Cities: Skylines

Here's what happens when four players try to run one town in Cities: Skylines. It ain't pretty. In fact it's so ugly, I reckon you're better going it alone—which you can now do via EA's Origin Access. The subscription service has now opened its doors to Colossal Order's city-builder, and seven other games. 

Darksiders: Warmastered Edition also joins Origin, alongside Rime, Orwell: Ignorance is Strength, Mad Games Tycoon, Jotun Valhalla Edition, Ghost 1.0 and Crashlands. 

Besides Cities, my favourites there are probably Orwell and Jotun. Phil billed the former a "novel perspective on totalitarian surveillance", and a success despite its flaws. Here's an excerpt from his 78-scored review:    

[Orwell] lets you watch over a spiralling conspiratorial thriller, and throws in enough twists and surprises to keep things interesting. It's an enjoyable way to interact with a world—the voyeurism creating a distinct, enjoyable power dynamic that I refuse to self-reflect on any further. It's not at all subtle—it's called Orwell, after all—but it's a well told mystery framed by a captivating storytelling device. 

And here's an interview between ex-PC Gamer assistant editor/current professional turncoat Tom Marks and Jotun's creative director William Dubé.

More information on EA's Origin Access subscription service, including how to sign up if you're into it, lives here

Cities: Skylines

EA has added another helping of non-EA games to its PC subscription service Origin Access, including popular construction sim Cities: Skylines and beautiful adventure puzzler Rime.

The well-received Darksiders: Warmastered Edition is also now included, as are indie games Orwell: Ignorance is Strength, Mad Games Tycoon, "action-explorer" Jotun, "chaotic side scroller" Ghost 1.0 and role-player Crashlands.

There's some delightful irony in Cities: Skylines now being part of EA's subscription offering - after the indie game bettered the publisher's own, much-maligned Sim City several years back.

Read more…

Dota 2 - (Alec Meer)


We’ve just passed the half-way point of 2018, so Ian Gatekeeper and all his fabulously wealthy chums over at Valve have revealed which hundred games have sold best on Steam over the past six months. It’s a list dominated by pre-2018 names, to be frank, a great many of which you’ll be expected, but there are a few surprises in there.

2018 releases Jurassic World Evolution, Far Cry 5 Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Warhammer: Vermintide II are wearing some spectacular money-hats, for example, while the relatively lesser-known likes of Raft, Eco and Deep Rock Galactic have made themselves heard above the din of triple-A marketing budgets. (more…)

Cities: Skylines

Nothing lets us flex our creative muscles like a management sim. Rollercoaster Tycoon, SimCity, Prison Architect: Putting a player in charge of building a city or constructing a theme park is a good way to encourage them to paint outside the lines. Sometimes way, way outside the lines. Over the years some players filled those blank canvases with creations that completely boggle the mind.

Below we've gathered some of the wildest and most impressive creations in construction management sims we've ever seen.

SimCity 3000: Magnasanti, inspired by the wheel of life and death

It took years of planning, much of it on graph paper, but Vincent Ocasla eventually designed a SimCity 3000 metropolis that could house 6,000,000 residents with zero crime. It's the perfect city in terms of efficiency, though there is an extremely sinister aspect to both the video above and the metropolis itself. For instance, none of its citizens live past 60. 

They also don't complain. "No one considers challenging the system by physical means since a hyper-efficient police state keeps them in line," Ocasla told Vice in this interview. "They have all been successfully dumbed down, sickened with poor health, enslaved and mind-controlled just enough to keep this system going for thousands of years. 50,000 years to be exact. They are all imprisoned in space and time."

Grim. He later adds "...I wanted to magnify the unbelievably sick ambitions of egotistical political dictators, ruling elites and downright insane architects, urban planners, and social engineers." Mission accomplished.

Rollercoaster Tycoon: Maze takes an NPC 263 years to solve

You've heard of walking simulators, but you've never really seen one until now. This is a park with a single attraction, and I hope you're wearing comfortable shoes because getting out is no picnic. Because picnics last an afternoon, and this maze takes a couple centuries. It took the first NPC to traverse the park-wide hedge maze over 260 in-game years of confused and miserable wandering. Some guests who entered the maze never left, and one spent hundreds of years just circling around near the entrance itself.

About 150 years after the park opened, a coaster was added that could allow riders to view the entirety of the maze, in hopes it might help one solve it (though the coaster itself took 4 years to complete a single circuit). Truly, the most devious theme park ever conceived.

You can follow the engrossing story of "A Walk in the Park" in five parts:

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5

Planet Coaster: Aliens recreated in coaster form

There are a number of amazing, movie-based Planet Coaster rides out there, from one that simulates Tron to on that weirdly celebrates Moonraker, but the Aliens ride you can see above is extra-special. It takes you beat by beat through the 1986 sci-fi action classic Aliens. 

