It’s a good time to be alive for anyone who’s ever dreamed of being a mayor because you can build your own city right in the palm of your hands. To be more specific, on your Android or iOS phone.
There’s currently no shortage of free city-building games for mobile and despite having the lowest price of admission possible, they compete well with their paid counterparts.
There’s also a flavor of atmosphere for everyone, from fantasy to sci-fi and anything in between. We recommend the following free city-building games for mobile to exercise your management and problem-solving skills.
City Island 6: Building Life
City Island 6: Building Life is our recommendation for your mobile-themed city-builder, with visuals that even your grandparents will love. It’s a game for everyone because of how it presents its assets, environment, and gameplay loop.
And don’t be fooled by the “island” in the name. There’s a decent variety of biomes here from lush greens to desert shores. However, if you’re looking for something more complex or realistic, then you might have to move on to our next entry.
SimCity BuildIt, the revitalized gem of the SimCity franchise, redefined city-building gaming on mobile devices. You can find a seamless integration of online features here.
On one hand, it transforms solitary mayoral duties into a global affair, on the other hand, you can also engage in lively trade and competition with players worldwide, that’s something even the PC version of SimCity didn’t offer properly.
SimCity BuildIt resurrects the franchise with renewed vigor, and more importantly, offers a good balance for the casual and hardcore crowd with all the charms of Sims.
Elvenar – Fantasy Kingdom
For your fantasy city-building fix, here’s Elvenar. It has by far one of the most charming visuals among all free city-building games on mobile and that’s just one part of what makes it good.
Elvenar stands out as a unique city-building and strategy game, immersing players in a fantasy realm where they lead either humans or elves to prosperity. There’s a big emphasis here on economic management and military development, and players expand their settlements by balancing resource production and troop recruitment.
Notably, the absence of PvP combat is compensated by engaging PvE battles, employing turn-based tactics on a hexagonal grid. You’ll find plenty to like in the diverse units, from sword dancers to paladins, as they also offer strategic depth and added tactical layers.
Fake Future presents a compelling post-apocalyptic sci-fi town management sim on mobile. The free game is lauded for its peculiar gameplay, captivating narrative, and stellar soundtrack.
Set over a century after an Alien Colossus nearly eradicates humanity, players control Hope, awakening from cryosleep to dispatch Cyberoids to Earth’s surface.
The game delves into existential themes, questioning reality and free will as players uncover the mystery behind Hope and the Cyberoids. As you might have expected, there’s a not-so-subtle meta-commentary on gaming and AI embedded in its themes and story. You also have plenty of other things to do here apart from building up a vertical town, such as its simple combat.
Despite simplistic combat mechanics, the core town management aspect offers engaging puzzles and creative building mechanics, making Fake Future an enjoyable, casual experience with decent storytelling.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out
The Simpsons: Tapped Out, a mobile game by Electronic Arts, has been going strong since 2012, boasting significant revenue and a consistent top-ranking status. As a freemium game, it offers addictive gameplay revolving around rebuilding Springfield after Homer’s nuclear plant meltdown.
Players manage tasks, earn currency, and unlock content, all with authentic Simpsons humor and regular updates mirroring the TV show. Its graphics emulate the series’ iconic style, and that’s one of its huge draws. There’s also something here that appeals to both casual players and die-hard fans alike, making it a “life-ruiningly fun” (according to EA) free download for mobile devices.
Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice
Now, for something a little more serious and apocalyptic, try out Frostpunk: Beyond the Ice. This port of the PC and console game is about as intense and bleak as its original versions. It’s a combination of many things, from survival, management, exploration, and city-building.
You must guide the remnants of human civilization after a global freezing event plunges the world into a cold and unforgiving apocalypse. That also means sacrificing liberty or humanity in order to preserve your city; some people are still yearning for their old lifestyles, after all, but that is simply not possible in Frostpunk and it’s up to you to make the hard choices for them.
Hence, it’s not something we recommend to the casual crowd as the game is rather heavy in both mechanics and philosophical implications.
TheoTown, reminiscent of classic and complex SimCity games, is a detailed city builder available on mobile and PC. While its steep learning curve may deter newcomers, its depth rewards dedicated players.
Building zones and managing happiness, taxes, and services are key features. The game boasts extensive transportation options and special zones like airports and farms. Also, its special regional system enables massive interconnected cities. Detailed stats can aid you in city optimization though that’s where its intricacy comes from.
TheoTown easily wins a lot of hardcore city-builder fans with its depth and nostalgia, making it a must-have for city-builder enthusiasts.
The Final Earth – City Builder
The Final Earth – City Builder is not just a city builder (contrary to the name). It’s also a colony sim, similar to RimWorld or Dwarf Fortress. However, being a mobile title, it’s thankfully not as complex or as painstaking as those two aforementioned inspirations.
The game is also great if you’re looking for a change in perspective since it’s a vertical space city-builder where you can see the entirety of your creation most of the time. That certainly adds up to your sense of achievement and hard work. In any case, the premise is simple. You manage a space colony and will have to try your best not to turn your city into a planetary crater.
Empire City: Build and Conquer
Empire City: Build and Conquer is a callback to the traditional historical strategy games like Age of Empires. Even the antiquated art style is similar. This is the game we recommend for all your history nuts and buffs. If you ever wanted to rebuild Rome or the Pyramids, Empire City will at least let you try.
There’s also a strategic combat mechanic here where you have to train and gather your troops to protect your empire.
That comes with the territory of ancient civilizations, of course.
Still, don’t feel discouraged by that gameplay aspect; Empire City still offers a casual experience for those who want something relaxed.
Pocket City Free
Pocket City shines as a mobile game that effortlessly balances between quick sessions and lengthy, immersive gameplay, reminiscent of classic city-building titles like SimCity (again). The game blends familiar mechanics with innovative twists and challenges, providing a nostalgic yet fresh experience.
Disasters add challenge but are manageable with a quick rebuild option (like in Cities: Skylines). If you find TheoTown too much, then Pocket City might be a better starting point. With varied city-building styles and engaging events, Pocket City promises endless enjoyment, making it a must-play for any mobile gamer or SimCity fan.