Have you ever dreamed of creating your own city? How about managing your own network of public transport around a busy, bustling metropolis filled with people with their own daily routines, jobs, and social lives? Cities: Skylines – Remastered allows you to do all of these things, now with vastly improved scope, improved graphics, and smoother performance.
We originally reviewed Cities: Skylines back in 2017 when the Xbox One Edition launched, but this is very nearly six years later, so how does the game itself hold up after all this time?
Most city or life simulator fans would tell you that a console is most definitely not the best place to experience a city building game, but Cities: Skylines – Remastered features some of the smoothest, most intuitive UI to grace the genre. All the tools you’ll ever need are right at your fingertips, with easy to navigate controls and simple zone painting mechanics to dictate the type of areas you’d like to appear in your newly formed city.
This is coming from a relatively green city simulator fan, and I can vouch for the fact that I had no trouble picking up and learning to play this game, because there is a lot to it, as I’d find out later on.
Let’s take a look at the Cities: Skylines experience, from Hamlet to Megapolis, and see if the experience remains as special as it was back when it launched in 2017 (or 15, for you PC lot out there).
I bankrupted myself four times before I gained any traction in Cities: Skylines – Remastered. I’d build up my city, get it running, establish clear districts for living, commercial spaces, and industrial areas, and then all of a sudden, my city coffers were declining faster than the pound’s value during the recession. This happened four times before I turned to Google to figure out why, and I realised that I’d been trying to fill out my city so quickly that I’d completely misbalanced my districts. This isn’t at any point made particularly obvious in-game, so I was left staring at my new city with its bank account in the red until the game offered me a loan that would save me, albeit while disabling achievements.
This is where my only real issue with the game lies – the tutorials. I was left second guessing so many of my city-building strategies until I worked them out myself, or I had to research them online. Now, this game is fairly easy to learn, don’t get me wrong, but I do wish that some things were made a bit more obvious from the get go. As I said, it can be a lot, and that can be overwhelming, but it’s my one issue in a whole mound of good impressions of Cities: Skylines – Remastered.
After you eventually get your city off the ground, you’ll begin to build more specialised establishments. Schools, medical centres, fire stations, police stations, and rubbish sites are just a few of the different sorts of buildings you’ll have to contend with in order to make your small town a buzzing city, and you’ll have to make sure you have enough space for residents to live in, as well as enough commercial and industrial areas in order for them to work, and produce goods to sell at work.
I loved the constant balancing act Cities: Skylines – Remastered challenges you with, as it provides a way to constantly see the direction you should be growing with. You never feel lost in something to do, and you’re always being pushed to expand. This led to me easily sinking twenty-five hours into my first successful city, and I can see myself playing for a hundred or more, especially as I explore the myriad of DLC options available for purchase.
All of this isn’t taking into account the customisation of your city on the macro level, which is impressive for a game of this size and scope. I’ve gained a remarkable amount of pleasure making subway routes, train lines, and bus routes throughout my city, or cities now, as I’ve expanded across the river. My next project to make use of this recent expansion is a ferry going across the river.
There’s also a lot to be said about the way you can choose to manage traffic in Cities: Skylines – Remastered. Side roads, main roads, motorways and bus lanes are all ways that you can keep your congestion low, and I’ve had a fantastic time managing them to keep the city functional. My most recent expansion that I’m particularly proud of includes a football stadium, hotels and both a subway and train line connecting the new area with the new city, with bus lanes snaking along the busy streets. It’s never been so satisfying to organise a high rise.
It’s when you don’t stay organised that Cities: Skylines – Remastered becomes stressful. Suddenly, people become sick. Icons pop up all over your screen. You see less and less traffic on the roads. You find your city’s earnings going down and down, and then into the red. People start dying, and businesses lose workers and shut down. What could possibly be going wrong? You think back, build by build, new road placed by new road placed. What could you have done to create this horror of a situation? Suddenly, you remember. You’d placed a waste water pipe upstream to the city’s water supply, which then led to everyone in the city getting ill. This is a small example of the many, many things that can cause your civilians’ lives to become a lot trickier in Cities: Skylines – Remastered, and usually it’s down to you to discover what’s gone wrong. These puzzles are much more stressful than they have any right to be, and it makes the game a lot more exciting. A hint on how to prevent this from happening? Organisation is absolutely key, and keep an eye on those water pipes.
The sheer scale of all of this is what leads me to play Cities: Skylines – Remastered for hours on end. As your city grows, you unlock more and more through the milestones system, and the bigger the city grows the more money you’ll have to play around with, and with milestones also comes space. In the old Xbox One edition of Cities Skylines, you had fifteen tiles with which to build your city, but in Cities Skylines Remastered, you have a much increased twenty-five. I can’t even imagine how big my city will be when I’ve unlocked all 25 tiles (I have only six unlocked at the moment), but I already can’t wait to find out. I hear the international airport will make things easier, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet!
Cities: Skylines – Remastered is extremely immersive and complex, but easy to pick up and play, minus a few learning curve issues. This means that I’d be more than happy to recommend Cities: Skylines – Remastered to anyone, fan of the genre or not. The package it offers has everything, from the grand scale to the microdetails. Sometimes it’s just fun watching people go about their daily lives, and there are options for that too.
Overall, Cities: Skylines – Remastered holds up even better than it did in 2017, being scaled up and adapted for the Xbox Series X|S generation of consoles. With a sequel due out this year, there’s never been a better time to hop into the mayor’s chair and give the Cities: Skylines experience a go.
Good luck, and happy city building!
Cities: Skylines – Remastered is on the Xbox Store