The 15 Best City Building Games on PC, Ranked

Whether in a post-apocalyptic world or on an alien planet, these city building games on PC represent the best of the genre.
The 15 Best City Building Games on PC, Ranked

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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 be thrown off track by disasters, threats, and events that are beyond your control. But that's the fun of it!

If you're feeling up to the challenge, here are my picks for the best city building games on PC that let you lead your own metropolis.

15. Timberborn

Trailer for Timberborn

The world of man has ended—and now the greatest builders on the planet are beavers. Not just any beavers, but beavers that are now taking their lumberpunk technology to the next level.

Timberborn is a fun take on the city building game genre. By removing humans from the equation, it adds a dash of whimsy to the world while still providing all kinds of challenges for players.

Apart from the adorable beavers, the game itself plays similarly to the human-centric city building games you're used to: research wood-based technologies, design your cities for maximum efficiency, and take control of one of two competing factions within beaverkind.

Timberborn is still in Early Access as of this writing, so it has a lot of room to grow—but there's already plenty to sink your teeth into.

14. Factory Town

Trailer for Factory Town

Factory Town is a bright and colorful city building game that gently ramps up the difficulty as you play through it.

At the core of your city is a factory, which needs an input of raw materials to spit out finished products. For that, you'll need to take care of your workers and expand your empire to the wider world around you.

The environment beyond your city is procedurally generated, so you'll have to adjust your strategies and decisions depending on what resources you end up finding out there.

Eventually, you'll unlock magic-infused technology that can make your city even more efficient and let you grow your city even faster.

Wrapping your head around how the different technologies interact with each other is the key to success in Factory Town, and it's remarkably easy to lose track of many hours while you play.

13. Before We Leave

Trailer for Before We Leave

Before We Leave is an island-hopping city builder that lets you expand your growing trade empire across vast oceans. But it doesn't stop there! Eventually, you'll make it out to the stars above.

Each island has a random set of properties—such as weather, soil quality, and wildlife—so you need to ensure you're growing the right products on the right islands for best results.

Bringing a wide variety of new islands under your rule will help you build the diverse trade empire that you'll need to succeed.

And there isn't a lot of conflict in Before We Leave, which allows you to advance at a pace that works best for you. Without the burden of a ticking clock that threatens disaster or invasion, this city building game is more like a relaxing journey through the ages.

Indeed, Before We Leave is easily one of the most relaxing city building games you'll come across on PC.

12. Aven Colony

Trailer for 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.

11. The Colonists

Trailer for The Colonists

Not every city building game needs to be realistic. The Colonists allows you to plan a city that's inhabited by a group of robots that have escaped from Earth to find somewhere new to settle.

The graphics are decidedly more cartoonish than most of the other games on this list, but that doesn't stop The Colonists from being a fun and challenging gameplay experience.

As you advance through different technological ages, you'll be able to explore more of the world you've settled on. This, in turn, opens up new opportunities to expand your city into a full-blown empire.

There aren't many threats against your people in The Colonists, so you can build at your own pace without worrying about invading armies or potential disasters coming your way.

10. Frostpunk

Trailer for Frostpunk

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. Townscaper

Trailer for Townscaper

While most city building games limit your ability to expand your town by limiting your resources, Townscaper goes the other way and gives you the opportunity to run wild with your imagination.

In Townscaper, you can build whatever kind of settlement you want—from humble hamlet to sprawling urban city—using the colorful blocks at your disposal. It feels more like a digital LEGO set than a resource management sim game (as most city building games are).

If you're the kind of person who finds more joy in designing your Sim's home than living out their life, then you'll like Townscaper. In flexing your creative muscles, you'll find it oddly therapeutic and relaxing to get the pieces of your city to sit together just right.

8. Medieval Dynasty

Trailer for Medieval Dynasty

City building games usually cast players in the role of an overlord who looks down from on high and surveys their sprawling empire. Medieval Dynasty slips away from this.

In this game, you play as a local who moves to a lush valley in pursuit of fortune and glory. Your village begins small but grows each year as you research new technology and invite more people to join you.

Medieval Dynasty also has survival elements, so you'll need to build traps, craft weapons, and stock up on food for the harsh winters ahead. It might seem weird for city building to meet survival, but Medieval Dynasty makes it work surprisingly well.

And even if your original villager dies, the story continues—as long as you have an heir to carry on your legacy.

7. Dawn of Man

Trailer for 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.

6. Cliff Empire

Trailer for 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.

5. Islanders

Trailer for Islanders

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.

4. Factorio

Trailer for Factorio

While you don't exactly build a city in Factorio, this game has many of the hallmarks of the city building genre: you start in an empty world, you have limited technology, and you're at risk of fierce monsters who could come and overrun your settlement.

In Factorio, you'll be mining resources from the procedurally generated world and processing them into new technologies like weapons, vehicles, and research facilities. Your aim is to escape the planet.

In all this, Factorio puts a unique twist on the city building formula while delivering an incredibly deep crafting system. Every level requires you to carefully balance your resources and make sure they're delivered to the right places in the right quantities.

Nearly all the processes in this game can be automated if you can figure out the best way for things—and cracking that automation puzzle is where this game truly shines.

3. Surviving Mars

Trailer for Surviving Mars

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.

2. Cities: Skylines

Trailer for Cities: Skylines

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!

1. Tropico 6

Trailer for Tropico 6

In Tropico 6, you play as a dictator who's ironically called El Presidente. Unlike the other games in the series, in this one you rule multiple islands that make up a tropical archipelago.

As you build up your islands through the Colonial Era, World War Era, Cold War Era, and Modern Era, you'll have to keep the islands' inhabitants on your side as you impose taxes and restrictions while trying to grow and expand to the best of your capabilities.