I used to despise myself for my choices in gaming – always going after single player games that have no specific end goals but could easily take hundreds of hours out of my life. A couple of years ago, however, I found out about Cities: Skylines from my YouTube recommendations. It fit the bill perfectly, it was a single player game that could only end if you got bored or your PC died.
I gave the game a go, and well, I'm glad I did because life has never been the same for me since.
Cities: Skylines is the best, most popular city-building game ever made. My discovery on that fateful day two years ago was nothing special, but I have since found out that like most Paradox games, people found Skylines really difficult to get into. It's understandable too – it's a complicated game with a lot of different functionalities that takes time getting used to. Add more than a dozen DLCs on top of that with a modding community that churns out thousands of new mods and assets every day, then the name of the game's maker, Colossal Order, really starts to make sense. It's daunting from the outside but if you are a person who loves building things and is interested in channelling their creativity through the games they play, Cities: Skylines is the best thing you could ever ask for.
I needed help getting started with Cities: Skylines. My first points of reference were the YouTubers "Biffa Plays Indie Games" and "Seniac". After spending hours watching them build colossal cities that start off as humble villages, fixing traffic backlogs by replacing intersections with roundabouts, and filling entire lakes with fresh, hot sewage, I decided it was time to build my own. My first city was a boring old town with grids for roads and traffic jams that went on for miles, but little by little, I saw myself improving. I had started using mods once I had half a dozen cities under my belt, and by the time I got to my 50th city, I was hitting 100k population with ease.
My best city thus far – Otro Elaka – has around 150,000 people, two major ports, two passenger airports, two cargo airports, and an extensive public transport network made up of buses, metro rail, trains, and ferry lines. The city has two universities educating its citizens, citizens who go on to work in its booming forestry, fisheries, oil and ore industries, or the high-tech manufacturing businesses that make up its economy. There's even a tourism sector, with sandy beaches and tall hotels, and a very interesting nightlife scene. And the best thing about all of this is that I built these amazing features in my own city little by little, and watched it grow into the megalopolis of my dreams.
For me, Cities: Skylines is more than a game. I always knew I liked cities and liked finding out how they functioned, but the intricacies involved with simply simulating a good liveable city really puts into perspective how difficult it is to actually run a good liveable city. I believe cities are the vessels of civilisation, cities are where human innovations happen and mankind finds the future, which makes me think it's a good thing to be fascinated by cities. More people caring about cities will lead to better cities, and that's what I think is truly wonderful about the world of Cities: Skylines.
I'm a city-planning enthusiast and also sub-editor at SHOUT. To look at some beautiful cities built using Cities: Skylines, try the YouTube channels "ARTFX Gaming" and "Citywokcitywall". You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org