Whether you are bored with the city-building title you are currently playing and looking for another one, or you are new to this gaming genre and want the best game to start with. Whatever is your situation, don’t worry, we have you covered.
In a typical city-building game, the player has to plan the entire city and is responsible for its development and growth. While several features vary game-to-game, the core play remains the same throughout — plan and build. Often, some of these games are considered construction and management simulation games.
Here, we have compiled a list of the best city-building games for all platforms that you can play in 2022.
Developer: Social Quantum
Megapolis is a popular mobile-based city-building strategy game featuring realistic graphics, a comprehensive economic structure, and tons of other city-building elements. You can start by building houses for your citizens, then shops, roads, factories, power stations, parks; the list goes on and on.
Moving on, you can take your city to the next level by building a railway network, airports, and seaports. A wide variety of ancient building choices are also available. But keep track of your finances.
14. Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom
Developer: BreakAway Games/ Impressions Games
Metacritic Score (PC): 77
Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom is the 6th installment of the ‘City Building’ series, which includes some of the earliest city-building titles such as the Caesar series and Pharaoh. It was released in 2002. Though it’s quite an old game, it still remains relevant in the city-building genre.
Unlike its predecessors, which are focused on Europe and Africa, Rise of the Middle Kingdom is set in an entirely new geographic region — China. The game spans roughly from 2030 BCE to 1240 CE, covering a vast period of ancient and Imperial China.
Your objective is to keep the city running. Take care of its economy provide food and other necessary goods to settlers. The level of food supply affects the number of citizens – more food means more settlers in the long run, which in turn means more taxes.
Since you will be serving under several ruling dynasties throughout the game, you may need to build various monuments and buildings according to their demands. Also, military and defense strategies play an important role here.
13. The Settlers IV
Platform: Windows, iOS, Android
Developer: Blue Byte
Metacritic Score (PC): 74
The Settlers IV is the pinnacle of the entire Settlers series. While it’s predominantly a real-time strategy game, many of its superb city-building features make it a viable option for genre lovers. There are two game modes, single-player and multiplayer, both of which start with the player having few tools and raw materials and some settlers.
The main objective is to build a thriving settlement with a strong economy and military, which will help you to fend off enemy attacks and conquer new territories.
The original game offers three playable civilizations/races; Romans, Vikings, and Mayans. Trojans are available with an expansion pack. All four races have their strengths and weakness and start with different ratios of raw materials.
This one is one of my personal favorites. Townsmen is an Android-based town-building strategy game set in medieval times. Here, your main objective is to transform a sluggish backwater town into a thriving city.
In order to do so, you must cater to the needs of your townsmen, which includes providing them with adequate food, water, and other necessary commodities. Build houses and farms to feed a growing population and marketplaces, taverns, jousting grounds to keep them happy. The game features a complex production and supply chain, which would give you a really hard time.
You also need to build guard towers and recruit soldiers to defend your town from raging bandits and endure reoccurring natural calamities. An unchecked sandbox mode is also available in case you want to hone your skills before starting a real round.
11. Prison Architect
Platform: Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
Metacritic Score (PC): 83
Although Prison Architect is not a typical city-building game, it has similar gameplay that is consistent throughout the genre. Here, instead of cities and towns, you construct and manage a prison for inmates.
The game allows you to be in charge of the entire prison. You will be responsible for building new facilities hiring guards and other officials. But beware, do not run out of cash as a negative bank balance and cash-flow for more than 24-hours (in-game time) will get you fired.
You also have to look out for riot breaks, deaths and escapes inside prison cells and other compartments. The game also allows you to micromanage along with tons of other features.
10. Zeus: Master of Olympus
Developer: Impression Games
Metacritic Score (PC): 87
Zeus: Master of Olympus allow players to build and develop cities in mythical Ancient Greece. It’s another masterpiece of the ‘City Building’ series (you’re going to see quite a few of them here). Even though the game was released more than two decades ago, it still remains ever so interesting and fun to play.
Like other games in this series, as a player, you are responsible for the well-being of the inhabitants of your city. In order to fulfill citizens’ demands, you need to set up farms, and fisheries locate mines for extracting marble and bronze.
