Cities: Skylines II - title

One of the biggest criticisms of Cities Skylines II since its release last fall, has been the lack of expressive options for the player to customize the look and feel of your city. The sequel lacks a lot of the content that was in the first game. But considering that the first game had a 10-year life span, during which it received around a dozen expansions, numerous other content packs, and uncountable mods, it's understandable that the sequel would feel a little lacking in this regard at release. We can't expect a brand new game to have all of the content of such a massively expanded and modded predecessor. That being said, I do think that there are ways that Colossal Order could modify its rules and mechanics in Cities: Skylines II in order to restore some of this expressiveness.

I already published a video and blog outlining my suggestion for a modification to the building upgrade and industry area mechanics in order to make them a lot more flexible and to allow greater freedom for the player to tailor how these assets look and behave. While I was working on that project, I had another idea for how Colossal Order could give players a bit more expressive control over their cities. I had originally planned on briefly sharing this other idea in that first video and blog, but decided to break it out into its own post. I'm not going to transcribe the whole video here on the blog. Instead, I will summarize the main points of the video, and refer you to the full video if you want to see specific examples and more detailed explanation.

Full video outlining my suggestion for adding specialized zoning.

As I mentioned in my previous feature suggestion video for Cities: Skylines II, I have posted a poll on Patreon asking if Patrons would be interested in seeing a "Farewell Tour" video of my Cities: Skylines cities before I uninstall that game for good, and those cities disappear into the ether forever. This poll will close at the end of April. If I get enough interest in such a video, I will plan to begin work on it during the summer.

Patreon

Remember, my channel is not monetized, and so all of my financial support comes from viewers like you via Patreon. Patreon pledges go towards offsetting the cost of the licenses for the software that I use to create video content like this, as well as the cost of maintaining the blog website at www.MegaBearsFan.net. Patrons receive previews of upcoming content, early access to select content, and voting power in polls of what content I will make next. I would like to take this moment to thank all of my Patrons, past, present, and future. Your support really means a lot.

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Cities: Skylines II - title

One of the biggest criticisms of Cities Skylines II is that it is lacking content or feels "incomplete". I don't necessarily disagree, but I feel like saying that the game feels "incomplete" might be doing it a bit of a disservice. It is lacking a lot of content from the original game, sure, but that original game had over a dozen expansions and countless content packs and mod assets released over its decade-long life cycle. So of course there's going to be things that the original, expanded game had, which the new game doesn't have.

But the sequel also has (and does) a lot of things that the original didn't do. It has a much more complicated economy, in which all industries generate specific types of raw materials or goods, and all commercial stores sell specific types of goods or resources. Basically, the core idea of the Industries expansion supply lines and logistics was expanded out to the entire game, rather than just those few specialized industries.

In fact, the sequel includes content or ideas from almost all of the original game's expansions. In addition to the industrial aforementioned seasonal cycle and industrial supply lines, we also have a few natural disasters, some eco-friendly upgrades to various polluting infrastructure, pedestrian roads, road-building tools that put Mass Transit to shame, and some customizable, modular buildings.

Unfortunately, some of these mechanics imported from the original game (and its expansions) do not quite live up to my hopes and expectations. I made a video describing how the modular buildings and industry areas of Cities Skylines II do not live up to the expressiveness and creativity of the Parklife and Industries areas from the first game. I'm not going to transcribe the entire video here. Instead, I will summarize the main points and ideas, and refer you to the full video if you want more detail and examples.

Full video outlining my suggestion for improving building upgrades and industry areas.

Also, I would like to remind my readers and viewers that video and blog content like this is supported by viewers like you through Patreon. So if you like this content, and would like to see more like it, please consider becoming a Patreon for just a dollar or 2 a month. Your patronage helps to offset the cost of maintaining this website, as well as the software licenses I use to create the video content.

Patreon

Patrons also get previews of and early access to upcoming content, and Patrons at higher tiers have voting power in polls of upcoming projects. I've been working on a massive project about Star Trek video games over the past few months. There are currently a couple previews available on Patreon, and I plan on releasing the entire project early to Patrons when it's finished, while publishing the episodes one at a time to the general public. So if you'd like to see that project early, then consider becoming a Patron. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all my Patrons, past, present, and future. Your support really means a lot.

