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Best City Building Games for iOS, Ranked (2024)

As we all know, winning a game usually means beating the boss, escaping the maze, or defending the tower. In city building games, though, players build a civilization (or village, or town) all on their own from the ground up. Full of strategy and suspense, city building games are particularly well-suited for mobile gamers on the go.

In this article, we’re covering fifteen of the best city building games for iOS. Some are futuristic and post-apocalyptic, others are historical and pastoral. Our top pick features familiar characters from one of the most popular TV shows of all time!

Let’s jump right in.

City Building Games, Ranked Worst to Best

With a mix of puzzles and challenges, Easter eggs to earn, and in-game life and death problems to solve, here are our picks for the best city building games for iOS. 

15/15

Fallout Shelter

Fallout_Shelter_GameFront
Image: Behaviour Interactive & Bethesda Game Studios
  • Price: FREE (in-app purchases)
  • iOS7 or later
  • Mature content
  • Spin off of popular video game series Fallout

The first game in our ranking is Fallout Shelter. In the award-winning game, players design the perfect “vault,” where every little thing must be put to use to protect the inhabitants from the wasteland outside. As the community grows, each member must be given a job to remain happy and productive. Fans of the game say to never get comfortable — just when your vault seems to be on track, a raid will knock your fledgling settlement back to square one. 

In Fallout Shelter, it’s tough to keep all the inhabitants of your vault busy as the population grows. Just when you finally feel like you have enough resources, a shortage affects water and food supplies or the living quarters of all your new residents. Surviving life in this post-nuclear apocalypse is tough.

14/15

Venture Towns

Venture-Towns-IOS-1

Image: Kairosoft

  • Price: $3.99
  • iPhone iOS 9 or later
  • macOS 11.0 or later
  • All ages

Up next on this list is Venture Towns. Ever dream of building your very own town from the ground up, including the placement and arrangement of the buildings? While also helping the residents buy houses and gain assets? That’s what Venture Towns offers. You’ll work for a major conglomerate where land price speculation and city-planning are part of the fun. 

Overall, Venture Towns is a great simulation game. Players do occasionally report making an investment that never shows up, such as a store they were never able to build. Otherwise, fans call it better than most SimCity games, and perhaps even the best city sim on the iPhone. We’d like to see a few of the reported bugs fixed before we put it any higher up in our list, though. 

13/15

MegaCity HD

MegaCityHD

Image: ColePoweredGames

  • Price: .99 cents (in-app purchases)
  • Easy to learn/hard to master
  • Very polished
  • Like a combo of Tetris, Sudoku, and SimCity

Our next city building game is MegaCity HD, an urban planning game with a good selection of buildings to choose from and more building options to unlock. 

What’s fun about MegaCity HD is keeping the citizens of your town happy. Make sure no homes or properties have anything undesirable next to them like a landfill, or else you’ll hear about it. Managing the limited budget will keep you up at night. There are also challenging puzzle modes and the ability to earn both local and online high scores. 

This game is now updated to 64-bit, which players appreciate. Otherwise, it’s addictive and perfect for passing the time.  It could be described a bit like Tetris, except more complicated, becoming more and more difficult as gameplay goes on.

12/15

Designer City: Building Game

Designer City Building Game

Image: Sphere Game Studios

  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • New buildings added
  • Higher yield diamond mines
  • Tile rendering resolution could be better

Another great choice is Designer City: Building Game. All aspects of city life are under your control, from skyscrapers and parks to common city services. The economic wellbeing of your community is also a priority, while zoning and other considerations keep things challenging. Evolving your town is made possible with carbon-neutral city planning. In this latest version of the game, there are new buildings, an option for a football stadium, and even a rocket launch pad — because, why not? 

Diamonds do accumulate a bit slowly for the tastes of some players, and beyond a certain point there’s not much to do in the game, which is something that could be improved. But overall, players call Designer City a very fun game that’s well paced, particularly in the early levels.

11/15

Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville

Rebuild3

Image: Northway Games

  • Price: $4.99
  • 50 building types
  • Nice add-ons in the third version
  • Interactive attacks

If your idea of a good time is less building suburbia and more about rebuilding civilization after an apocalypse, there’s a city building game in our list for you. In Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville, the zombies have laid waste to the world and it’s your job to put it back together, one town at a time. Each survivor has their own skill, such as defense, leadership, scavenging, building, and engineering. Mission types include farming, fishing, hunting, and, of course, killin’ some zombies. 

