If you’ve played as much Red Dead Online as I did following the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2, or even just explored the quieter moments of its extensive campaign and lengthy epilogue, you’ll likely have that lingering urge to become a rancher. Well now you can, as Ranch Simulator arrives on Steam with its full 1.0 launch following a successful early access period, combining that rural dream with the renovation and management aspects of House Flipper and Stardew Valley to bring us a delightful open-world simulation game with up to four-player multiplayer support.
There’s an almost unparalleled sense of calm to be found from sinking into the best simulation games, and Ranch Simulator offers just that. In a Stardew-like opening, you’re allowed to lay claim to your family ranch, formerly the pride and joy of your dear grandfather, but now fallen on hard times. Turning this remote forest home into a successful, profitable ranch will take no shortage of hard graft – are you up to the task?
You’ll need to load up with tools and vehicles from the hardware store to start rebuilding the ranch, deciding where you want to focus upfront. You can choose from a selection of livestock to breed and rear, with options to produce all manner of food from cheese to meat products, or even go into the business of raising, training, and selling horses.
Of course, raising livestock is no easy task. Not only will you need to ensure they’re fed, watered, and cared for to ensure healthy herds and flocks, but you’ll also want to carefully sort your breeding to keep your numbers strong. That also means you’ll have to keep careful watch from any potential dangers such as bears and wolves that could threaten your ranch and its animals.
You can even take your trusty rifle out into the forest, if you want, looking to hunt deer (or even more dangerous prey, should you so choose). While you can do all of this alone in single-player, Ranch Simulator also offers you the option to join up with your friends in up to four-player multiplayer, because the best co-op games are all about succeeding with your best buds.
Along with the launch, its update to Unreal Engine 5 is available for all – although developer Toxic Dog notes that “While we strongly encourage everyone to play the new and improved UE5 version of Ranch Sim, we also wanted to offer you the option of sticking to the old UE4 version and continuing to play with your existing saves.”
You can switch to the old version from the beta tab in the game’s Steam properties menu, although note that “all future Ranch Sim updates and patches will only be released for the UE5 version of the game.” You’ll also need to be on the same version as your friends when playing multiplayer.
Ranch Simulator is out now on Steam, having just left early access after an extensive development period that began with its initial launch in March 2021. Since then, it’s racked up an impressive ‘very positive’ Steam rating of 85% across over 13,000 user reviews. To celebrate the launch, it’s also 50% off until Friday, November 10 – so expect to pay just $12.49 / £9.99 if you want to buy in and start your new ranching career.
Alternatively, have a look through more of the best farming games for the cream of the crop. We’ve also picked out more of the most relaxing games on PC, guaranteed to melt all your stresses and strains away.