"It's kind of like getting back to the roots," says Mariina Hallikainen, CEO of Colossal Order, developer of Cities: Skylines. I'm speaking to Hallikainen at a demo of Skylines upcoming Mass Transit DLC, which hearkens back to Cities in Motion, Colossal Order's 2011 public transportation simulator (which was followed by Cities in Motion 2 in 2013).
The Mass Transit DLC will introduce four new transportation options to Cities: Skylines. The expensive yet efficient monorail. Cable cars, good for sending passengers over slopes or uneven landscapes. Ferries for carrying commuters over water. And the best (if not the most realistic) option: blimps. I didn't get to try out the DLC myself, only watch as it was demonstrated for me, which is a shame because I really want to get my hands on those blimps. I'm already dreaming of a city that relies entirely on blimp-based public transport. Blimp City, I'll call it.
Tying these new public transportation options together—along with existing ones like trains and buses—will be mass transit hubs. During the demo we look at one that combines a bus station with the monorail, and Hallikainen says there will be four more types of hubs when the DLC is released, letting your passengers easily switch from rail to bus lines or from trains to monorails. Also planned for the DLC is a tool to help your manage automobile traffic: stop signs you can place to improve the flow at troublesome intersections.
While you won't be able to set ticket prices for your various new forms of mass transit, you'll at least be able to customize them: choose their colors, set their schedules (for instance, if you want them running during the day or at night, or both) and name the individual lines. You'll also be able to see how many passengers are waiting at the various stops, and how long they are having to wait, which will help you gauge demand and efficiency.
As always, Paradox is including some free content along with the paid DLC (neither the price nor the release date for Mass Transit has been announced yet). In the base game, even if they don't buy the DLC, players will be able to name their city's individual roads, an addition which was inspired by a popular Cities: Skylines mod.
For someone like me, who always creates beautiful, picturesque cities but also completely sucks at managing my traffic problems—as evidenced by the time I attempted to actually drive through my city in a modded first-person mode—the mass transit mod looks like an extremely useful addition, providing new ways to cut down on all the cars and trucks endlessly clogging the streets.
Plus, there are blimps, which I have been watching take off and land during the entire demo. Blimps have special landing pads where (patient) passengers can board. "It's like a bus stop," Hallikainen explains. "For blimps."
Blimp City, I imagine, will have many. As another blimp lands on the screen, I ask if Hallikainen has even been on a blimp. She says she hasn't.
"It's a relatively slow means of transportation," Hallikainen admits. "But it's something that you can avoid the traffic [with], pretty much."
Blimps are also a bit silly to serve as public transportation, but I think that's the point.
"We kind of already got criticized, like 'Who will actually want to use blimps in their city?'" says Hallikainen. "It's a game so we don't always have to be super realistic with it. With this game, we take inspiration from real life and want to make it lifelike, but I think there's room some fun stuff."