Fun City-Building Games for the PC

Construct and manage your own city

Screenshot of the Cities: Skylines building game
Cities: Skylines. Screenshot

With just a computer, you can build your own virtual city that follows a unique storyline. The best building games put you in charge of manufacturing a city and maintaining all that goes on within it. Here is a list of the 10 best city-building games for the PC.

Note: These PC city-building games should work fine on most computers but check the system requirements for any particular game before purchasing it. Some of them might work best with a gaming PC that comes with more RAM and CPU power to render the graphics and provide smooth gameplay.

01
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Screenshot of the Banished city building game
Banished. Shining Rock Software LLC

"Banished" is a unique type of city-building simulation game. Rather than planning and building potential megacities, players control a small group of banished travelers who start a new settlement.

At the start of the game, all that the citizens of "Banished" have are the clothes they are wearing and some basic supplies with which they start their new settlement.

The citizens are the primary resources players work with. Players assign each citizen a task such as serving as a fisherman to collect food for the growing population or as a builder who constructs houses, schools, and blacksmith shops to support the citizens in their daily lives.

As the game proceeds, the settlement gains new citizens from wandering travelers, nomads, and the birth of children. It also loses citizens and workers from death and aging.

Screenshot of the Urban Empire city building game
Urban Empire. Kalypso Media

In "Urban Empire," you play as a city mayor from one of four ruling families. This 2017 release from Kalypso Media combines city management with political struggles and world-changing events.

Gameplay requires you to prove your skills against opposing parties while guiding your city through technological and ideological advancements. The game begins in the early 1800s and progresses through five eras, each with opportunities and challenges the players must master. 

"Urban Empire" is a new type of game that combines city-building with political intrigue. You can look forward to plenty of backstabbing and bickering. It isn't a city builder in the classical sense. Instead of just plopping down a few buildings, you have to run just about everything by the city council.

Screenshot of the Prison Architect game
Prison Architect. Introversion Software Ltd.

"Prison Architect" gives players a chance to build their own maximum security prison.

You direct your workers to lay the brick on your first cell block before the prisoners arrive. You are responsible for building an infirmary, canteen, and guard room. You decide if you need an execution chamber or solitary confinement cells.

After you build everything to your satisfaction and stock the prison with guard dogs, you can choose to play as an escaping prisoner—maybe start a riot and dig a tunnel during the chaos or go for the armory and shoot your way out. You'll need to figure out how to escape from your own creation.

Screenshot of the Constructor HD city building game
Constructor HD. System 3 Software Limited

"Constructor HD" is a 2017 high-definition remake of 1997's Constructor estate-building strategy game. You play as a property tycoon who builds an empire while sabotaging your rivals.

You must deal with maintenance problems, hippies, serial killers, thugs, killer clowns, and all sorts of shoddy workers. Despite these problems, the game has its funny moments.

The developers emulated the feel of the original game in this HD remake.

Although a lot of players enjoy the nostalgia of the game, some early adopters experienced bugs that are typical of a game whose release date was delayed by months. Developer System 3 releases regular updates to clean up the playing experience. 

Screenshot of the Planetbase city building game
Planetbase. Madruga Works

"Planetbase" is an indie game that is part strategy, part city construction and management. In the game, players manage a group of space settlers who are trying to build a colony on a distant planet.

As manager of the settlers, players instruct the colonists to build various buildings and structures that will hopefully become a self-sufficient environment where they can live, work, and survive.

In addition to building structures, colonists collect energy, water, metal, and food, with the three primary needs being water, food, and oxygen.

During gameplay, the colonists are faced with potential disasters such as meteor impacts, sandstorms, and solar flares. They create bots that assist with the more tedious and difficult tasks of living on a remote planet.

Screenshot of the Cities: Skylines game
Cities: Skylines. Paradox Interactive

"Cities: Skylines" is a city-building simulation game that was released in 2015 and developed by Colossal Order. The developer has released five expansion packs for use with the game.

Play in "Cities: Skylines" begins with an empty plot of land close to a highway exit and some money for players to use to start constructing and managing their new city.

Players have control of nearly every aspect of city management. They set up residential, commercial, and industrial zones and provide basic services for their growing populations. Services begin with basics such as water, electrical power, and sewage, but they can be expanded to offer perks and amenities that make your population happy.

