Cities Skylines: World Tour - title

After a couple years of rumors, Colossal Order has finally officially announced a sequel to Cities: Skylines. I would have thought that this would mean the end of new content for the first Cities: Skylines. But instead, we've seen a deluge of new content from the studio. I already reviewed the Plazas & Promenades expansion from last fall, but that expansion was followed by a "World Tour" of new content.

Most of this content comes in the form of "content creator packs", which are assets that were originally created by modders, but which Paradox and Colossal Order have bought and are selling in packs (and giving full credit to the creators, and presumably a cut of the sales). It's nice to see some big-name modders getting this formal recognition in the game, and an opportunity to profit a little bit from their hard work.

But there has also been some first-party content in the form of a mini-expansion called Financial Districts. This DLC adds a stock exchange, banks, and the ability to invest city funds into an in-game stock market. There is also another full expansion called Hotels & Retreats, but I'll be reviewing that separately.

Colossal Order is releasing one final barrage of DLC and mini-expansions before releasing a full sequel.

Insider trading

I'm going to start with the Financial Districts DLC, since it's the only content in this review that is actually first-party content created by Colossal Order, and it's the only of these DLCs that actually has any new rules and mechanics associated with it. The rest are all just collections of assets. Financial Districts isn't a full expansion. It's more in-line with previous DLC like the Match Day or Concerts DLC, in that it adds only one very specific thing, and a couple new mechanics.

This expansion adds a new type of office specialization: the titular Financial Districts. This district creates tall skyscrapers which belong to banking and investment firms. These buildings also generate increased tax revenue if near one of the expansion's ploppable buildings, the Stock Market. Combined with the "Tax Increase for Offices" policy, these districts can be incredibly profitable for the city.

Financial districts include tall office buildings for banks, investment firms, and the like.

As for the Stock Market itself, it allows the city to invest in a variety of fictional stocks for companies that supposedly exist in the city. Different stocks unlock based on the level of the Stock Market or based on certain criteria within the city (such as having enough of a certain type of building. The Stock Market is basically a cheat device for earning more money for your city. The performance of the various stocks all depend on factors within the city that the player has a degree of control over. For example, the player could bulldoze all your hospitals, let the healthcare stock crash, buy a bunch of it, then re-build those hospitals, and sell the stock after it shoots up. You can then also bulldoze the hospitals again and repeat the process until you have as much money as you want. The player can also affect the value of various stocks by simply increasing or decreasing the relevant budget sliders.

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Cities Skylines: Plazas & Promenades - title

Looks like we're back to seeing 2 Cities: Skylines expansions being released in the same calendar year. Airports released in January, and now in September, Plazas & Promenades hit digital storefronts. I wonder if this will continue now that most businesses (and presumably Colossal Order) are back to business as usual following the COVID pandemic? Or maybe Colossal Order is migrating towards releasing even smaller, more module micro-expansions such as the recently-released Financial Districts DLC (which I'll review later)? Or will we finally see an announcement on the rumored sequel to Cities: Skylines soon?

Based on previews, I was expecting this expansion to completely change the way that I build my cities by giving me more freedom to pack structures into compact spaces and to more seamlessly integrate parks with business districts, leisure and tourism districts, or neighborhoods. I immediately started thinking of multiple ways that I could potentially use these 2 ideas to create new city layouts and concepts. Unfortunately, I set my expectations too high, and pedestrian areas ended up not being quite as game-changing as I thought and hoped they might. The big problem is that Plazas & Promenades is just another iteration of the paintable area concept that has been the focus of almost every expansion since Parklife. Paintable areas is a good mechanic for things like parks and university campuses, but it can be extremely limiting for an application as broad as neighborhoods or entire districts.

Plazas & Promenades allows the construction of more walkable neighborhoods and districts.

Roads minus the cars

First and foremost is the simple fact that the new pedestrian roads look and act more like regular roads than like pedestrian paths. They are the same size as roads, being either 2 or 4 tiles wide, and are laid out almost exactly the same. None of these pedestrian roads are 1 tile wide. And, of course, the legacy pedestrian paths have not been updated to allow buildings to be zoned along them. The end result is that these "Pedestrian Zones" don't take up any less space, and aren't any more compact than any other district. Though, the high-density, "wall-to-wall" residential buildings do have the same capacity as the normal, high-density residential skyscrapers (20-26 households), despite being a fraction of the size. So I guess it's "more compact" vertically? More people being crammed into smaller spaces? If so, it doesn't seem to have any impact on the citizen's happiness or satisfaction ratings.

Using Pedestrian roads outside of Pedestrian Areas is a liability, since zoned buildings may build on them.

Even though pedestrian roads can be placed anywhere, buildings can only be placed or zoned along them if they are in a dedicated Pedestrian Area. So if I want to create a single walkway or alleyway and zone some homes or shops along it, I have to paint the entire area as a Pedestrian Area. Well, at least, that is the case if you want the buildings to be functional. The game actually will let the player zone and place buildings along pedestrian roads outside of pedestrian areas, but doing so will result in the building flashing a "Not in Pedestrian Zone" warning, and the building won't operate.

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