City life isn't always a walk in the park (unless you're actually walking through a park, that is). It's noisy, crowded, and commutes can be frustrating. If only there was a way to design the perfect city to end all your urban woes...
Luckily, game designers feel your pain and for years they have provided us with an outlet to play God and construct our very own utopias. Why brave the real streets when you can just build your own to go anywhere your heart desires? We've constructed our very own list of the Top 10 City Building Games of All Time so you can find the best way to create a world all your own.
The SimCity franchise has been around a long time. The first entry in the series dates back almost 30 years. It is essentially the grandfather of all city-building games and paved the way (no pun intended) for many games to come. These titles are still relevant in the gaming sphere, extending from PC and consoles to find a new home on mobile devices. It may not be the most innovative title on this list, but the formula they created is still solid today and definitely worth your time. Check out the latest entry, SimCity: Buildit, on your favorite mobile device for free.
9 Valhalla Hills
If your greatest goal in life is to gain favor with a Nordic God and earn your place in Valhalla, have we got a game for you! Valhalla Hills is a throwback to the popular Settlers games in which players will build settlements in an attempt to earn favor with Odin. If you're looking for a more laid back city-building experience, this is one we highly recommend. The colorful, cartoonish art style is appealing and there is less of a focus on combat than some of our other titles. You will need to fight for resources with the local Dwarven population and there are some monsters to contend with, but for the most part, you can focus on expanding your Nordic empire.
8 Urban Empire
Urban Empire is a city-building sim that takes a slightly different approach. Rather than focusing on the building aspect, Urban Empire tasks you with furthering your civilization through diplomacy. You spend the bulk of your time competing for votes and favor among your citizen. You will build relationships as frequently as you destroy them, all the while researching ways to improve life in your empire. This entry is for players keen to witness the unraveling of a "historical family drama" rather than participate in a true strategy game.
7 Surviving Mars
If space colonies are more your thing, Surviving Mars is a great option to feed the explorer in you. You will begin your journey on Mars, which is currently a barren wasteland. Luckily, the game provides all the tools required to make it habitable. This title is not for the faint of heart, however. You will be battling the deadly atmosphere, lack of oxygen, and infertile land, making your job all the more difficult. After you've established a livable settlement, you will start attracting humans to your colony. It is now your job to ensure their survival and trust us, it's not easy. Get ready to micro-manage!
6 Aven Colony
In Aven Colony, players will face a barrage of alien abnormalities as they try to establish their otherworldly civilizations. Alien plagues, extreme weather, and hostile species await you as you attempt to carve out your own little corner of space. Your job as overseer is to ensure the survival of your citizens. This involves mining minerals for resources, building hospitals, and maintaining order. Once your city is stable, the game then introduces bigger goals to entice you further. This may include large-scale military operations or exploration missions.
5 Planet Base
Continuing with our space theme, we have Madruga Works' Planet Base. All the usual suspects are here: base building, resource management, and citizen satisfaction. Where Planet Base sets itself apart is its varying types of planets. The game allows you to choose between 4 different planets, each with increasing difficulty and different environmental hazards to contend with. For instance, the frozen planet will pit you against sub-zero temperatures, while the Storm Planet will hit you with a deluge of storm effects. It is up to you to keep your pioneers alive long enough to create a stable and liveable colony.
Frostpunk, as the title suggests, focuses on the importance of warmth and surviving the harsh cold. In an alternate version of history, humanity has been defeated by climate change and been forced to contend with extreme cold that has decimated most of the planet. The tale is grim, to be sure. As the leader of humanity's last hope, you must use what little resources are left to try and construct a haven to keep the dwindling population alive. Frostpunk is not for the weak-willed and will challenge you both technically and morally. As the story unfolds you will be faced with difficult choices that will ultimately change the world around you. The level of depth and storytelling in Frostpunk is rarely seen in this genre.
3 Anno 2070
Few games are as addictive in nature as Anno 2070. The game intrigues players by using the 'carrot-on-a-stick' method that rewards you consistently the more you play. Set in the not-so-distant future, Anno 2070 provides players the opportunity to reshape civilization after disasters have decimated much of the planet (we're sensing a common theme). There is a little something for everyone here: large-scale economies to manage, warfare among other factions, and deep gameplay. No seriously, you can build a city underwater! Embrace the future and build a new world.
2 Tropico 5
Tropico is a far lighter take on the city-building genre than our last few entries. That is to say, it is far more comedic in nature. The gameplay here is still complex enough to keep you busy for hours on end. In Tropico 5, you begin as a governor in the Victorian era, with aspirations to become "El Presidente" of your ever-evolving island nation. You will lead the inhabitants of your tropical paradise through the ages while trying to hold your seat in office. You must do whatever it takes to maintain your power, whether it's rigging elections, bribing officials, or flexing your military muscle. Politics will play a huge part in this game so get ready to get dirty.
1 Cities: Skylines
The draw of Cities Skylines, compared to similar games in the genre, is the sheer scope and scale of what this game offers. You will not have to contend with earth-shattering disasters or warring factions here. Instead, players will focus on building a grandiose city with a life of its own. The level of micromanagement here is staggering. Designing a fully functioning city means managing taxes, establishing businesses, exploiting resources, and of course, it all has to function. Building roads, transit systems, creating city zones, laying water pipes, and more await you in this intricate city-sim. By the time your city is "complete," you will have a sprawling metropolis with a population that lives, works, and functions much like a real-world counterpart. There is truly no other city building game that exists with this level of detail.