City-building games have truly evolved massively since their early days, which initially focused more on the 4X model of expansion. Later, titles such as SimCity and Cities Skyline branched off from their early predecessors and truly managed to get users to dive into a metropolis where they had to micro-manage entire neighborhoods and witness the population grow into a Shangri-La under their watchful eyes.
Whether one is looking to re-populate a planet through 4X gameplay or transform a small village into a grand metropolis through careful micro-management skills, the reasons to play a city-building game can be manifold. The list below chalks down some of the best city-building titles of modern times, which were released after 2016:
Note: This article solely reflects the authors' opinion
Frostpunk, Aven Colony, and more contemporary city-building games to try right now
1) Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming
- Developer: Yoozoo Games
- Available on: Web browser, iOS, Android, and Microsoft Windows
A free-to-play real-time multiplayer strategy game with pretty heavy city-building gameplay elements, Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming is based on the popular HBO television series.
As a lord, players have to build their own city from scratch in the wintery lands of Westeros. As the city grows in influence and power through court intrigue, politics, and trade, players can go ahead and fortify it further, enroll in a formidable army and cement their position as a military powerhouse in the lands of Westeros.
2) King of Avalon
- Developer: FunPlus
- Available on: iOS and Android
King of Avalon is a very addictive MMO city-building game available for mobile devices as users get a taste of all the classic elements of the old-school 4X games where resource gathering and research are key gameplay elements.
King of Avalon features plenty of resource gathering and power tussling in a fantasy world that takes online players into the age of King Arthur as they compete to be the indomitable force in the region.
- Developer: 11 Bit Studios
- Available on: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, macOS, iOS, and Android
Frostpunk is a critically acclaimed city-builder title where survival is very difficult, and often forces players to make morally tough choices in a world suffering from a premature ice age. Mere survival is itself difficult in the icy wastelands of Frostpunk, and the title goes down as one of the hardest city-building games to master.
Instead of worrying about structure, placement, and overall aesthetics, this game forces the players to focus more on the survival aspect by making judicious decisions. Death is inevitable in the harsh icy lands of Frostpunk and players will have to make plenty of conflicting decisions to keep the city going.
4) Aven Colony
- Developer: Mothership Entertainment
- Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows
Aven Colony transforms the age-old city-building concepts into a different planet altogether. The ultimate objective of this game is to rebuild humanity. Aven Colony offers a beautiful and diverse set of alternative space habitats where users are tasked to build an entire civilization from the dirt.
Aven Colony is so much more than just a simple city-building game. The game throws occasional challenges such as nasty alien invasions and natural disasters in the new biome that keeps players busy and engaged. Furthermore, there are some military combat elements and a polished expedition system that allows players to explore new habitable worlds.
5) Surviving Mars
- Developer: Haemimont Games, Abstraction
- Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Classic Mac OS
Like Frostpunk, Surviving Mars is a city-building game that also lays heavy emphasis on survival. In the game, users are tasked with colonizing the barren and red planet of Mars itself. Research and exploration play a big part in this survival city-builder, where players need to have a diverse range of knowledge from Botany to business management to succeed.
Overall, it’s a great city-building game to try that lets users learn about the basic science of colonization and the harsh realities of populating a planet that initially had no atmosphere at all.
6) Tropico 6
- Developer: Limbic Entertainment, Realmforge Studios
- Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.
The Tropico games are a series of popular construction simulation and business management titles that lay heavy emphasis on city-building as one of their core gameplay elements. Of all the Tropico games, Tropico 6 is by far the best iteration of the franchise.
At Tropico 6, players take on the role of the President of an entire island nation. Unlike previous iterations, Tropico 6 offers users an archipelago of islands to develop into bustling metropolises. The game also has some political simulation elements, making it an engrossing city-builder.