The build up to the release of Cities: Skylines 2 has been an intense one. With dev diaries releasing weekly, and content creators teasing us with early code, we would-be mayors have been drip fed the latest offering in this much-loved city builder series.
Speaking to the Colossal Order game designers this week, I got to hear some of their biggest hurdles, proudest moments, and hopes for the launch of the sequel. And boy did the community have a big impact on the final product. Take a look at the full interview video above.
Game designers Aura Laurila and Henri Haimakainen—AKA Henkka—talked me through some of the pressures of pulling a game of this scope together, especially considering how well the first game did.
"Because the first game was such a success, it definitely put some stress on our end as well. Because it was such a big game by the end, we really had to figure out how to make the sequel meaningful enough to earn the number 2 at the end of the name," Henkka says.
And it seems like straight off the back of the original Cities: Skylines the devs were getting ideas on how to fix the game mechanics, in particular when it comes to roads."One of the coolest features in Cities: Skylines 2 is the road tool," says Henkka. Having already made a road tool for the original game, the team's "road master" knew how it needed to be built upon. "He knows now what to do to improve it and he was really excited to start designing a new version of that tool."
And while ideas have been brewing for years, the designers have made it clear the game would be nothing without the support and suggestions from the community. "I think that our fans are very passionate about the first game," Aura says. That's been clear from the sheer volume of discussions happening around Cities: Skylines 2."
"We've learned a lot from the feedback from the community and the wishes from the fans," Henkka says. And the fans certainly have not stayed silent about the things they needed from a sequel. "People wanted to have a new traffic AI, and people really wanted to have mixed-zone buildings, as well as roundabouts."
I can certainly relate to the latter as a Cities: Skylines interchange aficionado. "Roundabouts was probably the first thing that people wanted for the first game," he notes, "but we couldn't deliver it with the current system that we had for the roads." While the first game did have premade roundabouts, there was no specific roundabout tool. Mods filled the gap, but it's nice to see roundabouts getting some love, and having them unlockable so early in the game.
Having played Cities: Skylines 2 for a week now, I have to say the new adaptive road system really supports my chaotic road placement, though the economic systems took some getting used to.
Unlike Cities: Skylines, there's no way you can just spam services the second they unlock without running up some serious monthly costs in the sequel. You have to look at taxation from a different angle than before—just whacking them up to 13% and leaving the people to squirm doesn't quite work.
Part of the reason players like me have had to partially relearn how to build an economically viable city is that the devs have had to balance the things returning players want from these systems with the needs of new players.
"The economics has probably been one of the most challenging things in the game to get just right," says Henkka, "because we wanted the game to be, in a sense, that you can be a beginner and still feel good playing the game—so the game supports your first goes and you don't bankrupt your cities, but we also wanted to have a complex system running underneath it."
I still managed to bankrupt my first city, but that's a story for another day.
Cities: Skylines 2 will be releasing on Steam come October 24, so you can join us on the side of adaptive roads and easy roundabouts.