You want to know about the best political games? There is an addictive quality to political simulation games that’s unlike the rush you get from shooters or RPGs, although the escapism is no less real.
Whether you’re setting economic and trade policies, standing strong on the international stage, or leading a nation through a war or some other crisis, there are plenty of things to keep an eye on in a genre that attempts to model every facet of what goes into running a nation and features some of the best games on PC.
Here are the best political games on PC in 2023:
- Democracy 4
- Superpower 2
- Supreme Ruler: Ultimate
- Rebel Inc: Escalation
- Twilight Struggle
- Power & Revolution 2020 Edition
- Tropico 4
One of the poster children for political games, the Democracy series views government simulations through the lens of policy and popular opinion. You play as the primary head of state for a country and can set whatever policies and laws to test your political ideas. The only goal of Democracy 4 is to get re-elected, but it’s a game that by design is supposed to be without inherent bias.
The digital population you rule dynamically and randomly reacts to your policies, giving you the pushback you need to simulate the careful negotiation and compromise between political ideals and voting population. It’s such an intricate simulation that national newspapers in the UK have used it several times to test the manifestos of political parties in the run-up to elections. While it doesn’t have all of the management capabilities of more old-school simulation games, this is the truest ‘political game’ you’ll ever play.
A precursor to games like Power & Revolution and other similar series like RealPolitiks II, the SuperPower series started life in 2002, with the better known sequel launching in 2004. SuperPower 2 would eventually get a Steam release ten years later in 2014.
SuperPower 2 is an old-school simulation game, with a meaty, information heavy UI, and the entire ruling infrastructure of any one of 140 playable nations. The game has had a robust mod scene keeping it alive for all these years.
Supreme Ruler: Ultimate
Supreme Ruler, as a series, has skewed more towards the war game side of the simulation spectrum because most of them tend to focus on specific conflicts such as WW2 or WW1.
Supreme Ruler: Ultimate released in 2014, and is an attempt to marry all of the games together into one – starting just prior to The Great War, you can lead a single nation through both global conflicts, The Cold War, and then into modern times and the near future. There are specific historical scenarios you can play through as well. While military and fighting mechanics are key to this series, there are also robust political management aspects that can rival other more dedicated games on this list, as you need to run the country as a whole, no matter what’s going on.
Rebel Inc: Escalation
We’re taking a break from more global facing political simulations for a more localised game that you should definitely try if you’re looking for a well-researched take of the War on Terror. You’re in charge of a fictional region inspired by Afghanistan, tasked with trying to rebuild after a devastating conflict. This involves not only managing civilian matters to bring prosperity, but also fighting off insurgents who oppose you.
On the face of it this could be mistaken for a simple real-time tactical war game, but there are plenty of tools available to you that don’t just involve fighting. You’ve got to make best use of international aid and funding to build infrastructure, amenities, educate the populace, and eventually train replacement forces to take over so your initial NATO troops can be sent home.
There’s strictly speaking no direct government simulation in Rebel Inc, but you do engage in local politics and enact policies that help the local authorities rebuild. Ndemic has put a lot of time and effort into making this a sensitive, authentic experience.
This is the digital adaptation of one of the most fascinating Cold War boardgames of our time. A nail biting two player experience, one person represents America, while the other Soviet Russia. It’s a card-driven game where victory points decide the final winner, but given you have most of the world to play with you have to carefully pick your strategy.
Again, there’s no government simulation here, but Twilight Struggle is a political strategy game aimed at trying to recreate the subtle yet momentous ideological posturing that dominated the Cold War period until the Soviet Union’s collapse. Wars are present in a very abstract sense – mainly via the cards as flavour text – but the main goal is to have more influence in a country than your opponent, and through that the most influence in a region, making sure you score at the opportune moment.
Be careful though – too many aggressive actions can cause the DEFCON track to reach its highest level, which causes the player to lose.
Power & Revolution 2020 Edition
Buyer beware, this series suffers from the annual release syndrome that can befall famous sport franchises, but the 2020 edition of this geopolitical simulator seems to have a decent following. There’s a 2021 edition as well, but the response to that one is more negative and the changes seem minor.
This game lets you play as the heads of state of any one of 175 playable countries, with plenty of data and research into making the countries as accurate as possible to their real-world counterparts. The game even models on-going events, with the 2020 edition specifically featuring the COVID-19 pandemic as a major event.
It’s just as much a city builder game as it is a political game, but Tropico holds a special place in our hearts because it brought a humorous, slightly dystopian twist to the nation building formula. You are the newly appointed dictator of a banana republic, and must take it from an ex-colonial outpost to a thriving paradise, either through exports or tourism, or both!
While more recent entries like Tropico 6 are also pretty good, Tropico 4 sticks with us specifically as it touched on some really interesting political dynamics in a way the previous games hadn’t. While you couldn’t control your government in fine detail like many of the other games above, you could enact certain policies, and a large part of this was dedicated to international relations. You could even set superpowers against each other in competing for your influence, although if you took things too far one of them was likely to just invade and overthrow you.