PC players get a bad reputation sometimes, but that’s usually okay because they’re too busy debugging their game to hear it. With the range of different hardware and other tools out there, it’s never been easier to purchase or put together some semblance of a gaming PC and generally rise above the console wars.
That being said, it’s a whole lifestyle that will see even the most promising of altar boys turning into a hunched-over ghoul clacking away at a keyboard for eternity. With the range of games that promise to simulate the world’s most mundane tasks, a promising PC player never has to leave their home to feel the joy of power washing a deck or doing construction work on a run-down house.
It’s not all boring, though, as simulator titles also offer opportunities, like many games, to live a different life and try things you may not otherwise have the budget or opportunity to do. It’s a fine line that those who make these games often tread, but some feel like they were made with genuine love and appreciation for the craft it’s simulating.
This article will go over the best and worst PC simulator titles that give you a look into another life and occupation so you know what to avoid and seek out based on your personal preferences. Some of these may even make you swear you left the house.
Best: Farming Simulator
If you’ve never experienced the joy of baking under the heat of the Alabama sun in the middle of your family’s corn and green bean fields, then you’ve never experienced joy. Thankfully, you can do it the easy way in the Farming Simulator series of titles, which serves as a weird intersection of marketing for John Deere equipment and informational farming gameplay.
The most recent release across all consoles was Farming Simulator 22, which was released late in November 2022. It introduced new functions like allowing players to manage animals, grow new crops, and even customize their farmer to make the simulator more immersive. Factor in the modding and player support for these games across the internet, and there’s a lot of content to appreciate.
Like most simulator games, Farming Simulator also has the benefit of being boring as shit most of the time. This means that players can throw on their favorite podcast or simulated internet radio and get to choring around the farm. It ain’t glamorous, but it’s an honest day’s gaming.
Worst: Ranch Simulator
As someone who genuinely loves animals and would love to own some form of small ranch in the future, I was so excited to log into this game with a friend. However, it had launched in early access with maybe two features and almost no animations. Everything feels stiff, too, from the activities all the way to the animals themselves. It was not worth the price at that time, but this was a couple of years ago and worse games have certainly been redeemed since. Here’s hoping a full release as a stable experience is in the future once developer Toxic Dog smooths out all the bugs (and pigs and cows and goats and horses).
Best: American Truck Simulator
The trucking network in America is the backbone of the country. The brave men, women, and non-binary of the trucking industry ensure that we can get pizza rolls and Sprite whenever we want, just as the Founding Fathers intended. It’s probably one of the under-respected industries, with most serial killer mysteries involving them as an easy suspect. For Shame!
The Truck Simulator games are known for being some of the most relaxing in the entire industry, at least according to my buddy John from high school. I’ve played with him a few times and it was always fun to just sit back and drive our route together while catching up about things that had happened to us in life recently. I like to imagine that the freedom to just pick up a job and drive is what attracts many to the trucking life, with these titles even letting you create a whole business and fleet of trucks. You can even get NPCs to run deliveries for you, making it as much of a management simulator as it is a relaxing driving game. Now they just to add an update where you can murder hitchhikers!
Worst: Police Simulator: Patrol Officers
Oh, to be a government employee responsible for making sure that the poor and broken of society get treated worse than their own criminal peers. If you go out of your way to play a game that’s called Police Simulator and it’s not even the cool parts like hostage negotiation or detective work, but patrolling, I’m gonna put your name in a book somewhere for later… just in case.
The game mostly involves pulling over people for minor traffic infractions before potentially arresting them. It does a good job of justifying these arrests and kind of whitewashes all of the dirty parts that are actually involved in police work. If developer Aesir Interactive adds a new mode where you have to cover for your partner who murdered a Black man in cold blood, it might be a bit more realistic.
Listen, not all people who play the Police Simulator are bad people, but enough of them have been found the be absolute pieces of shit that fit the description. It’s like 40 percent I read somewhere. Be safe out there, NPC drivers.
Best: PC Building Simulator
Imagine if you spent a few hours building your PC on top of the cost of who-knows-how-much to purchase the components. Does anything sound more fun than immediately booting it up and building custom PCs in PC Building Simulator? On the other hand, those who bought pre-made computers can see how much they could have saved for the same specifications.
Mostly, it just serves as a great way for PC players to fully hone in on their obsession and superiority complex. I wouldn’t expect you to get it, what’s your rig running on? A 2090 XXXTentacion GPU and i23 flux processor? Yeah, that’s what I thought, loser.
There’s a sequel that just released last year on the Epic Games Store, but the original can be found on Steam, with all the DLC offering a lot of content at a discounted price that’s a fraction of what a new monitor would cost.
Worst: Lawn Mowing Simulator
Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to force gamers to touch grass the whole time in this title didn’t understand their audience. Sweeping in among a fresh wave of new simulator titles, Lawn Mowing Simulator is a faithful enough job at giving players a job and letting them loose in a world to do it. However, it’s about as dull as watching grass grow.
While one might not expect much from a game that’s about mowing lawns, there is something relaxing about it that transfers from real life to this title. Because of that, it’s a great game to help you chill out, and one I even enjoyed more than PowerWash Simulator at first. Lawn Mower Simulator even had the opportunity of being on Xbox Game Pass, but even that wasn’t enough. Sadly, it’s been a year since the last major update from Lawn Mower Simulator, with the yard of the game’s community being overgrown and uninhabitable in the time since.