Ever wish you could step out of your life and into another? Well, the best simulation games help you do just that! Simulation games transform real life situations into one-of-a-kind video game experiences. By combining true-to-life sandbox environments with rewards-based objectives, sim games always make for an exciting gaming adventure.

Simulation games take many shapes and forms, though business, building, and sports simulators are some of the most popular on the market. There are also numerous sim subgenres, as well as countless titles from indie and studio developers alike. To make your search for the right sim game easier, this article takes you through the top 10 titles of 2019. We also peek at the best upcoming options and glimpse at the mechanics that make this innovative genre so special. Ready to roll? Let’s get started.

10 Best Simulation Games of 2019

We’ll start with a look at the 10 best sim game of 2019, with options ranging from PC to console to mobile.

1. Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines

Our pick for one of the best building simulator games

  • Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • Genre: City-Building Sim
  • Developer: Colossal Order
  • Release: 2015

Cities: Skylines has quickly dominated the city building simulation scene thanks to its innovative take on the genre. Players begin the game with an empty plot of land and a small amount of money. The goal? Build a bustling city with a skyline to match. From initial design, to resource allocation, to governance, players are responsible for everything. If you think you’re up for the challenge, check out Cities: Skylines on PC and console.

2. RimWorld

Rimworld

Our pick for one of the best management simulation games

  • Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: Sci-fi Management Simulation
  • Developer: Ludeon Studios
  • Release: 2018

If you’re a fan of construction sims and want something more unique than your average builder, RimWorld should do the trick. RimWorld is a sci-fi sim that revolves around three players who are stranded on an unknown planet. Build a giant base and expand your territory by taking in additional characters and outwitting the enemies who lurk at every turn. The game ends when you’ve made it off the planet, but getting to that point will take everything you’ve got.

3. Railway Empire

Railway Empire

Our pick for one of the best tycoon simulation games

  • Platform: Windows, Linux, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Tycoon Simulation
  • Developer: Gaming Minds Studios
  • Release: 2018

Railway Empire is a historical simulation game that’s set in the United States between the years of 1830 to 1930. It’s the time of the industrial revolution, and innovative tycoons are springing up across the country thanks to the new technology. As for you? The railroad business is calling your name. Build a network of railway across the country to connect society and rake in the cash. You’re in charge of all operations, and it’ll take some extreme business acumen to make your mark.

4. Planet Coaster

Planet Coaster

Our pick for one of the best simulator games PC

  • Platform: PC
  • Genre: Park Simulation
  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Release: 2016

Roller coaster and park simulators remain some of the most exciting games for one good reason– they’re lots of fun. Planet Coaster lets you relive your youth and build a theme park to your liking, with all the bells and whistles includes. Assume responsibility for the whole operation, from construction, to management, to finances, and more. Plan wisely and the park will be a smashing success. Failure to meet the consumer’s needs and your park will flop. If you’re game, try out campaign or sandbox mode today.

5. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley

Our pick for one of the best simulation games iOS and Android

  • Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mobile
  • Genre: Farming Simulation, RPG
  • Developer: Concerned Ape
  • Release: 2016

Are you ready to start a new life down south in Stardew Valley? Take up residency at your grandfather’s old farm, and get to work. Grow, maintain, and harvest the crops as you rehabilitate the farm and develop your small enterprise. There’s always something more to do in Stardew Valley, and you’re encouraged to explore it all. The best part? The developers recently released co-op mode, making it one of the best simulator games w/ online multiplayer around.

6. Assetto Corsa

Assetto Corsa

Our pick for one of the best Steam simulation games

  • Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Racing Simulation
  • Developer: Kunos Simulazioni
  • Release: 2016

If you’re seeking one of the best simulation games on Steam, Assetto Corsa is one you don’t want to miss. Developed by Italian company Kunos Simulazioni, Assetto Corsa translates directly to Race Setup. What’s that mean? Well, the game boasts an ultra realistic driving experience with a powerful physics engine and dynamic weather system. Take to the wheel to test your skills, and play against AI or other players from around the world! Assetto Corsa is one of the best online simulation games and an amazing racing game all around.

7. Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal

Our pick for one of the best space simulation games

  • Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Space Flight Simulation
  • Developer: Squad
  • Release: 2015

Kerbal Space Program mimics a genuine space simulator thanks to its incredible physics engine that calculates orbital trajectory to a tee. The premise? You’re a member of the Kerbal race, and you’ve been tasked with overseeing the Kerbal Space Center. Develop your space program, launch spacecraft, and embark on stellar missions. The game boasts a number of different game modes and is sure to excite astronomer fans and casual players alike!

