The 15 best city building games to play today

Best city builder games - Cities Skylines
(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

The best city building games give you the ultimate experience in urban planning. Whether you're waiting patiently for Cities: Skylines 2 or just really want to expand your building sim repertoire, all the titles on this list offer rich, in-depth management systems that put your strategy and tactics to the test. From medieval metropolises to wholesome family communities, there's really something for everyone to tap into in the sandbox world of building simulators.

Below, we've put together a list of the best city building games you can play right now, no matter your platform of choice. A few of these even cross over with our picks of the best strategy games, giving you a whole other area to get invested in as you watch your creations thrive under challenging conditions, but that's another list for another time.

Recent updates

Our collection of the 15 best city-building games was updated on October 5. We didn't need to add or remove anything, but we've made sure that all the information in this list is still accurate.

15. Pocket City

Pocket City

(Image credit: Code Brew)

Developer: Codebrew Games
Platforms: iOS, Android

If you're after a city building fix on mobile, Pocket City is one of the most enjoyable  city builders on iOS and Android and it successfully makes the genre feel right at home on touch screens. Wrapped up in a delightful art style, you can design and build your very own city from a little town to a busy metropolis with the swipe of your finger. 

The little city builder is formed of two main modes: one lets you unlock buildings gradually by completing quests and objectives which adds a nice rewarding sense of progression to the development of your city, or you can play in a sandbox mode where all the buildings are open to you, so you can just spend your time crafting the perfect city and watch it flourish. For a mobile title, this city-builder is impressively detailed and won’t push any in-app purchases on you, so you can build the little city of your dreams without any limitations. 

14. Aven Colony

Aven Colony

(Image credit: Team17)

Developer: Mothership Entertainment
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 , PS5, PC

Home is where you make it, and it just so happens that home for you is now an alien world. Seriously, if you thought moving to a new house or a new country was difficult, just imagine moving planets. Aven Colony is another city builder set in space that sees you try to colonize an alien planet with the aim of successfully settling in and expanding. But of course, not all planets are like Earth. The alien world you’ve found yourself in doesn’t have much oxygen and wild electrical storms fill the skies while toxic gas erupts from vents in the planet’s surface. Doesn’t sound too homely, does it? Therein lies the challenge, though. 

The world has an array of biomes dotted around the surface for you to explore and settle in and some are more habitable than others. The wetlands, for example, will give you a solid water source for your colony, whereas the desert lands won’t have much to offer at all. You start off as the governor of the colony and as you manage the welfare and development of your settlement, you can eventually rise up in ranks to the president. Topped off with lots of secrets to uncover and plenty of room to explore the strange new world, there’s plenty to do and see as you establish a comfy colony for your people. 

13. The Colonists

The Colonists

(Image credit: Mode7)

Developer: Codebyte
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 , PS5, PC, Nintendo Switch

If you’re after a relaxing experience that also has a cute factor, The Colonists is a pleasantly paced city-builder with adorable little robot inhabitants. As the one in charge, you control a group of robots who have escaped from Earth in search of a new home out in the galaxy. Your little Wall-E like robo friends all have the same sole dream - to be human. Since they’re robots that’s not exactly possible, but you can create a colony that resembles a human settlement and nurture them as if they were actually people. Aww. 

Drawing inspiration from the Settlers and Anno series, The Colonists sees you harvest resources (because the robots want to be human, so they need to eat and drink of course), set up farms, research new technologies, advance through different ages, and explore the mysterious lands you settled on. Building up your colony still requires some strategy, with roads, transport systems and different infrastructures to place and create, but its gentle pace and lack of threat makes for a rewarding, chilled out time-stealer.  

12. Tropico 6

Tropico 6

(Image credit: Kalypso Media)

Developer: Limbic Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4 , PS5 PC, Nintendo Switch

Ever wanted to build and rule your very own island paradise? El Presidente returns once again and it’s your job to fill their shoes as the tyrannical dictator or the peaceful ruler you were always born to be. Shifting its focus onto the political side of affairs, Tropico 6 introduces a new research tree that enhances your political strategies so you be the best dictator the tropical world has ever seen. Instead of just one island, you now build up and manage multiple cities spread across several large islands that all have different challenges to overcome and conquer. 