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Cities: Skylines II - title

I've been playing Cities: Skylines for almost 10 years. As soon as I started playing it, I recognized it as the definitive city-building game. It blew its contemporaries, such as SimCity (2013) and Cities XL out of the water. It was a smash success that developed a massive following and spawned 11 full expansions, 4 mini-expansions, 21 asset packs, numerous music packs, and thousands of player-created mods and custom assets.

Creating a sequel to a game that is so beloved and content-rich can be challenging or daunting. Sequels to extensively-expanded games, such as any given entry of The Sims, Civilization, Crusader Kings, World of Warcraft, Rock Band, and so forth, run the extreme risk of feeling bland, empty, and incomplete compared to their content-rich and/or mechanically-complex predecessors. This can leave the sequel feeling underwhelming to long-time audiences, who might return to the older game because they crave the extensive, familiar content. The Sims in particular is infamous for stripping out popular expansion content, and then selling that content back to consumers again (and again) as an expansion pack for the sequel. The most notable example is probably that every Sims game has a "Pets" expansion, because EA could never bite the bullet and just put dogs and cats in the vanilla launch of a sequel.

Sequels to expanded games often strip out popular content to re-sell as expansions.

The sequel to Cities: Skylines is a bit of a mixed bag in this regard. On the one hand, yeah, a lot of content from the original game is absent from the sequel, and the options for what players can build can feel a bit sparse. On the other hand, the vanilla release of Cities: Skylines II retains something from almost every one of the original game's expansions. It even includes content and mechanics that were part of some of the smaller content packs and from popular mods.

The vanilla game includes a day/night cycle that was introduced in the original's After Dark expansion. Some of the economic models of the After Dark and Industries expansions have been expanded in scope to apply to the entire game, thus alleviating some of the need for explicit tourism, leisure, or specialized industry districts. It took the winter themes of Snowfall and fleshed it out into a full seasonal cycle. It includes some of the weather and disaster events from Natural Disasters, as well as some of the early-warning and shelter infrastructure. It includes modular upgrades and customizations to certain buildings and infrastructure, as well as large industrial areas, that fills a similar role as the modular areas of Parklife, Industries, Campus, and Airports (though I'll talk more about this mechanic later in the review). It includes pedestrian roads from Plazas & Promenades. It includes eco-friendly variations of utilities that were part of the Green Cities expansion. And of course, it has road-building and transit-planning tools that largely leave Mass Transit in the dust.

It even includes sports parks and parking lots, which were late DLC content released for the original game in the last couple years. And the road-building and traffic-management tools have much of the functionality from the popular "Road Anarcy" and "Network Extension" mods. And that's to say nothing of all the brand new content, mechanics, and more complicated simulation! So even though it is not as full or content-rich as its predecessor with its double-digit expansions (how could it be?!), Cities: Skylines II is still a fully-featured and content-rich city-builder that can be played for many hours before going stale.

Some content and mechanics from almost every CS1 expansion are included in CS2's launch.

But as I said, there is quite a lot of content from the original game that did not make the cut, and which is sorely missed. For one thing, bicycles and bike lanes aren't in the game at launch, which is a kind of baffling decision (considering this game is developed in Scandinavia, where bicycling is huge). There also aren't any walls or fences or quays, and the tool for disabling zoning on either side of a road is strangely absent. So it's back to using pedestrian paths to remove zoning from arterial roads. Zoning is actually quite a bit of a pain in the ass in the sequel, and I am frequently fighting with the road layout, zoning squares, and pedestrian paths to try to get my city to look the way I want.

If you were particularly fond of leveling up and expanding things like industrial parks, nature preserves, amusement parks, universities, and so forth, then you might be disappointed by their absence. In fact, recreation, leisure, and tourism options are very spares in the sequel, as it lacks the tourism and leisure districts of the After Dark expansion. You also won't be building any small fishing villages, since Sunset Harbor is the one expansion that doesn't have anything being carried over into the sequel.

