We all know the absolute classics like SimCity paved the way for modern games such as Cities Skylines or Timberborn. What if you were looking for more games like Cities Skylines to scratch that city building itch with the use of your trusty rake that you got from the virtual mall that you happened to build in your newly created world.
The sense of accomplishment of seeing your town grow as you train more skilled workers to lay roads or build houses is a wonderful feeling. Be aware though, you could easily sink hundreds if not thousands of hours into each of these games and still not let the gameplay feel stale.
Let's dive right into the best city building games that you could spend tons of time creating the perfect world.
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One of the coolest concepts of a hybrid game is one where you're part simulation, part platformer. In Actraiser, you're set off where you play as a god expanding the towns population with new roads, farmland and houses while fighting off enemies while saving the people from natural disasters.
Actraiser then branches off to become one of the best platforming games on the SNES. Each level follows the same characteristics but becomes more difficult as you progress.
We loved the fact that Actraiser executed the simulation and platforming genre wonderfully. Nothing has quite been able to replicate it's success since it's release in 1991.
One of the oldest PC building simulator games dating way back to 1989. The first game in the series spawning multiple releases leading up almost 30 years later. SimCity has become such a popular and influential franchise for fans of the simulation games.
You'll set off by building your own city, managing construction of buildings, gathering resources and providing local transportation throughout the city. You can choose from a variety of different land options and deal with different weather circumstances. You'll have to consider natural disasters that come your way and make decisions to keep the town up and running.
Later releases of this popular Sim based game are SimCity 2000, SimCity 4, and SimCity (2013). SimCity is also featured as a release on the SNES and is one of the more underrated games on the console.
The naming convention of Cities XXL makes for a t-shirt sizing system. The sequel to the Cities XL game released in 2009 by defunct Monte Cristo. Focus home interactive re-released the game cities XXL in 2015 which added new maps, features but is otherwise the same game as Cities XL.
Urban planning, zoning, crime rates, statistics and all of the gameplay you've learned to love in SimCity. The graphics engine has aged slightly since being released in 2009.
There were some graphical issues even on the most high end computers but since then has been corrected with the use of patches. A lot of effort was put into making Cities XXL a good title, it just took a long time to get the game to a useable state. We think there are better choices on this list of the best city building games.
The game about beavers is what Timberborn is all about. Instead of making schools, stadiums and nuclear powerplants, the objective in Timberborn is well having the ability to direct these rodents around to pick up materials and do their best to build houses and dam's to travel around to.
Water is the chosen area of travel for the beavers in Timberborn as you would expect. Released in late 2021, Timberborn offers a unique twist on the city building game aspect. Instead of people you're able to direct and control, you're left out in the wilderness at the realm of these furry creatures rummaging for food and resources to build their habitants.
This colony-building simulation game released in 2021 for PC on Steam and the Epic Games Store takes place in medieval times while you're tasked with managing a medieval settlement.
Throughout your journey you'll create buildings, obtain as many resources as possible and defend your civilization from ongoing threats. The Weather system is rather unique and give you the option to interact with a wide variety of characters with their own personalities and character traits.
If medieval sim games are up your alley, you're going to want to check out Going Medieval.
Songs Of Syx
When considering your options for colony sim games, look no further than one of the most brilliant, intuitive complex one in Songs Of Syx. The sheer thought of being able to manage your resident's lives is a joy to pick up on and listen in to each of their conversations.
This is a huge game like RimWorld with added pixelated graphics. You can manage over 10 000 units at once. This epic city-state simulator is a wonderful experience if you're looking for a larger city sim game to feast your eyes on.
If you're looking for a game you can join an online group of friends on the same tile based map at the same time, you're in luck with Kingdoms Reborn. Finding resources is the key to success and managing them correctly to put together a workable city with proper infrastructure and housing in a coop setting.
Kingdoms Reborn is one of those games where you'll make mistakes at first. Once you do, you'll learn from them and your city will be better off. It's one of those games like Banished that gives you updated graphics and gameplay design elements.
We love games made by small, independent studios and Ostriv fits the bill perfectly. Set along in the 18th century, you're set out to manage and build your settlement in an extremely realistic way.
Managing resources that come your way, trading, making wonderful use of agriculture and tackling the sheer most exciting of socialistic issues that come into your cursor.
We love every ounce of detail that's put forward in a game like Ostriv. We wish more city building games offered such a unique way to make use of the land either by planting crops or keeping livestock in order to survive.
