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The best Animal Crossing alternatives to play when your town devolves into unmitigated anarchy

Animal Crossing is great, but sometimes you may want to switch it up.

games like animal crossing
Image: KnowTechie

Released on March 20, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a giant hit that gamers around the world have been putting serious hours into. In the game, you can do everything from build houses for cute animal villagers, to crafting furniture and catching bugs and fish. It’s hard to explain the appeal of Animal Crossing, but if you know, you know.

For some, it’s an introduction to life simulators and while Animal Crossing is a stellar title, there are other games out there available that offer similar gameplay elements. This can also be nice for those of you who may not own a Nintendo Switch – apparently, the currency of the apocalypse – and only have a PC or other game console available.

This is kind of my “thing” when it comes to games, so I’ve compiled a handful of other games that can provide similar experiences if you are looking to branch out from Animal Crossing. Also, you may notice that there are no Harvest Moon titles on this list and while I would have loved to include one, there simply isn’t a good, recent entry in the series.

Life sims like Animal Crossing that are definitely worth your time

Regardless of your console of choice, there are some great options here.

Stardew Valley

Come on, you know I couldn’t have a listicle featuring game recommendations without getting on my soapbox for Stardew Valley. The life sim is all about farming and unlike Animal Crossing, which uses a real-time system, you can complete a day in Stardew Valley in about 15 minutes. This means you can binge it much easier, which is definitely a plus.

Fish, mine, fight off monsters and marry the love of your life in this life sim from ConcernedApe. As a bonus, it’s available literally almost everywhere, so there’s a good chance you can play this.

PC | Xbox One | PlayStation 4 | Nintendo Switch | Android | iOS


My Time at Portia

Continuing the farming theme, but this time in 3D, My Time at Portia also tasks you with improving your little town, building relationships, farming, and more. In this title, you can dive even deeper into building out your home and making it exactly what you want – unlike Stardew which is a bit lacking on home customization.

Many of these games will feature similar gameplay mechanics, and often it comes down to your preferred style and console.

PC | Xbox One | PlayStation 4 | Nintendo Switch


Graveyard Keeper

If you want a life sim but are looking for a bit more direction, then Graveyard Keeper is definitely worth checking out. Like many games on this list, daily chores and activities are a major part of the experience, but in addition, you are the owner of a graveyard so you can imagine some of the more interesting dilemmas that may come up.

The graveyard operations give the game more focus, as well, something that many gamers want to see out of their life sims. Check out the trailer above and see if this title is more your speed. Like Stardew Valley, this one is available pretty much everywhere.

PC | Xbox One | PlayStation 4 | Nintendo Switch | Android | iOS


Minecraft

What can be said about Minecraft that hasn’t already been said? Start with nothing and play the game however you want. Build dirt mansions or stone castles, explore caves or the deep oceans, the choice is truly yours. Or screw all of that and go directly to creative mode and build to your heart’s content. Minecraft has continued to grow over the years and even if you played it years ago, there are enough new things here to definitely bring you back.

Minecraft is great alone or with friends and while you’re not going to get the “life sim” part in social interactions with NPCs, there is still plenty for you to do. Also, it’s available nearly everywhere.

PC | Xbox One | PlayStation 4 | Nintendo Switch | Android | iOS


Rune Factory 4 Special

I legit didn’t even realize this was out when I started this list, but promptly loaded up the ole Nintendo Switch and downloaded it. If you prefer a more Japanese-style life sim, you can’t go wrong with Rune Factory 4 Special.

In addition to farming and being a part of a little community, you can also raise monsters to help you fight, cook elaborate dishes, and more. Seriously, if you are looking for another life sim on your Switch, this is the one.

Nintendo Switch


The Sims 4

This is another no-brainer for the list. The Sims franchise helped developer the life sim genre and The Sims 4 brings with it a ton of gameplay and expansions to enjoy. Seriously, the expansions are out of control, and for some, it can definitely be a turn-off, as most of them cost cash.

Luckily, they aren’t necessary, and there is plenty to enjoy without spending extra on DLC content.

PC | Xbox One | PlayStation 4


Planet Zoo

Ok, so this is a bit less life sim and more of a management sim game, but it is beautiful and I definitely feel comfortable adding it to this list. In Planet Zoo, you’re tasked with making the best zoo possible. That includes animal exhibits, managing tourists, and researching various elements, all in an effort to improve the overall zoo.

If management games aren’t your style, I would stick to other games on this list, but if you like games like Rollercoaster Tycoon and Planet Coaster, it is definitely worth checking out.

PC


Dragon Quest Builders 2

Dragon Quest Builders 2 is a Minecraft-style building and crafting game that adds more of the life sim elements of other titles on this list. It is a little higher impact than some of the other games on this list, as you’ll be tasked with protecting the town from attacks randomly, but overall, it’s still a pretty laid back title.

The story is also top-notch, so that will certainly give some players even more reasons to play this one.

PC | PlayStation 4 | Nintendo Switch


There you have it, eight great Animal Crossing: New Horizons alternatives to check out if you want to switch it up a bit. With more of us spending an increased amount of time in our homes, these games are perfect for these periods of self-isolation.

What do you think? Plan on checking any of these games out? Have any that you would like to see added to this list? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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