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Best simulation games 2020: the most immersive simulators you can play right now

Best simulation games
(Image credit: Dovetail Games)

If you’re looking for the best simulation games available right now then you’re in the right place. After all, who hasn’t wanted to experience the feeling of driving a train, flying an aircraft or even fixing a car, all from the comfort of your armchair? Fortunately for you, the selection of simulator titles on the market right now has never been greater. 

In a world of high-octane shooters, battle royales and fantasy RPGs, simulation games remain universally beloved. They can offer a level of detail and immersion that can't be matched, and there's nothing more soothing for the soul than popping a podcast on and setting off on an epic road trip across Europe.

And the best part? What was once a very PC-centric genre is now truly open to all. So whether you play on PC, PS4 or Xbox One, there’s a simulation game out there for you.

Ready to immerse yourself? Let's dive into our list of the best simulation games available right now. 

Train Sim World

Train Sim World

(Image credit: Dovetail Games)

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

Released in 2018 by Dovetail Games, the makers of the long-running Train Simulator series on PC, Train Sim World 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 you can easily sink hours of playing time into.

Oh, and look out for the sequel that's set to drop in August, featuring the Bakerloo Line in London. All the fun of the Tube with none of the overcrowding? Sign us up.

X-Plane 11

X-Plane 11

(Image credit: Laminar Research)

Driving trains is one thing, but how about flying planes? Step right this way and get ready for takeoff. 

The original X-Plane 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 11, released in 2017 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. 

With huge swathes of the world modelled in game, as well as a huge roster of aircraft to take the controls of, X-Plane 11 is the perfect reason to dust off your joystick and have a lot of fun.

Farming Simulator 19

Farming Simulator 19

(Image credit: Google)

Yes, really. A game revolving around harvesting crops and managing your farm is one of the most popular simulator titles 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 simulation – 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.

And you don't even need to get your fingers dirty in the process. The dream!

Assetto Corsa

Assetto Corsa

(Image credit: Kunos Simulazioni)

Since its release in 2014, Assetto Corsa has combined a great core game engine, ultra-realistic driving physics, a great variety of content and a modding community capable of adding everything from lawnmower racing to free-roaming maps of the Tokyo expressway into the game. 

The best way to view Assetto Corsa is as a blank canvas with limitless potential. Want a super-immersive racing experience? AC has that. Highway cruising? Mods can provide that with ease. Thanks to a strong community, AC is probably the most realistic and in-depth drifting sim on the market right now.

For the hardcore sim drivers, AC continues to be the benchmark.

Gran Turismo Sport

Gran Turismo Sport

(Image credit: Polyphony Digital)

For those wanting a fun and realistic driving experience that's accessible for all skill levels, look no further than Gran Turismo Sport. 

Polyphony Digital's legendary franchise took a very different direction with GT Sport when it first released in 2017, looking to combine the online matchmaking and realistic driving physics of more hardcore sims with an accessible platform for all skill levels. The game is super fun to play on a controller as well as a wheel, and constant support and free content updates has kept the game consistently fresh.

No other sim racing title has the 'pick-up-and-play' factor of GT Sport; unlike a title like AC, you don't need a fancy sim racing rig to have fun. Just grab a controller, and dive straight into a race against either human or AI opponents in a matter of minutes. 

And typically for a Gran Turismo game, it looks utterly gorgeous. What more could you want?

BeamNG.Drive

BeamNG.drive

(Image credit: BeamNG)

What if you just want to drive vehicles, rather than race them? Well dear reader, here's your answer: BeamNG.Drive.

First released in 2015, BeamNG.Drive features a revolutionary soft-body physics engine, enabling hyper-realistic levels of handling and damage. In fact, so realistic are these physics, that BeamNG.Drive has reportedly been used in the film industry to test out action sequences and stunts before doing them for real on set. Now that is a serious endorsement.

Additionally, a recent tie-up with Automation enables players to design and build their own cars in Automation, then export them over to BeamNG.Drive to drive them for real in that game – how cool is that?

For the ultra-realistic driving sim you never knew you needed, BeamNG.Drive is the one. 

Car Mechanic Simulator 2018

Car Mechanic Simulator 2018

(Image credit: PlayWay S.A.)

Then again, what if you didn't actually want to drive a car, but rather get under the hood and tinker with it? That's where Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 comes in.

Red Dot Games' spanner-them-up first released in 2017, and revolves around running your own auto repair shop. Starting from humble beginnings and evolving your workshop into an automotive maintenance behemoth, the main appeal of Car Mechanic Simulator is its incredible levels of detail for the inner workings of a car. Strip down and rebuild engines, swap wheels, change brakes and transmissions, repair rusty bodywork, you name it, this game has it. 

The player can also acquire project cars from the Barn Find and Junkyard modules, for those true Gas Monkey Garage vibes. The satisfaction of transforming that rust-bucket you found in a shed into a mean machine is absolutely unmatched.

And the best part? 100% less grease and manual labour than doing it for real. Win-win.

Kerbal Space Program

Kerbal Space Program

(Image credit: Private Division)

For 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 

Euro Truck Simulator 2

(Image credit: SCS Software)

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.