You may have never heard of Oskar Stålberg considering he's most famously known for one other indie game on the Nintendo Switch by the name of Bad North, an indie roguelike game to get his feet wet into the industry. Enter the world of Townscraper, a minimalistic game where you can create rather complex structures with the click of a button.
The atmosphere is where Townscraper shines bright. The sense of styles and colors simply creates a mood where you're entirely calming. Put on some of your favorite lofi in the background and enjoy the smooth and pleasant experience.
Coming in strong on our list of the best city building games is Urban Empire. Developed and published by Reborn games, you take the role of a prime minister in a urban fiction city, managing aspects such as schooling, infrastructure and policies to ensure that the city is governed correctly.
This is where things get interesting in Urban Empire, instead of simply building roads, you're out there trying to win votes to stay in power as well as planning for being the favorable leader to reign supremacy among the citizens of the city.
A massive part city building part strategy game is what you'll be getting in this gem by the name of Valhalla Hills developed by Funatics Software. Set off in a fantasy world that's clearly inspired by Norse methodology, you'll be tasked by building and managing a fine settlement of Viking styled warriors who have been banished away to an island filled with hostility and has been deserted.
Along the way, you'll have to complete buildings, gather multiple resourcing types and train your team of Viking warriors in order to take out enemy troops such as dragons, trolls and other clearly dangerous creatures.
Known for its challenging gameplay and vastly mesmerizing gameplay. You'll owe it to yourself to submerse yourself in this wild experience Valhalla Hills has to offer.
While mainly known for its real time strategy elements, Anno 2070 also has some serious city building aspects to it that make it deserving of a spot on our list of the best city building games of all time.
This release comes to you by the publishers of Ubisoft, better known for their Far Cry or Assassins Creed games but under the surface Anno 2070 is quite the experience.
For starters, it's set off in the future of 2070 and you'll be faced where global warming has set off the tides to rise leading to the destruction of existing worlds and recreation of new cities and islands.
Managing resources, constructing massive buildings and developing a civilization while dealing with natural disasters and conflict between society is all in a day's work in Anno 2070.
If you're familiar with the wonderful work of Isaac Asimov series of science fiction novels, you'll immediately recognize the series name in Foundation. That's about all that is shared between the video game adaptation of the novel by the same name.
You're set out to rule a newly founded colony on an undiscovered world. You'll have to worry about the responsibilities of managing resources, building up a colony, and make the toughest of decisions that the entire civilization depends on in order to survive.
The multiplayer also makes for a fantastic experience. You can choose to either battle it out or facilitate in a coop mode as you build your colonies.
Another hybrid game that's part RPG and part simulation is Medieval Dynasty. Brought to you by Toplitz Productions in 2020 where you're set off in an European medieval world.
The feeling of sheer satisfaction while you build and manage your own world as the medieval warlord. Going through the gameplay while interacting with non playable characters during quests, engaging in melee combat while you're building structures and gathering resources never felt so exhilarating.
Along the way you can go through certain survival tasks such as hunting animals, farming crops or crafting items and weapons. With an extremely ever changing world that adapts while time passes along the four seasons affecting your core gameplay.
We had an absolute blast while playing Medieval Dyanasty and this game is well worth a spot on our list of the best city building games.
Set out in a post apocalyptic incredibly scenic world is where you'll explore the lands of Frostpunk. This city building survival game you'll be leading a group of saviors to survival.
The harsh cold and massive heat waves are your enemies here as you're forced to deal with the struggles of massive climate change as most of the planet has been decimated and only the strong has survived.
With the little resources that have been left, you're set out to try and salvage what remains. Keeping the city going will be no easy feat as you struggle to manage the population given the circumstances.
In the medieval era, Banished is where you'll lead your group of exiled rogues to a new location in the harsh effects of the wilderness in order to seek out food and shelter. You'll be set out to gather resources, put up structures and manage the population carefully in order to survive in this environment.
Think about Banished as a hybrid game part city builder and part survival game which is a really unique concept that blends the two genres to perfection. Considering you'll have to manage a variety of different traits that your townspeople will go through, whether you're dealing with the elderly, the sick or even death amongst your villagers. This reason alone you'll want to play one of the best city building games ever.
The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom
The Settlers franchise has always been a top name in the genre. The seventh revision of the game is the one to get that has perfected the real time strategy or RTS for the internet folk with city building elements. Ubisoft has delivered their best work here in The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom.
