Cities Skylines 2 Review

Overall Rating:

4.5/5

Pros (+)Cons (-)
Improved gameplay
Easier for inexperienced players
Much more detailed mechanics
Features that were previously DLC are now included
Plenty of quality-of-life improvements
Poor default performance settings
No Steam Workshop (yet)
Limited map selection
Features from the first game are missing

Cities Skylines 2 has been out for several days. I’ve been playing it since day one and I’ve been really enjoying it. Currently, I have 355 hours in Cities Skylines 1, so I am clearly an avid fan of the game. The game is a huge improvement over the first game and has refined an already fantastic game.

What’s new

Cities Skylines 2 is a complete redesign of the game. CS 2 has redesigned every mechanic in the game. The game is much easier for inexperienced players to learn. CS 2 features much better graphics than CS 1, which was starting to feel dated.

Electricity

The game features a completely overhauled electricity mechanic. You can now connect your city to other cities’ power grids. This means you can import or export electricity depending on your city’s requirements. Need more power? Just buy more. Have too much power? Sell it for a profit.

You can no longer just pump power straight from a power station into people’s homes, now you transform it using substations into a voltage suitable for homes. While this might seem more complicated, it’s much more realistic.

Water and Sewage

The water mechanic remains unchanged. You can still have water pumps and water towers, just like CS 1. There is a new pumping station that pumps water from underground water deposits. The sewage mechanic remains unchanged.

The newest addition to the water and sewage mechanic, is that pipes are now integrated into the road when you build it, rather than requiring separate pipes to be placed.

Road building and Traffic

The road building mechanic is completely redesigned. There are still the standard road sizing options. One of the best new features is that you can apply road regulations. You can stop cars from going straight, right, or left. This is extremely useful for roads that might get blocked by one lane of turning traffic. Building roundabouts has become a lot easier. CS 1 made you pick between two pre-built roundabouts or try your best at building a custom one. CS 2 now comes with one click options to create roundabouts of assorted sizes. This is one of my favorite new features.

One thing I didn’t like about the new road building system is the lack of pre-included road types. Other than road size and directionality, there are no other types of roads. This isn’t a huge deal as you can add grass or bus lanes to any road, but it makes it a bit harder to quickly build a beautiful and functional road.

Traffic AI has had a major upgrade. Vehicles will now use all lanes available to them and will automatically choose the best lane for the direction they plan to go. In CS 1, traffic would cluster into one lane and would try and change lanes in the middle of junctions. This makes it much easier to plan high-capacity roads that won’t get immediately blocked.

Telecommunications

Cities Skylines 2 has introduced a brand-new form of city service, Telecommunications. Citizens now expect high-speed internet services. You can build cell towers and data centers to help blanket your city with high-speed internet. I really appreciate this new mechanic, as internet access is a requirement in 2023, and it makes sense that citizens would expect it. Building telecommunications networks not only increases citizens’ happiness levels, but also makes evacuation in the event of a disaster faster.

Public transport

Cities Skylines 2 has fewer public transport options than the first game. The game only includes buses, trams, trains, metros, and airplanes. Regardless, the public transport options that are included are improved. Unlike the first game where only some transport options required a depot, all public transport methods require some sort of depot for vehicles to be dispatched from and returned to. Public transport networks now operate more efficiently and don’t suffer from the same overcrowding as the first game. You can also turn off public transport lines, which is a nice feature that I’ve long wanted.

Performance issues

The first thing players noticed when the game launched was its unsatisfactory performance. A game like CS 2 will never run fantastically due to the level of simulation it requires. When I first started the game, it ran terribly. I quickly fixed this by lowering my graphics settings. Depth of Field appears to cause the mediocre performance of the game. I disabled this option and my performance improved drastically. Overall, the game looks fantastic and runs decently once tuned a bit.

Game Pass

While I purchased the game on Steam, the game is also available on Game Pass for PC and will be available on Game Pass for Console once it launches on console in January 2024. I love that the game launched on Game Pass, as it means new players who might be unsure if they’ll like the game now have the perfect way to try it. If you have Game Pass, I’d highly recommend trying the game.

Conclusion

Cities Skylines 2 is a fantastic game that’s well worth playing. I can’t wait to play hundreds more hours in Cities Skylines 2 just like I did in Cities Skylines 1. Despite some initial hiccups at launch, the game is a huge improvement over the first one. If you are considering playing the game for the first time, or are a seasoned Cities Skylines player, then I highly recommend Cities Skylines 2.

Due to my fantastic experience with the game, I rate it 4.5/5 stars.


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