8. Two Point Hospital

Two Point Hospital

Our pick for one of the best business simulators

  • Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: Business Simulation
  • Developer: Two Point Studios
  • Release: 2018

Two Point Hospital is a medical and business simulation crossover with engaging mechanics and exciting gameplay. Players assume the role of a hospital administrator who oversees the entire medical operation. The goal? Cure patients of their ailments and raise your hospital’s prestige via tactical development projects and expansions. The game requires a hand-on approach, and players must directly plan and execute their strategic ambitions. With excellent ratings across the board, Two Point Hospital is an excellent PC sim game.

9. The Sims 4

Sims 4

Our pick for one of the best human simulator games

  • Platform: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Developer: Maxis
  • Release: 2014

No list of simulation games is complete without mention of the original Sims Series. The Sims 4 begins as players create a character avatar that features its own unique look and personality. Once you’re satisfied, jump right in to explore the game world, interact with the environment, and live your life as you please. The catch? Your actions change everything around you, including the character itself! While there is no set goal, the game’s Legacy Challenge tasks players with creating a lineage that lasts 10 generations. Think you’ve got what it takes? You can check The Sims 4 out on PC and console.

10. Jurassic World Evolution

Jurassic World

Our pick for one of the best park simulation games

  • Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Business Simulation
  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Release: 2018

Jurassic World Evolution is a business and theme park simulation game that has the player, you guessed it, build their own Jurassic Park! Assume responsibility for the whole project, from development, to execution, to everyday maintenance and affairs. Keep things running smoothly and it’s certain to be all fun and games. But– one wrong move could spell disaster for your guests and your reputation. Care for the dinos, collect admission fares, and run the business with a steady hand… and you’re sure to be just fine.

Top Upcoming Simulation Games

Next let’s have a look at the hottest sim games coming to the market in 2019.

1. UBOAT

UBOAT

  • Platform: PC, Mac
  • Genre: Submarine Simulation
  • Developer: Deep Water Studio
  • Release: 2019

If you’re a fan of historical war games, you’re sure to love UBOAT. Named after German submarines from WWII, UBOAT is a survival simulation game that makes extensive use of crew management and exploration mechanics. Assume control of a German sub and use tactics and strategy to carry out orders from your commanding officers. Think you can survive the war? UBOAT hits the market in Spring of 2019.

2. Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Social Simulation Game
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release: 2019

The Animal Crossing series is lauded for its playful graphics, social interactions, and village simulation mechanics. The premise? Players move to a new town inhabited by friendly animals. Settle into your own house, then explore, collect resources, and make new friends as you please. Animal Crossing for Switch is slated for a late 2019 release, and it’s sure to be full of excitement and adventure.

3. Cooking Simulator

Cooking Sim

  • Platform: PC
  • Genre: Cooking Simulator
  • Developer: Wastelands Interactive
  • Release: 2019

A wild mixture of kitchen sim and humor game, Cooking Simulator lets players experience the world of cooking in a whole new way. Use your standard range of cooking equipment to prepare amazing dishes from simple fare to filet mignon. You’re free to cook your way to 5-star status, but be wary– the integrated physics engine can make for some wacky kitchen mayhem! The game is slated for a mid-2019 release.

What are Simulation Games?

A simulation game is a type of video game that closely imitates real life activities and environments. There is typically no end goal; instead, players are encouraged to control a character and explore their options as they wish. To that end, sims make extensive use of sandbox and open-world environments to provide players with unfettered creative opportunities. As for the simulated world itself? Popular titles feature settings ranging from the battlefield, to theme parks, to race tracks and more.

The genre got its start back in the 1980s when titles like Fortune Builder and SimCity exploded onto the scene. They were an instant hit with consumers, and they paved the way for countless new games including pinball clones, racing emulators, and environmental sims. Fortunately, the genre has only grown since mobile devices introduced them to an even wider audience. Dozens of new titles are in the works, and demand remains strong.

Best Sim Games

Early Sim Game

General Thoughts on Simulation Games

Now that we’ve seen the best sims on the market, let’s dive a bit deeper into the nuances of the genre.

1. You get to step into another life.

The best simulation games give players the opportunity to step out of their shoes and into anothers. This makes them a great way to expand one’s horizons and explore potential opportunities.

2. They’re great for entertainment, training, and analysis.

Simulators are great for gaming, but they’re also used in industries ranging from aviation to environmental studies for training and analysis purposes.

3. Simulation games are all-encompassing.

While the term simulation game is only used to describe a small number of titles, most games imitate real life activities and utilize simulation mechanics to some degree. To that end, there are dozens of simulation game sub-genres including construction, management, dating, war, and others.

4. They’re becoming a VR staple.

Virtual reality offers unbelievable immersion, and sim games are a natural fit. In fact, there’s an ever-growing list of popular sims titles for VR platforms like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

5. Sims are perfect for casual play.

For the most part, sim games allows players to take things at their own pace with no restrictions or timers. This makes them perfect for casual and relaxing play.

Further Reading

Dig our list of simulation games? Be sure to check out our other game curations below: