The number of new cities I’ve built over the last few years on Cities: Skylines would be considered a remarkable feat of design and ingenuity in our modern era. Yes, some of those cities have ensured the death of a lot of people. I understand there were concerns that one city was permanently on fire in the Eastern district. And as mayor, I understand that there were concerns surrounding pollution, especially as it got so bad in one city that not even cockroaches can live there anymore. But I’ve been hoping to redeem myself with a new content drop initiating the build of a new city with the Campus content addition. Building a new city where education, education, and, um, education is my new goal and focus. What could possibly go wrong?
I have loved Cities: Skylines since it first arrived on Xbox One. It was a breath of fresh air for the console market and for gamers who love city builder experiences, it was like a dream come true. The detail is hugely deep and immensely enjoyable, with great visuals and a control scheme that isn’t a nightmare to use on the console. Over the last couple of years, many DLC packs have been released, seeing your city having to cope with the deep freeze, huge environmental disasters, and the installation of a mass transit system. The last DLC pack to drop was the industrial one and that felt like the biggest addition so far with a whole new level of city management and design to play with. Now though we have the Campus edition that you can integrate into the saved city of choice or like me, lets you start again from scratch.
There are five new maps on offer from the start and they come with the usual variety of choices in regards to resources and topography, letting you decide the best option. You design your city as normal with roads, houses, electricity and of course water management and distribution, but once you are ready to start working with your campus, you have a choice to make. What type of education establishment do you want?
The options are tremendous and you can choose to have a typical University, a trade school or a liberal arts organisation. I went for the liberal arts option in my initial playthrough because that is where my bread is buttered in my real world career. But you can have all three running at the same time if you want to, however you will need the required numbers in your population to attend in order to make it flourish. Should you be running a preloaded megacity that you’ve been tinkering with for years then throwing all of the options in would certainly work, but if you’re determined to start fresh then it’ll be an idea to begin with just one type.
The main goal of your campus is to gain a decent reputation in the academic world; you want to go from being unrecognised to the level of prestigious. But how do you do this? Well, the first port of call is to build an attractive looking education establishment. New buildings unlock as you progress and you can add to the campus; facilities for students, more learning halls or places of study linked to individual disciplines like law. Decorative elements, like footpaths and lighting, can also be thrown in to ensure that your campus fast becomes the talk of the world.
You also need to boost academic works by offering research grants into certain disciplines; it is these which will build your reputation as well. But as with anything that focuses on the college scene, there is also the world of college sports that can be utilised, and this certainly makes your new found campus attractive. Here you can add in fancy baseball pitches, American football stadiums, track and field opportunities or swimming pools. And from there, controlling the ticket prices, selling merchandise and managing your college teams by hiring coaches and recruiting players is the way forward.
Cities: Skylines still obviously looks very pretty and I particularly like the way the campus’ and new buildings deliver vibrancy to this world, with the zooming in and out of each city running utterly smoothly. The audio side of things is still great as well, and I never fail to be moved by the heart-lifting soundtrack.
With the arrival of the Campus expansion, Cities: Skylines on Xbox One has once again seen a whole new level of detail added to the already massively huge base game. It works well within any pre-saved city you might be fond of, or even with a new build, as you get to play around with one of the five new maps available. In fact, it’s still as addictive as ever as the DLC options ensure you will have to utilise your previous skills of running a city for the campus to survive; once you get into the groove of the building, then you’re fine.
Perhaps there is nothing groundbreaking to be had here with the Cities: Skylines Campus addition, as it fails to ever really change the dynamics of the nature of the game, but it does add a whole bundle of new content – and that is especially important if you are after a new challenge and want to make your favourite city the smartest in the world.