Cities Skylines is a captivating city-building simulation series where players step into the shoes of virtual mayors, crafting and managing their metropolises. Developed by Colossal Order and released in 2015, it quickly became Paradox Interactive’s best-seller and remains the most successful Finnish-developed game to date. On October 24th 2023, Colossal Order released the follow up to this great success: Cities Skylines II. Does Cities Skylines II have enough improvements to make it worthwhile to purchase? Find out in our Cities Skylines II review below!
Upon embarking on your city-building journey, you’re handed a virtual plot of land to transform into a bustling city. The process involves the familiar tasks of laying down roads, zoning areas, managing utilities, and providing city services to attract residents and businesses. The game adds depth with city policies, tax rates, and ordinances that influence growth, backed by an experience points system and a skill tree.
For instance, accumulating experience points allows you to achieve milestones. These milestones unlock new opportunities to grow and enhance specific aspects of your city. Want to introduce a nuclear power plant or expand the highway network? Spend your earned points wisely and these options become available. It’s not merely about leveling up; it’s about tailoring your city’s development path to match your strategic vision. Each decision contributes to the overall trajectory of your metropolis.
In my playthrough, I recalled a vital lesson from Cities Skylines: meticulous road planning. This time, I prioritized ensuring smooth traffic flow from the start, learning from past frustrations. While adjustments were inevitable, the initial experience was marked by a noticeable fluidity in city operations. Financial challenges were present initially, but milestone-based lump sum payments provided relief, creating a dynamic economic flow. It showed that I had some experience from the last game and that those lessons proved true for this iteration as well. It started off quite well.
User Interface (UI) challenges
Despite the game’s effective main HUD, the presence of bugs, particularly related to garbage collection, occasionally posed challenges in pinpointing and resolving issues. While the HUD offered valuable information, some bugs and inconsistencies hindered seamless decision-making. The issues related to garbage collection have been solved as of the day of writing this review, but it seemed like the HUD showed incorrect information at times and caused me to have to make some changes to fix my city at a later time. I also felt like the demand bars, which display for which sectors of population there is a demand, may not always be correct. However, if you look at things more closely using the screens available to you, it is easier to get an idea of what your city needs. For me, it felt like the HUD was a decent indicator, but I could not fully base my decisions on it.
Cities Skylines II faced performance issues at launch, prompting Colossal Order to release multiple fixes and a performance-boosting guide in one of their blogs. Fine-tuning my settings was necessary initially for a smoother gaming experience. Since it is a city-builder, the game doesn’t rely on frame rate as much as a shooter would, but it definitely makes it a better experience.
The game introduces significant changes, notably in road creation, which feels more intuitive and provides a clearer preview of the city’s layout. The roads that you place now also include the pipelines for clean water, electricity and sewage, making it easier to manage this than before.
Zoning options have expanded, allowing players to choose between European and American-style housing, adding a cosmetic layer to city personalization. Commercial buildings can now also integrate residential spaces, adding diversity to the city’s landscape.
Services are important to your virtual civilians (Cims). For example, if rents in the area are too high or there isn’t enough housing, homeless Cims will start living in parks. This detracts from the park’s benefits as well. Placing a welfare office and low-rent housing helps alleviate this.
Micro-Management and services
Managing micro-aspects becomes crucial as the city grows, involving intricate details like buslines, taxis, trains, and various infrastructural elements. Catering to the needs of virtual citizens involves addressing housing and rent concerns, showcasing the game’s depth. Natural disasters, seasonal changes, and evolving Cim demands keep the gameplay dynamic and engaging.
While Cities Skylines II boasts impressive visuals, some quirks persist. Minor inconveniences, like cars occasionally phasing through each other or unusual road structures, are noticeable but don’t significantly impact the overall experience. I’ve seen roads that looked like they were staircases. Snow on windscreens doesn’t seem to bother our Cims while driving either. It did not seem to impact the behavior of vehicles having to drive on this road, but there were definitely some awkward looking sections in my city. Snow on windscreens doesn’t seem to bother our Cims while driving either. And for a game where people proudly post screenshots of their massive city on forums and websites, it seems like this should be slightly more important.
Despite its quirks, Cities Skylines II offers an enjoyable city-building experience. The improvements over its predecessor are evident, particularly in road creation and zoning. Performance issues and bugs slightly mar the experience, but the developers’ commitment to addressing them is promising. As is the norm with Paradox games, future DLCs (and mods) are expected to enhance the game further. If you’re on the fence, grabbing it during a sale is a wise choice, considering the potential for continued refinement.
- Definite improvements in the creation of roads and zoning
- Growth of the city is exciting and provides more challenges at the same time
- Skill tree is logical and provides options to specialize in as you go
- Performance issues and bugs
- Dependency on future DLC