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Cities Skylines 2 is everything that fans, modders, and CO ever wanted

Cities Skylines 2 combines the dreams and desires of fans, modders, and Colossal Order, as one CS2 dev explains all in our exclusive Gamescom interview.

Cities Skylines 2 has a lot of different people to please. Like any experience in the superlative city-building game, if you give one group precisely what they want, you risk alienating another. Raise commercial taxes so you can put more money into schools, and business owners will revolt; introduce all the features and systems that you might imagine for a sequel, and although it gratifies long-standing fans who understand the game already, it’ll be daunting to Cities Skylines 2 newcomers. With the Cities Skylines 2 release date inbound, developer Colossal Order wants to deliver on all fronts.

Helped by a passionate community, and fully versed in the greatest Cities Skylines mods, CO is also trying to make the game that it has always wanted to make. The key is harmony – somewhere between what fans want, what modders have always been trying to do, and Colossal Order’s greatest ambitions, is the perfect version of Cities Skylines 2. Speaking to PCGamesN at Gamescom, designer Henri Haimakainen explains how to make a game that meets all expectations.

It’s been eight years since the launch of Cities Skylines and in that time Colossal Order has grown. Patches, updates, and DLCs have helped turn CS1 into one of the best management games in the world, but Colossal Order has always withheld grander ambitions. No longer can the developer iterate and build upon the original Cities. With new tech, a bigger team, and an expansive vision, the time for a full Cities Skylines sequel is now.

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“At some point, it was like ‘how can we keep putting things into the game while still allowing the game to function properly?’” Haimakainen explains. “It’s the limitations of the original engine, and other limitations, that were the springboard. Now we have new tech, new engines, and multi-core support, so we can create the game that we actually wanted to create, but which wasn’t feasible with the smaller team.

“This time we could really push the limits. It’s much more expansive. We have eight years of experience and we’re combining stuff that we have done, the community has requested, and also that modders have done over the years. And all of that made us want to make a new game. Not just 1.5, but a full 2.0. It’s not possible to achieve that by updating the existing first game. Now, we can start from a clean slate and redo the old systems.”

In a sense, Cities Skylines 2 is the work not just of Colossal Order, but thousands of fans and modders. Let’s look at some of the new features that have been announced. Roundabouts, for example – those are something that fans and modders have been asking for and trying to perfect for years. Likewise, better on and off ramps for highways, traffic that knows to use every lane of a large road, and landfills that you can custom draw. These are just a few examples, but so specific and so well observed they illustrate just how much attention Colossal Order gives to the Cities community.

Cities Skylines 2 Gamescom interview: A huge metropolis in Colossal Order city-building game Cities Skylines 2

“From the start, when we released the first game, people said they needed better roundabouts and zoning, and so now, because we have the opportunity to do things from a fresh start, we can include those as core functionality,” Haimakainen says. “It was so cool, to see what the community and modders wished for, and how we could put those in so they’re a part of the game, not just planted on top of it.

“The economy for example is complex but not complicated – there are safeguards and systems in place that support the player. We were able to create a very robust economic system, but if you just want to lay back and build your fantasy city, you can do that, too.”

This is the sweet spot, the overlapping center of the Venn diagram that Colossal Order and Cities Skylines 2 are striving to locate. As well as implementing new features, systems, and tools based on community feedback and mods, the developer is passionately pursuing its own vision. The new and all-important roads system, for example, represents the creative dream of one of Cities Skylines 2’s most veteran developers.

Cities Skylines 2 Gamescom interview: A intersecting roundabout in Colossal Order city-building game Cities Skylines 2

“Our programmer who made the first road system for Cities Skylines 1, it was a great system back then, but if we ever made Cities Skylines 2, he’s been waiting to go crazy,” Haimakainen explains. “He’s like ‘okay, I want to do this differently now,’ and this is his passion project, to recreate the roads. When I first saw it, like the new system for merging roads, my brain just melted.”

Cities Skylines 2’s visual design and aesthetics are another point of pride for Colossal Order. A completely overhauled system for ambient noise, much more interactive and responsive citizens, and dynamic weather and seasons are just some of the additions to the strategy game’s overall look. No longer is Cities Skylines a pure simulation game, with little interest in atmosphere and mood. Now it feels lived-in and organic, a sprawling urban epic that would cut perfectly to the jazz of George Gershwin.

“Of course our games are first and foremost management games, and gameplay is the core,” Haimakainen explains. “But we wanted to adopt a kind of industry standard for the art as well. It was important for us to not only to get the scope of the buildings right – bigger buildings that actually look like they’re supposed to – but we also put detail into the buildings so that when when you’re just looking you can rotate the camera and see there’s like a door there, a railing here, and stuff like that. Your eyes can wander.”

Cities Skylines 2 Gamescom interview: A huge city in Colossal Order city-building game Cities Skylines 2

“Since our first game Cities in Motion, way back in 2011, we always wanted to have the human element be a focus of the game, and to have a narrative in a sense. We’re not creating cities for automatons or robots – we want to create cities for people, even if they are artificial people.”

Between this group and that group, one priority or another, forging success in Cities Skylines is never easy. But Colossal Order, attentive to its community while also dedicated to its own aspirations, seems to have found the accord. It’s tough, but Haimakainen and the CO team have made it work. “We have used a lot of time balancing this game,” the designer concludes. “It has been a long, long task. But I think we have achieved a great balance.”

Check out the complete Cities Skylines 2 maps, to get a better sense of just how big Colossal Order is building its sequel, as well as all of the Cities Skylines 2 DLC we can expect after launch, and how Cities Skylines 2 mods will function now that Steam Workshop isn’t an option. You’ll also want the full Cities Skylines 2 system requirements, so you know your PC is ready.