At first thought, some players might think that city-building games are boring. But as far as the early 90s, these games have provided an addicting dose of entertainment for a lot of gamers, kids, and adults alike. Who would not want to build their city, and gather the people needed to prosper it, while managing everything from the affairs of the city, down to the very supply needed for everyone to survive?
City-building games have been a childhood favorite of mine for many years, which is why I would love to share the finest city-building games with those who love them as much as I do. Over the years, several city-building games have been made to indulge gamers who always have the ambition to at least make a city in front of their screens in the form of a well-done game. But before we get started, take note that some titles might belong to 2 or more consoles on this list.
After all, the city-building games available to play are quite limited, unlike other genres. But without further ado, let us begin! Let’s check out this list of the best city-building games on every available platform!
Best City-Building Games on PC
The PC is the pioneer of city-building games since the 90s. After all, the large memory needed to operate such a game is much preferable to operating on a computer. With today’s game graphics and features, city-building games on a well-invested PC will bring your imagination into the community-made with your own hands. The following is a list of top city-building games for PC:
1. Tropico 6
We start our list of great city-building games with Tropico 6. Tropico 6 is a construction, management, and political simulation game in the Tropico series, developed by Limbic Entertainment. As in the other games in the series, the player assumes the role of “El Presidente”, the leader of the Caribbean island nation of Tropico. Similar to Tropico 5, there are four eras: The Colonial Era, the World Wars era, the Cold War era, and the modern era.
Unlike previous games in the series, where Tropico consisted of only one island, Tropico 6 allows players to build on an archipelago of smaller islands, allowing players to build bridges (in the World Wars era and later) from their starting island to the other islands in the chain.
Frostpunk is a city-building survival video game developed and published by 11-bit studios. Players take on the role of a leader in an alternate-history late 19th century, in which they must build and maintain a city during a worldwide volcanic winter, managing resources, making choices on how to survive, and exploring the area outside their city for survivors, resources, or other useful items. Frostpunk features several scenarios to undertake, each with its own stories and different challenges.
3. Aven Colony
Aven Colony is a city-building strategy video game developed by Mothership Entertainment. The main storyline revolves around the human colonization of an alien planet, in which a new colony must be built to survive. Aven Colony involves building a new human city on Aven Prime, alien planet light-years away from Earth. The player oversees construction, resources, and people within the colony. The colony must be built from scratch and over time additional colonists will arrive.
There are many different buildings, ranging from tent-like buildings to skyscrapers and a space elevator. These buildings serve many purposes including oxygen creation, living quarters, food cultivation, resource mining, protection of the colony, exploration, and expansion. Flying drones are used to build, upgrade, recycle and manage everything in the colony.
The colonists themselves travel around walking or in Hover cars. There is a day and night cycle, and during the night cycle everything freezes over so food will not grow and solar panels work at 50%. The colony must also cope with various environmental conditions including storms, dust devils, toxic gas, and shard storms. Aven Colony also features a Campaign mode and a Sandbox mode.
4. Surviving Mars
Surviving Mars is a city-building simulation video game initially developed by the Bulgarian studio Haemimont Games, and later by Abstraction Games. The player serves as an overseer who must build a colony on Mars and ensure the survival of the colonists. Surviving Mars is a city builder simulation game that takes place on Mars and is modeled after real Martian data.
The player chooses a sponsoring nation, each conferring slightly different benefits and a unique building and vehicle, and then land on Mars with robotic drones and rovers. These rovers and drones prepare the colony for humans on the red planet by setting up power and water infrastructure, domes, resource depots, oxygen generators, and landing pads.
The player’s goal in Surviving Mars is to create a thriving colony on Mars with occasional rockets from Earth, which have limited cargo space, forcing the player to balance bringing resources from Earth and producing resources on the planet. The player can bring electronics, machine parts, food, concrete, metal, prefab buildings, rovers, and drones from Earth, or research technologies to manufacture them on Mars.
