I'm always on the lookout for the next great city builder, and there are more of them in development now than ever before. Like Fraser noted earlier this year, no one out there is really making a play for the big urban city builder market these days, but just because Cities: Skylines is the uncontested king doesn't mean there aren't lots of smaller and more niche builders being made, many with survival systems, historical themes, or sci-fi settings.
2022 has already been an exciting year for city builders, with lots of new games to challenge our building and management skills. There's The Wandering Village, where you build on the back of a giant, lumbering dinosaur that carries your city through the world, Farthest Frontier, the excellent medieval-themed survival city builder from the makers of Grim Dawn, and Frozenheim, a Viking city builder that includes raids and RTS combat. And just this week, Banished-inspired city builder Settlement Survival left early access for a full 1.0 release. It's a great time to build!
But it's worth looking down the road at what's coming, because there are lots of exciting-looking city builders on the near horizon. I know a lot of us are waiting for Manor Lords, though developer Slavic Magic hasn't announced a release date for it yet, and we still don't know when Frostpunk 2 is coming out, but it probably won't be until 2023.
In the meantime, there are a bunch of city builders due out before the end of 2022. Here are the games coming out before the end of the year that every city builder fan should know about.
Land of the Vikings
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Release date: November 8
I mentioned Frozenheim earlier, but here's another Viking city builder coming to early access in November. Land of the Vikings sets you up as Jarl of a growing Viking community from the humble beginnings of mining and fishing to trading with—or raiding—other villages. With a gridless building system your settlement will feel more natural and organic, and you can construct monuments to Odin or Freya to make your citizens happy. There's a bit of an RPG in there too, since each of your Viking villagers has their own characteristics and abilities you'll need to consider when assigning them jobs.
Ballads of Hongye
Publisher: Amazing Seasun
Release date: Autumn 2022
I'll be straight-up: I'm not entirely sure what's going on in Ballads of Hongye. The original trailer looked like the most beautiful and serene city builder I'd ever seen, but more recent videos (and comments from a few that have played a demo) have shown it to be more of a fast-paced strategy city builder with flying airships and combat. It certainly looks interesting and I'm curious to try it when it launches, which is supposed to be sometime this year.
Publisher: Overseer Games
Release date: Q4 2022
I got to play a demo of Aquatico recently, the survival city builder set at the bottom of the ocean after the planet's surface becomes uninhabitable. Despite taking place underwater, there are plenty of familiar city building systems, including farming: I was able to grow crops of sea cucumbers and kelp, which were tended by undersea drones. Naturally survival is tricky, as your human colonists need more than just food and comfort but oxygen and heat to protect them from the dark, icy water. I had fun with the demo, especially taking a break from building domes and resource pipelines to watch my busy little drones and automated submarines hard at work.
Release date: November 15
There's a lot going on in Floodland. A climate crisis brought on rising sea levels that washed entire cities away, and it's your job to lead a small group of survivors to rebuild civilization. It's not just a matter of gathering resources, constructing homes and production buildings, and keeping people fed and healthy. You also need to create laws for your new society which can involve rules about water consumption, recycling, and food quality control, and when disease strikes you'll have to enact policies dealing with mask-wearing, social distancing, and even lockdowns. Sounds eerily familiar, no?
Publisher: Kasedo Games
Release date: December 7
Talk about catastrophes, Ixion's got a big one. While testing an interstellar drive on a spaceship the moon was blown to pieces, which of course meant returning to Earth was a non-starter. Now you'll build a small city within your space station as you travel the galaxy, managing your resources and human workers, and looking for survivors of other galactic expeditions. There's a storyline running through Ixion as you search the cosmos for a new planet to call home, but keeping your city growing and healthy in deep space is going to be a major challenge.
Against the Storm
Publisher: Hooded Horse
Release date: November 1 (Steam)
Got room for a sixth on this list of five? Against the Storm is an unusual roguelite fantasy city builder that was an Epic Games Store exclusive and actually launched in 2021, but it's finally having a Steam release next week so I thought I'd include it. There's a free demo to play in the meantime, where you can get a taste of managing a settlement inhabited by humans, lizards, and beavers in service of the Scorched Queen in a world of unending rain. Yeah, it's weird as city builders go, but the scores on its Epic page show an extremely positive response, so if you'd prefer to buy it on Steam you don't have much longer to wait.