Cities: Skylines 2 is part of the city simulation genre, which encompasses many different kinds of games. While we may only think of cities, there are other management sims that deal with communities and handling their well-being much like Cities: Skylines 2.
We’ll show you the best city simulation games like Cities: Skylines 2 below.
Top city sim games like Cities: Skylines 2
SimCity 5 (2013)
A lot of people won’t like this entry on this list, but this list wouldn’t be accurate without it. SimCity 5 is a visually stunning and complex city building game that could have been the best in the series. However, the always online aspect to fight pirates only made the game bomb horribly.
I was one of the people that was scared away by reviewers but watching let’s plays shows how great the game could have been. It’s got great graphics and better AI, but the glitches and bugs really hurt it alongside that always online aspect.
Many interviews show that Cities: Skylines was in the backburner for the developers because no one thought you could beat SimCity. However, once SimCity 5 released in a buggy and destroyed state, the developers knew this was their opportunity.
SimCity 2000 (1993)
This is the original top-of-the line SimCity game. People still play this, but it was still incredibly popular when Sim City 5 released. Cities: Skylines has taken a bit of the audience for this game, but that says more about Cities: Skylines series than SimCity 2000.
The main appeal for SimCity 2000 was that it was challenging like games back in the day were. Players must build and manage a city, while also dealing with challenges such as natural disasters and budget constraints. Your people get mad, the environment quality suffers, and many more awful things happen when you screw up. You also have to deal with world events.
I still like SimCity 2000 and it was one of the first city games I ever played.
Fallout Shelter (2015)
I get it, many people won’t think Fallout: Shelter belongs here because it’s vertical and not a big city. However, a vault holds a group of citizens who need to make sure they’re fed, hydrated, and have proper living conditions. They also need to be safe from the environment or raiders and radroaches in this case.
The game holds up incredibly well, and you can play it on your phone anytime you want. It’s not pay-to-win, in fact, all it needs is for you to keep an eye on your people because they want attention. Your shelter starts small until it grows to feel like a small town, which is something you’ll end up proud of.
Surviving Mars (2018)
Surviving Mars is a city-building game set on Mars. Players need to build and manage a colony on Mars, and they need to deal with challenges such as the lack of oxygen and the Martian environment. It’s got a lot of negatives though. You have to micromanage a lot of systems like resources, colonists, and infrastructure. The learning curve is huge, even for someone like me who has played a lot of city management games. It also gets dull because of how repetitive it is.
Some people like it, good on them, but a lot of gamers like me did not enjoy this game.
Project Highrise (2016)
This game is focused on building and managing skyscrapers. Players must design and construct tall buildings, while also ensuring that their tenants are happy and productive. You are managing housing, work, and everything in between.
I like the challenge modes much more than the sandbox mode because of the rules and restrictions. This game does challenges super well and it feels like you’re rewarded fairly. It’s a game that I love to go back to every few months.
Pocket City (2018)
You are sleeping on a goat if you have yet to play Pocket City. In Pocket City, players are tasked with building and managing their own city. They must zone for different types of buildings, such as residential, commercial, and industrial, and provide their citizens with essential services such as water, electricity, and healthcare. Players must also balance their budget and manage their city’s growth in order to keep their citizens happy and productive.
A lot of it isn’t as advanced as Cities: Skylines 2, but it is a really intricate game. What’s even better is when you unlock other cities and can use your money to make the next cities you deal with better. It’s really one of the best phone city sims ever made.
Related: 10 Best Single-Player PC Games
Tropico 6 (2019)
Tropico 6 is a city-building game with a twist. Players take on the role of a dictator on a tropical island, and they need to build up their country and keep their citizens happy. Tropico 6 offers a lot of humor and personality, and it’s a great game for players who want a more lighthearted city-building experience.
Yes, you can be a madman dictator who shoots down protestors and uses the military to keep your people in check. I played this role pretty much every time. You can also be a president who gets elected fairly and tries to do good. I tried being a good president before and just gave up since protests continued to rise.
To quote Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince, “It is better to be feared than to be loved, if one cannot be both.”
Frostpunk is a city-building game set in a post-apocalyptic world. Players need to build a city and keep their citizens alive in the face of extreme cold and other challenges. The main appeal to the game is that you’re not always going to be able to keep everyone warm. Unfortunately, that means making tough choices, and this made me quit the game a bunch of times.
I kept coming back because it’s a fun concept, and you’ll only be put in a position of making tough choices if you don’t plan ahead. It’s not forgiving but it’s a lot of fun.
Going Medieval (2021)
Going Medieval is a city-building game set in the Middle Ages. Players need to build and manage a settlement in the aftermath of a plague. So many gamers seem to prefer pixel games, but I like low poly more, and Going Medieval has the perfect aesthetic if you’re like me.
Going Medieval is a lot like Banished because you start with a small group of survivors and must build a new settlement from scratch. However, you’re also going to get attacked by raiders so it adds another element to the game that really sells it.
Jurassic World Evolution 2 (2021)
This is more of a tycoon than a city management sim, but the second game does a lot to make each park feel like a county, and each park interacts like it’s part of one network (or city in this example). This game is based on the Jurassic Park franchise. Players must build and manage a dinosaur theme park, while also dealing with the challenges of keeping their dinosaurs safe and contained.
You also have to keep guests happy, which isn’t easy but is very rewarding. There’s foot traffic, and jobs to keep track of, and you’re making sure that you’re prepared for the disasters that come. I love Jurassic World Evolution 2 and 1, and I wish they continued to make the games. I honestly didn’t like the movies but managing the park was more than I expected in terms of fun.
Banished is a city-building game with a focus on survival. Players need to build and manage a settlement in exile, and they need to deal with challenges such as food shortages and disease. You start with a group of survivors and you try and build a new life for them all. The game’s graphics hold up really well, and it’s pretty nice to watch everything get built.
As for gameplay, it feels like this is a village manager system. This is because not many people have gotten to the point where they could say they have a city. The game is not forgiving and making significant mistakes could end up killing your entire population.
Anno 1800 (2019)
Anno 1800 is a city-building game set in the 19th century. Players need to build and manage an island empire, and they need to balance their economy and their military. This isn’t played how you think, the Anno series has always been really unique in the way it works. It feels like a Sim City game first and foremost until you get to needing your military.
When you start using your military, it all comes together in such a unique way. I love the Anno series because it doesn’t stop at just having a successful city. One of my earliest memories of playing on PC was playing Anno 1602 and it was a big boy game. I still love the series and I’d recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried.
- This article was updated on November 6th, 2023