Players must balance expanding the colony with managing oxygen, food, water, and replacement parts. The game also has storylines called mysteries, which add various events to the colony, including plagues, war, rival corporations, AI revolt, alien contact, and others. Rare metals can be exported back to Earth for funds. Landing sites also have various natural disasters like dust storms, meteor storms, cold waves, and dust devils to increase difficulty.
5. SimCity 4
Next up on this list of the greatest city-building simulators for PC, we have a true classic – SimCity 4! SimCity 4 is a city-building simulation computer game developed by Maxis, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts. The game allows players to create a region of land by terraforming, and then to design and build a settlement that can grow into a city. Players can zone different areas of land as commercial, industrial, or residential development, as well as build and maintain public services, transport, and utilities.
For the success of a city, players must manage its finances, environment, and quality of life for its residents. SimCity 4 introduces night and day cycles and other special effects in the SimCity series. As with previous SimCity titles, SimCity 4 places players in the role of a mayor, tasked with populating and developing tracts of land into cities, while fulfilling the needs of fellow Sims that live in the cities. Cities are now located in regions that are divided into segments, each of which can be developed.
6. Anno 1800
Anno 1800 is a city-building real-time strategy video game, developed by Blue Byte and published by Ubisoft. Anno 1800 takes place in the 19th century at the dawn of the Industrial Age. Like other Anno games, Anno 1800 is a city-building and strategy game. While it is set in the context of colonial trade, the featured architecture is Victorian Era and the economic engine is factory labor.
The core gameplay of Anno 1800 takes place in the Old World, where the needs of the citizens, workers, and artisans are central to the management of production and supply chains. A parallel New World city exists, which produces products that laborers in the Old World want to purchase, thus trade routes need to be established. Unlike its colonial 18th century predecessor Anno 1701, the game has a blueprint feature that helps the player to plan out the city. The game also features a story campaign, a sandbox mode, and a multiplayer mode.
The last game on our list of best city-building games for PC is Foundation. Foundation is a gridless, laidback medieval city-building game with a focus on organic development, monument construction, and resource management. As the newly appointed lord or lady of land still untouched and full of potential, you are going to create a prosperous medieval settlement as you envision it, managing your resources and growing population, whilst being challenged by narrative events, quests, and missions, from across the kingdom.
From very modest beginnings, build rudimentary workplaces, extract and store resources, establish trade routes, erect majestic monuments, and before long… a bustling city will emerge in your newfound lands.
Best City Building Games on PS
City-building games are also available for Playstation players for those who just want to spend more time with their console when taking a break during a good multiplayer game. The games listed below will surely make you take a look into your progress every now and then if you are not playing your best games at the moment. The following are the best city-building games on PlayStation.
8. Cities: Skylines
Cities: Skylines is a 2015 city-building game developed by Colossal Order. Cities: Skylines is a single-player open-ended city-building simulation. Players engage in urban planning by controlling zoning, road placement, taxation, public services, and public transportation of an area. Players work to maintain various elements of the city, including its budget, health, employment, and pollution levels. Players are also able to maintain a city in a sandbox mode, which provides more creative freedom for the player.
The player starts with a plot of land – equivalent to a 2-by-2-kilometer (1.2 mi × 1.2 mi) area – along with an interchange exit from a nearby highway, as well as a starting amount of in-game money. The player proceeds to add roads and residential, industrial, and commercial zones and basic services like power, water, and sewage, to encourage residents to move in and supply them with jobs.
Northgard is a strategy game based on Norse mythology in which you control a clan of Vikings vying for the control of a mysterious newfound continent. After years of tireless explorations, brave Vikings have discovered a new land filled with mystery, danger, and riches: Northgard.
