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The best city builder games 2024

Grab your hard hats, as we’re diving into our list of the best city builder games on Switch and mobile. Don’t worry readers, we’ve got planning permission.

City builder games: The cast of Dragon Quest Builders 2 on a blurred screenshot from townscapes

Who doesn’t want to play the best city builder games on Switch and mobile, right? There’s something so inherently satisfying about building a city. Like some sort of mega-Tetris, the idea of slotting together buildings and maintaining the day-to-day challenges of a city is both fascinating and fun. Let’s dive into some games you can afford, and play today, no degree required.

Just before we don our hard hats and start assembling the rest of our article, be sure to check out the suburbs of Pocket Tactics for some real hidden gems. Much like an out-of-town restaurant, we’ve had fantastic Yelp reviews for our guides covering the best Switch racing games, the best horror games on Switch and mobile, the best Switch RPGs, the best Switch tactics games, and, if just like our mate Bob you love a bit of building, have a look at our guide on the best games like Minecraft for Switch and mobile.

It’s time to get on with our guide to the best city builder games on Switch and mobile.

City Builder games: a screenshot from Cities Skylines shows a series of skyscrapers

Cities: Skylines – Switch and mobile

Well, this one is a bit on the nose, isn’t it? Cities: Skyline is a deep and incredibly addictive city builder where you can make the marvelous metropolis of your dreams. This granular simulation game gives you so much control, allowing you to optimize and manipulate the education systems, healthcare, and many other elements to better balance your city’s economy.

The Switch port sacrifices a bit of visual clarity, but being able to play this incredibly rich sim on the go is well worth it. Developer Colossal Order has optimized the UI incredibly well for Switch, and there’s even Pro Controller support so you can feel the rumble of machinery as you erect your latest skyscrapers. Cities: Skylines on Switch also includes both the After Dark and Snowfall DLC packs. so that’s plenty of building bang for your buck. We can only hope that Cities Skylines 2 makes its way to a portable platform soon.

City Builder games: a screenshot from Steamworld Build shows a desert level with several buildings and factories

Steamworld Build – Switch 

Alright, this is a slightly pre-emptive pick, but we have actually played and absolutely loved this entry in our Steamworld Build review. Developer Thunderful (previously Image & Form) is well recognized for taking concepts and adding a layer of quirky personality to them, and then delivering a stellar game along the way. Steamworld Dig 1&2, Steamworld Heist, Steamworld Quest… all bangers. Well, they are if you ask us.

Steamworld Build brings across all of the depth, charm, and smart optimization that the Steamworld franchise is famous for. You balance your city-building abilities above ground with a surprisingly deep (sorry) mining side of the game, as you send units to explore the depths and earn the very elements you need to continue building above ground. If you like what you see, make sure you check out our SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech mobile review and our SteamWorld Build interview.

City builder games: A screenshot from Dragon Quest Builders 2 shows character overlooking a large buidling made of blocks

Dragon Quest Builders 2 – Switch 

Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t look at Dragon Quest Builders 2 and assume it’s Minecraft with silly JRPG outfits. I mean, it is that, but it’s also so much more. DQB2 takes the mining formula and adds so many smart quality-of-life upgrades that it makes going back to Minecraft feel like a chore. Plus, a lovely storyline propels the narrative and slowly introduces more tasks, building tools, and areas for you to explore. You can tell it’s good as it’s one of our picks for the best Dragon Quest games, as well as this list.

On top of just being able to build your basic blocky barrack, as you explore the narrative and visit multiple islands, you befriend the people you meet along the way and bring them back to your home, building a cute community as you progress. You get farm animals, plenty of different building types, some really funny Dragon Quest-themed furniture, and the wholesome feeling of providing refuge for some waifs and strays. There’s a lengthy demo for Dragon Quest Builders 2, so give it a tickle and see if it’s for you. Forgive the sluggish intro, we promise it opens up fairly quickly!

