There are many city planning simulators on the market. Moreover, there are a variety of settings – here you have fantasy, sci-fi, and even historical ones. But when it comes to modern times, memory immediately begins to slip. This is not surprising, because nothing but SimCity, the last part of which was released on PC – just think! — 10 years ago and Cities: Skylines, nothing would come to mind. The only recent thing I can remember is Park Beyond from Bandai Namco, which was a failure in terms of financial success, but even then, this would not have happened without my advice.
Fortunately, very soon there will be a celebration on the streets of fans of modern city management simulators. On October 24, Cities: Skylines II from the studio Colossal Order and publisher Paradox Interactive will be released.
City of Dreams
I am sure that many of you have at least once imagined in your fantasies what an ideal city should be like. From a variety of angles – from architectural planning to its industrialization. By the way, the well-known Jacques Fresco and his project “Venus” especially stood out among his contemporaries. The futurist saw a civilization of the future that would live in cities built in the form of huge rings. I recommend that you familiarize yourself with his ideas for general intellectual development.
And Cities: Skylines II gives you the perfect opportunity to try and bring Fresco’s vision to life. Or give free rein to your own imagination and build a city that has no analogue on Earth. Cities: Skylines II is a huge sandbox construction game limited only by city building themes and your imagination.
And it all starts with a small step – from the road. Roads are the backbone of a city, so naturally it is impossible to do without them. Cities have always been built along roads. These arteries bring goods to you, new residents arrive through them, and they also connect you with other settlements.
The road layout options in Cities: Skylines II are much more varied and flexible than in the previous part of the game. From the very start, you have many options available to you to choose from, so that without waiting for “discoveries”, you can immediately get started on what you think is the ideal road network. And to make the process more comfortable, the developers added a convenient feature – grid mode.
The grid allows you to plan blocks very quickly – just select the starting angle of the marking and use the mouse to determine its width and length. Done, you can immediately see the layout of the result before your eyes. Another new feature, parallel construction, allows you to build two roads at once according to specified parameters. In the future, all that remains is to set up road markings, place signs and – done!
With the development of your metropolis (more precisely, at first it will be something like a modern village), many more useful and interesting functions will open up. For example, you will work on the public transport system, traffic management, construction of pedestrian zones and stuff like that.
Moscow was not built in a day
But it’s time to start building buildings. But before this, it is first necessary to mark out the zones – where residential buildings will be built, what territory will be allocated for shops and other commerce, where to create an industrial district and where to build a huge power plant.
Each type of zone has its own requirements to thrive, and in a functioning city they all benefit from each other: factories need places to ship their products, companies need employees, employees need homes, shopping opportunities, and places to spend their free time. In the future, you will have to solve many more problems to improve the quality of life of citizens, such as choosing park areas, and you will be practically unlimited – draw the zone as you want, even mix it up with triangles or diamonds.
In the release version of the game, you will have several architectural styles available. More precisely, two – European and American. When planning a new city, you will have to decide on a style, which will affect the overall appearance of the city. But it is also possible to change styles during the game.
Low- and medium-density residential buildings tend to have larger apartments, which most residents find attractive. However, the cost of living is typically higher in smaller buildings, such as mid-size single-family homes and apartment buildings, since costs are shared among fewer households. Increasing land values also impact smaller buildings more as it affects rents overall.
On the other hand, high-density housing (hello, Russian people!) can accommodate a large number of people in a small area, but its main negative aspect is that the apartments are usually small. Conversely, rents are more affordable because the maintenance of the building is shared among more households.
Commercial zones feature low- and high-density buildings where companies sell all types of goods produced locally or imported from other regions. These include everything from cars and food to clothing and paper products, and they also provide citizens with recreational opportunities in the form of restaurants, movie theaters, bars, hotels, and more. Commercial areas thrive next to residential areas because they provide them with customers.
Similar to commercial zones, office zones are divided into low-density office spaces with small office buildings and high-density office spaces consisting of glass-walled skyscrapers and huge towers. Offices produce intangible goods and services for both individuals and companies.
Industrial zones are divided into manufacturing plants and warehouses. Manufacturing covers most of the industrial zones in the form of factories and workshops, with warehouses popping up here and there to meet the needs of various companies and their production processes. Warehouses store manufactured goods that are ready for further shipment, but are still waiting for transport or suitable buyers.
No city can do without city and public services. Division into districts makes city management easier with more detailed information available, and policies can be assigned for the entire city or directly for individual districts, allowing different areas to be fine-tuned to make life more pleasant for citizens or more profitable for businesses.
The core gameplay of city services in Cities: Skylines II remains the same: your job is to provide citizens with various services that improve their quality of life, bring them happiness, and keep them safe.
However, unlike the previous game, where you wanted to cover the city evenly with all the different types of services, the path to the ideal city in Cities: Skylines II is through understanding the needs of the citizens and meeting them by providing the appropriate services. You can, of course, place different services throughout the city, but this can be expensive and will generally provide only minor additional benefits.
While in the previous game city services directly increased the value of land, Cities: Skylines II takes a different approach. City services only indirectly affect site values as they meet the needs of citizens and businesses in the city, which in turn increases their willingness to pay higher rents in the area, thereby increasing their level and land value.
Here is a small list of available services: electricity, water supply and sewerage, medical services and funeral homes, waste management, education and research, fire and rescue services, police and administrative issues, transport services, recreation and recreation, communication services and even landscaping design.
There is not enough space to tell the details about each of the services. And I won’t deprive you of the pleasure of understanding each mechanic in detail on your own.
Impression and results
Games like Cities: Skylines II can’t be measured with a standard ruler. This is a monumental product, designed for not even hundreds – thousands of hours of diving. This game is a huge platform for many experiments, both economic and social.
By the way, in Cities: Skylines II, weather seasons change each other within one session, and they are not tied to specific maps, as was the case in the previous part. Which adds even more variety to your gameplay, as each season brings with it unique situations and problems that need to be solved.
Moreover, no one will force you to build a multimillion-dollar metropolis. If you like small towns, please play in this mode! You can build several towns nearby and give each one something special.
Unlike the first game, in Cities: Skylines II a new development milestone is unlocked when you reach the required number of expansion points. There are 20 stages in total – from a small village to a million-plus megacity. Milestones also unlock new types of zones that will help your village grow into a thriving city, as well as give you more ways to control your city’s economy by increasing credit limits, taxes, and service fees.
We need to finish. After all, for any mechanic, of which there are dozens in the game, you can write a separate guide for ten thousand characters.
But I haven’t yet said anything about graphics, music and interface. Although I will tell you: they are all done to a very good level. The picture, although simple, is bright and detailed, the melodies in the game are pleasant and do not distract attention, the interface is clear and intuitive. It is clear that the game developers approached the process with understanding.
But Cities: Skylines II has one serious drawback, unfortunately. And the developers recently talked about it. It is related to optimization. Games of this scale and detail put a lot of stress on your gaming system, and unfortunately Cities: Skylines II will have optimization issues at launch. But for my part, I will say that I felt comfortable playing on the Ryzen 5600x and RTX 3080. That is, it’s not ideal when my city has long gone beyond the horizon, but it’s not critical either.
I hope that the team will quickly fix the technical part of the game with patches, because ignoring this game if you like economic strategies and city-planning simulators is a crime.