Setting you foot in order to manage a medieval kingdom where you'll look to construct buildings, locate and harvest valuable resources and train your army in order to expand and conquer enemy territories.
You can enjoy the single player campaign or team up in a multiplayer setting for up to four players. Settlers 7 received all kinds of positive reviews and for that alone it is worth taking a look into.
Aven Colony you main objective is to simply survive the alien planet of Aven. Throughout the process you'll face an anomaly of alien invasions fighting off their plagues, massive weather spikes and unknown species that you'll encounter as you try to make your nest in a space colony.
Continuing by building your human settlement you'll have to build hospitals, mining for precious resources and maintaining your realm. The exploration missions are icing on the cake in order to give you the feeling of progression throughout the missions.
With survival gameplay this good it's no wonder this hybrid game is worthy of a spot on our list of the best city building games.
The few games that will let you manage and build your settlements directly on Mars features Surviving Mars. You'll be able to explore and establish a human settlement on the red planet.
While maintaining challenges that come your way in terms of hazards and extremely limited resources that you'll find throughout your journey.
The atmosphere very reminiscent of Total Recall and the clear lack of oxygen is something you'll be constantly struggling with. Overall you will be filled with the ability to survive, if you choose to progress and ensure that the time is put in for success.
Believe us when we tell you this, Surviving Mars is a very difficult game to get the hang of. If you're not looking for something incredibly hard you may want to steer clear of this one.
An even better space themed simulation game is Planetbase. You're set off the build a colony on a far away planet. With up to four planets to choose from with varying difficulty and various conditions to meet with, you'll be coming back for more with plenty to do in Planetbase.
Not only is there a riveting single player campaign mode but also containing a sandbox mode that allows players to go through and modify their own planet without having to deal with the rules of the campaign.
From dealing with freezing temperatures to the massive weather storms on the Storm planet. You'll have your hands full with being able to survive and establisha colony in Planetbase.
In the wonderful world where you'll encounter both construction and management of resources of Tropico 6 comes in by none other than Limbic Entertainment. You'll be taking on the leader role or a small island in the tropics where you'll be tasked with managing the entire economy and political systems. You'll also have to make sure that the infrastructure is up to date and deal with other issues that'll come your way.
The gameplay in Tropico 6 is extremely complex, you'll be able to sink hundreds if not thousands of hours into the game without even breaking a sweat. Don't expect to play nice when staying in power, be prepared to bribe members of parliament, steal votes to rig the entire election or make sure to use an official order with use of force by the military.
Impression Games have been doing things in the video game industry since 1989 which is why you'll see it so high on our list of the best city building games. A late 90s release brought to you in 1998 before the times of Steam and Epic Games.
The best game they've ever published and released was Caesar 3 where you'll be taking on the role of a Roman emperor trying to take on improving the conditions of Rome while uncultivated pacts come your way and attack.
You'll be set out to manage the food supply, resources, entertainment and housing as the leader of ancient Rome. Make sure to act quickly as you'll deal with a series of missions while fighting fires, crime and even being invaded by baddies.
Even though the resolution and graphics aren't fantastic for today's standards, There's plenty of things to do in Caesar 3 to keep you hooked. Don't let the graphics fool you if you're used to 4K HD graphics with your fancy high end GPU. Caesar 3 runs on the modest of hardware running Windows.
You may have realised by the title that Pharaoh is a spin off of Caesar 3 with an Egyptian theme going for it. We actually felt like Impression Games pulled Pharaoh off better than they did with the Roman theme and picked this as our top choice by the company.
Taking on the quirks of managing an ancient Egyptian civilisation along with the immense culture you'll encounter along the way. You'll absolutely love everything about Pharaoh the moment you launch the game and will have a hard time putting it down.
Everyone is always looking for games like Cities Skylines but we don't understand the craze. Cities: Skylines does everything better than others, from the way you manage the city, build the various roads, transit destinations and make sure that the utilities are plugged in and delivering water to the community.
You'll also need to make sure that there are well defined businesses, managing tax money from the citizens and creating city boundaries are all things to consider when building a successful city.
The massive world is something you can really sink your teeth into. There's plenty of areas you can micromanage and the amount of sheer modifications you can install make for infinite time you can really put into the game. Cities Skylines is the definition of the best city building game of all time.
We hope you enjoyed our hand picked list of games. If you found this useful or wished that other options made the cut, feel free to let us know on Twitter.