Some games are born great and others have greatness thrust upon them. Nowhere is this more true than in the simulator category, which is usually overlooked by people who are terrified to step outside of their Fifa-and-COD-shaped comfort zone.
But that’s OK. For those of you who like to take a walk on the wild side, there are numerous simulator-style titles out there that, on first inspection, sound more boring than watching paint dry. Look closer, however, and you’ll unearth many hidden gems that let you become almost anything you want: a farmer; a train driver; a goat. You get the picture.
So, step this way, keep an open mind and come on a journey with us to check out some these-sound-boring-but-are-actually-fun simulators. Because what else do you have to do today?
1. Train Simulator
All aboard! A bona-fida classic of the simulator genre (sort of), Train Simulator practically demands to be played in a neckerchief and grease-top train driver’s hat. This rockin’ piece of software gives you incredibly life-like renders of real-world metal worms including the British Rail Class 319, (from the UK, obviously) and the iconic American UP Gas Turbine loco. There’s loads to do in the game, including stopping at signal crossings, humming the Thomas the Tank Engine theme tune and ensuring that passengers’ dogs don’t get trapped in closing doors at stations. Alright, we may have made that last one up.
2. Goat Simulator
Ever felt like existing as a human just wasn’t enough and, instead, you wanted to experiment with being a destructive farm animal? Luckily for you, Goat Simulator exists – and it’s great. We’re not even kidding. Get it? Kid? Never mind. Goat Simulator’s gameplay is based around assuming the form of a horny animal and doing as much damage to the surrounding area as possible, as real-life goats do when they’re not eating your jumper. Its physics engine is a little hyperactive, to say the least – you’ll spend most of the time running into buildings to cause maximum mayhem.
3. Euro Truck Simulator 2
Like Train Simulator, Euro Struck Simulator 2 works best with a bit of imagination. So, before you even think about loading it up, get onto YouTube and play ‘Born to be Wild’ in the background. Actually, don’t – save that for American Truck Simulator which you’ll find further on down this list. Reach for a cassette of Parisian Cafe music instead. The second version of this trucking good simulator series follows on conceptually from the first but is a more rounded experience thanks to more trucks, varied locations from rural France, Germany and Spain, and graphics that often look like they’re straight out of an oil painting.
4. OMSI 2
Everybody knows that the coolest cast member from The Simpsons is Otto Mann, and you can now do your best impression of the heavy metal-loving alcoholic school bus driver in OMSI (Omnibus Simulator) 2. This game is best when you’re tearing it down quiet roads with a vehicle full of terrified passengers, bottle of booze in hand. OMSI 2 was released in 2013, but it’s been updated continuously to include new, radical multi-wheeled vehicles, checkpoints and realistic bendy buses.
5. American Truck Simulator
Did you know that Elvis Presley was a truck driver before becoming a massive pop star? You, too, can do your best impression of The King in his early days in American Truck Simulator. All about getting out onto the open road – and yes, that includes Route 66 – this simulator lets you traverse vast US desert landscapes as you tear through California, Nevada and beyond. It was recently updated to include new trucks and even more sprawling, endless open road; because you can never have enough road. Yeehaw!
6. Construction Simulator
Before any male readers checking out this list out asks – no, you can’t wolf-whistle at passing women in this simulator; and nor should you want to – you misogynist. Construction Simulator is good, clean, building fun that offers great graphics and a control scheme that makes doing anything from pouring concrete to erecting towering buildings and controlling machinery a piece of cake. You can even drive around the city or village that your site is located on to check out your handiwork while donning a bright yellow hard hat. Just don’t forget your lunchbox.
7. F1 2016
Is F1 boring? Some people, including Jeremy Clarkson, think so. Millions disagree, however, and the 2016 version of the famous racing series brings plenty of new cars, tracks and more life-like graphics. Just as FIFA 2017 digs deep into realism and the notion of a personalized ‘story mode’, the latest iteration of the F1 series is all hitting dizzying heights in your career. You don’t have to play as yourself, however – you can step into the shoes of famous drivers such as Lewis Hamilton in an effort to get doused in champagne up on the podium.
8. Farming Simulator 2015
Ooh, arr! Combine Harvester enthusiasts gather – this is the simulator for you. The latest version of this rambling rural adventure game introduces an all-new Nordic setting, alongside one in North America, adding countless pieces of farm-tastic equipment, machinery and gameplay mechanics – including multiplayer – to its roster. Just like in real life, Farming Simulator 2015 takes a short while to master – and it’s udderly worth it.
Unlike the other games on our list, Factorio is only out in Early Access form, but the developer behind it says that a full version is incoming. The game focuses around building up your factory empire and making as much money as possible using extreme resource management – and it’s as testing as it sounds. Automation is the name of the game, with new branches opening on your tech tree as you expand your metal fortress. If you’re really confident, there’s even a multiplayer mode where people club together to build bigger, harder and faster.
10. Car Mechanic Simulator 2015
Are you ready to spill some oil? Then grab your overalls and spanner, because Car Mechanic Simulator 2015 is one heck of a ride; one where you don’t, er, go anywhere. This game places you in the middle of an impressive garage (this isn’t some Jobs and Wozniak-style operation, you know) where you’re tasked with – you guessed it – restoring knackered vehicles to working order. Your continually growing skill set is measured via an experience points system that lets you unlock new parts and cars as you go along.