If you’re looking for the best helicopter games/simulation out there, then you’ve arrived at the right place. Unlike airplanes (fixed-wing aircraft), helicopters are powered by rotors, which allows them to take off and land vertically. Other attributes such as hovering and lateral flying make them suitable for use in urban as well as remote areas.
Before we can get started, let’s talk about the nature of the game first. There are two types of helicopter games available in the market; military and civilian.
While military helicopter simulations are more restricted in nature, many fans find them entertaining due to their mission styles and orientation.
Below is the list of 12 best helicopter games that you can play right away.
12. Thunder Blade
A still from the game
Platform: Atari ST, Arcade, Commodore 64
There is a popular saying, ‘old is gold.’ And don’t we all agree with it? It’s been more than three decades since the first release of combat flight simulator, Thunder Blade, but it remains somewhat relevant.
In Thunder Blade, the player controls an armed helicopter with a single mission to destroy enemy buildings and military vehicles. All levels are played either in top-down or third-person view. You can play it online.
11. Gunship 2000
Platform: DOS, Windows
Initially released in 1991, Gunship 2000 is one of the oldest helicopter games/simulations you can play. It’s an enhanced version of its predecessor, the original Gunship game, which was released in 1986. The player begins the game first by selecting a combat theater, then choosing between single or campaign missions.
During the initial stages, you have access to only one helicopter. This changes as you make progress in the game. Mid and late game is filled with several helicopters that will keep your interest alive.
The game also allows you to use various real-life military tactics such as nap-of-the-earth (low altitude flying) and pop attacks, based on terrain.
While the game has many flaws, including incorrect descriptions of helicopter models and flight avionics plus clumsy controls, a wide variety of weapons and various in-game features does somehow make up for it given its age.
10. Gunship Battle2 VR
Virtual reality is taking the gaming industry by storm, and maybe it’s time to equip yourself with the right tools. Yes, I am talking about the VR setup.
Anyway, Gunship Battle2 VR is an immersive helicopter simulation game, in which you play the role of a former secret agent/ pilot named Dylan. He lost everything, his family, and identity after a covert mission went wrong.
But now, with the nation’s security at risk, an experimental gunship is his only hope to recover his grief and save the world. The game provides a complete VR experience.
9. Enemy Engaged: RAH-66 Comanche vs KA-52 Hokum
Platform: Windows, Macintosh
Enemy Engaged: Comanche vs. Hokum is one of the two original helicopter simulation games from Enemy Engaged series. It’s a successor to Enemy Engaged: Apache vs. Havoc. For those who are wondering, Comanche and Hokum are NATO assigned call sings for American and Russian attack helicopters.
The game was praised for its artificial intelligence and outstanding flight physics. It was also nominated for “Simulation of the Year” award in 2000.
8. Jungle Strike
Platform: MS-DOS, Game Boy, PlayStation Portable
Jungle Strike is the direct sequel to one of the best selling helicopter games, Desert Strike. While it’s a straight out Shoot ’em up game, a considerable amount of strategy is also needed to be successful.
As a player, your main objective in this game is to stop enemy assaults with the help of an attack helicopter (Comanche) and occasionally a motorbike. Jungle Strike received worldwide acclaim for its superb design, flawless graphics, and controls.
7. Take On Helicopters
Take On helicopters Gameplay
Platform: Windows, Steam
Take On Helicopters is a civilian helicopter game, featuring three different classes of helicopters; light, medium and heavy. Apart from the traditional career mode, users can also engage in time-trials, challenges, and multiplayer modes.
The story revolves around a Seattle-based business family (fictional) having a difficult time keeping their helicopter business afloat after passing of their family head. As a player, you will take the role of Tom Larkin, a civilian pilot, and try to save the company with your brother Joe Larkin.
Overall the game is all rounded flight simulator, reasonably capable of entertaining gamers, especially those who are new to this genre. It also has a powerful mission editor.
6. Desert Strike
Platform: DOS, macOS, Amiga, Game Boy
Desert Strike is a 90s popular single player shooting game in which the player takes control of an Apache helicopter and engage in various missions, from hostage rescue to attacking enemy installations in hostile grounds. The game took its inspiration from the Gulf War of the 90s and portrayed a battle between antagonist General Kilbaba and the United States.
The Apache is equipped with a machine gun and powerful missiles. While you can certainly add more powerful weapons, these additions can decrease the helicopter’s carrying potential, i.e., more deadly the weapon, the fewer it can be carried. So a player must make appropriate weapon choices.
5. Apache: Air Assault
A still from Apache: Air Assault
Platform: Windows, PlayStation, Xbox, Online
Apache: Air Assault is a combat style flight simulator featuring several customizable Apache helicopter variants. The core objective of this game is to try and stop various terrorist attacks (fictional) in unstable regions of the world. The game can be played in both single-player and multiplayer mode. Both IGN and GameSpot gave Apache a 7.5 out of 10.
Bell 412 Image Courtesy: Stuart Cassie
FlightGear is a free, open-source flight simulator. The project’s aim is to create a sophisticated flight simulator, which can be used in research or academic purposes. But the beauty of open-source software is that anybody can use it on Windows, Mac, Linux, and FreeBSD platforms.
The sim features over 20,000 real-world airports with accurate runway markings and elevations. You can start with trainer helicopter the Robinson R22, especially if you are a beginner. Then you can move to light utility helicopters such as The Alouette III. Then there is Sikorsky S-76C and Chinook CH-47, a twin-engine super heavy lifter for the experts.
The only weakness that I can think of is its lack of realistic virtual cockpit.
3. Microsoft Flight Simulator X
Microsoft Flight Simulator X or FSX is an award-winning flight/helicopter simulation game developed by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively for windows. The original game only features two helicopters; the rookie Robinson R22 and Agusta Westland AW101, however, you can always use add-ons.
While the helicopter simulation on FSX might not be as accurate as you expected it to be, they certainly worth your time. You can download many well-known helicopters from manufacturers such as Bell, Eurocopter, and Boeing. It’s available on Nemeth Designs and Hovercontrol.
2. DCS: Black Shark 2
DCS: Black Shark 2 is a standalone simulation in the vast DCS (Digital Combat Simulator) world featuring the legendary Russian single-seat attack helicopter Kamov Ka-50. The game is known for its realistic graphics and maneuverability.
The sim includes advanced automation features, such as state of the art targeting system, guided missile system, mounted targeting, and autopilot. It allows pilots/players to convert the helicopter for different roles easily.
Apart from the Black Shark, you can also enjoy emulations of Mil-Mi-8MTV2, SA342 Gazelle, and UH-1H Huey after buying additional DCS modules.
Bell 407 in X-Plane 11
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Laminar Research’s X-Plane is packed with numerous civilian as well as military class aircraft. One thing that separates X-plane with other sims is its revolutionary aerodynamic model known as the blade element theory.
Ordinarily, flight simulators emulate the performance of a real-world aircraft (drag and lift) with the help of predefined data. But those simulators are unable to emulate an aircraft performance where preset data are not available.
X-Plane’s Blade element theory, on the other hand, improves the simulation by individually evaluating every part of an aircraft.
Furthermore, it features a unique plugin architecture that enabled users to build their customized modules. It effectively extends the software’s functionality.