It's official: Cities: Skylines 2 is coming in 2023. Paradox Interactive and Colossal Order announced today that they're bringing us a sequel to 2015's Cities: Skylines, and promise it'll be the "most realistic city simulation ever created."
We don't have a ton of information about Cities: Skylines 2 yet—no specific release date has been announced, and the trailer was entirely cinematic. When Paradox Interactive says Cities: Skylines 2 is "revolutionary" and features "cities that come to life like never before," we don't really know what that means.
The trailer shows the seasons changing, which is new and exciting, and maybe—maybe—hints at actual reflections on shiny skyscrapers instead of just generic reflection textures, which would be cool. There may also be more elaborate construction animations for buildings, but it's hard to tell what's purely cinematic in the trailer and what will actually be in the game.
I'm sure we'll find out more in the coming months. Until we do, here are a few things I'd like to see in Cities: Skylines 2.
Seasons that are more than just visual
One of the few things we can really glean from the cinematic trailer is that there will be actual seasons in Cities: Skylines 2, which is fantastic. We got a winter season in the original game as part of the Snowfall expansion, but that really just provided maps and themes that trapped you in perpetual winter, rather than a real cycle of seasons for our cities.
I'm hoping the new seasons won't just provide a nice visual in terms of leaves changing colors and snow falling in the city and then melting, but real city management issues that arise as the result of a weather cycle. Budgeting and vehicles for clearing snow from roads (and which roads to prioritize), changing road conditions (in my real-life city the roads require lots of repair after months of rain), power infrastructure issues brought on by more heating in the winter or more cooling in the summer, changes to tourism levels depending on the time of year, and other challenges that result from seasonal changes would be great. I'm not asking for survival game-levels of issues brought on by the cold, but a few temperature and weather-related systems would be fun to wrestle with.
A procedural map generator
Every now and then I'll take a dive into the Steam Workshop to look for a new Skylines map to build on, and there are literally thousands to choose from thanks to modders and mapmakers. And, if I weren't so lazy, I could just go ahead and design my own.
But there's a certain pleasure in using procedural generation to quickly create a completely new, unique map, and I'd love to be able to do that in Cities: Skylines 2. Let me select from some options, play with a few sliders, set a few parameters, and then click a button to watch a massive map get quickly generated just for me. If I don't like it, I can keep regenerating it, and once I'm happy I could just jump in and start building.
New types of zoning
I'm gonna let out a long, gusty sigh if Cities: Skylines 2 has the same zoning options it has in the original: residential, commercial, office, and industrial. I feel like there are more creative options out there. I used to live in a second floor apartment above some retail shops: I'd love to see something like that in the form of mixed-use zoning in Skylines 2. Plenty of high-rise towers have commercial space on the lower floors, plus offices and even residences and penthouses above.
Industrial zoning as a catch-all for every type of factory feels a bit basic at this point, so I'd love to see more creative options there (even if I can't think of what they'd be, specifically). When I'm drawing my grids in Cities: Skylines 2, I'm hopeful there will be more than just those green, blue, and yellow options to choose from.
Modular or dynamic buildings
I was always a bit bummed to create a lovely little neighborhood on a Skylines map, then suddenly realize I still needed a police station, fire department, or other service building. It's easy enough to solve: just slam one in somewhere on the street, typically by deleting a few houses at the cost of a brief handful of frowny faces from the displaced citizens.
But obliterating someone's house to add an elementary school or hospital isn't particularly realistic, and the fact that these buildings are always the same size and shape means there was no way to fit them into an existing neighborhood more organically. Having service buildings be modular, or being able to dynamically fit them into a tight space or unusually shaped empty lot would be a much more satisfying way to add them to a crowded neighborhood.
Don't sell us the same DLC all over again
Cities: Skylines has released close to 50 pieces of DLC since 2015, and excluding sales and specials they'll run you over $300 to collect them all. I expect Cities: Skylines 2 to continue the trend of regularly releasing DLC (after all, this is Paradox we're talking about) but it's gonna be pretty rough to have to pay for a expansion for Cities: Skylines 2 that incorporates major features I've already bought in an earlier expansion for the original game.
For instance, I don't want to have to buy another Natural Disasters pack or another After Dark DLC for the sequel. I hope the transportation hubs found in the Mass Transit expansion and the eco-friendly building options in Green Cities are in the base game too. I'm sure there will be community packs and other add-ons and expansions after launch, and I'm fine with that. But it's gonna be frustrating if they're extremely similar to the expansions for the first game.
An online component, maybe
I know, it's weird to ask for the very feature that brought down EA's SimCity in 2013, but I don't think I'm alone in wanting some sort of multiplayer component in Cities: Skylines 2—provided it's optional for players. Offline singleplayer is a must (and I'm pretty sure we'll get that, considering how much backlash there is when we don't) but some sort of multiplayer component would be welcome, too.
While I'm mostly a singleplayer sort of guy myself, it would be cool to build a city that exists in some kind of online space alongside my friends' cities. It'd be fun to create highways and transport systems between cities, set up trade, or even hop into a first or third-person view and drive down the turnpike to visit someone else's city.
Failing that, I'd probably be just as happy if I could connect my own cities with each other. If I built a coastal city with a bustling port, I could then build an inland city and set up supply chains between them—and maybe even tourism, too, where I could see the citizens from one of my cities take a vacation in another. Any way for my individual cities to not feel like they exist in a vacuum would be great in Cities: Skylines 2.