January 23 | Gaming Minds Studios | Link
The minds behind totalitarian simulator Tropico extend their simulator sights to train barons in this vast railway manager. With 40 different kinds of trains, numerous structures to build (including canyon bridges, factories, and tourist attractions), railway workers, and over 300 technologies to research, those of us with spreadsheet obsessions will have plenty to focus on while the hills of 1830s America roll by. If finance management isn’t your thing, you can always get a little dirty and raid a competitor’s supply line or commit some old fashioned industrial espionage.
2018 | Shadow Raven Studios | Link
One of three dino park sims coming out in 2018, Prehistoric Kingdom gives you the keys to a dinosaur zoo. Fiddle with their DNA, breed them, turn them into attractions and then bleed your guests dry. John Hammond would be proud. Prehistoric Kingdom will also let you make your park look especially lovely with terraforming tools and modular decorations. You can start up your first park now, too, as there’s a demo on Steam.
My Time at Portia
January 23 (Early Access) | Pathea Games | Link
What would you get if you took Stardew Valley’s blend of farming, exploration, and romance and made it 10 times as big? My Time at Portia seems to be the logical conclusion, set in a world filled with ancient ruins to explore, gear to craft, and townspeople to woo. Instead of a single cave system to explore (like Stardew Valley), Portia is home to a sprawling network of deserts, marshlands, highlands, and more, promising at least a bit more diversity in your treasure hunting travels.
Jurassic World Evolution
June 2018 | Frontier Developments | Link
If you’ve ever sat in front of your television screaming at the characters in a Jurassic Park movie for making predictable, fatal mistakes, Jurassic World Evolution is your chance to make the same avoidable blunders. While jumping through the typical economic and management hurdles that business simulation games are known for, you’ll also have to deal with the possibility of your over-engineered attractions climbing right out of their fences and eating tourists. Intentionally courting disaster with dangerous dinos will inevitably bring the same sick glee as building roller coasters shaped like launching ramps.
TBA | 11 Bit Studios | Link
What’s a city simulator without a little moral grey area? Frostpunk pits you against elements both interior and exterior as you fight to survive in a frozen post-apocalypse landscape and keep your citizens safe. In a world where heat means life, you’ll be forced to make difficult decisions, like how to dispose of bodies, who to pull from work for scouting parties, or how you feel about child labor.
2019 | Toby Dixon, Danny Wynne | Link
Atomicrops is probably the first ever roguelike farming simulator. Like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley, you raise crops, make friends and get married, but it’s also a twinstick shooter with permadeath, your crops are mutants that can fight and when you get married, your spouse will help you out in battle. The goal is to survive as many seasons as possible, defending your farm from monsters and bandits. Also, you can marry a tomato. 2018 is going to be an odd year.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
2018 | Bandai Namco | Link
After a 2013 release on PC, the oftentimes silly and melodramatic dogfighting sim is circling back for another run, bringing a story full of royal intrigue, besieged cities, and massive space elevators. New aircraft types, like futuristic, high speed drones and the A-10 Warthog promise plenty of chances to light up the skies.
2018 | Limbic Entertainment | Link
Everyone’s favorite banana republic simulator is back, this time with the chance to build cities on multiple islands or archipelagos, send agents out to raid foreign countries, and the return of election speeches. You’ll also be able to deck out your El Presidente mansion with customizable extras, like a swimming pool with a shark in it, for that extra statesman vibe.
Pizza Connection 3
March 14 | Gentlymad Studios and Assemble Entertainment | Link
Pizza Connection 3, as is tradition for the series, gives you more control over your budding pizza parlor than you ever thought you’d need. You’ll customize and decorate your building, manage your staff, and even create custom pizzas with exotic ingredients like kangaroo meat and curry powder. You’ll start a small business in one of seven cities and take the town by storm with your pizza artistry.
Late 2018 | Flashbulb Games | Link
Like building an impossible vehicle of Legos and watching a younger sibling destroy them, Trailmakers asks you to build wild wheeled contraptions and then watch as physics rips them apart. You can play in sandbox mode or the expedition mode which lets you build and add onto your vehicles in a long-distance trek across a foreign planet. Trailmakers’ modular pieces appear to invite creativity and disaster in equal measure.
Winter 2018 | Ubisoft Blue Byte | Link
Anno returns to its city-building roots in the historical, taking players to the dawn of the 19th century, a time of massive industrialization. The sequel features a story-based campaign, a customizable sandbox mode, individual AI opponents, and more.
Police Simulator 18—Law Enforcement
Summer 2018 | Bigmoon Entertainment | Link
The life of a cop is more than the mile-high leaps of Crackdown or undercover gang busts of Sleeping Dogs. This simulator shows you both the riveting sides of real-life law enforcement (freeway chases, bank robberies) in addition to the lighter side, including issuing traffic tickets and arresting disorderly punks with too much of daddy’s money. Includes a two-player co-op mode for all those timely “one week from retirement” jokes.
Spring 2018 (Early access) | Washbear | Link
What if Jurassic Park was pretty chill? That seems to largely be the premise of Parkasaurus, a low-poly theme park management sim where being pals with previously extinct beasties is as important as making cash from them. That said, they do occasionally get rowdy, briefly turning the game into an FPS where you have to put the naughty lizards to sleep for a little bit.
TBA (Early Access) | YandareDev | Link
Yandere Simulator takes anime’s latest twist on love and puts you in the shoes of an obsessive high school student bent on keeping their senpai from noticing any other suitors—at any cost. Styled after Hitman’s open world format, you’ll take other students out of the equation in a variety of bloody or emotionally manipulative methods, all while avoiding law enforcement.
Pure Farming 2018
March 13 | Ice Flames | Link
While most farming games are content with tilling the American heartland, Pure Farming 2018 allows you to expand your enterprise to Italian vineyards, Japanese rice fields, and Colombian coffee bean hills. If you’re sick of crops, there’s also the chance to raise livestock, build automated greenhouses, and construct a solar energy grid. For those of us who are terrified by managing an entire farm (I’ll never forget that summer in the onion fields), there’s also three alternate modes that let you play freestyle, learn some farming basics, or focus solely on individual objectives.
Rise of Industry
Early Access 2018 | Dapper Penguin Studios | Link
In our own first look at Rise of Industry, we found out that the will of the people is equally important as the will of your own monolithic intentions. Each procedurally generated map begins with tiny, peaceful towns that have specific wants. In order to grow from small production outfit to global monopoly you will have to begin by giving them what they want. You’ll manage every part of the process from gathering raw materials to selling final goods in this strategic simulation game. You’ll build roads to maximise efficient routes, build factories and plants, and cover a beautiful green map in smog.
2018 | Oxymoron Games | Link
Project Hospital aims to “cure your nostalgia” with its homage to Theme Hospital from 1997. Rather than the slapstick fake diseases from Theme Hospital, Project Hospital will focus on more realistic afflictions. Manage your building, your staff, and patients to create a hospital of your own specifications. You can pursue goals like treating rare diseases, having the best patient and staff morale, or raking in the most profit. Project hospital appears to take a pretty granular approach to management, assigning individual staff to certain zones, placing equipment, and following around your favorite patients. If you do manage to diagnose and cure nostalgia, let us know.