Additionally, Rebuild 3 is highly replayable with randomized cities and events. Look out for the rival NPC forts with agendas of their own. The amount of detail included in the game is truly astounding. There’s some learning curve at first, but most get the hang of it quickly, and the game gains difficulty as it progresses. 

10/15

Virtual City: Playground

Virtual City- Playground
Image: G5 Games Entertainment
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Requires iOS 9.0 or later
  • All ages
  • Not great on iPads

Returning to a more hopeful vision of the future than the last pick in our list, Virtual City: Playground is an internationally top-grossing game, internationally. In it, the city of your dreams must be built from the ground up, including residential buildings and commercial space. In this vision of the future, mass transit is a priority, as is green architecture. There are hundreds of quests to engage in, as well as hundreds of structures to add to your city. There are also a good amount of challenges and achievements to unlock along the way.

Avid players of the game comment that it’s not optimized for full-screen mode. Otherwise, it’s an incredibly fun game, with tons of replay potential. We do wish you weren’t forced to buy so many diamonds, though. There should be more free ways to earn them.

9/15

Pixel People

Pixel People
Image: LambdaMu Games
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • iPhone iOS 8.0 or later
  • An excellent twist on the free-to-play genre
  • Mix and match cloning system a nice addition

Another post-apocalyptic city building game for iOS in our ranking is Pixel People. Although this free-to-play game is set in the future, it’s a utopia where you create the city and its residents, splicing genes in the “clones” to create perfect citizens. It’s your job to put them to work where they’ll be most productive. There’s money to earn and Easter eggs to unlock, including minigames and secret bonuses, and 150 types of Pixel People to choose from. You can earn extra coins through minigames. 

The graphics are cute, the buildings are interesting, and the levels and upgrades are clear and easy to understand. Expanding your town gets harder the longer you play, making for a nice challenge as you progress through the game. This is one of the best, well-executed mobile games ever. However, some frustrating bugs are also reported.

8/15

Megalopolis: City Building Sim

Megalopolis- City Building Sim
Image: Social Quantum
  • Price: $3.99
  • New resource types
  • Similar to Townopolis and Romopolis
  • A time-management puzzle game

For a city building game on iOS that truly follows the rules of the market, try Megalopolis: City Building Sim. You’ll create a realistic real estate — well, if it can be considered “realistic” to put major landmarks from all over the world into your town (think the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty in the same place) alongside skyscrapers, houses, and parks. From industrial complexes to research centers, it’s also possible to compete in state contests to earn rewards and further upgrades. Put in the time and develop a spaceport, among other high-tech amenities available. 

Megalopolis is addictive, we learned, with about two dozen campaign scenarios, and the freedom to build custom scenarios all on your own. The best players win trophies and awards. It’s simple enough to get started, and a good choice for beginners. But even for a casual strategy and management game, the graphics and sound design are just passable.

7/15

Townsmen

Townsmen
Image: HandyGames
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Jousting fields and taverns
  • Look out for bandits
  • Requires iOS 8.0 or later

Shiny modern skyscrapers not your style? Prefer a more primitive type of community building experience? That’s just what’s offered by the next game in our list, Townsmen. Set in medieval times, Townsmen has a complex economy sim, complete with supply chains and richly imagined daily life for the townspeople. Since the game takes place in a simpler time, seasons have even more of an impact than they might otherwise. You also have to deal with disease, drought, and famine. There’s also an optional military feature for a more aggressive gameplay experience. 

Overall, Townsmen is complicated enough for a challenge, but not so difficult as to become frustrating. Some of the mechanics in the game could be improved. Overall, it’s a great choice for an airplane or long car ride, whether you choose to build a town or focus on challenges. Ads could be less intrusive, though.

6/15

The Battle of Polytopia

The Battle of Polytopia
Image: Midjiwan AB
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Multiplayer matchmaking
  • Cute low poly graphics
  • No ads

A civilization strategy game, The Battle of Polytopia is an award-winning experience that’s a bit like the classic board game. There are three game modes (perfection, domination, and creative), with mirror matches and configurable map types. We like the different kinds of tribes you can choose from, and the varied landscapes and terrain, including drylands and lakes, among others. The game can also be played to your areas of interest, including simple farming, but also building and technology development. Maps are auto generated, offline gameplay is available, and there’s both portrait or landscape available.

For an amazing game with great graphics and fun online matches, this is the best choice. A diplomacy system might be a nice improvement. But otherwise, The Battle of Polytopia is packed with hours of fun.

