I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it: we’re in a golden age of city builders. Whether you’re into strategy, survival, story-driven campaigns, or even casual, no-stress construction sandboxes, there’s never been a wider selection of city builders to choose from. And there are lots more on the way.
As proof that the city builder genre has never been healthier, three of the five top wishlisted games on Steam right now are all city builders. That’s amazing. What’s even more interesting is that those games are all extremely different types of city builders.
First there’s Manor Lords, a medieval strategy survival city builder that not only looks like it’s dripping with historical accuracy but promises detailed medieval warfare and diplomacy systems: you’re not just building and managing your village, you’re defending your city and even conquering others. The limited-time demo last year was excellent and Manor Lords is the game I’m looking forward to the most—not just among city builders, but among all upcoming games, full stop. It still seems to be on track for a release this year, though no specific date has been announced.
Then there’s Cities: Skylines 2, which is launching on October 24—barely three weeks away (though the console release has been delayed until 2024). We’ve learned lots about the Cities: Skylines sequel over the past few months thanks to Colossal Order’s developer blogs, detailing everything from citizen lifepaths to the complexities of turning lanes to the questionable morality of prison labor. The sequel already looks bigger and better than the original.
And in 2024 we’ll finally get to play survival society builder Frostpunk 2. Wouldn’t you know it, Phil got a good look at it during GamesCom and it genuinely sounds like a big departure from the original. I encourage you to read his thoughts on how Frostpunk 2 challenges you to survive a splintering society as well as the freezing weather.
If you’re looking for something to play immediately, there’s more good news: the free demo for Pioneers of Pagonia popped up on Steam just today, made by the creator of the original The Settlers series. Turn-based village builder Dotage is out on October 4, only two days away, and has a free demo, too. And a demo of mountainside city builder Laysara: Summit Kingdom is available, also due out sometime before the end of the year.
And don’t forget some cool city builders in early access you can play right now:
Fabledom: Storybook looks, fairytale charm, and lots of little surprises.
Terrascape: Enjoy a chill challenge in this city-building strategy puzzler.
Farthest Frontier: Challenging survival city builder in a medieval-inspired world.
Land of the Vikings: Settlement survival in the age of Vikings.
Havendock: Build a bustling town on the ocean in this charming colony sim.