Which current build strategy games are worth playing in 2023? Our chart of the best city-building sims with the highest GlobalESportNews ratings tells you!
Construction Charts – January 2023
A fool once said, “Construction strategy is an extremely sedate genre. Well, at least when there”s not a fire, all the inhabitants are dying of the plague or a war is destroying my island, I spend most of my time leisurely looking at the screen. So it”s only fitting when the genre takes it easy off screen.”
That fool was me, and a week ago. Because no sooner had I uttered it than a new 1 that I, along with many others of you, had been hoping for for a long time!
And the future of the genre continues to look bright with promising games like Frostpunk 2, Laysara: Summit Kingdom, Park Beyond or Gord. Besides, Farthest Frontier has already turned out to be an absolute build-up dream in Early Access – even if the final release is still a long time coming. But wait and see. Until then, I hope you enjoy our 2023 construction game charts and the answers to the questions: Which current construction games are still worth playing? And which city-building sims from a few years ago still receive regular updates? And what is our new number 1?
Place 10: Two Point Campus
(Release: 2022 – Developer: Two Point Studios – GlobalESportNews-Rating: 83)
“Patients are asked not to die in the corridors” – If that sentence makes you giggle silly just like us, you”ll also have fond memories of Theme Hospital, the insane hospital sim from former Bullfrog developers that returned in 2018 with the quasi-remake Two Point Hospital.
And now we”ve been treated to a sequel through Two Point Campus, which this time lets us build our own university. Campus relies on the series” typical mix of business simulation and building, but the latter has been significantly improved here. With a much more detailed editor than in Hospital, facades, skins and every little box tree can be modified to your heart”s content.
Two Point Campus effortlessly manages the balancing act between very demanding management and a wonderfully silly setting. On the one hand, we design every little aspect of our own university, such as finances, catering, courses and AGs – and on the other hand, this involves, for example, lance-riding AGs in which students dressed as knights thunder each other in the courtyard. Nice.
Place 9: Northgard
(Release: 2018 – Developer: Shiro Games – GlobalESportNews-Rating: 85)
Hey, I know. Vikings in video games have become about as original as a tribal tattoo on the upper arm. But let”s just ignore “Vikings: Wolves of the North Viking Valhalla-Midgard” for a moment and devote ourselves to Northgard!
Because this cleverly combines the virtues of classics like Banished and The Settlers and doesn”t just rely on its Norse setting. It”s a thoroughly rounded gaming experience with the perfect balance of city-building, survival and real-time combat – without being too cluttered.
The short games make Northgard a good change from my endless city-building projects, for which I”ve filled numerous notebooks and sacrificed a lifetime!
In its brand-new retest, Northgard could convince us again – even more than ever before:
Place 8: Factorio
(Release: 2020 – Developer: Wube Software LTD. – GlobalESportNewsRating: 85)
I got to know Factorio when I wanted to test how well strategy games play on the handheld at the release of Steam Deck. Meaning, I started Factorio over and over again from scratch and put it through test hell trying out different button layouts and configurations. Not perfect conditions to have fun with it, actually.
But I have learned to love it. Because nothing fascinates me more than perfectly optimised processes. And it”s not for nothing that all construction games that focus on factories have to compete with Factorio these days. In addition, the controllable protagonist offers a welcome change from the classic god-mode perspective of construction games.
It”s not for nothing that Factorio is one of the best-rated Steam games of all time. And for those who, contrary to expectations, find too little content in Factorio, there will soon be an addon as big as its own game.
Place 7: Planet Zoo
(Release: 2019 – Developer: Frontier Developements – GlobalESportNews-Rating: 86)
I love hippos. Item. Mic drop. Géraldine leaves the hall. What, you want to hear more about Planet Zoo? Fine: I can build enclosures for nip horses here.
But all joking aside, Planet Zoo is currently my Eldorado as an old parksim fan. No other game simulates the personalities and relationships of animals so wonderfully, has so many settings I can tweak and focuses so much on a building mode that is bursting with detail. The building part is very important here – at least as big as my biggest hippo in the park, which I have named “Fetti”.
Infinite modules, signs, decorative objects, stones, plants, terraforming, … In what other game could I build a coati enclosure that resembles an apocalyptic Wasteland, built around an abandoned lemonade factory so that the coatis swim peacefully in a pink, poisonous bubbling pool of lemonade? True story. Screenshots available on request only.
Place 6: Prison Architect
(Release: 2015 – Developer: Double Eleven, Introversion Software – GlobalESportNews-Rating: 87)
Prison Architect is in many ways a special construction game. Because where else do you ever get the chance to build your own prison (if you”re not a prison architect in real life)? And in Prison Architect this is not just mere visuals, it offers mechanics that are not known from any classic city-building simulation.
