Best City Building Games That Can Fulfill Your Urban Planning Fantasies

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City building games give you the opportunity to live out your dream of becoming an urban planner. City builders combine strategy, management, and simulation elements to create a unique, and oftentimes complex, subgenre that’s been quickly gaining popularity in recent years. Since it’s finally Summer and many people have more free time on their hands, we figured now would be the perfect opportunity to discuss some of these titles.

Similar to grand strategy games, city builders are notoriously time-consuming, to the point where you’ll end up spending countless hours simply trying to figure out all the gameplay mechanics. You shouldn’t let that discourage you from playing them, though, because there’s nothing more satisfying that building a sprawling megalopolis from scratch. Or a medieval village. Or a space colony. As you’ll see down below, city building games like to cover a wide variety of themes and time periods.

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We’re kicking things off with one of the most popular city builder games out there. And arguably one of the best. Often considered a spiritual successor to SimCity, the game that established the genre back in the late 80s, Cities: Skylines is the title that revived and set a new gold standard for city builders.

CITIES: SKYLINES (2015)

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The original SimCity received numerous sequels and spin-offs over the years, some better than others. While there’s still some debate over this, many people would agree that SimCity 4 remains the best entry in the series almost two decades later. If you can get it to run properly, that is. Like most games of that era, SimCity 4 struggles to run on a lot of modern systems.

SIMCITY 4 (2003)

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From modern urban landscapes we switch to one of the most interesting post-apocalyptic settings we’ve seen in quite a while. 11 bit studios’ Frostpunk puts you in charge of New London, the last city on Earth, and tasks you with making sure it survives the ongoing ice age. Under your brave leadership, the city can end up thriving even in this harsh world. Or you can end up being responsible for the end of the human race. No pressure.

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FROSTPUNK (2018)

These days a lot of people are eager to get off of this rock and start exploring other planets. The best candidate for that would be Mars, of course. But could human colonies even survive on the Red Planet? In the real world, who knows. But in Surviving Mars the answer is a definitive yes, provided you can get good at managing space colonies.

SURVIVING MARS (2018)

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One of the things that makes the Anno series so interesting is the fact that each installment takes place in a different era. After tackling the future with Anno 2070 and Anno 2205, developer Blue Byte decided to go back to a historical setting with their latest entry, Anno 1800. If you enjoy historical games this one should be right up your alley.

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ANNO 1800 (2019)

Speaking of city building series that have been around for ages, next up we have Tropico 6. Once again you take on the role of El Presidente, the leader of a fictional Caribbean banana republic who’s generally more of a dictator than a president. The series deals with some heavy topics like totalitarianism and nationalism.

TROPICO 6 (2019)

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