5/15

City Mania

City Mania
Image: Gameloft
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Requires iOS 9.0 or later
  • Coins are hard to come by
  • Fun, peaceful building game

Shepherding a small sleepy village to a bustling big city is the objective of the next game for iOS we reviewed. Setting City Mania apart from other similar sims are more unique and fully-realized characters, as well as fun futuristic items to give your citizens, and some iconic landmarks to add to the scenery, such as Seattle’s Space Needle or the Roman Colosseum. As is often the case in games such as these, assigning an appropriate task to your characters is a big part of the fun, as is visiting a friend’s town to check in on their progress. 

This is the most fun game some have ever played, according to feedback. The fact that there are no building construction wait times in City Mania is a particularly popular feature. Other aspects people enjoy include the new, exclusive buildings and the fun businesses to choose from, and nothing in the game is particularly expensive, which is nice.

4/15

DomiNations

DomiNations
Image: Big Huge Games & Nexon
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Requires iOS 10.0 or later
  • Innovative gameplay
  • Free crowns/gem system buggy, some say

Turning now to the fourth choice in our list of city building games for your iPhone or iPad, DomiNations is an empire building and battling game in which players take their settlement from a small primitive village to a bustling, fully-realized metropolis. This time, though, the game takes a cue from actual history, as players choose real civilizations. The new in-game University also lets you seek advice and guidance from great thinkers in history like Da Vinci and Catherine the Great, to name just a few. There are fun limited-time goals, as well as PVP combat, and the fun of building some of the world’s greatest wonders, like the Pyramids of Egypt and other historic landmarks. 

Strong alliances are key to success in DomiNations. Brian Reynolds (Civilization II, Rise of Nations) is the designer, and there are no in-game purchases necessary to advance. The graphics are great, and the battles are also kept evenly matched.

3/15

SimCity: Build It

SimCity- Build It
Image: Maxis
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Requires iOS 10.0 or later.
  • Intuitive controls, addictive mechanics
  • Extremely fun and creative

For generations of gamers, SimCity is practically synonymous with the city building genre, and Build It is a well-reviewed update. To keep things interesting, the game lets you battle against monsters or mayors of other towns — your choice — while you can also build skyscrapers, parks, and bridges, with a keen eye to maximize tax revenue. You can even pattern your town after real-life great cities like Paris or London, and there are weekly challenges, with new regions to explore like Sunny Isles and Frosty Fjords. 

Build It is a truly fun game with unmatched replay potential, according to reports. It plays near flawlessly, despite some bugs being reported. But unlike older versions of SimCity, some money will need to be spent to progress.

2/15

Forge of Empires: Build a City

Forge of Empires- Build a City

Image: InnoGames

  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Good group activities and events
  • Spending money not required to win
  • Requires iOS 9.0 or later

Taking the penultimate spot in our list of the best city building game iOS is another familiar name in the genre, Forge of Empires. In this recent update, the objective remains much the same — build your settlement throughout history, beginning in the earliest days of mankind on through modern day and into the future. Just like in history, new technologies will develop, and so, too, will buildings, goods, and services fueling the fledgling economy.

Forge of Empires is a great builder-style game, and the group activities are an especially nice feature. Although there are in-app purchases, they’re unobtrusive. Strategy is important, as well as commitment — there’s no beating the game in an hour, or even a week. Instead, a balance must be struck between space, resources, and teamwork.

1/15

The Simpsons: Tapped Out

The Simpsons- Tapped Out
Image: EA Mobile & IronMonkey Studios & Fox Digital Entertainment
  • Price: Free (in-app purchases)
  • Requires iOS 9.0 or later
  • 12+, mild mature content
  • Great game, can get pricey

The top spot in our list of city building game iOS is the well-reviewed and award-winning The Simpsons: Tapped Out. What about everyone’s favorite Springfield family lends itself to the city building format? Well, Homer is responsible for a nuclear meltdown at the old power plant, and now the town must be rebuilt from scratch, including all the familiar faces from the long-running TV series. For some variety, there just might be a monster invasion on Halloween, visiting superheroes run amok, or just the fallout from one of Homer’s typical mishaps. 

The freedom to customize your vision of the classic Simpsons-verse is another nice feature, moving around iconic locations from the show, while updating the waterfront, developing the business community, and generally beautifying the town we all know so well from the show. Of course, in-game money is measured in donuts.

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We hope you enjoyed our ranking of the best city building games for iOS phones and tablets. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and be sure to share it on your favorite social channels.

Happy gaming!

 

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