupt your company to build! In addition to rolling out your great iron roads across the country, the game affords you a large degree of customization, letting you hire your own employees, each with individual personality types, and even what carriages your engines will pull. 

And for those gamers who would rather build their railway closer to home, the game also has a wide range of DLC, giving you the chance to expand your business to parts of Europe, South America and Canada. 

14. Thief Simulator

Best simulator games - Thief Simulator

(Image credit: Noble Muffins)

Platforms: PC and Nintendo Switch

Are you a hardened criminal? Then Thief Simulator by Noble Muffins isn’t the game for you. But if you’re just a regular normie dreaming of a life of villainy, then this open-world burglary simulator may be just what you’re looking for.

Scout out the neighborhood for houses to hit, and spy on their occupants to work out their daily routines. Then it’s time to go in with your janky black van and your diverse set of thieving tools and nick everything that’s not nailed down. Pick locks, rejig security systems, and cut holes in windows to become the best bad guy on the block. Just make sure you don’t get caught!

13.  Euro Truck Simulator 2  

Best simulator games - Euro Truck Simulator 2

Platforms: PC

Who knew a game about driving a truck could be so addictive? SCS Software did, clearly, as their trucking sim sequel is currently one of the highest-rated games on Steam, sat above the likes of Dishonored, Civilization V, and Half-Life 2. The reality is that Euro Truck Simulator 2 offers that devastating blend of being both immensely relaxing and fiercely captivating, with the pleasant journeys along your designated trade routes segmented by junctures of deep strategy, as you consider factors such as fuel, finance, and furbishing your ride with new upgrades. Euro Truck Simulator 2’s greatest achievement is that it isn't just a game made for transport enthusiasts, but the appeal extends to anyone with even the slightest appreciation for the simple pleasures of the open road. 

12. Two Point Hospital

Best simulator games - Two Point Hospital

(Image credit: Sega)

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch

In this light-hearted hospital management sim, it’s your job to make sure that Two Point County’s new infirmary is up to scratch and able to deal with whatever new malady the locals bring through the door with them- whether that’s Floppy Discs, Cubism, or the dreaded Night Fever!

Like most management sims, the aim is to balance the budget with demand and slowly expand your healthcare empire. A spiritual successor to 1997’s Theme Hospital, Two Point shares much of its beloved forebear’s gameplay, visuals, and humor- albeit updated for a modern audience. Despite the game’s emphasis on humor, Two Point Studios’ opus quickly ramps up the pace, requiring you to make careful decisions on the quest for maximum efficiency. If you’re looking for a challenging, warm-hearted business sim to contract, then Two Point Hospital is extremely infectious.

11. Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator

Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator

(Image credit: Nacon)

Platforms: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, PC, Nintendo Switch

Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator gives you all the control - from the look of your restaurant all the way down to the placement of individual peas on a plate. There's a lot of do when you're running a restaurant, so beyond learning how to make and subsequently plate each dish, you'll also have to manage your suppliers to ensure you've got enough ingredients and organize your team's shifts. Get it wrong and you'll be overwhelmed by the dinner rush, but get it right and you'll feel the rush of running your restaurant to perfection. If you do it well enough, you'll see your place go from humble cafe to Michelin-starred establishment in no time. 

10. Not for Broadcast

Best simulator games - Not for Broadcast

(Image credit: NotGames)

Platforms: PC

The world of television is a fast-paced, high-stress place at the best of time, let alone in a dystopian alternate 1980s where broadcasts are actively censored. Although you’re only the cleaner, you’ve accidentally found yourself behind the mixing desk of the biggest news program on TV, National Nightly News. Underqualified and at risk of falling foul of the shady powers behind the scenes, it is your job to select camera feeds, bleep out foul language and choose the headlines that will be broadcast to the world. Like its fellow bureaucrat simulator Papers Please, you can choose to play the dutiful pawn, or deliberately cause trouble. Whatever you decide, you only have a few seconds to act, because the news is going out live. The game’s retro flavor, as well as its unusual use of live-action TV footage, creates a very engaging tone that compliments the tricky gameplay and the ethics of your new career as a propagandist.

9.  Farming Simulator 22

Farming Simulator 22

(Image credit: Giants Software)

Platforms: PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X

The core of Farming Simulator’s experience remains the same: buy more fields, upgrade equipment and enjoy your day-to-day routine among the green hills. The range of machines and equipment available to you is exceptionally broad, with the kind of brands that are familiar household names (if you are a farmer). As one of the most authentic farming experiences that you can get without getting your wellies dirty, the game is only enhanced by its updated visuals, customizable farms, and rideable horses. Farming Simulator 22 is the best in the series by far, and also now offers farming with friends via crossplay too. 

8. Planet Coaster 

Planet Coaster

(Image credit: Frontier Developments)

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC

Of course, we couldn’t have a best sims list without the sound of screams coming from a frankly dangerously designed theme park ride. But hey, it’s what your guests are paying for, right? Planet Coaster, from management sim specialists Frontier Developments, is here to scratch all your old school Rollercoaster Tycoon itches. Building your own Disneyland or Universal Studios has never been this much fun as you craft the park of your dreams from the flowerbeds up. It can be a little intimidating for first time players as there’s just SO much to get to grips with as you build, organise and staff your park. But once you’ve got the basics, Planet Coaster feels limitless. There’s also no chance of running out of new items with all the endless DLC packs on offer so whatever kind of park you want to build, you’ll find everything you want here.   

