Cities: Skylines II (PC) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 25.10.2023

Review for Cities: Skylines II on PC

Cities Skylines, Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive's answer to SimCity, was a fantastic game that, up until this year, was receiving new DLC regularly. Now that the PC gaming world has progressed, Colossal Order has brought a new entry to the table, available in late October: Cities Skylines 2. This new venture is promising expanded and new systems, more detail and a whole lot of scale! So how is it shaping up vs its extremely successful predecessor?

It's a case of bigger is definitely better. Cities Skylines was a joyful game full of fun systems and city management with a level of detail never really seen before. This sequel seeks to take that depth and complexity up a further notch. Things like water and sewage management have been decoupled, power requires much more use of power lines, transformers and the like, and in general it presents players with the tools to do whatever they wish whilst being careful to still be approachable. The DNA of the series is intact with the same lovable flair and atmosphere, the addictive catharsis of a city-building sim is here and it has its claws into players as soon as they get building.

The controls here are quite complex but easy enough to learn. Players of the original should feel quite at home with the layout. Camera control is smooth but requires quite a few inputs which are easy to mess up in the initial hours of playing, however the fine-grained control lets players examine the details up close or pitch and tilt to their heart's content. So long as the game settings are set appropriately for the PC it is being run on, the controls are lag-free and the mouse feel is great, making it easy to accurately place and edit city layouts. When it comes to settings there are quite a lot of granular settings, each changing the visuals in real-time so it's easy to see the performance changes as the player tweaks things.

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines II on PC

Where would a city building sim be without the, well…, building? Cities Skylines 2 is no slouch in this regard. Players begin with limited access to buildings and systems which gradually unlock as they progress through different achievement levels. This game sees an iteration of many of the features and services of the original. As mentioned earlier, sewage and water are now separated and decidedly more complex with far more options. Power requires much more thought to spread through the city and many other systems drain power. It's crazy just how different it feels despite being so similar in makeup to that original template. Almost every aspect of the first game is here and expanded; most services for example can be upgraded, road types can be adorned with accessories and things like road management are totally overhauled allowing for granular placement of stop signs or the ability to turn junctions into roundabouts. A large percentage of a game session is spent planning and replanning parts of the city in reaction to what residents seem to want. This reactionary redevelopment keeps things interesting and engaging even in the most intricate cities.

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines II on PC

In terms of city residents, they now have much fuller simulation, making the city feel alive and bustling. They also benefit from even more statuses and the Tweeter messages seen in the in-game social media are a great running narrative of things to fix or compliments to the player for their good management. Things like mismanaged water supply, comms or a bad job market can send the residents spiralling so it's important to balance this during a session. In terms of game balance, Colossal Order seems to have hit it on the head this time with some excellent features for managing each aspect of the game. These managerial overviews have been much updated since the first game with better user interfaces and easier-to-understand data to help mitigate some of the instant city deaths that the series has had in the past. This also alleviates some of the difficulty level but the game does retain its difficulty spikes when expanding the city.

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines II on PC

Visually, the make-up is very similar to the previous title but everything has had a polish up and some great new visual features give a bit more life to the city. Lighting and density are the biggest changes with global illumination making the city feel more grounded in the scene and things like clouds casting shadows down on the ground just lend an air of realism to many moments. Things have also seen a bump in scale. Where in the first game things could be quite large (for example, a nuclear power station used to be large but ultimately still easy to integrate), here they are humongous and with the new systems require things like transformers and cables to pass power to the city. Everything just has an air of new about it which is exciting to experience. The general atmosphere also benefits from an interesting new soundscape. While quite similar to the first game, now there are reactionary radio broadcasts, more alerts and a generally expansive soundscape. The music is also great, offering players mood-setting backgrounds to their expanding metropolises.

There were a few bugs to contend with during the review period but the game never crashed or had any significant issues which is excellent as this reviewer's PC is starting to lag behind expected hardware requirements. With a bit of tweaking it is possible to get excellent performance out of the title but it is recommended to use an SSD to install the game as loading from a traditional hard drive takes quite a long time. Hopefully this title sees the same support as its predecessor and it can be played for years to come!

Screenshot for Cities: Skylines II on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Cities: Skylines 2 is shaping up to be a masterpiece. The systems have been expanded to a point where losing an hour to planning power grids is commonplace and, best of all, fun! Building a sprawling city from nothing is as enticing a concept as it has ever been, especially coupled with the multitude of new features and layers of detail to rifle through. It will be interesting to see how the game develops in the future but if it continues the trend the developers set with the original game, well… This game will be a fantastic city-building powerhouse! Highly recommended!


Colossal Order







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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