The boldest Northmen have set sail to explore and conquer these new shores, bring fame to their Clan and write history through conquest, trading, or devotion to the Gods. That is if they can survive the dire Wolves and Undead Warriors roaming the land, befriend or defeat the giants, and survive the harshest winters ever witnessed in the North… The game Northgard aside from city building leans more on RTS like Warcraft III.
Towscaper is an indie game described as a game without a goal. In Townscaper, you don’t employ resource management, defense, or other usual mechanics that are associated with city-building games, instead, you literally build the city. Townscaper is great if you’re creative and you’re looking for a game where you can test our various city designs. It has gorgeous pre-set designs if you decided to opt out for something like that and gorgeous color palettes.
Planetbase is a space simulation and strategy video game developed by Madruga Works. In the game, the player leads a group of space settlers who are trying to form a base on an isolated planet. The player is given the role of the base architect as well as the manager.
It is up to the player to guide the colonists to build a self-sufficient base in a place where they can survive, where they can extract water easily, grow food for a living, and, most importantly, have a constant supply of oxygen. The colonists can be directed to mine different kinds of metal and manufacture robots. A total of four different planets can be colonized in Planetbase, each with different conditions and an increasing difficulty level.
12. Buildings Have Feelings Too!
Next up on our list of best city-building simulators is Buildings Have Feelings Too!. Buildings Have Feelings Too! is an exciting new city-management/puzzle game about buildings and the city they inhabit. You must grow your city to a bustling metropolitan center with an array of shops, offices, entertainment facilities, and amenities, to help your buildings thrive; or risk them being demolished forever.
13. Regions of Ruin
Regions of Ruin is not only a city-building game, it’s an open-world sandbox game as well. Regions of Ruin follows a dwarven kingdom that needs to thrive under your command and leadership. Invest your time playing this game in fighting, resource management, questing, and improving your skills and you will surely come out on top.
Regions of Ruin has hand-drawn 2D graphics which might appeal to some players but mostly just come across as lazy game design. Still, Regions of Ruin is a nice-enough game if you’re into that sort of aesthetics.
14 . Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault
The last game on our list of best city-building games on Play Station is Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault. If you like tower defender games Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault is the game for you. The goal of this city-building game is to expand your base across the surface of the planet while searching for a rare material called “altenite”. During exploring, expanding, and managing your new bustling city prepare for an onslaught of attacks. Not only will you have to protect your newly founded colony you will also have to keep your citizens happy and stimulated at all times. Aegis of Earth: Protonovus Assault has great resource-management mechanics.
Best City-Building Games on Xbox
Xbox has titles that might be present on the PS, but still have some titles of their own that made them preferable for city-building players. To know more about those games, check out our list of best city-building games on Xbox.
Our first game on this list of best city-building games for Xbox is RimWorld. RimWorld is a very peculiar game that might appeal to fans of space colonization. In RimWorld you start out with a few randomized colonists that are isolated in a dangerous environment.
The world is completely procedurally generated and the system that decides on the important traits that your colonists will have is AI-based. The goal of RimWorld is to overcome planetary hardships and to build a successful space outpost with intelligent resource management. You will have to utilize the skills your colonists have intelligently otherwise you will not survive in these dangerous environments.
16. Kingdom Two Crowns
Kingdom Two Crowns is a game similar to Region of Ruin due to having the same graphics style and overall theme of the game. It’s a city-building game set in a sort of medieval-ish environment and your goal is to rule your kingdom as a king and basically engage in a long game of resource management. Kingdom Two Crowns has different mechanics during the night though, when night falls your kingdom will be attacked by various monsters and dangers and if you did everything right during the day, you will manage to defend it. Kingdom Two Crowns has co-op mode which is nice and definitely a plus.
17. Halo Wars 2
Next up on our list of best city-building games on Xbox, we have one installment from Halo Franchise, Halo Wars 2. Halo Wars 2 is more of a tower defense game than a city-building simulator but I’ve still decided to include it on this list since you do build things- buildings to be more specific.
