City building video games are a sort of management experience where players get to sit down, relax and maintain a large city. Tasked with constructing a thriving, bustling metropolis, they have to make sure that it flourishes in terms of revenue and the inhabitants’ lives.
Simulator video games, on the other hand, let users take on the role of a particular profession or real-life business, giving them the whole experience. In these titles, realism plays an integral part in the gameplay, which only works to increase their appeal.
These two genres tend to have a fan following, with both being somewhat of a leisure activity, compared to most other video games, letting gamers get on with the title at their own pace in their own time.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s opinions.
Five relaxing city builder video games
1) Aven Colony
This city-building strategy video game was developed by Mothership Entertainment and published by Team 17 on July 25, 2017. Set in a period where space travel is made possible, Aven Colony requires players to create a human colony in space and survive on an alien planet.
The title takes place on the planet of Aven Prime, where users are in charge of the new settlement to be built as well as the lives of the humans and resources found and used.
They will need to build buildings that serve different purposes, such as housing, oxygen production, food cultivation, etc. As the colony grows, more people will arrive to inhabit it.
The game features a day-night cycle, where temperatures drop to freezing levels during dark hours due to the planet’s atmosphere, while solar panels work at 50%. Harsh environmental conditions must also be prepared for, such as shard storms, dust devils, and toxic gas.
2) Tropico 6
Tropico 6 isn’t the average city-building video game, as it includes construction, management, and political elements. Developed by Limbic Entertainment and published by Kalypso Media, it was released for PCs in March 2019 and later for the PS4 and Xbox One in September.
A Nintendo Switch port was launched in November 2020, while the video game was made available on PS5 & Xbox Series X/S in March 2022.
Gamers play as “El Presidente,” taking over and ruling a select group of islands in an archipelago. The game’s historical setting can be changed to one of four possible periods: Colonial Era, World Wars Era, Cold War era, and the modern era.
Players can build cities across numerous small islands and connect them via bridges if they play in the World Wars Era or later. They can build on multiple islands simultaneously while ensuring that citizens’ demands are met, lest they be ousted in the next election, or worse, in a coup.
3) Cities: Skyline
Developed by Colossal Order and published by Paradox Interactive, this city-building video game was released in March 2015 for PCs and later on was ported to various other consoles. Cities: Skyline tasks users with urban planning as they set about to manage the area of land they are given control over to ensure its prosperity, longevity, and healthy living conditions.
Initially, gamers are given charge of a 2x2 kilometer area of land, which connects to a highway. Supplied with a handy sum of in-game money, they must proceed to add buildings and roads to encourage new people to move in and provide them with income via jobs.
Thus, with a steady cash flow, players can increase their city’s size and structure to accommodate more people, make it look better, and offer better work.
As the city grows beyond certain population tiers, they will unlock better and improved architecture, such as schools, fire stations, healthcare facilities, etc. Sections of the city can also be designated as districts by users, enforcing certain limitations on the type of development in particular areas.
4) Anno: 1800
A real-time strategy city-building video game, Anno: 1800 is set in a historical setting, i.e., the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. It was developed by Blue Byte and published by Ubisoft on April 16, 2019, for Microsoft Windows.
The title involves the traditional city-building experience, as well as ocean combat, while also introducing tourism and blueprinting to the series.
This city-building video game is set in the Old World. Along with the city’s architecture, gamers must maintain the needs of the citizens, workers, and artisans to manage production and supply lines. Trade routes need to be established with a New World city, whose products are wanted in the Old World.
The game features a full story campaign wherein AI opponents build cities on the same map as the player and might conflict with them at certain times. A sandbox and multiplayer mode also exist, letting users play out their imagination and compete with others on opposing sides.
This city-building survival video game was developed and published by 11 Bit studios on April 24, 2018, for the Windows platform. It was released for other platforms and consoles in the next few years.
Frostpunk allows gamers to take on the role of a leader in an alternate-history set during the late 19th century.
In this title, they must build and manage a city during a volcanic winter, where managing resources and survival are crucial aspects. Playing as ‘The Captain,’ players are in charge of the group of survivors, which consists of workers, engineers, and children, whom they must lead and need to keep safe and warm.