City builder games: a screenshot from Civilisation VI shows a large area filled with buildings and settlements

Civilization VI – Switch and mobile 

The king, the legend, the G.O.A.T. of city-building sim games. As the French band Justice once sang… “Civilization.” That’s right Justice, what else is there to say? Well, Civ 6 is the latest iteration of the long-running franchise, and it brings along years of smart upgrades, challenges, and attention to detail that many other sim games can never hope to match.

Build your own personal empire and try to fend off the forces of encroaching countries. Develop tools and resources quickly, and soon you can overpower your foes with the smartest weapons this side of Tyrion using green flames on some pirate boats. What’s more, the extensive Switch port includes scenario packs based on Vikings, Poland (dobry, dobry!), Australia, and Persia. If you’re planning on conquering soon, be sure to check out our Civ 6 tier list first.

City builder games: a screenshot from Townscaper shows buildings floating above the water

Townscaper – Switch and mobile 

Let’s bring things down a notch, with a minimalist city-builder that’s more about vibes than vigorous architectural action. In Townscaper there are no goals, no tasks, no time limit, and definitely no enemies. Your job is just to build. Either use a controller or tap the screen to plop some buildings into an empty water-based void, and before long you’re making the adorable city of your dreams.

It’s not quite as granular as you might expect, but you can still create towns with varying degrees of tiers, you can swap colors, and even make cute little awnings and balconies. Whether you play on Switch or mobile, this is a cheap and cheerful way to spend a few hours, and it’s especially a lovely and very peaceful way to gain some calm and exert some control when the world feels a little bit too much. Check out our Townscaper review for more information.

City builder games: Super Mario characters appear in Minecraft

Minecraft – Switch and mobile 

Yeah, I know, this isn’t quite a city-builder, but technically you can build a city if you want to – as long as you have a month to spare. In Minecraft, your ability is only as big as your ambition, and you can create cities, countries, or even the entire world of Westeros (second Game of Thrones mention klaxon). You can choose survival if you want to brave the elements and tackle those dreaded creepers, and there’s something so thrilling about cobbling together your very first tiny little home.

However, if you just want to build me up, buttercup, then slap that bad boy onto creative and start building like God that one week. Enjoy unlimited resources, the insane depth of Redstone and other interactive elements, and plenty of real estate. Plus, you can watch the mountain of Minecraft YouTube videos to get some tips and even set up a server to share a game world with your pals.

City Builder games: a screenshot from Simpsons Tapped Out shows the city of Springfield

The Simpsons: Tapped Out – mobile 

I refuse to even entertain the idea that there’s anything in the world that isn’t improved by adding The Simpsons. My childhood skateboard? It had Bart on it, and it ruled. My t-shirt? You’d better believe it, The Simpsons are there making me look rad. GTA? Nah, The Simpsons Hit & Run shows Homer and the crew can make everything better. My parents’ divorce? Cheers Homer, we got through it together.

Anyway, uuhhh, The Simpsons: Tapped Out is a free-to-start city-builder, where you create your own approximation of Springfield. Use currency known as donuts to build Moe’s Tavern, Springfield School, the famous tire fire, and much more. We will say, be careful, as while it’s addictive and very fun, The Simpsons: Tapped Out often feels designed to frustrate you into spending money, and purchase options go as high as the hundreds in an obvious attempt to harpoon those elusive mobile gaming whales. Still, if you can resist the urge, there’s so much to love here.

City builder games: A screenshot from Terra Nil

Terra Nil – Switch and mobile

Admittedly, Terra Nil is closer to a city un-builder, but the gameplay principles are the same. You start off in the ruins of our planet after climate disaster has made it unliveable. Use eco-technology to purify the soil, creating plains, wetlands, beaches, rainforests, wildflowers, and more, all while enjoying the soothing soundtrack and beautiful pixel art.

Free Lives’ game also takes the focus away from infinite expansion, which often rears its ugly head in other city builders. Instead, your goal is to restore balance to the ecosystem and bring back the wildlife, rather than min-maxing all of your systems. If this sounds like the game for you, check out our Terra Nil review for more insider tips.

There you go, folks! That’s all we have for our guide to the best city builder games on Switch and mobile. If you just can’t get enough of that wonderful Duff (or video games), you can also read our argument for The Simpsons: Hit and Run remake now.