Best simulation games 2024: immersive sims you can play right now

A shot of a cockpit, looking out the front window of an aircraft
(Image credit: Laminar Research)

The best simulation games can cover so much ground when it comes to simulating real (and unrealistic) events. But no matter what you want to try out, there should be something for you. 

The appeal of simulation games is simple: they let players who may not have the opportunity to explore certain facets of life experience said activities from the comfort of their gaming chair. This could be flying a jet, organizing a space shuttle launch, or building and managing your own bustling city. There's a particular pleasure that can be derived from organising things just right, before watching all of your hard planning come to fruition in gameplay.

There are all sorts of activities which are available for players to enjoy. What was once a very PC-centric genre is now truly open to all. So whether you play on PC, PS5, or Xbox Series X|S, there’s a simulation game out there for you. Ready to immerse yourself? Let's dive into our list of the best simulator games available right now. 

Best simulation games 2024

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Three trains running on tracks towards the camera

(Image credit: Dovetail Games)

10. Train Sim World 4

Conquer American mountains
Why we love it

Train Sim World 4 is a fantastic experience. If you're a fan of trains and want to learn more or just simply want to recreate a train journey in a perfect scenario then this is the game for you. 

Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC

Train Sim World 4 is perfect for those looking for a relaxing and engaging simulation experience - as well as full-on train nerds.

Released in 2023 by Dovetail Games, the makers of the long-running Train Simulator series on PC, Train Sim World 4 is a train-driving sim which is very accommodating for beginners, yet can be made more challenging for veteran players. 

Couple that with additional content being added over time, as well as a free-roaming mode where you can explore the routes on foot and ride AI-controlled trains as a passenger, and Train Sim World quickly becomes a charming and evocative experience that is worthy of a best simulator games badge.

A close up of the control deck of an aircraft

(Image credit: Laminar Research)

9. X-plane 12

Up, up, and away
Why we love it

X-plane 12 is an incredibly detailed flight simulation game that can appeal to veterans and new players alike. There's nothing quite like getting to fly various amazing planes across the world. 

Available on: PC 

Driving trains is one thing, but how about flying planes? Step right this way and get ready for one of the best simulation games available. 

The original X-Plane was released back in 1995 and was a highly advanced tool to help train pilots before they took to the skies for real. That's the level of realism we're dealing with in X-Plane 12, released in 2022 on PC. Using an aerodynamic model based on blade element theory, this game features some of the most realistic flight physics and aerodynamics ever seen in games. 

This next addition in the series features reimagined weather, clouds, trees, wind, light, seasons, and even more. 

A red combine harvester works the fields

(Image credit: Giants Software)

8. Farming Simulator 22

Let the good times grow
Why we love it

Farming simulator 22 has higher stakes then you may think possible. Getting to work hard to make sure your farm turns a profit is fantastically fun, just be sure to choose the right equipment to accompany your play through. 

Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, PC Gaming

Yes, really. A game revolving around harvesting crops and managing your farm is one of the best simulation games on the market - and rightfully so.

Turns out there are few things better for relieving stress – and giving you immense levels of satisfaction – than trundling around the fields of your farm in your combine harvester, quite literally reaping what you sow. This game is also equal parts management as well as simulator – your farm has to turn a profit, after all! - and there's a huge selection of tractors, vehicles and equipment to acquire as your farming empire expands. And, of course, there's livestock to look after, including cows, sheep and even horses.

Farming Sim 22 lets you choose what farming life you want to proceed with. Whether it's a lush vineyard or an olive orchard in the Mediterranean in the South of France or farmland full of wheat, corn, and potatoes in the US Mid West, the choice is yours. 

An in-game screenshot of Prison Architect showing a yard under construction

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

7. Prison Architect

Contain the most ruthless killers
Why we love it

Prison Architect is a thrilling simulation game that allows players to experience something that most likely won't, prison life. Getting to perfect your own system is incredibly exciting. 

Available on: PC, Android and iOS

Prison Architect is one of the more creative additions to our best simulation games list. While designing your own personalized penitentiary may not be as regular or realistic as driving a truck, it's certainly one of the most exciting things to simulate. 

Tasked with containing some of the most serious criminals of our generation, you play as a warden in one of the most dangerous prisons imaginable. You'll have to allocate the proper resources to make your compound as secure as possible. However, be careful not to put too many restrictions in place in case of a flood, fire, flight, or full-blown riot. 

Compared to most simulator sandbox games, Prison Architect stands out from the rest thanks to its campaign. Not only is it actually pretty entertaining it also manages to teach you some of the basics of the game while staying entertaining and engaging for new and veteran players alike. 

A driver sits in a yellow and purple racer, wearing a helmet that matches its colour scheme

(Image credit: EA Sports)

6. F1 23

High-speed drama
Why we love it

If you're a fan of Formula 1 then this is definitely a game that you should check out. This simulator game allows players to choose the racing drivers of their wish and experience all the races in a different thrilling way. 

Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC.

F1 23 is a brilliant racing sim for fans of motorsport. It not only has an immersive and highly customizable career mode that encourages excerpt decision-making and team development, but it also includes a brilliant Braking Point campaign. 

F1 World is also a terrific feature that includes single or multiplayer Grand Prix and Time Trials. If you play online, you can earn experience, which goes towards a shared progression system. 

However, the racing sim does include a buggy damage model with no real visual upgrades. While these aren't massive problems, F1 23 is by no means cheap, so this could be reason enough to hold off on buying, at least until it goes on sale. 