7. Cooking Simulator 

Cooking Simulator

(Image credit: Big Cheese Studio)

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch

Ever wanted to be the lone member of a professional kitchen? The correct answer is ‘YES CHEF!’ and Cooking Simulator is here to test your skills in a sprawling realistic kitchen. If your only experience of chef sims is Cooking Mama, consider this as a trip from the frying pan into the fire. Your diners are demanding, and not only that but cooking is no mere matter of waving a wooden spoon in the general of a pan. Instead you need to perfectly measure every ingredient, slice and dice your meats and veg and perfectly cook each item in the correct saucepan. Thankfully if you’re more in the mood for mindless destruction, that’s also possible here - and how a lot of our first meals went - with developer Big Cheese giving you the ability to start fires, break plates and blow up the microwave. Oops.   

6. Two Point Campus 

Two Point Campus

(Image credit: Two Point Studios)

Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Switch, Xbox One, PC

 Ready to go back to school? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go that far back. Two Point Campus is all about building the ultimate university and, if you’ve played Two Point Hospital, you’ll be familiar with the humorous tone of this in depth management sim. Unlike Two Point Hospital though, where we could look at the bigger picture and not really worry about the patients turning into spooks in the corridors, Two Point Campus forces us to really care about our students. If they’re not happy learning Gastronomy or riding their horses and jousting at Knight School, then they won’t want to pay you to keep educating them. Not only that but we need to take care of their social lives too; throwing parties in the student union and even adding items to help them build friendships. You better be having the time of your lives…    

5.  PC Building Simulator 

PC Building Simulator

(Image credit: Irregular Corporation)

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Ready your anti static armband. Grab your thermal paste. And prep that can of pressurised air. PC Building Simulator is here and it’s more satisfying than we could ever have predicted. There’s something very soothing about taking on a small PC business and simply sorting everyone’s hardware problems, one rig at a time. This sim is ultra granular, meaning you have to undo screws and untangle wires before you can even get to the good stuff. Excitingly too, you can play with a huge range of real life hardware components. Brands like Intel, AMD, and Nvidia are all here to bring some gravitas to your ultimate builds. There’s also a free construction mode to build your dream gaming PC. You might even feel like building your own PC once you’re done.     

4. The Sims 4 

The Sims 4

(Image credit: EA)

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox Series X, PS5

Maxis has added so many Expansion Packs, Stuff Packs and Game Packs over the years that The Sims 4 now feels like hundreds of games in one. Maybe you want to look after an entire family of vampires or werewolves, or perhaps build yourself the ultimate tiny home, or live by the beach, or take on the lives of rich and famous sims, or even just spend hours constructing the ultimate countryside mansion. Whether you just want to build or really want to dive into the lifestyle element that’s constantly being updated with more diversity and depth, the Sims 4 is still the cream of the management crop. Comme en sna nah?    

3. Microsoft Flight Simulator 

Balsa Model Flight Simulator

(Image credit: Floating Origin Studios)

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X

The 2020 release of Microsoft Flight Simulator was the first time the series appeared on console and it was immediately right at home on Xbox Game Pass. If you’ve always wanted to take to the skies but never had the gaming PC to power your cloudy dreams, Asobo Studio’s incredible sim is here to switch your brain to Airplane mode. The game is a visual marvel and the level of realism applied to the technicalities of flying is simultaneously impressive and terrifying. The nice thing though is the understanding that you might just want to take off and see the sights, in which case you can just turn on ALL the assists and the game just becomes beautiful tourism. As a pilot you can take in a photorealistic 4K planet earth complete with realistic weather and whether you want to see the wonders of the world or just find your house, Microsoft Flight Simulator will happily oblige.    

2. Cities: Skylines

Cities Skylines

(Image credit: Colossal Order)

Platforms: PS4, Xbox, PC, Switch

Cities: Skylines came along in 2015 to restore the city-sim genre to its former glory, offering a contemporary reworking of Maxis’ original SimCity formula. Skylines feels like a modern city-sim in every sense of the word, and watching your metropolis expand and thrive in real-time has never looked so good. But don’t worry, not too much has changed. Your city dwellers still REALLY don’t like it if they live too close to the sewage plant, or don’t have clean water. Fussy. Cities: Skylines is also one of the growing number of simulator games that’s available on console, too, and the sleek user interface turns the comfort of a controller into a totally viable, not to mention enjoyable, option for those less au fait with a mouse and keyboard.    

1. PowerWash Simulator 

PowerWash Simulator

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One

The best simulation games serve us something that should be a chore and turn it into something dangerously compelling. PowerWash Simulator just shouldn’t work and yet, when faced with endless miles of dirt and grime, all we want to do is grab our machine with its variety of nozzles and get down to filthy business. There’s something truly meditative about tackling the maps of career mode as the muck disappears under gallons of water, with a rewarding pling as you finish each section, giving you a little soapmamine - wait, no //dopamine// -  hit. Just another few hundred of those and this place will be sparkling… Oh, and you can even ask a friend to join you in co-op mode to get together for some good clean fun.  

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.

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