How Realistic are VR Simulation Games?


Virtual reality is a rush. Inviting us into colourful, vibrant and exciting virtual worlds which can see us become all-powerful, powerless and everything in between. From horror and sci-fi to cinematic documentary, Virtual Reality has so much to offer. For that reason, you might be wondering why anyone even considers jumping into a realistic VR simulator.

While it may at first be confounding to ask why you would want to do menial, slow jobs in VR, on closer consideration it becomes eminently clear.

Ever wanted to fly a plane? Ever wanted to drive on a road in a blizzard? Ever wanted to repair a spaceship? If you’re anything like us, we want to get an idea of all earthly experiences, leading us to shout a resounding YES whenever we’re offered up a new virtual experience.

What is a Simulation Game?

Don’t be fooled by Job Simulator or Vacation Simulator. Although these games are heaps of fun, these comedy romps are not at all what we are talking about when we say simulator.

Instead, we’re talking about those games which try and represent the reality of a situation, letting you jump into the shoes of real-world professionals, seeing the world from a different perspective—even if it is a virtual one.

Our Top Simulation Games in VR

While VR has been around for seemingly an age, given it has only recently broken through into the mainstream, its plethora of games available to you are only a shadow of its true potential. Nevertheless, there are a plethora of games already available for simulator lovers to lose themselves in.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

The most recent instalment in Microsoft’s landmark simulator series added VR support a while after its initial release.

It goes without saying, that Flight Simulator is a market-leading game, and the VR version is no different. Featuring absolutely astounding graphics, unbelievable weather systems and an unparalleled simulation of real-world flight, it is by far the best simulation game out there for VR users.

The only catch with Microsoft’s Flight Simulator is that you’ll require a seriously beefy PC to get it running, even on minimum specs. But if you can get this beast running, boy is it worth it.

The Climb

For lovers of vertigo, climbing simulator The Climb sees you climb mountains and a record pace either alone or against ghosts to beat leaderboard best times.

While this game may not have strict reality on its agenda, instead offering up a very enjoyable and somewhat gamey offering of a climbing sim, it is certainly the most enjoyable climbing sim currently available for virtual reality.

Euro Truck Simulator VR

Although not yet officially supported, users have found ways to mod Euro Truck Simulator (among other simulators) into VR. This allows players to enjoy their relaxing long drives to their hearts content in VR.

As with Flight Simulator, there’s nothing quite like experiencing these roads in the flesh—drawing you ever closer to the actual real-world experience. Especially if you have yourself a steering wheel controller.

Project CARS 2

Road racing is a passion of many. And Project CARS 2 gives players the freedom to explore a gloriously rendered, authentic and virtually unrivalled technical experience in VR.

The speed, spins, crashes and responsive controls of Project CARS 2 sets it apart from other, far more gamey, driving experiences available to VR users.

Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Unlike its kitsch title suggests, Hot Dogs, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades is an incredibly refined simulator offering up beautifully rendered, responsive and true-to-life weaponry in a sandbox setting.

While there isn’t much to do in the game, per se, its commitment to realism is incredible, marking it as one of the more realistic gunplay simulators in VR.

But Are They Realistic?

Realism in gaming is a complex puzzle to solve filled with a variety of questions.

Let’s take Microsoft’s Flight Simulator as an example.

Does it render the world, planes and environment in stunning true to life detail? Yes (from afar).

Does it give you the dizzying feeling of flying? Certainly.

Is it accompanied with the terrifying realisation that hundreds of passengers lives are in your hands? Certainly not. In fact, in our experience, most players want to experiment with crashing a plane at least once.

Furthermore, as commercial products, some simulation experiences tend to up the simplicity in order to maximise player enjoyment, even for novices of the given real-world craft. Such is definitely true for both Flight Simulator and The Climb, where incredibly complex and stressful manoeuvres are pulled off with relative ease.

That said, no virtual experience will ever give you the same sense of realism as doing it in the real world. After all, when you’re atop a virtual mountain or driving your virtual plane into the ocean you know that your life isn’t about to flash before your eyes—hiding away that adrenaline which makes these actions so unique.

That doesn’t mean that these simulations don’t go above and beyond what was previously thinkable. Being fully immersed in incredibly rendered 3D worlds while controlling the experience with motion controls, or unique physical controllers (joystick/wheel), certainly leads to levels of immersion previously unthought of.

Yet, back when it was released players of Flight Simulator ’98, found the level of realism astounding. But today, such a simulator almost only seems to nail how piloting a plane gobbles up time. In other words, we are always going to be pushing past contemporary capabilities in terms of simulation. With the full implementation of haptics, hand tracking, sensory feedback and more virtual reality has a long way to go before achieving true-to-life realism. But that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t experience the glory of modern simulators.

So, if you have the tools at your disposal get yourself into one of these simulators ASAP. You certainly won’t be disappointed.

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How Realistic are VR Simulation Games?
You certainly won’t be disappointed.
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