PowerWash Simulator screenshot showing a colourful skatepark

(Image credit: Square Enix)

5. PowerWash Simulator

Fire up and blast away
Why we love it

This may be one of the most relaxing simulation games available to play right now. While other games in this genre can at times be quite complicated PowerWash Simulator relishes in simplicity. 

Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. 

At first glance, PowerWash Simulator may not seem like anything special. However, unexpectedly so it's one of the most engaging entries on our best simulation games list. 

This simulator game gives players a kind of cathartic relaxation from the simple joy of cleaning. Why brave the outdoors when you can enjoy everything power washing has to offer in the comfort of your home? You can play by yourself or with friends in various different locations, including Bikini Bottom and the mansion from the Tomb Raider series.

A roundabout-with-level-crossing-and-small-housing-district

(Image credit: Paradox)

4. Cities: Skylines 2

Build a city and look after its citizens
Why we love it

Cities: Skylines 2 has all the joy of the original's city-building with smarter AI and more complex systems. However, if you're new to the genre, you don't have to worry about being left behind, as Paradox eases you into the world of managing your own metropolis. 

Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC

This single-player city management game introduces fans to the thrills and hardships of developing and maintaining a realistic city. Cities: Skylines 2 has made great ground, introducing smart AI which can make decisive decisions based on traffic, pollution, and access to utilities. There are also tons of simplified mechanics for everyone to enjoy; now, roads automatically join up sewage, water, and electricity to the mains. 

If you're a fan of management, creation, and trading, then this is a great match for you. There are endless possibilities now with all the different energy, and production choices you can make. There are also several maps which will play a massive role in how you build and manage your city. 

Kerbal Space Program screenshot showing an in-atmosphere craft flying towards a runway

(Image credit: Private Division)

3. Kerbal Space Program

Up, up, and away
Why we love it

Kerbal Space Program is just as loveable as it is thrilling. While this simulator may not be a direct copy of real life it makes up for this with it's realistic calculations and space age features.

Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC

When the world is not enough, there's Kerbal Space Program.

First launching into orbit in 2015, Kerbal Space Program is a space flight simulator like no other. Don't be fooled by the adorable Kerbals you control; the spacecraft you construct and operate are all as ultra-realistic as possible, and operate in an orbital physics engine that simulates interplanetary travel to head-crushing levels of depth. This is one game where you can genuinely say that, yes, it actually is rocket science.

And don't just take our word for it; the game has received attention and praise from some of the world's leading scientists and space exploration bodies, including NASA, the European Space Agency, and SpaceX. 

Be warned, the learning curve is almost as steep as the trajectory of your rocket as it launches into space. But that just makes every success, from making it into orbit to actually landing on another planet, that much more rewarding.

Euro Truck Simulator 2 screenshot showing a busy highway, with trucks driving over a raised road

(Image credit: SCS Software)

2. Euro Truck Simulator 2

Be the trucker
Why we love it

Euro Truck Simulator 2 is surprisingly fun, as driving trucks goes. The graphics, situations, and controls are all brilliantly realistic meaning that you can actually feel like you're a truck driver across Europe. 

Available on: PC

Driving around Europe in a lorry for hours at a time delivering assorted cargo? Where's the fun in that? Prepared to be surprised. 

We all love an epic roadtrip, right? Stick the radio on and let the hours tick by as you cruise the open roads and journey to new locations. Euro Truck Simulator 2 provides all of that, while also adding the tension of delivering your goods on time and in one piece, and managing your haulage firm and delivery contracts back at HQ. There's just enough to keep you focused on the road ahead, while also allowing you to relax and catch up on those podcasts you've been meaning to listen to. And with a map spanning huge parts of Europe, there's gonna be some pretty long journeys ahead. 

And did we mention there's also an American Truck Simulator? Yeah, it's about time you got in your hauler and hit the open road.

Microsoft Flight Simulator view out of cockpit

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Why we love it

Microsoft Flight Simulator is clearly a labor of love, with a realism and attention to detail that will make this an essential purchase for flight sim fans. Using cutting edge technology and graphics for the ultimate immersive experience, this isn’t a game that’s going to be for everyone, but if you’re its core demographic, you’re going to love it.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is perhaps, the version that finally kicked the long-running series into the mainstream, thanks to dedicated showings by Xbox alongside huge titles like Halo Infinite. Because of this, and because it's available for Game Pass subscribers, this version of the flight simulator game is much easier to recommend to those that have even a passing interest in the genre. The great news is that while Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is the best jumping on point in the series' history, it's also an incredible game for hardcore fans.

Thanks to some absolutely dizzying tech, much of the world has been rendered beautifully, and there's a lot of fun to be had in tracking down local landmarks as well as staples like the Grand Canyon. You'll have access to a wide range of aircraft, some even pulled from movies like Top Gun Maverick and Dune. There's so much to take in and try out, that recommending it is very easy indeed. If you're unsure, pick up a cheap Game Pass subscription, try out some of the tutorials and go and visit somewhere you love. You'll no doubt find something to enjoy, even just for a short while.

How we chose the best simulation games 

A red Porsche and a silver Porsche parked in a sunny lot

(Image credit: Polyphony Digital)

Here at TechRadar Gaming (TRG), we love a good simulation game, whether that be driving trucks across Europe or cleaning the Krusty Krab with power washing tools. No matter the game, we're all ready to give it a go and see just how realistic and engaging each title may be.

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Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased. 

With contributions from