Cities: Skylines was a surprise a few years ago when they went toe-to-toe with the behemoth SimCity, and managed to win. Then the game came to consoles, albeit with a lot of restrictions. Now with Cities: Skylines Remastered we return to consoles again, but this time the restrictions are lifted and we get to see the game truly shine.
When the original Cities: Skylines launched, I never expected to spend so much time building cities. I was so hooked, in fact, that it remains the only game I’ve never deleted from the harddrive despite having owned it for some time. There is just something about the experience that allows me to jump in and fine tune my city for an hour or two, and spend some time sorting out traffic jams.
Cities: Skylines Remastered
Developed By: Paradox Interactive
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X | S
Genre: City Simulation
Release Date: February, 15 2023
Eventually, however, my city hit a wall. I couldn’t expand anymore, and the load of a massive city was making the game run really choppy.
This is where the remastered version steps in and corrects basically all the performance issues. In the original game we were restricted to nine tiles. For a novice city-builder, this felt large until you were deep into the game and felt the restriction. With the remaster the blocks are increased to 25, so your city can be nearly three times as large as before.
Also improved—and noticeable the bigger your city gets—are simple performance issues. There is a slight hiccup in frames when the game autosaves, but overall the performance is about as smooth as can be. Zooming into busy areas and fine tuning roads never really becomes a hassle no matter how big the city becomes. You can also zoom in and see traffic for a good distance, which helps with correcting congested areas. The new measurement tools and precision placement also aid in building beautiful areas.
The snapping tool supposedly has an update as well, but I had issues fine tuning it to create straight lines when building a grid. There are also areas where detailed placement in general just becomes a hassle, which leads to awkwardly angled roads and weird placements at times. To be fair, however, this is something the game has had issues with even on PC.
A new feature that’s great for new players is that all the changes made to the tutorial over the years have finally been pieced together into one cohesive city. The game does a good job of guiding you when building a new city by telling you what to look at, what different markers mean, when to build new structures, or what to put your focus on. The original game kind of just threw you into the fire and assumed you already knew the basics of city building. So it’s nice to see newcomers will have an opportunity to hit the ground running a bit more smoothly.
One of the new features I really love is the environmental panel. With this we can now precisely adjust the time of day. So if you want to check out the dead of night, mid day, or just as the sun is setting you can move it any time you want. This is super handy when you want to see what your new downtown district looks like lit up at night, or if you want to test your power grid policies during the day. And that’s not to mention how it leads to some good photo opportunities when exploring the city.
For people new to the series, the game has a great in-depth management system for multiple layers of the city. Not only are you managing power and water, but noise, entertainment, emergency services, and most importantly traffic. Cities does an amazing job of making you manage traffic flow with different streets and intersections, so the added performance perks really help in this area.
The next-gen version is also free for anyone who purchased the game digitally. One of the downsides is if you purchased the game physically, or got it via PS Plus (Xbox GamePass actually got the new version), then the upgrade isn’t free sadly. Another downside is that because it is a “new” game then you can’t import your city from the previous console editions, so that means starting all over again. For someone like me who has spent over 100 hours building a city it was a bit disappointing seeing I need to start all over again, and even re-earn trophies that took dozens of hours to get. However it did give me a good reason to play aggressively again as well, so it’s not entirely bad.
Overall the Remastered version of Cities: Skylines brings all the updates we have been asking (hoping) for to the consoles all in one neat package. For people who can upgrade for free, or for new players buying the game for the first time, it’s a welcome package that’s totally worth building a new city in. All the DLC and core game gets upgraded, and it’s a fantastic “next generation” update. Hopefully the team can find a way to provide the free update to physical owners, and possibly give PS Plus the updated version as well.