My inmates must not only feel maximally comfortable here, as is usually the case in my medieval villages – they should above all not escape! And if I decide against creating a luxury prison with all the amenities, then I”m allowed to do that too! Hardly any other construction game encourages so much experimentation, exhaustion and breaking.
But at the same time, the system offers enormous potential for extremely high strategic demands, if you feel like it. Speaking of desire – if you”ve always wanted to build your own Star Wars-style imperial prison, you can do that too thanks to the numerous mods in the Steam Workshop!
Place 5: Oxygen Not Included
(Release: 2019 – Developer: Klei Entertainment – GlobalESportNews-Rating: 87)
Whoever has nothing to do in Oxygen Not Included has probably already lost. For those who like complex production chains and micromanagement will find their Eldorado here. Perhaps you have already recognised it from the drawing style: The strategy hit comes from the makers of Don”t Starve, which has established itself as an absolute milestone in the survival genre. So the quality of Oxygen Not Included comes as no surprise.
Unlike the sudden lack of oxygen, which can catch you cold! Because the construction game spices itself up with a strong pinch of survival and makes you sweat a time or two.
You should not expect classic city building, but instead a feast for science nerds. The physics puzzles are not bad and particularly creative buildings are rewarded. Thus, the space colony offers a welcome change from medieval villages.
Place 4: Rimworld
(Release: 2013 – Developer: Ludeon Studios – GlobalESportNewsRating: 89)
Rimworld is, after all, so much more than just a building game. I find that building games are sometimes the best generators of emergent storytelling anyway, but Rimworld takes that idea to the extreme. The focus here is not on building, but on the individual experiences and stories of the inhabitants of my little settlement.
With self-created characters, it”s an absolute feast, for example, when my virtual alter ego gossips about Brussels sprouts and board games with colleague Petra Schmitz during a turkey hunt after it was revealed that she was Michi Obermeier”s secret ex-wife!
But Rimworld is also exceptional when it comes to building – because here I don”t build ready-made buildings from a bird”s eye view, I place each wall, each floor tile and each pool table individually on a grid and thus create the settlement of my dreams – or nightmares.
Place 3: Frostpunk
(Release: 2018 – Developer: 11 Bit Studios – GlobalESportNewsRating: 89)
I would never go so far as to call Anno cosy. Everything is constantly on fire, my workers are on strike and the pirates are attacking again. But whenever I play Frostpunk … I am almost tempted to put Anno in the “relaxed” category. Because here my pulse is constantly on the edge of my seat.
I have to decide whether to allow child labour in my colony – because human lives depend on it. I have to weigh each resident according to his or her value to the community, because there are never enough resources for everyone. I cannot afford to be charitable, because even the smallest mistake can cost all people their lives – and me my score.
While trying to lead the last survivors of a new ice age to a better life, I am constantly making decisions I am not proud of. But I am all the more so when I actually make it in the end.
Place 2: Cities Skylines
(Release: 2015 – Developer: Colossal Order Ltd – GlobalESportNewsRating: 91)
So, my friends of cultivated building strategy, you see here our fallen king, our former place 1, our new dignified place 2. Take off your hats and pay your due respect to Cities Skylines. Or … you still have question marks over your head, because maybe you”ve never played the city-building thriller.
Then let me explain: Because hardly any other construction game offers as much variety as Cities Skylines. While Anno has to rely on its historical setting, in Cities Skylines I can build a village right next to a high-rise housing estate that merges into a nightlife district with clubs and casinos. I can spend hours, days and weeks tweaking roads, but at the same time build the most beautiful city this side of the Earth”s atmosphere.
Place 1: Anno 1800
(Release: 2019 – Developer: Blue Byte – GlobalESportNews-Rating: 94)
So let”s break it down: Number 1 on our build-up charts goes to …. (I know you”ve already seen it, but play along!) … Anno 1800! Yes, the crowds are going wild! Hats and monocles are thrown, strangers are in each other”s arms crying, it”s finally happened!
We”ve all (me included!) been in a rage for the last few months that Anno 1800 was still behind Cities Skylines in our review ratings. After all, Anno 1800 is the Eldorado of city building and, with four seasons, the most extensive building game that has ever existed. The atmosphere is incomparable, the level is just right, the graphics are a feast for the eyes and the AI opponents … well, they”re there too. well, they”re there too.
But joking aside, I haven”t played any other building game as excessively as Anno 1800 without wanting to stop after four seasons. Even if I could only play Anno for the rest of my life, I”d always have something to do and probably have fun for the rest of my life.
The best construction games 2023 overview
|5||Oxygen Not Included||87|
|10||Two Point Campus||83|