On the eleventh hour, Cities Skylines 2 emerges as a GOTY contender in a very packed 12 months

Kath Santarin
9 Min Read

There’s no higher feeling when a sport is at preview than the limited-time session merely melting away. I imply, it additionally type of sucks when a developer chaperone steps in to let you know that your time is up – however when it feels such as you blink and an entire hour goes by, that’s how you’re taking part in some actual great things. Such was the case for my first hands-on with Cities Skylines 2.

Now, I do know what you’re considering: crikey, that headline is a giant robust. Sport of the Yr? In a Zelda 12 months? Towards Baldur’s Gate?! And, yeah – it’s most likely a bit hyperbolic. But when we may hop into the long run and ask future Alex precisely which of 2023’s video games he’s performed essentially the most of and had essentially the most pleasure from, it’s most likely going to be Cities Skylines 2 or Avenue Fighter 6. What number of play-throughs of BG3 I do, or what number of extra tons of of hours I sink into Starfield or Cyberpunk are irrelevant – I do know this sport goes to eat my life.

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Full disclosure: I do know this partially as a result of I've tons of upon tons of of hours logged on the unique Cities Skylines. However that's no assure {that a} sequel goes to be good – particularly when a sequel entails wiping away years of enhancements delivered through growth packs and mods. Issues can go badly improper. However after fidgeting with it for barely over an hour, I’m satisfied Cities Skylines 2 is on the suitable path. The very best path.

It’s a dangerous equation with a sport like this. The unique Skylines has mainly develop into a service sport, getting a continuing stream of fully-fledged growth packs but additionally smaller add-ons. Steam flags up 62 DLCs for the sport, and I personal ‘em all, the mug that I'm. Even the music add-ons. Saying goodbye to all of that's no small factor – and so developer Colossal Order has to supply one thing vital for followers to be prepared to just accept a reset.

Phwoar, take a look at that city planning. | Picture credit score: Paradox Interactive

What they’re providing, mainly, is scale. On each a macro and micro stage. Its maps are enormous; round 5 instances larger than the primary sport. You’ll be capable to create larger cities with extra stuff, and a extra dense simulation – certain factor. However truly, the micro stuff is maybe the extra attention-grabbing aspect.

All the things has been broadly re-thought. Even putting roads is each simplified with new instruments and choices for mechanically creating US model grid setups in only a few clicks and complex by much more detailed ranges of adjustment potential for many who actually need to get into the weeds. Utilities (like electrical energy) now stream up and down roads beneath the bottom, which suggests there’s much less have to mess about with particular electrical cabling, however there’s much more granularity in how these utilities perform and are sourced.

Even the simulation of particular person residents is extra in-depth, the place you’ll be stunned at how a lot element there may be if you happen to click on on a selected individual and comply with them on their day by day routine. You’ve bought extra management on what sort of buildings seem in your metropolis’s residential, business, and industrial zones – each by way of their performance and their look. You'll be able to create neighborhoods with a selected visible aptitude. On this demo, I used to be ready to decide on between North American or European stylings, and you'll see the place this may go together with mods and the like sooner or later. You’ll truly be capable to designate and zone a selected ‘Chinatown’ district, for example – and have it look genuine.

Skyscrapers in Paradox's Cities: Skylines II
Excuse me while I scrape the sky. | Picture credit score: Paradox Interactive

The sense of scale has been adjusted as properly, and a few additions are simply… plain good. Take landfill, or cemeteries. Within the first sport, you’d place a landfill or cemetery with a set capability, and as soon as it was stuffed with trash or the lifeless, you’d must construct one other or discover a solution to unencumber some room, like by firing up a polluting furnace. In Skylines 2, these kinds of utility buildings will be expanded. So, slightly than must construct one other, you may simply designate more room across the constructing to that function, which means you simply have one larger model slightly than a number of unfold throughout your metropolis and ruining its look.

A whole lot of buildings are upgradable on this manner, from sprawling procuring malls to police and hearth stations, or colleges. The size of those buildings is way improved, too – the place a college that teaches 1000's of pupils in Cities Skylines may need the footprint of three or 4 massive residential homes, in Skylines 2 they will now be completely monumental. It provides to the ‘wow issue' of including these kinds of buildings to your fledgling cities, which is simply bloody satisfying.

Finally, that is nonetheless a metropolis simulation. A simmed metropolis. You recognize. Cities Skylines 2 isn’t going to reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t have to. However what it seems to be doing is delicately and cooly iterating on what got here earlier than, enhancing it, and doing so with a fulsome data that they’re not simply constructing a sport – they’re constructing a platform.

A top-down shot of a turnpike, a residential distrcit and some skyscrapes in Cities Skylines 2.
If you do not know why this picture is thrilling, possibly this sport is not for you. | Picture credit score: Paradox Interactive

My blink-and-it’s-over hands-on with Cities Skylines 2 proved to me that it’s going to have greater than sufficient about it at launch to maintain me occupied for a lot of, many hours. However I’d be mendacity if I mentioned that a large a part of my anticipation for it wasn’t fascinated by the place it would go.

I take a look at the primary sport and see a title totally reworked through the years by followers and builders alike – and in its sequel, I see a sport constructed to ask the identical type of expansionism. Higher nonetheless, I see a sport with systemic hooks that ought to imply that these expansions are even higher this time round. I can’t wait to play the complete factor in October.

Cities: Skylines 2 launches on October 24, 2023 on Xbox Sequence X|S, PS5, and PC.

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