To its credit, the vanilla release of Cities: Skylines II feels more content rich and mechanically-compelling compared to the vanilla release of the original Cities: Skylines. But there's so much absent from the original game, that I un-install the original from my PC with a degree of trepidation.

There is some content from CS1 that is conspicuously absent.
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A video retrospective of the last few years' of Cities: Skylines expansions and DLC is on YouTube.

I recently published a new video essay to my YouTube channel about the last few years' worth of expansions and DLC for Cities: Skylines. I will not transcribe the entire essay here, since most of what is in the essay has already been presented in my various reviews of the relevant expansions and DLC. This video features my impressions of the Campus, Sunset Harbor, Airports, Plazas & Promenades, and Hotels " Retreats expansions, as well as the World Tour DLCs (including the Financial Districts mini-DLC and content creator packs).

In summary, while most of these expansions were even more limited in scope than the earlier Cities: Skylines expansions, they started to show some signs that Colossal Order was starting to address some of my long-standing complaints and criticisms with the earlier expansions. Most notably, the newer expansions started to back-port new features and mechanics into the older expansions, such as adding new buildings if players have other expansions installed, or adding new mixed-use transit options that combine transit methods in the new expansions with transit options found in old expansions. It's a lot of subtle stuff, but it goes a long way towards making all the expansions feel more robust and homogenized.

In addition, the newer expansions and content creator packs started introducing assets that I had been asking for for a very long time. These include native parking lots and garages, sports parks such as baseball diamonds and football fields, and new sports stadiums. Sadly, we still don't have public beaches, water parks, or golf courses.

These subtle changes to the way that the expansions also expand other expansions has me very excited and optimistic that Cities: Skylines II will learn lessons from the original game's expansions' faults, and will offer much more robust and complete expansions.

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Cities Skylines: Hotels and Retreats - title

Surely this has to be the last DLC that Cities: Skylines is receiving, given that the sequel is due out this fall. This last wave of expansions and content creator packs has scratched a lot of very specific itches that I've had with Cities: Skylines for a long time, and they've had me playing the game a lot lately. I've been building a large city up over 100 thousand population, and also going back to some older save files and either upgrading them to use newer DLC assets, or to replace old mod assets with analogous official DLC assets.

A near seamless fit

What I really like about Hotels & Retreats is how seamlessly they fit into the existing game. Like with Industries, Campus, and Airports, I feel that Hotels & Retreats could easily have fallen into the trap of replacing old assets and rendering them moot or useless. Like, if the DLC had added a "resort area" mechanic using the Parklife area painting mechanic with modular hotels and resorts, it could easily have caused me to stop using the After Dark leisure and tourism district specializations (just like I've basically stopped using farm, forestry, oil, and ore industry specializations because I use the Industries areas instead).

Hotels & Retreats works very well alongside other expansion content!

Instead of feeling like a replacement for the existing tourism districts, the content of Hotels & Retreats is a great supplement. In fact, it feels like it could easily have been part of the After Dark expansion. Or the Parklife expansion. Or the Airports expansion. Or Plazas & Promenades. Or even the previous Financial Districts DLC.

Each hotel has preferences for proximity to a combination of city landmarks, shopping, offices, or nature. How well the hotel's location fits its unique combination of those 4 preferences will determine how popular it is for guests, which in turn will influence how much (if any) profit it makes, and the player can set its pricing accordingly. A business hotel placed in the middle of an IT or financial specialty district, along with some nearby commercial districts, will generate high profit; while a rental cabin will do best if placed in the vicinity of a nature preserve, in the middle of a forest, or along a pristine scenic coastline.

Each individual hotel's profit is aggregated into a total profit margin for the "chain" of hotels, and higher-level hotels are unlocked by increasing the weekly profit of the entire chain. So improperly-placed or poorly-performing hotels can be subsidized by the fully-occupied, perfectly-placed hotels with higher prices and profit margins.

Cheap, unprofitable niche hotels can be subsidized by the more popular and expensive hotels.
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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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