Simulation games that have great world building

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Lore is the last thing that comes to mind when it comes to simulation games. Because most of the time, titles like this are just simple digital recreations of real-world activities or scenarios. Whether it’s washing a car or scrambling the guts of a surgery patient, most simulation games don’t care about world building.


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That doesn’t mean that world-building in simulation games doesn’t exist. Some of them were pretty awesome at combining fantasy, slice-of-life, or parody elements into their simulation game. Consequently, such games have also managed to create their own lore or add more context to their game world to make it easy to get lost in it.

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8 Stardew Valley

  • Release year:
    2016

  • Platforms:
    Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Android

For an agricultural or rural life simulator, Stardew Valley certainly goes beyond that. This cute 16-bit style game begins as a millennial city kid’s dream of going off the grid on a farm and retiring early. Soon, players will discover that the titular city has more personality than just a provincial retreat.

It probably helped Stardew Valley was filled to the brim with hot and eccentric singles, most of whom are gender fluid or at least bi-curious. But the charm of this city makes players feel Stardew Valley is alive and welcomes their weary urbanized souls – a second home, but with plenty of potential romance.

seven Kerbal Space Program

  • Release year:
    2015

  • Platforms:
    Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

This is a good thing Kerbal Space Program chose to feature little green men as astronauts instead of the usual boring Homo Sapiens Sapiens; otherwise, it would have had so much charm. This space lifestyle and astronaut simulator is one of the cutest simulations out there.

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It’s all thanks to the friendly and comical aliens called Kerbals. They are a species of small green humanoids who are somehow only slightly ahead of humans when it comes to the space race. They also have a home planet named Kerbin and players will need to be irritated with these aliens if they want to bring them home.

6 The Sims 4

  • Release year:
    2014

  • Platforms:
    PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Macintosh operating systems, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Cloud Gaming

The Sims have always had great characterization and stories for their NPCs, even in older games. They have fortunately extended this invented semi-satirical tradition to the usual population of The Sims 4. NPC in The Sims 4 all have their own unique personalities, quirks and families,

Some of them are stereotypes, like the ultra-wealthy Landgraab family who need no introduction to find out why they got rich. Other families consist of reclusive vampires, sitcom-style housemates, and the video game equivalent of the Kardashians, all helping to make the simulation more colorful.

5 Microsoft Flight Simulator

  • Release year:
    2020

  • Platforms:
    Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows, Xbox Cloud Gaming, OpenXR

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a good example that simulation games don’t need fantasy or parody elements to have great world-building. They just need satellite data from Google Maps, because Microsoft Flight Simulator Photorealistically recreates the world from a satellite view.

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So in a literal and technical sense it is great world building. Players can even fly above their home if they wish, or visit the airspace of their distant relatives’ homes if they wish. More than anything, it’s a demonstration of how far graphics technology has grown in the game, but still quite impressive as far as world-building examples go.

4 Two Points Hospital

  • Release year:
    2018

  • Platforms:
    Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Amazon Luna, Macintosh operating systems

Two Points Hospital is a simulation where players build, design, and manage their hopefully working healthcare system. But that’s only half of its charm; the other half is that the game world is pretty cheeky and has a penchant for being a parody of the real world.

If patients die inside the hospital, they turn into ghosts and the announcer in the lobby is always spacing out or making ironic jokes. On the contrary, it looks like a hospital from a sitcom. Players will surely keep coming back even if their hospital continues to fail.

3 fallout shelter

  • Release year:
    2015

  • Platforms:
    Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

Think about sims except it’s a nuclear bunker and everyone lives underground, trying to minimize their lives to a few extra minutes of survival. This is fallout shelter. It would have been as stressful as this description, were it not for its cartoonish art style and relatively relaxing gameplay.

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fallout shelter is partly a construction and management simulator where players act as the boss or owner of the nuclear bunker. They will have to build the facilities and assign the right survivors to their appropriate tasks. So people are also resources here. Since it takes place in the To fall universe, his world-building is definitely top-notch.

2 Railway Empire

  • Release year:
    2018

  • Platforms:
    Operating Systems Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh

A simulation game would have been the last place anyone would have looked if they ever wanted to play a role as an American western frontier tycoon, but Railway Empire handles this experience well. It is a railroad tycoon simulator set at the turn of the century in the industrial age.

Players will have to lay out tracks and manage one of the largest railway networks of this period. Along the way, players will also directly contribute to the development of isolated outlaw towns, bringing law and order to the Wild West. It’s a great game to play after finishing Red Dead Redemption 2it’s a depressing ending.

1 Tropic 6

  • Release year:
    2019

  • Platforms:
    Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, SteamOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S

Tropic 6 instructs the actors to introduce another kind of law and order. In this simulator, players take on the role of a dictator ruling their authoritarian communist island country. It is clearly a parody of Cuba. It is both a city builder and a tycoon simulator.

Because in addition to developing their cities, players will also need a source of income, and tropical resorts or other attractions are among the riper opportunities here. What makes it different from other city and tycoon simulators is that politics and ideology play an important role here; players can even choose their own political policies depending on how they want to run their country, whether it’s a socialist utopia or a totalitarian dystopia.

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