At the start of the game, the crew of UNSC wakes up from a deep stasis and figures out that the aliens are trying to take control of a mega-powerful super weapon, you will be able to stop them if you employ intelligent resource management tactics, utilize the skills your crew have to the maximum and build structures on the surface of the world in an intelligent way. Halo Wars 2 is not your classic city-building game but it’s worth a try if you enjoy Halo setting and tower defense games.
The player controls a construction company and aims to drive the other players out of business. Using teams of workers and foremen, the player must build facilities to manufacture building materials (a sawmill, concrete works, etc.), to build houses (ranging from simple wooden cabins to large mansions) in which to house tenants who pay rent and thus fund the company, as well as producing new workers, tenants and other characters.
Along the way, the player can build homes for undesirables such as gangsters and hippies, who work to undermine the enemy. This is an HD re-release of the original from 1997.
Sheltered is a post-apocalypse simulator with elements of city-building, it’s not a full-on city-building simulator. Instead of controlling randomized units protecting generic buildings, in Sheltered you take control of your family stuck in an apocalypse. You will have to employ various resource management tactics if you plan on surviving an onslaught of monster attacks. Sheltered is available on both PC and Xbox One, it has turn-based combat so that’s a big plus.
20. X-Morph: Defense
X-Morph: Defense is one more tower defense game on this list of best city-building games on Xbox. In X-Morph: Defense revolves around the concept of defending the planet from aliens. You will need to build structures on a wide array of maps and employ various tactics if you mean to survive and defend the planet from alien attacks. X-Morph: Defense is not as relaxing as some of the games on this list, it’s quite the opposite it features fast-paced action combat, so if you’re into something like that X-Morph: Defense is a game to try.
21. Dawn of Man
The last game on our list of best city-building games on Xbox is Dawn of Man. Dawn of Man is survival and city-building video game which was developed by Madruga Works. In Dawn of Man, players have to lead a group of prehistoric settlers who are trying to form a settlement and ensure their survival from the Paleolithic era until the Iron Age.
Players build and develop a settlement where their settlers can survive and have a constant supply of food, water, and clothing. They are responsible for guiding their settlers to create a self-sufficient settlement where they can extract resources easily and hunt food for a living. Players also have to survive natural disasters such as blizzards and storms, use weapons to fend off raiders, and defend their settlements from animal attacks.
Best City-Building Games on Switch
If you want to spend some precious time playing city-building games on a portable device, then go for the Switch instead. The amazing graphics quality of this handheld console has granted gamers the advantage to access a lot of cool games nowadays. City-building will be more fun if you can access your own city everywhere you go. That’s why you should try out the following best city-building games on Switch:
22. Seeds of Resilience
We start off our list of best city-building games on Switch with Seeds of Resilience. Seeds of Resilience doesn’t look like much but it’s a perfect example of a solid city-building game. You start off with a plot of land and you need to build your village from scratch. It’s not that simple though, you will have to overcome various challenges, get to know nature patterns, choose the right items and skills for your settlers and employ intelligent resource management. Seeds of Resilience is a relaxing game and it’s pretty straightforward once you get to know the core mechanics of the game.
23. The Colonists
The Colonists, like Seeds of Resilience, is a relaxing game with pretty straightforward gameplay except you don’t manage humans, you are managing robots who are trying to become human. In The Colonists, you will take control of a group of robots who are colonizing a planet in deep space, for your colony to be successful you will need to plan your buildings, and resource management and protect them from the hardships that come with settling a new planet. It’s an interesting concept and take on a city-building simulator.
24. The Unexpected Quest
Adventure game with strategy and management elements in a medieval fantasy setting – drawing inspiration from classics such as Warcraft 3 and The Settlers. Embark on quests, hunt down treasures, and manage your resources as you build, battle, cast magic, and brew potions to bring order to the world. Developed by Rionix.
