Top city builders.
Top city builders.

There is something strangely comforting in lining up buildings and grand monuments to breathe life into a virtual dream city. Giving free rein to all the urban planners out there, city-building is the go-to genre to get creative. And PC is a city builder galore. From retro titles with a historical flair to sci-fi survival sims, some lean heavily on complex management simulation, while others favor a casual approach. So, care to put together the greatest city ever? Get started with the best city builders on PC.

Anno 1800

The Anno franchise has long been a staple of the city-building genre. The latest addition to the series, Anno 1800 takes players to the dawn of the industrial revolution. Starting in the Old World, players establish settlements to grow their population across several tiers of citizens. Each tier unlocks new demands and ever-so-sophisticated needs, leaving you to sustain an increasingly challenging supply chain requiring more workforce and raw or manufactured products.

Anno 1800 also plays out on the colonial trade for you to expand into a Latin American-inspired New World. Several packs and DLCs introduced yet more territories to explore, from a ruthless Arctic session to an East African-themed map. But while optimization is key, you may as well choose the beautification route and dot your cities with Victorian monuments and cosmetic decorations.

Farthest Frontier

Though still in early access, Farthest Frontier does a great job of rejuvenating the city-building experience. This spiritual successor to classic city builder Banished blends elements of survival sims with realistic mechanics. Overseeing the fate of a group of settlers, your task is to build a village from the ground up. And the game’s setting in the Middle Ages doesn’t play out for mere aesthetics, as actual historical realities get in the way of your colony’s flourishing.

Harvesting raw materials supports more construction, while hunters and anglers provide sustenance for the population. The title also has you navigate a highly-detailed farming system, accounting for seasonal changes and soil fertility, with the occasional drought and frost damage. Meanwhile, outside threats lurk as you fight for your village’s survival against predators and marauders. As for internal threats, dysentery and smallpox outbreaks might spread if you fail to provide adequate foodstuff and shelter. Thus, Farthest Frontier blends logistical conundrums with an authentic medieval feel.

Caesar III

Released in the late 90s, Caesar III stood the test of time to a tee. This cult classic proves just as fun for nostalgic fans as non-retro gamers. Acting as a provincial governor, you shall build impressive cities to spread the glory of the Eternal City. This Roman city builder involves as many options as managing supply chains, monitoring your city’s well-being, and ensuring its cultural radiance. Provided you repel enough barbarians and keep your empire prosperous, you may even be crowned the next Caesar.

This vintage gem of a city builder arguably influenced successors like Pharaoh and Builders of Greece. And the Roman theme remains prevalent in the gaming medium, from Rome: Total War to The Forgotten City. The all-powerful Caesars also made their mark on the iGaming industry with free slots such as PlayBro’s Age of Caesar. Top platforms boast more Roman-infused pokies, spotlighting heroic gladiators and fierce legionaries. With no need to deposit money, gamblers may test out an online casino’s catalog risk-free. And mobile-optimized features even allow players to try their luck on the go.

Surviving Mars

If you dream of terraforming Mars, Surviving Mars is just the game. Based on actual Martian data, this city builder in outer space gets you to colonize the Red Planet. Your goal is no small feat, however, as you shall lead the way for the first functioning Martian colony in history. From picking the optimal location to building elaborate infrastructures, this sci-fi adventure takes you through the motions of a bona fide space survival mission.

Challenges are looming over your colony, including potential blackouts and resource shortages. But this strange planet also calls for exciting exploration, leaving many mysteries to uncover. And with a retro-futuristic look to boot, Surviving Mars deserves a prime spot on the list of most original city builders around. 

From historical tales to sci-fi journeys, the city-building genre offers more than meets the eye. We even left out some obvious contenders like Cities: Skylines and its amazingly detailed metropolises. And with several titles slated for release in the coming months, city builders are not going out of fashion soon.