Whether I'm stomping across a battlefield in a mech or pirouetting through space in a starship, I love a good videogame cockpit. There's something wonderfully physical about seeing the craft you're strapped into. You feel like you're actually in command of a weighty, powerful machine, rather than just a disembodied camera floating in the air. And PC gaming is especially rich with amazingly detailed, immersive cockpits of all kinds. Here are some of the best. And yes, the driver's cab of a train is a cockpit. Don't @ me.
Asp Explorer (Elite Dangerous)
There are so many great cockpits to choose from in Elite Dangerous, but I'm never happier than when I'm in an Asp Explorer. Strap into the pilot's seat and you feel like you're suspended in a giant glass bubble, with big windows on all sides giving you an unbeatable view of the cosmos.
Hawken's servers were shut down in 2018, but I still reminisce about its lovely, junky mechs. The Reaper had a particularly good cockpit, with a control panel like something from an old Soviet warplane. The boot-up sequence, which sometimes failed, was a nice touch too.
Sonora (Rebel Galaxy Outlaw)
I love the cockpits in this punky space sim. The lo-fi consoles, colourful displays, and scattered personal touches—like a photo of a sunset pinned to a window—give the ships a scrappy, lived-in quality. It's proper '80s comic book sci-fi, like something off the pages of 2000AD.
F-36 Hornet (Wing Commander)
One of the all-time classic cockpits. Seeing your legs tucked under the console, and your hand wrestling with the flight stick as you fly and fight, gives you a real sense of being squeezed into the pilot's seat of a small, nimble fighter. An old game, but the pixel art oozes charm.
TIE Fighter (Star Wars Squadrons)
The TIE Fighter cockpit is completely impractical, but man does it look cool. All of Squadrons' cockpits are exceptional—here's Wes going deep on why—but there's something about the classic TIE interior that I find irresistible. Bonus points for all the readouts being functional too.
BT-7274 (Titanfall 2)
Climbing into a Titan never gets old. The way the access door clamps shut and the digital viewport slowly flickers to life—extremely satisfying. And the messy overhanging cables and chunky, low-tech readouts dotted around the cockpit give the interior a nice utilitarian military feel.
1972 Mark 2 Stock (Train Sim World 2)
The Going Underground expansion for Train Sim World 2 lets you drive a train on the London Underground, and the cockpit is brilliantly retro. From the funky pattern on the driver's chair, to the dusty control panel with its switches, handles, and gauges, it's just very nice to look at.
Boeing 747 (Microsoft Flight Simulator)
The latest edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator features some obscenely detailed cockpits, and the mighty 747 is perhaps the best example of the game's realism and attention to detail. It's a sea of switches and panels, many of which actually function as they do in real life.
Executor Mk II (House of the Dying Sun)
This stylish, vividly colourful space sim is a delight for the eyes, and I love the Executor's slick, sharp, aggressive-looking cockpit. The fuzzy CRT display on the console, which gives you a visual on locked-on enemies—even when you turn your ship away from them—is a killer detail.
Spitfire (IL-2 Sturmovik: Cliffs of Dover)
This realistic World War II flight sim lets you fly Britain's most legendary fighter, the Spitfire. Tumbling through the air and chasing German planes is incredibly thrilling in first-person, and I love that tough-looking, unassuming cockpit, the height of 1940s aviation technology.