"Cities: Skylines" gained overwhelming positive reviews from critics. The detailed and engaging game offers features such as the transport system, built-in scenarios, and a robust modding ability. 

To keep the players up-to-date and interested in the game, the following five expansion packs have been released for "Cities: Skylines":

  • "​Green Cities" (2017) adds the ability to use solar panel rooftops, electric cars, and other sustainable, green elements.
  • "​Mass Transit" (2017) adds cable cars, blimps, ferries, monorails, and more.
  • "​Natural Disasters" (2016) adds not only natural disasters but also services related to disaster response and recovery, which the user can implement in the city. It also includes in-game radio stations and a scenario editor.
  • "​Snowfall" (2016) adds winter and snow-based content, as well as a theme editor to create different worlds.
  • "​After Dark" (2015) introduces night to the game and adds additional buildings such as a casino and hotel.

There are also several DLC (downloadable content) packages that you can purchase for "Cities: Skylines," including "Concerts," "European Suburbia," "City Radio," "Tech Buildings," "Relaxation Station," and "Art Deco."

07
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Screenshot of the Anno 2205 city building game
Anno 2205. Blue Byte

"Anno 2205" is a sci-fi, futuristic city that puts players in control of mankind's colonization of the moon. It's the sixth game in the Anno series created by Blue Byte.

Players play the role of a corporate CEO who competes against other corporations in colonizing the moon, building megacities, and developing new technologies to help man flourish away from Earth.

Features in "Anno 2205" include city and construction management, which includes housing, infrastructure, and economic goods—all of which help grow your city and colony. In addition to managing cities on the moon, players also manage cities on Earth to establish trade routes between cities to share resources.

Cities in "Anno 2205" are much larger than in any of the previous five titles in the series.

Screenshot of the SimCity (2013) city building game
SimCity (2013). Electronic Arts

"SimCity (2013)" is a reboot of the popular SimCity series of city-building simulation games. It was released in 2013 and is the first game in the SimCity series since "SimCity 4."

The premise for "SimCity (2013)" is much the same as other city-building simulations. Players attempt to grow a city from a small town or village into a thriving metropolis. Like previous SimCity games and other city-building games, players zone tracts of land for residential, commercial, or industrial development. They create roads and transportation systems connecting areas of the city to one another.

Initially released as a massively multiplayer online game, "SimCity (2013)" was met with some criticism for bugs encountered upon release and its requirement of an always-online network connection to play and save data.

However, after its release, Maxis and Electronic Arts removed the always-online requirement and updated the game so that it now includes an offline single-player version as well as the multiplayer version. After the bugs and connection issues were resolved, the game was met with mostly positive reviews, but it has arguably lost its crown as the city-building simulation game that others try to emulate.

 

09
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Screenshot of the Tropico 5 city building game
Tropico 5. Kalypso Media

"Tropico 5" is the fifth installment in the Tropico series of city and construction management video games.

The setting and premise behind "Tropico 5" are the same as in previous games in the series. Players assume the role of El Presidente of a small tropical island. In that role, they manage the small nation through city-building, growth, diplomacy, and trade.

"Tropico 5" introduces a number of new gameplay features that help it stand apart from previous titles. It is the first Tropico game to feature a multiplayer mode, and it includes both a cooperative and competitive multiplayer mode for up to four players. It also includes eras that players manage their nation through—from the Colonial Era up to Modern Times—which takes their island nation into the 21st century.

"Tropico 5" has two full expansion packs, "Espionage" and "Waterborne," that add new missions and water-based structures.

Screenshot of the Cities in Motion 2 building game
Cities in Motion 2. Paradox Interactive

"Cities in Motion 2" is a city transportation simulation game developed by Colossal Order in 2013.

In "Cities in Motion 2," players manage a mass transit system that provides transportation between and within cities. Using transportation management, players influence how and where the cities in the game grow and change.

From middle-class housing to business districts, the transit system keeps areas alive and growing. It is up to the player to keep the wheels of the city turning.

Features in "Cities in Motion 2" include a day/night cycle, rush hour, and cooperative and competitive multiplayer game modes.

Among other downloadable content for "Cities in Motion 2" is ​"Metro Madness," which lets you put together customizable metro trains and change the timetable setup. The pack includes five new metro trains and the ability to situate metro depots underground.