I hope you’ve got your hardhat and blueprints ready, because 2023 is shaping up to be a big year for city builders. We’re in the midst of a city building boom, in fact, and while there’s really only one major urban city building game these days—Cities: Skylines—that means there’s plenty of room for other types of city builders, whether they focus on building in different environments, enduring treacherous survival scenarios, or creating cities in far-flung locations like outer space.
There are a lot of exciting new city builders to look forward to in 2023. The cities you’ll build, grow, and manage this coming year will take you from the top of mountains to the bottom of the ocean, and include environments like medieval villages, dark fantasy realms, the rootin’-tootin’ Wild West, ancient Egypt, and even the fabled lost city of Atlantis.
Here are the city builders to look forward to in 2023.
How pumped are players for this strategy city builder? Among the top-wishlisted games on Steam like Starfield, Stalker 2, and Hollow Knight: Silksong, there’s Manor Lords. The medieval city builder is ambitious as heck and goes far beyond just building and managing ye olden town, with tactical battles and a diplomacy system at your disposal as you expand and defend your holdings. The gridless building system will hopefully produce some organic and realistic-looking towns and villages, and it’s packed with historically accurate details. I played the Manor Lords demo in October and while it was pretty brief and didn’t include any of the combat systems, it was still excellent and extremely promising.
Another highly anticipated game, the sequel jumps ahead 30 years as survivors of Earth’s deep freeze begin mining for oil to stay alive. We can only assume the goopy new resource will lead to advanced technology to use in your chilly city, but with every step forward there’s a challenging struggle to keep your citizens warm, happy, and hopeful. Frostpunk 2 will let players experience what happens when you “survive the unsurvivable” and once again the cold isn’t the real enemy, it’s human nature itself. We don’t know for certain that Frostpunk 2 will release in 2023—11 bit studios hasn’t confirmed a date yet—but we’re keeping our frostbitten fingers crossed.
Gord caught our eye when it was announced in 2021, developed by Covenant, a studio founded by CD Projekt Red producer Stan Just. Gord is a dark fantasy strategy adventure with town building and citizen management systems. Picture Diablo 2 but you’re the mayor of that grim and gritty starting town, charged with growing and defending it, sending adventurers out into the world to complete quests and gather resources, and keeping your citizens alive and as happy as possible in what looks like a dark and dangerous world.
Laysara: Summit Kingdom
I’ve wanted to play this since the moment I first saw it. Building a city on the side of a mountain is intriguing enough already, but just a glance at how you can zoom out, revolve the camera around the mountain, and then zoom back in on the other side looks amazing. Throw in the challenges of resource management and moving materials around steep cliffs, and the threat of natural disasters like avalanches, and Laysara: Summit Kingdom should be at the top of your city building wishlist.
City of Atlantis
It’s back! The lost City of Atlantis has reappeared above the waves, and now you’re in charge of it. In this isometric survival city builder you’ll manage production chains, unlock new technology and building types, and struggle to expand Atlantis while keeping it thriving. Most of all, you’ll need to protect the ancient city from another devastating fall by defending against naval attacks and destructive tsunamis.
Atlantis might have unexpectedly sunk into the sea, but in Aquatico you’re deliberately building a city at the bottom of the ocean after the surface of the Earth has become uninhabitable. Manage a fleet of undersea drones, set up production chains to keep the resources and oxygen flowing, and carve out a bubble of civilization to support your human population (and their pets). There’s not too much longer to wait for Aquatico: it’s out on January 12.
Pharaoh: A New Era
Finally you’ll be able to revisit a city builder from way back in 1999. Sierra Studios classic Pharaoh is being re-released as Pharaoh: A New Era, with remastered graphics and an updated UI, and even includes the 2000 expansion Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile. Build your city, cultivate the fertile lands of the Nile valley, and erect monuments like the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx.
This game is taking the concept of city building quite literally. Rather than acting as mayor or overseer, you’re the head of a construction company doing the actual building. Design and plan neighborhoods, tear down old buildings and erect new ones, employ subcontractors, deal with clients and concerned citizens, and manage resources, a labor force, and construction logistics as you bring a city to life. The Constructors is from the same publisher as surprise hit House Flippers, so we’re looking forward to renovating and building on a grander scale.
Wild West Dynasty
An ambitious blend of survival, resource management, six-shooter action, and town building, Wild West Dynasty charges you with carving out a life for yourself and creating a booming frontier town. One minute you’ll be hunting deer and boar, the next you’ll battle outlaws, and all the while you’ll be building shops and homes and hoping to grow a dusty outpost into a profitable city. The trailers haven’t shown much of the actual city building yet, but since the game comes from the same publisher as Medieval Dynasty, we’ve got high hopes it’ll deliver.
Currently in Early Access
If you just can’t wait for the new city builders above, there are several in Early Access—hopefully with full releases coming in 2023—you can play right now.
Against the Storm: A post-apocalytpic city builder in a dark fantasy world.
Land of the Vikings: Settlement survival in the age of Vikings.
Farthest Frontier: Challenging survival city builder in a medieval-inspired world.
Sweet Transit: Build tiny towns into thriving cities via a network of train lines.