You also have to take care of the military and religion. Religion or mythology plays a much more significant role in this game than any of its precursors.
9. SimCity 2000
Platform: macOS, Playstation, GameBoy Advance
Be warned! SimCity 2000 is one of the most unforgiving city-building games ever. A critical mistake, and you may never be able to recover from a budgetary deficit.
Like in most city buildings and management games, you are responsible for everything going on with the city, from creating food sources to building houses and industrial setups. SimCity 2000 include various advanced facilities such as museums, subways, marinas, and prison. Moreover, it has nine different types of power generation plants that you can utilize.
However, the most challenging aspect of the game is efficiently managing the finances.
8. Caesar III
Platform: Windows, macOS
Developer: Impressions Games
Caesar III is the third installment of the popular city-building game series, Caesar, in which you will take the role of a Roman governor. Your main objective is to build a city from the dust and keep all your citizens safe and happy at all costs while doing favors for the emperor.
The game has two modes; main campaign mode, in which you progress after completing a given set of goals, and Free build mode, where you don’t have to worry about any emperor or goals. However, invasion and attack threats are still there.
The game’s interface is quite simple: it has dedicated tabs for different aspects. The “Empire Map” feature can be used to fix trades with other Roman cities. A load of other features is also there, which will surely enhance your gameplay experience.
Developer: Impression Games
Pharaoh is similar to Caesar III in more than one way. It shares the same ideology and game physics. In simple words, the game takes the essence of Caesar III and changes the backdrop of ancient Rome to ancient Egypt. However, it features interesting new additions that eventually make it slightly better than Caesar III.
The gameplay is pretty straightforward. You need to attract more settlers in order to grow by giving them home, food and jobs. The game also emphasizes the strongly religious and entertainment aspects once your settlement gains a considerable amount of population.
Pharaoh challenges players with its complex production chain. Resource distribution further tests the level of management skills you possess.
6. Anno 2070
Developer: Related Designs/ Blue Byte
Metacritic Score (PC): 83
Anno 2070 is set in a futuristic timeline, where a dramatic rise in oceanic water levels is causing floods throughout the globe. As a result, countries and political boundaries as we know today are gone and what’s left is just chains of islands. The game is all about establishing, expanding, and improving your settlement on one such island.
There are two different factions in the game — Global Trust’s ‘Tycoons’ and Eden Initiative’s ‘Ecos.’ You have to choose one at the start of the gameplay. Depending on your choice, you’ll either be able to grow the colony rapidly during the initial phase or make a steady growth throughout the gameplay.
There is also a third (support) faction, the Techs, which become available for either of the two factions later in the game.
Anno 2070 is so detailed that it usually becomes more complicated as you progress.
Developer: Shining Rock Software
Metacritic Score (PC): 73
Banished is a unique city-building game that will test your resource management skills in the direst situations. Here you are in charge of a small group of exiled travelers who are now looking forward to building their community, having their own homes and a family.
You must take care of these citizens by keeping them well-fed and happy all the time in order to grow. It would be best if you assigned the population to do specific jobs such as fishing, farming, mining, teaching, etc.
The game also has no skill tree, which means any type of building can be constructed at any point in time, provided that workers already have all the needed resources. Instead of currency or money, a barter system is used for trading resources.
Overall, this is a fun game, especially if you like hardcore management games.
4. Anno 1404
Developer: Related Designs/ Blue Byte
Metacritic Score (PC): 82
Anno 1404 or Dawn of Discovery (in North America) is one of the most dynamic and popular city-building games out there. While the events in the game are purely fictional, they are inspired by real-life aspects of medieval Europe, including the renaissance, the Crusades, and the rise of early capitalism. It is a prequel to Anno 2070.
One of the most important aspects of the game is trade. Like other games in the Anno series, you must colonize new islands set up farms and factories to fulfill the various needs of your folks. However, your city might never grow after a certain level without an effective trade system in place.