25. Dice Legacy
Dice Legacy is a dice-based survival city builder set in a mysterious ringworld. Your ship has reached the shore of an uncharted continent. Roll and use your dice to gather resources, expand and defend your settlement, survive the winter, and interact with the strange inhabitants of this eerie world. Dice Legacy is developed by DESTINYbit.
26. Airborne Kingdom
Airborne Kingdom is a game where gravity does not matter. In Airborne Kingdom you will have an opportunity to build a flying metropolis. Building a city da defies gravity comes with its own unique set of hardships and to overcome them you will have to plan and strategize accordingly. Airborne Kingdom gives you opportunities to explore the world and even help people on the surface. Airborne Kingdom’s concept is reminiscent of Bioshock: Infinite so fans of the game should definitely check out Airborne Kingdom.
27. Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists ~Ateliers Of The New World~
A spin-off game in the Atelier series. Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists ~Ateliers Of The New World~ focuses on town building and using characters from the previous games as shopkeepers and town occupants. If you are a fan of the Atelier series then this will be a treat for you.
28. Mad Tower Tycoon
The last game on our list of best city-building games for Switch is Mad Power Tycoon. In “Mad Tower Tycoon” you have the freedom to build a 100 story skyscraper and include the elements you want to make it succeed; restaurants, cinemas, underground garages, or even a zoo. Satisfy potential visitors by choosing the best attractions for your winning plan.
Best City-Building Games on Mobile
Nowadays, playing on your smartphone is considered gaming, due to the multitude of games that are just as good as other consoles (but of course not as great as home consoles and PC games). If you do not have the time to play consoles, but still love the experience of gaming, then try out these apps on your phone or tablet instead. Check out our list of best city-building games on mobile:
29. Pocket City
Pocket City re-imagines classic city-building simulation gameplay to mobile. Build your unique city as the new mayor. Create residential, commercial, and industrial zones. Build parks and recreation spots. Pocket City is available on Android and iOS devices.
30. Fallout Shelter
Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play simulation video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios. It takes place in a Vault where you can expand the bunker with various amenities and choose who you’d let into the Vault after a nuclear apocalypse destroyed the outside world. Shares the lore of the fallout series.
31. SimCity BuildIt
SimCity BuildIt is a mobile city-building game that shares its concept with SimCity. SimCity BuildIt allows users to solve real-life situations like fire, sewage, pollution, and traffic and helps in dealing with problems that the public faces. Players can connect and compete with other users for more connected gameplay.
32. Megapolis City Building Games
Megapolis City Building Games is a city-building game with features including advanced 3D graphics, more than 700 unique buildings, and a multiplayer mode highly rated by over 10 million players. As mayor, make a flourishing city even more successful.
33. Dungeon Village
Dungeon Village places the player in control of a village in a stereotypical RPG setting. The main goal of Dungeon Village is to attract heroes to your town and direct them to fight monsters outside of the city’s limits.
To attract heroes, the player must have the city hold events which attract outside attention and fame and must improve their city by building new buildings. As monsters arrive, the player can direct heroes to perform quests and give them gifts so they become more favorable to the city. Developed by Kairosoft.
34. Battle of Polytopia
Originally called Super Tribes. The Battle of Polytopia is a city-building game where players play as one of sixteen tribes to develop an empire and defeat opponents in a low poly square-shaped world. Players can play against bots or human opponents, local or online.
35. Townsmen Premium
The last game on our list of best city-building games for mobile is Townsmen Premium. In Townsmen Premium develop your tiny village into a grand medieval empire with a thriving economy and happy villagers! Find spots for mining ore, harvest the crops of your farms, and collect coins as taxes from your folk. Build jousting fields, taverns, and marketplaces, and beautify your city with impressive statues, magnificent monuments, and lush gardens.
But there are also dangers lurking close by. Bandits are in the area, looking to plunder and pillage your peaceful town. Build barracks, guard towers, and recruit brave soldiers to protect your citizens from harm.