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The best games like Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing: New Horizons laid-back gameplay has taken the world by storm and shows no sign of slowing down. There’s never been a better time to stay inside and enjoy the leisurely island lifestyle — and people are loving what the title has to offer. But once you’ve burned through your first 40 hours, New Horizons is best played in short bursts. Most people will log in for a few minutes each day, see what’s happening on the island, finish their daily tasks, and quickly log out. While mods can add more variety, sometimes you need a fresh take to really scratch that itch.  None of the following suggestions are identical to New Horizons, but they all offer a unique combination of crafting, exploring, and chatting with your NPC neighbors that New Horizons fans are bound to enjoy.

My Time at Sandrock

My Time at Sandrock
79%
E10
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Simulator, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Pathea Games
Publisher
Pathea Games, PM Studios
Release
May 25, 2022

Not only is My Time at Sandrock an excellent life simulator, but its graphics are just as cute as those of New Horizons. Players will travel to a cozy postapocalyptic land where nearly all modern technology has been lost or destroyed. Only you, the new Builder, can use your tools to not only bring your own farm back to life, but the entire town. There’s a great mix of collecting materials, building and upgrading, building relationships with the townspeople, and even some combat.

My Time at Sandrock Announcement Trailer

The Sims 4

The Sims 4
73%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Simulator
Developer
The Sims Studio, Maxis
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Release
September 02, 2014
What else is there to say about The Sims 4 that hasn’t already been said? The series is one of the most popular around, offering both hardcore and casual players an incredible amount of control over their Sim’s life. Customize their look, home — even give them a job — then slowly upgrade everything as you play. There are numerous unique locations to explore, events to attend, and items to collect. Fans of the Animal Crossing series will love the robust building system — but might miss the lack of humanoid animals. Until The Sims 5 eventually comes out, this is still the best entry.
First Look: The Sims 4 Official Gameplay Trailer

Terraria

Terraria
81%
T
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac, Android, Nintendo 3DS, iOS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows Phone, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
Genre
Platform, Role-playing (RPG), Simulator, Strategy, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Re-Logic
Publisher
Headup Games, Re-Logic, 505 Games
Release
May 16, 2011
Originally thought to be a simple 2D Minecraft knock-off, Terraria has proven itself to be so much more. Players can collect over 3,000 items, battle more than 300 enemies, and explore 20-plus unique biomes. Although it was originally launched in 2015, numerous updates have added over 1000 new items and a creative mode. Terraria is much more action oriented than New Horizons, but it still gives players access to a beautiful world to explore, along with the tools needed to make that place home.
Terraria Official Trailer

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley
87%
E10
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, Android, iOS, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Simulator, Strategy, Indie
Developer
ConcernedApe
Publisher
ConcernedApe, Chucklefish Games
Release
February 26, 2016
Another farming sim, another rundown farm to fix up. Considering this game was almost entirely crafted by one developer, the amount of content packed into the world is incredible. Your main concerns will be cleaning up the farm and planting crops, but you’ll also have the chance to explore dungeons, go fishing, take part in seasonal events, and put the moves on the local population. This one is just as laid-back as Animal Crossing, although you might feel a bit of anxiety creeping in as the day ends and you hustle to finish the rest of your chores.
Stardew Valley Trailer

Minecraft

Minecraft
84%
E10
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac
Genre
Simulator, Adventure
Developer
Mojang Studios
Publisher
Mojang Studios
Release
November 18, 2011
The bestselling game of all time, Minecraft lets players make the world their own. Enjoy delving into dangerous cave systems? Prefer to start a small farm and raise animals? Or maybe you just want to build massive structures and terraform your land? No matter what you choose, you’ll have a large degree of freedom when it comes to gameplay. If you can get past the blocky graphics, you’ll find a lot to love in this hit title.
Official Minecraft Trailer

Rune Factory 5

Rune Factory 5
70%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Nintendo Switch
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Simulator, Adventure
Developer
Marvelous, Hakama
Publisher
Marvelous, XSEED Games, Marvelous USA, Inc., Marvelous Europe Ltd.
Release
May 20, 2021
If you enjoyed New Horizons, but wished there was a bit more action, Rune Factory 5 will be the perfect fit. It features all the usual life simulator tropes — such as farming and marriage — as well as some typical RPG ones like characters suffering from convenient forms of amnesia. There is a main story to go on as a Peacekeeper that involves some combat and dungeon crawling, but the core is still making friends, farming, fishing, and all the other elements you want in a game like this.
Rune Factory 5 - Gameplay Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Slime Rancher 2

Slime Rancher 2
66%
E10
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Shooter, Simulator, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Monomi Park
Publisher
Monomi Park
Release
September 22, 2022
This one is by far the strangest game on the list, but one that New Horizons fans will probably fall in love with. The game plays out from a first-person perspective, but is every ounce as adorable as Animal Crossing. Players jump into the role of a young ranch worker who travels light-years away from Earth to try and live out her dreams on the Far, Far Range. This sequel brings you to the new environment of Rainbow Island, with all new slimes to catch and raise. Your playtime will be split between growing crops, upgrading gear, exploring the massive open world, and trying to unlock the 150-plus hybrid slime species. There’s no need to have played the first game, so jump right in!
Slime Rancher 2 Announcement Trailer

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town
57%
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Simulator, Strategy
Developer
Three Rings Inc.
Publisher
Marvelous Europe Ltd., XSEED Games, Marvelous
Release
February 25, 2021
One of the oldest life simulator franchises is Story of Seasons, making the latest entry a natural fit for this list. Pioneers of Olive Town is the most open-ended game in the series to date, allowing you to fully customize and design your farm down to each individual square of land. There’s a massive world to explore with charming characters, a great and approachable art style, and a full relationship system to engage with.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town – Nintendo Direct Mini: Partner Showcase | October 2020

Editors' Recommendations

Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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