Resources and food must be harvested to keep the people whole and healthy, while users need to construct a settlement for them to reside safely. Heat is the primary requirement, with buildings being prioritized based on how much heat they consume.
The city is generally centered around a generator, which supplies the required heat, and can be extended and improved to provide better output.
Five amazing simulator video games to try in July
1) Stardew Valley
Developed by a single individual known as Eric Barone, or ConernedApe, Stardew Valley is a simulation RPG released on February 26, 2016. This video game sees gamers take on the role of an unnamed character who inherits a rundown farm in the fictional region of Stardew Valley after the death of their grandparent.
As a simulation video game, it tasks players with restoring the farm to its former glory and earning revenue from its produce. They can choose what type of farm they will inherit and must perform activities such as growing crops and raising livestock to turn a profit.
Along with the farm, users also have the option to interact with various NPCs in the nearby town and romance and marry one of a number of prospective candidates. The title also features a multiplayer mode that allows up to four gamers to play cooperatively on a server.
2) Train Sim World
This is a single video game that has since had a series of titles released for different versions over a few years. Developed and published by Dovetail Games, the first full release came in July 2018, with the game titled Train Sim World.
Players step into the shoes of a train engine operator as they travel across three routes available in the game: Great Western Express, S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland, and Northeast Corridor.
Since then, two more versions have come out, one in 2020, titled Train Sim World 2020, which featured three different routes in addition to the Great Western Express.
The ongoing version is Train Sim World 2, released on August 20, 2020, along with a game pass mode known as Rush Hour.
The gameplay takes a very realistic approach to the mechanics of actual train engines, and fans of locomotives will definitely find this a great simulator to get into.
3) F1 2021
The officially licensed video game of the Formula One and Formula Two championships, F1 2021 is one of the latest in this racing simulation series. Developed by Codemasters and published by EA Sports, this title was released on July 15, 2021, for Windows, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
This video game introduces a story mode titled Braking Point, which sees a player-created avatar take part in the Formula 2 and Formula One seasons across three years. This is an immersive experience for users to truly feel how it is to participate in these track races in their own stories.
The gameplay is the same as previous entries in the series, with tracks from the 2021 F1 and F2 championships and additional ones added as free updates. It is now also possible for two gamers to play the career mode together, either as teammates or rivals.
The latest version, F1 22, was released this June for those interested in playing it.
4) Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program, a space flight simulator, was developed by Squad and published by Private Division. It was released on April 27, 2015, for PCs but was made available to PS4 and Xbox One owners in the next year.
In this video game, players are required to lead a space program set up by an alien species of green humanoids known as ‘Kerbals.’
They are free to create various space-faring vehicles such as rockets, spacecrafts, and rovers using multiple tools and components at their disposal. A launching process follows, wherein the user-made craft is launched from a launchpad or runway.
If the launch is successful, with the craft taking no damage as it exits the atmosphere and having sufficient fuel, it can go on to reach other celestial bodies or orbit the planet.
The game’s physics were highly praised for demonstrating the orbital movement of the crafts using Newtonian dynamics. While starting small, this title has made waves in the scientific community, with organizations such as the European Space Agency and NASA taking an interest in it.
5) Microsoft Flight Simulator
This title is called an amateur flight simulator, developed by Asobo Studios and published by Xbox Game Studios. Microsoft Flight Simulator is a series of games, although the most recent one has become quite popular due to its map.
Released originally on August 18, 2020, for Windows PC, it was soon brought to Xbox Series X/S and even to Xbox Cloud Gaming.
This version of Flight Simulator comes with the entire earth as a map for players to fly around, using a vast number of aerial crafts. From commercial Boeing airliners to private Cessna jets to F-22 Raptors, this flight simulator has a plane for everyone.
Its controls are also somewhat complicated, and taking the tutorial is recommended.
Once users understand the basics, they will be free to explore the world, using different planes to fly well-known aerial routes or take their own paths.
Microsoft Flight Simulator recently included an expansion based on the live-action movie Top Gun: Maverick, starring Tom Cruise. This expansion contains various new missions and trials using the F/A-18E Super Hornet for gamers.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the author’s views.
Poll : Do you like to play city-building games or simulator games?
I enjoy building and managing cities
I enjoy simulation games a lot