You can’t construct a city in a day—not even a virtual city.
Most city-building games force you to think critically about your finances, building placements, and city-dweller satisfaction.
To make things even more challenging, the balance in your virtual city can quickly get thrown off track by disasters you can’t control.
If you’re feeling up to the challenge, check out these city-building games that let you lead your own metropolis.
1. Tropico 6
In Tropico 6, you play as a dictator who’s ironically called El Presidente. Unlike other games in the series, you’ll rule multiple islands that make up a tropical archipelago.
As you build up your islands throughout the Colonial era, World War era, Cold War era, and the Modern era, you’ll have to keep the islands’ inhabitants on your side.
Cities: Skylines tasks you with building and managing an entire city. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
In between perfecting your infrastructure, regulating traffic, and managing your essential resources, you’ll also have to deal with balancing your city’s economy.
If you’re into modding, you’ll also be happy to hear that Cities: Skylines encourages it!
Want to take your city-building expertise to another planet? Surviving Mars challenges you with creating functional colonies on the Red Planet.
Your highest priority is the survival of the colonists—that means supplying plenty of oxygen, gathering food and resources, and uncovering Mars’ secrets.
Islanders is a stress-free game that lets you build a city on beautiful, procedurally-generated islands. Instead of having to collect resources, Islanders gives you everything you need to get started.
Your inventory comes stocked with a set of buildings that you can drop on your island and earn points—after your city expands, you can graduate to another island and start all over again.
5. Cliff Empire
Cliff Empire takes place after a nuclear war leaves Earth’s surface inhabitable. Scientists have decided to relocate humans to the mountains, where they’ll live on snowcapped cliffs. As a part of the construction team, you’ll have to build and manage three cities located on different cliffs.
6. SimCity 4
SimCity 4 is a city-building classic. It came out in 2003, but it’s still one of the best games in its genre. After terraforming your plot of land, you can begin to build, design, and maintain your city.
The Deluxe version comes with the Rush Hour expansion pack, which gives you even more transportation resources.
7. Dawn of Man
Dawn of Man combines city-building with survival. That said, you’re not constructing a lavish city—you must help the ancient humans establish a simple settlement.
Give the settlement directions to hunt animals, gather supplies, discover new technologies, and more. As you play and expand your village, you’ll get to experience the timeline of humanity from the Stone Age to the Iron Age.
Frostpunk makes you the leader of New London, the last city on Earth. Since the world is covered in snow and ice, the inhabitants rely on steam-powered technology to stay warm.
Each decision you make, the structures you build, the laws you establish, and your ruling style all influence your city’s success.
9. Aven Colony
The planet Aven Prime is home to many diverse environments, making it perfect for humanity’s first colony.
As the leader of the new society, you’ll have to build a city from the ground up, all while dealing with low oxygen levels, alien creatures, electrical storms, and a host of other problems that come along with colonizing an alien planet.
Lead Your Own City… or Farm?
Not only are city-building games satisfying to play, but they’re also highly addicting. After all, why wouldn’t you want the power to control your own city? When you get tired of city life, spend some time in the countryside with these great farming video games.