Cities: Skylines first launched in 2015 for PC users and it was widely considered to be the city building sim to own. It didn’t require any crazy online connectivity or have a ton of limits on building space and what you could and couldn’t do. It was a refreshing addition to the genre. But how would it stack up moving from PC to consoles?
The short answer is, Cities: Skylines transfers over pretty well. The game is still just as fun as it ever was and still, gives you the free ability to build up your city one area at a time. The game also includes the After Dark DLC from the PC version which brings in day and night cycles for an extra dynamic. If you’ve played the game on PC you’ll see this is almost a carbon copy of the game on a different platform, and that’s a good thing because the game is overall fantastic. From a single small road town to a giant metropolitan city, this game is a must own for fans of city building sims.
The biggest question about bringing Cities: Skylines to the Xbox One would sit with the controls. From typical keyboard and mouse to a controller, how would it come across? Simply speaking, the revamped menus to help with the use of a controller works wonderfully. Everything is easy to find through a series of menus. Navigating is incredibly easy using the D-pad to run through menus and thumb sticks to do sweet fly-bys of your city. Every function is comfortably placed around to the controller that makes for an easy, streamlined interface. It’s incredibly fun to use the zoom features, located on both triggers, to fly down into the city and listen to the people you’re providing for.
As for placing roads and buildings, the snap feature (which was available in the PC version) helps in a big way but the downfall of the controller is that it is not as precise as using a mouse. Often times I found myself skipping over the small plots of land trying to put a building in one exact spot. Using the thumbsticks doesn’t give you the best control when looking to move one space or block over so you might struggle a bit to get things exactly where you want them. The zoom function helps with this issues, but it’s not a perfect fix. Once you get past the little things and the slight learning curve of using a controller, the game is still just as good as its always been.
One issue I’ve always had with the game is that, at first, it can be a challenge. There isn’t a lot of explanation of what to do or how things work for most of the game. So first timers can find this to be frustrating while trying to start their own city. The first hour can usually be the most frustrating part as you’re dealing with your initial budget and trying to get water and electricity up and running. Later on, once you’ve started to figure everything out, the game is smooth sailing from there. You can deal with changing tax percentage, taking loans and city spending on resources but a lot of that can be ignored if you’d rather focus on taking care of your citizens. If you’re still struggling, read the tweets from the citizens. Usually they, in a passive aggressive manner, tell you what you need to do.
I did have two complaints about the game, albeit they aren’t game breaking or enough for me to stop playing. The first one people will notice who have played city building sims in the past or even Cities: Skylines on the PC is that there is no fast forward option. This can be a big deal in these types of games since you’re often just waiting around for a building to go up, money to come in or an issue to pop up so you have something to do. The Xbox One version wants you to live through every day at normal speed. Once my city was up and running, I was waiting a lot and even putting the controller down to do something else while I waited. It’s not ideal but it didn’t ruin my overall experience of the game. The second issue stems from some bugs and frame rate issues. In my first city plot, I hit a bug with the bulldozing option that totally broke the game for me and I had to start a new city. It was a one-time thing but for it to happen right away was pretty annoying. Other small problems here and there I was able to overlook to continue on making my city as best as I could.
Another gripe I have is the lack of other DLC featured on the PC version. The Xbox One version is missing weather cycles such as snowfall and natural disasters. Which, in my opinion, would help with the fact that you can’t fast forward the game since something could happen instead of just maintaining the city. Hopefully, we see these editions to the console version soon so that both copies are closer to each other and give out a similar experience.
Small issues aside, Cities: Skylines is fantastic and a real joy to any fan of city building simulators. It encompasses that feeling that gamers want from any game, a sense of satisfaction through problem solving and competition. Dealing with bankruptcy and unexpected hardships really give you the feeling of success when taken care of properly.
Cities: Skylines is the pinnacle city building simulator on consoles, truly at the top of its game. Aside from the small performance bugs and inability to fast forward, the game delivers everything a fan of the genre is looking for. It’s not often we see a PC to console port that includes a total revamp on controls, go over so smoothly but it’s incredibly refreshing that this one worked out as well as it did.
The console version of Cities: Skylines is every bit as good as it’s PC counterpart and while it may not be the definitive edition of the game, it’s easily the best city building simulator available on consoles. If you’re an Xbox One owner and a fan of city building or simulation games in general, you owe it to yourself to pick up this game.