The Best City Building Games: Boss Builders

Best City Building Games

There aren’t many games that include themselves in the city builder genre. It’s a simple premise: you take on the role of planner, and mayor of a city. You look down upon your creation from above, and you are entirely responsible for its growth and management. City building games are exceptionally time consuming, and each game can go on forever—or at least until the city you are working on gets stale and you make a new one for different challenges.

Despite originally established in 1989 with the release of Will Wright’s SimCity, city builders haven’t had all that many releases in their 24 years of existence. In addition, they aren’t all that similar to each other in gameplay style.

Because it’s a genre full of duds and great titles are few and far between, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best city building video games. Likewise, we’ve included some bonus titles at the end.

#15 Planetbase
  • Developer: Madruga Works
  • Publisher: Madruga Works
  • Platforms: PC, XBO
  • Release: October 2015

In Planetbase, players guide a group of space settlers in an attempt to establish a base on a remote and uninhabitable planet that doesn’t look too different from Mars. Grow food, collect and mine resource, survive disasters, and build a sufficient colony in an environment unfit for human habitation. It’s basically The Martian in the form of a city building sim.

#14 Anno 2070
  • Developer: Related Designs, Blue Byte
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Platforms: PC
  • Release: November 2011

Anno 2070 is a lot like previous games in the series, including Dawn of Discovery, but with the crucial difference in that it’s set in the future. The game plays upon the looming catastrophe of the sea level rise and the melting polar ice caps, as humanity continues to grow and expand well beyond sustainable levels.

It’s your job as a manager to build a sustainable island city while currying favor with each of the game’s three factions—industrialists, environmentalists, and technologists. In return for your support, each faction provides you access with unique technologies and advancements for your city.

In addition to the game’s single player campaign and freeplay modes, Anno 2070 comes with an online component which adds weekly challenges for players and a live voting system for passive bonuses to your city, which can change the dynamic of how you build, and manage your city.

#13 Anno 2205
  • Developer: Blue Byte Mainz
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Platforms: PC
  • Release: November 2015

Set in the distant future, Anno 2205 brings the long-running Anno series of games all the way to the Moon. At first, you “conquer” all of Earth, building large, bustling technologically-driven cities and grand industrial complexes before you run out of space and travel to the stars.

#12 Cities in Motion 2
  • Developer: Colossal Order
  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Platforms: PC
  • Release: April 2013

Cities in Motion 2 is a follow up to Colossal Order’s Cities in Motion. The particular video game series has a focus on public transportation where players must create efficient routes and systems within different cities around the world.

Depending on how well you are able to craft a decent transportation system will determine the impact of your city growth. Likewise, there are cooperative and competitive game modes to enjoy the city building and management titles with friends.

#11  Banished
  • Developer: Shining Rock Software
  • Publisher: Shining Rock Software
  • Platforms: PC
  • Release: February 2014

Banished is an interesting title as it’s not a typical city builder. Instead of the common day cities or futuristic worlds, Banished follows an outcast group of citizens who must live in a remote community. This small group will rely on players carefully managing the various resources for their survival.

Starting from scratch, gamers can build up their community into a thriving city which can be maintained from the birth of children to accepting wandering citizens out in the world. Speaking of citizens, in Banished, as players grow their cities, citizens will age and eventually die which results as citizens being a precious resource to account for.