There are times when you just want to play a point-and-shoot, or play football with your virtual dream-team, and it doesn't matter if the game is realistic, as long as there's an interesting art direction and the game flows smoothly. Other times you want realism and human characters, like you're there at the heart of the action. The most realistic games will do this for you. The games with the best graphics will transport you to another world, offering true escapism and incredible game-play.
What's the most realistic game and how do you compare realism, landscapes and characters? We're going to take a look at 12 of the most realistic games currently on the market and see what they have to offer.
Note that we've stuck with more classic formats here, but if you like taking part in an MMORPG then head on to our dedicated section for greater realism.
You don't just turn the wheel and go from left to right with Assetto Corsa - this game has got it all going on behind the scenes to create one of the most realistic games around for driving fans. The game replicates real-world physics, car dynamics, and tracks with astonishing accuracy, so whether you're drifting around corners or racing down straightaways you get a more realistic piece of the action. Authentic car models and laser-scanned tracks contribute to the overall realism, making you feel like you're actually behind the wheel.
Do you love shooter games with realistic weapons and authentic mechanisms? If so you'll love Squad, with its focus on teamwork and communication in a military environment. The combat scenarios are very realistic and the communication mechanics, large maps, and realistic weapon behavior all add to the immersion.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is such an all round amazing game that it makes pretty much every best game list going, but a list of the most realistic games definitely wouldn't be complete without it. It's particularly good when it comes to realistic depictions of wildlife and ecosystems, where animals interact with each other and the environment realistically. If you love games where you need to survive on your wits, this one's for you.
Truck driving doesn't sound like a hugely exciting way to spend your down-time, but somehow Euro Truck Simulator 2 manages to turn the mundane task of truck driving into a captivating experience. Experience life on the road as a trucker, navigating the roads, managing cargo, and contending with tricky weather.
Driving games lend themselves to being realistic games, as there's so much detail and authenticity that can go into the cars and tracks. The Gran Turismo series shines here, with incredible levels of attention to detail and the use of realistic driving physics to capture the thrill and nuances of real-life racing.
This isn't the most realistic game in that it replicates the real world, but what Cyberpunk 2077 has managed to do is create a hyper-realistic futuristic setting. The attention to detail in Night City, the game's sprawling metropolis, is astounding, with every back alley, neon sign, and facial expression adding to the sense of immersion.
It may be difficult to judge the realism of a space exploration game as so much of space is unknown, but we think Elite Dangerous does the cosmos justice. Not only do you get to pilot your own spacecraft but you can trade goods, engage in combat, and explore an accurately modeled Milky Way galaxy. We love the game's attention to celestial details, from star systems to planetary bodies.
If you prefer planting and tending crops to tearing it up on the battlefield then you might prefer something a little gentler like the Farming Simulator series. Your challenge is to run a farm, and this means getting stuck into everything from animal husbandry to machinery operation, all with astonishing detail.
Bear with us on this one. We don't think that the most realistic game has to mean the game that's visually the most realistic, it could be that the realism lies in the actions of the characters. The whole point of The Sims is that it simulates everyday life - eating meals, going to work, sleeping - and that's what fans love about it. In our book that gives it a place on our list of most realistic video games.
For those seeking a realistic military experience, Arma 3 sets the standard for tactical simulation. You'll find yourself right in the middle of authentic combat scenarios, demanding strategic thinking, coordination, and precision. With a dedicated community of modders and an emphasis on teamwork, Arma 3 offers a unique blend of realism and camaraderie, making it a standout choice for fans of military simulations.
If you grew up wanting to be a pilot or have always fancied having a go at flying a plane then Micorsoft Flight Simulator is about as close as you can get without your pilot license. Renowned for its incredibly detailed and accurate flight simulation, it uses real-world satellite data and advanced physics to create a highly realistic flying experience.
The Last of Us Part 2 could well be the most realistic game you'll find when it comes to narrative and humanity. Just as painters have traditionally found it hardest to capture realism in a person's face and eyes, so too have game designers. The Last of Us Part 2 shows what's possible, with such realistic facial expressions that it's possible to tell what a character is thinking just by looking at their face. Using motion capture and a high budget, The Last of Us Part 2 is as close as it gets to capturing a cinematic, realistic story in a video game.
Taking a look at these games it's clear that the boundaries between the virtual and the real have become increasingly blurred and with every new game released, we're blown away by advances in realism. The sky is definitely not the limit anymore and the only sure thing is that future technology and games will only become progressively more real. Will games eventually become more real than, well, reality?