15 Best Simulation Games To Play on PC in 2020

Are you looking for a great game that offers in-depth simulation to get lost in great gameplay for hours on end? Check out this list of some of the best simulation games for PC gamers in 2019. Each of these games offers a unique take on city-building, management, or industry to provide gamers with hours of fun.

15. Elite: Dangerous

Since Star Citizen has not released yet, Elite: Dangerous is the best space simulation game available right now. Players can explore a massively open and interconnected galaxy that is influenced by other players through trade, factions, and fighting. The ever-evolving narrative changes as players work their way up from a green pilot with only a few credits and a tiny starship.

Docking and flying your spaceship is one of the most accurate parts of this space sim. New content is released at a steady pace in an expansion pack format, so be prepared to pay more for additional content down the road. Many players describe Elite: Dangerous as a space trucking simulator, which isn’t far off if you participate in the game’s economy.

14. Planet Coaster

Planet Coaster attempts to recapture the magic of building your own roller coasters and theme parks first introduced in Roller Coaster Tycoon. The game offers piece-by-piece construction of theme parks and roller coasters with over 1,000 unique building components. Landscape sculpting lets players create death-defying roller coasters that soar through the sky and into tunnels below the ground.

Much like the original Chis Sawyer game, players must keep guests satisfied with the park to win scenarios. The sandbox mode will be the main draw for most players, but there are several creative scenarios to tackle. The game also links with Steam Workshop to allow players to share their favorite creations with others.

13. Kerbal Space Program

Ever wonder what it was like for scientists in the 1950s figuring out how to send people to the moon? Wonder no more with Kerbal Space Program. The developers have paid very close attention to create an accurate rocket physics simulator. The ultimate goal is to create a successful craft to land kerbals on the moon, but that’s just one goal. Perform planet to planet sling-shot maneuvers and more with advanced space physics.

Sandbox mode is the main draw, but Kerbal Space Program also features a Career Mode. In this mode, you’re responsible for the kerbal’s NASA-like program for getting to space. Manage every aspect, including construction, strategy, funding, upgrades, and more.

12. Tropico 5

Ever wanted to take on the role of an island dictator who controls everything about your people? Then Tropico 5 is the experience for you. Players start their reign during colonial times for a newly discovered island, surviving through two World Wars and the Great Depression. Advance from 19th-century technology into the 21st-century.

New to this version of Tropico is the dynasty feature, which allows players to invest in members of the dictator’s family. Appoint your children as head of government services, ambassador, or even general to keep it all in the family. Tropico 5 has lots of expansions that add depth to the gameplay, or crazy new scenarios. Fans of early city builders will find a lot to like about the Tropico series.

Note: Tropico 6 is available now and is a more recent addition to this franchise, but it is not as well fleshed out. The game lacks some of the core features that were available in previous Tropico games, so Tropico 5 is the best entry point for people new to the game.

11. Factorio

Factorio is all about harvesting the resources of an island to escape. But it is also about building the most efficient process to harvest and transport minerals. The gameplay loop is satisfying as you find new ways to increase the efficiency of your machines. Add to that the challenge of developing machines to help you defend your operations turns Factorio into what has been described as “electronic heroin.”

10. Prison Architect

Build and manage a maximum security prison as warden. Face challenges you never thought possible as inmates form gangs to rival one another. Prison Architect features a story mode to teach you the basics of prison building, but sandbox mode is where this game shines. Build the prison of your dreams to contain even the most hardened criminals. Then try to escape from it as a criminal yourself.

9. Foundation

Foundation is a new take on the city-building concept that doesn’t adhere to grids. Most city-builders use grids to keep everything aligned. Foundation takes an organic approach to building a sprawling medieval city. The game is a cross between city-builder, strategy, and economic simulation. It is currently in early access, but the game is very enjoyable in its current state.

8. Banished

Take control of a group of exiled travelers who week for form a new settlement along the banks of a river. This low-fantasy city-building game is all about managing the population boom and fitness of your Banished citizens. The gameplay feels like a cross between a city-builder and The Sims since you’ll slowly get attached to everyone in your village.

7. Megaquarium

Start a local aquarium with only a few tanks and grow it into a thriving aquarium theme park to attract hundreds of guests. Megaquarium draws a lot of inspiration from early sim games like Zoo Tycoon and Roller Coaster Tycoon. The game features over 100 different marine species to display, including fish, jellyfish, sharks, crustaceans, and turtles. Staff management and happiness is also an important part of running a successful aquarium.

6. Don’t Starve Together

Don’t Starve is a highly unique survival simulator that offers a standalone free multiplayer expansion called Don’t Starve Together. Two players can enjoy surviving in the dark but deep world of Don’t Starve… together. The game draws plenty of inspiration from games like Minecraft, but the 2D flat presentation turns the world on its head.

5. Frostpunk

Frostpunk is described as a society survival game and the first of its kind. You take control of the last city on an Earth destroyed by climate change. The decisions you make as ruler of the city will have lasting effects on districts, with increasing challenges coming your way. The moral decisions from This War of Mine combined with city management makes for heart-wrenching survival.

4. Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines is the indisputable champ of the modern city-building simulation after EA dragged Sim City through the mud. Cities: Skylines is consistently updated with new features and DLC to provide city architects with all the tools needed to create a true megapolis. The game also supports the Steam Workshop for added player-created fun.

3. Rimworld

Inspired by the ASCII-based Dwarf Fortress, Rimworld gives you control of three colonists who must create a thriving outpost against all odds. Players create their own story as these initial colonists fend of bandit attacks and other unknowns in a new world. Rimworld features some of the finest emergent gameplay you will find in any simulation game for PC.

2. Oxygen Not Included

Take control of three duplicants and attempt to build a thriving colony inside an asteroid. ONI is unique in that you’ll need to manage the gases, liquids, and solid waste your duplicants produce. Everything can be recycled to keep the colony thriving, but you’ll need to watch out for space viruses. The sheer amount of management in ONI gives the game a steep learning curve, so be prepared for that going in.

1. Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley draws a lot of inspiration from the Harvest Moon series of games. Players take control of an old family farm that has fallen into disrepair in a small town. Get to know the townspeople and form relationships while you grow a variety of crops and tend to animals on an ever-expanding farm. Stardew Valley is one of the most relaxing simulation games on this list and is available on every single platform.

Didn’t find a simulation game worth playing on our list? Be sure to check out the simulation category on Steam for more games you might enjoy.

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