Since they are both great games, the choice between Anno 1404 and Anno 2070 usually comes down to which setting you like. If its the modern or futuristic setting that you prefer, then you would rather enjoy Anno 2070.
3. Tropico 4 and Tropico 6
Platform: Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One/360
Developer: Haemimont Games
Metacritic Score (PC): 78
The Tropico series has become a fan favorite in the city-building genre over the years. Out of all Tropico titles, you would want to try Tropico 4 or, the most recent, Tropico 6
The gameplay of Tropico 4 focuses more on management rather than just the construction of the city. It also throws politics and different factions into the mix, which significantly affects how you proceed in the game. Here, you take the role of “El Presidente” (the President) of an island nation, tasked with managing various issues of the country. But you also have to look out for different factions that can end your rule.
Tropico 6 has improved gameplay, better graphics, and above all, better replayability.
2. SimCity 4
Platform: Windows, macOS
Metacritic Score (PC): 84
SimCity 4 is perhaps the most popular installment of the SimCity franchise. Like its precursors, SimCity 4 also project players as mayors, who are responsible for the development of the cities. However, cities are divided into regions, and each of the regions can be developed separately.
In order to be successful, players have to carefully manage finance and resource distribution for their citizens. For the first time, features like day and night cycles were added.
1. Cities: Skylines
Platform: Windows, macOS, Xbox One, PlayStation
Developer: Colossal Order
Metacritic Score (PC): 85
Cities: Skylines is perhaps the best city-building game you can get. It features a mixture of new and old elements that enhances the overall city building experience. Since its initial release in 2015, the game has become one of the fan favorites.
As a player, you will be in charge of your city’s public amenities, transportation, road placement, taxation, and almost every other responsibility. To succeed, you need to regulate the economic, social, and environmental state of the city.
Cities: Skylines is a modern take on the classic city simulation. The game introduces new gameplay elements to realize the thrill and hardships of creating and maintaining a real city whilst expanding on some well-established tropes of the city building experience.
Frequently Asked Question
What is the best free city-building game?
Some of the best free (and open-source) city-building games that you can enjoy are –
The Final Earth II
Are there any more games like SimCity?
The first title of SimCity was released in 1989, and since then, it has been a powerhouse in construction simulation and city-building genre. Sure, the franchise has seen many ups and downs, especially in recent years, but it is still among the fan favorites. If you’re looking for SimCity-like games, you can try —
Surviving Mars – If you think building cities on Earth, whether in a historical or futuristic setup, has somehow become tedious, try doing so on our planetary neighbor. Surviving Mars is all about establishing and sustaining a human colony on the planet Mars. The terrain map used in the gameplay is based on the real data from Red planet.
The game can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re in for the first time. It has a steep learning curve and insufficient guide on how to initially set up important aspects of your colony. Thus, it takes more time to get familiar with the gameplay mechanics as compared to other city-building games.
Frostpunk – 11 bit studios’ Frostpunk is another excellent city-building game you can play while taking a break from Simcity or Cities: Skyline. The game is set in a frozen post-apocalyptic world, where the player must lead the survivors to build a city using available resources.
While the game is not deep into design and planning aspects, it does provide an entertaining combination of survival and city-building experience. Frostpunk always keeps you on your toes as a single decision mistake can lead to a catastrophe.
Other Simcity-like games to consider are Cities XL and Aven Colony.
Will there be a Cities: Skylines 2?
Cities: Skyline is undoubtedly one of the most successful city-building games in recent years. And like any other widely popular simulation game, the avid Skyline fans are eagerly waiting for a sequel. Much to our disappointment, there is no official announcement regarding this issue as of yet (March 2022).
Furthermore, the most recent expansion pack of the game, ‘Airport,’ which allows players to now design their custom airports, is its first and only DLC in nearly two years. With all that being said, it won’t be appropriate to completely rule out any chances of the much-coveted sequel.
If Cities: Skyline 2 is going to be launched this year in 2022, the ideal moment for its announcement would be during the PDXCON Remixed, an annual event by Paradox Interactive. So, keep your finger crossed. There is an interesting Reddit thread on the game that you might want to check out.