Constructing transport systems and bridges to connect your islands is a must if you want to build up your burgeoning empire. And a big part of being a good leader is giving grandiose speeches to your citizens and giving them lots of empty promises to keep them in the palm of your hand, right? Well, maybe you’re not a good leader, but you can give a good election speech and that’s got to count for something. Oh, and don’t forget you can customize your very own palace - it’s one of the perks of the job, after all.  

11. Factory Town

Factory Town

(Image credit: Erik Asmussen)

Developer: Erik Asmussen
Platforms: PC

After being in early access before the launch in 2021, this little indie number sees you transform a colourful 3D terrain into a well-oiled factory town, decked out with conveyor belts and chutes to process all the resources the landscapes have to offer you. You start out with a few workers and a single building, but after collecting minerals and crops around the procedurally generated area, you can work to transform your little lone building into a money-making hub of activity. 

Researching will unlock all kinds of machinery to take some of the work out of processing resources and help your production chains flourish. Oh, and there’s also magic. You can also unlock magic-powered machines to make it all run like clockwork.  The delightful city-building sim is an interesting take on the genre that'll whittle your hours away without you even realising it. 

10. Townscaper


(Image credit: Oskar Stålberg)

Developer: Oskar Stålberg
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android 

Townscaper from developer Oskar Stålberg is a delightfully vibrant city builder that really lets your creativity flourish. As a sandbox-style game in the genre, you have the freedom to build up your own little towns, cities, hamlets, and more. In fact, you can even make your very own city up high in the sky if you want to. Built block by block with different colors to choose from, it's incredibly satisfying to see the blocks form into buildings and expand into your very own miniature city or construction.  

In Townscaper it really is all about the building, so if you're looking to scratch that particular itch, you can't go wrong with this wonderful indie number. With plenty of tools to create vast structures or quaint little towns with colorful houses, bridges, harbors, and more,  you can marvel at your own creations and fall into the relaxing flow of bringing your designs to life. 

9. The Wandering Village

The Wandering Village

(Image credit: Stray Fawn Studio)

Developer: Stray Fawn
Platform(s): PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One

Another Early Access title, but The Wandering Village is putting it own spin on a city builder by asking you to create your town on the back of a massive, six-legged beast called Onbu. As it walks along you'll have to feed it, guide it, and also recognize when it needs a rest, all while building your own empire on top of it. The city building itself isn't going to reinvent the wheel, but it's the combination of how the building works with Onbu where this game really shines. 

8. Dorfromantik

A peaceful scene in the hexagonal city builder, Dorfromantik

(Image credit: Toukana Interactive)

Developer: Toukana Interactive
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch

Dorfromantik is part city-builder, part puzzle game, and 100% chill vibes. It's one of the best relaxing games, as you get a stack of hexagonal tiles, each of which has elements of civilization on it. Homes, forests, fields, waterways, and train tracks are your staples at first, but later you'll unlock deer, ruins, and other additional tiles to add visual interest to your creations. There's a matching puzzle to how you build, with tasks popping up that ask you to connect certain amounts of any element together, like 300+ trees in a single forest or exactly 25 fields, so there's a wonderful blend of puzzling and pure aesthetics. It's never taxing, but it's easy to get drawn into its beautifully peaceful world and lose an hour or two to trying to best your top score. 

7. Before We Leave

Before We Leave

(Image credit: Team17)

Developer: Balancing Monkey Games
Platform(s): PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One

Before We Leave is a little bit like Anno 1800 lite. It's all about establishing colonies on islands and then working to expand your empire to new areas, and eventually new planets too. Each island has unique properties, like weather and soil quality, so your priorities are always establishing good trade routes between them all to ensure every Peep in your empire has access to the things they need to be happy and healthy. It's non-violent too, so it's just a case of enjoying watching your world grow.

6. Surviving Mars

Surviving Mars

(Image credit: Paradox)

Developer: Haemimont Games
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, PC, Mac

Space: the final frontier. Mars has always been the go-to spot when it comes to imaging where the next homeworld would be when, god forbid, Earth meets with its untimely demise. But the hostile world isn’t exactly human-friendly. With no oxygen, cold temperatures, and barren landscapes, settling down there and calling it home presents its own unique challenges. And that’s exactly what you have to try and achieve in Surviving Mars. Taking up residence on the dusty red planet, you work to set up a sustainable colony, and - in case the name wasn’t a dead giveaway - work to ensure it survives. 

By exploring the unknown terrains of the alien planet with drones and investing in research and development, you can improve your chances of surviving the harsh environment. Every colonist also has a unique personality with their own strengths and weakness, which can add to your problems or improve them. The retro-futuristic vibes of the domes you build make Mars look more stylish than it’s ever been before, and with some careful planning, you can create a prospering colony that will continue to spread across the alien world. 

5. Timberborn


(Image credit: Mechanistry)

Developer: Mechanistry
Platform(s): PC

What if there was a city builder where you play as beavers? Well, if that sounds amazing, then you need to check out Timberborn. With the humans long gone, it's the beavers' time to shine and see if they can carve out a better existence for themselves. With droughts ever present in the valley, water conservation is a constant challenge, so you've got to plan ahead to ensure you can continue to provide for your population in times of scarcity. There's farming to be done, vertical cities to be built, and technology to advance. It's all thematically adorable, and there are even two different factions to play - the nature-friendly Folktails or the industrious Iron Teeth. Each one has its unique style, buildings, and even gameplay tweaks, so there's a lot of game to enjoy here - even if it's still in Early Access. 

4. Frostpunk


(Image credit: 11 Bit Studios)

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Platform(s): Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, PC

You’re the ruler of the last city on Earth in a post-apocalyptic world stuck in an everlasting winter. Yeah, no pressure. As you can imagine this role is no walk in the park. Frostpunk mixes up the genre by bringing in a survival element that will push your management skills to the limit. With the threat of extinction at your door, every decision you make could mean life or death for the citizens of your city. The snowy landscapes present you with plenty of challenges, but it also means heating will be your number one priority. 

Maintaining and managing the temperature is vital, but that’s just one of the many things you’ll have to manage to keep everyone alive. Starting out with simple shelters, you’ll build your way up to an impressive city powered by steam, with technology trees to advance and development to invest in to improve your settlement and their chances of survival. At the heart of 11-bit studios' unrelenting survival city-builder lies a campaign peppered with choice. You can decide how to govern your people by choosing different paths, setting laws, and managing the routines of their day-to-day lives. It’s all left up to you. 

3. Farthest Frontier

Farthest Frontier

(Image credit: Crate Entertainment)

Developer: Crate Entertainment
Platform(s): PC

Farthest Frontier is excellent at capturing what it could have been like to be a pioneer, even though it's in Early Access right now. It's a Medieval city builder that has the potential to surprise you. It's really tethered to history, which is really interesting, and makes everything you do have a pang of authenticity about it. Food, for example, spoils so you've got to decide what to harvest - and more importantly when. Its farming systems are also really, really detailed so prepare yourself to start thinking like a Medieval person fast. It's a lot to manage, but the overall effect is seriously cool, particularly when it starts to impact the look and feel of your settlement. 

2. Anno 1800

Anno 1800

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Developer: Blue Byte
Platforms: PC

It’s the dawn of a pivotal new era and you’re about to build a city that will thrive or fall as technology continues to change and advance. Will you change along with it? Or will you crumble under the pressure? Anno 1800 plants you at the start of the Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 19th century, and demands that you craft and maintain a city built on the innovation of your research and technological advancement. 

Building trade routes and going out on expeditions to further your research and uncover useful resources will help your newly established metropolis prosper. But as your city grows, you’ll have to deal with more problems, like competing rulers, civil strife, and political warfare to name a few. Whether you’re diplomatic or a bit of a tyrant, you can experiment with different playstyles as you seek your fame and fortune in the industrious age. 

1. Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Developer: Colossal Order
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, PC

Calling all aspiring mayors - Cities: Skylines wants you to build the next best city. Yes, as the new mayor in town, you construct the city from the ground up, managing every aspect of its realistic economy, to its roadworks and healthcare. As fun as it is challenging, Skylines has so much depth and detail, you’ll find that mastering everything is a bit of a juggling act, but once you do you’ll truly feel like a management expert. 

There’s nothing quite like transforming empty green fields of land into a flourishing megalopolis that every virtual citizen wants to call home. Facing the elements with natural disasters, pollution, day and night cycles, traffic accidents, and pretty much anything else you can imagine, you’ll be tested in plenty of different ways. A whole line-up of DLCs are also on offer to take your city building escapades to new heights by introducing other transit systems, alternative designs and looks, new weather conditions, and so much more. The hustle and bustle of the city will certainly keep you busy. 

For more, why not check out our pick of the best crafting games, best sim games, and the best classic PC games

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good. 

With contributions from