Just watch it: it's amazing and it'll put you in the mood to rewatch the movie for the 94th time, too. Maybe start with the original Alien, make an evening of it. And then skip every other Alien film ever made.

There's a making-of video here.

Cities: Skylines: Sewage tsunami sinks city

Why, this seems like a perfectly lovely city! Clean, bright, happy, not much traffic, presumably good schools. But while cities may succumb to natural disasters from time to time, you really need to watch out for unnatural disasters. And there's nothing more unnatural than this disaster.

The creator of this city terraformed an enormous, towering cauldron overlooking the city and pumped in all its sewage. When it was filled to the brim, the floodgates were opened, so to speak. On the plus side, the tsunami of sewage did put out a fire.

Prison Architect: King's Landing

There's no shortage of clever and efficient prisons made for Prison Architect, from one shaped like the USS Enterprise from Star Trek to a faithful recreation of the prison from TBS mainstay Shawshank Redemption. If you're going to serve time, might as well do it someplace cool.

While enduring years of imprisonment, though, it can be helpful to escape into fantasy, such as in the prison above. You can see a lovely timelapse of the 60 hours of work that went into creating a prison that looks like King's Landing from Game of Thrones. Valar dohaeris.

SimCity: Sky-high superhighway

Bridges are a common spot for traffic jams: there are only so many ways to cross a river in a car, after all. Traffic looks pretty light on the bridge above, however, though that's probably a product of fear than sound city planning. Follow a school bus as it travels across this roller coaster-esque bridge that takes it twice as high as a plane flies, then watch it make a u-turn to get back on because, let's face it, that trip took so long the school day is long over (and the bus is probably full of puke).

Factorio: Sandstorm

You can build some pretty impressive automated factories in Factorio—or at least some people can. While I tend to feel accomplished at just making a few conveyor belts work properly, others put together immense network of machines, such as the one above that that—somehow—plays a video of Darude's Sandstorm.

Technically, the machines form a movie player so it could presumably play whatever you want, not just Darude, though I do commend the choice. If you want to know more about how it was created, head here. (Though I read it and I still don't get it.)

RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: a park 10 years in the making

There are entire open world games that don't put this much thought into their environment. I mean, look at this park, it's basically got biomes. The dedication comes from a park creator who spent a full decade building this RCT2 park, which ultimately includes 34 coasters, 255 attractions and shops, and a monorail that has been ridden more than a million times by guests. (Hopefully, there are no hedge mazes.)

Here's a link to a massive png of the park, and a reddit thread by its creator.

Evil Genius - (Alec Meer)


Base-building is de rigueur these days, what with all those survival games, Minecraft, Fallout 4 and now Fortnite, but before all that we had tiny top-down or isometric worlds in which we diligently built cities and dungeons and theme parks and rail networks. The central appeal of management games was and is that they give us an idealised sense of what it is like to create a game – to weave new worlds upon our screens, guided only by our imaginations, ingenuity and the limitations of the in-game taxation system. Magic, right there: the birth of your own universe.

For a while there, it looked as though the management flame was fading, choked by the low-grade tycoon games that littered supermarkets’ dusty games shelves. But this is The New Age Of PC Games, which means every near-abandoned idea of yesteryear has been revisited in thoughtful and ambitious new ways. Town sims and theme sims are now healthier and more vibrant than they’ve ever been, expanding. This round-up comprises the very best of the past and the very best of today: the twenty management games which are, by 2018 standards, most guaranteed to to consume your every waking thought.

These aren’t in any particular order, by-the-by: they are, simply, the 20 best management games. (more…)

Cities: Skylines - TheLetterZ

Hey everyone! We are just about to set a new patch live for Cities! This one comes with a Unity update as well as a bunch of fixes mainly to content brought in Parklife! Here are the full notes, please enjoy!

Cities: Skylines base game
● Updated to Unity 5.6.6f2
● Added Privacy Policy notification
● Fixed: All custom made roads require Parklife DLC
● Fixed: Metro stations in Assets that have built-in Metro Station become inoperable when the
asset is slightly flooded but not collapsed
● Fixed: Public Transport Line lengths have inconsistent divergences between different
transport types
● Fixed: Unnecessary prop signs on One-way Highway with Sound Barriers
● Fixed: Passenger Ships stuck on moving around while being on Confused state
● Fixed: Paths that the Ships are using are shown incorrectly in Traffic Routes Info View
● Fixed: Cargo Ships can get stuck and block all ship traffic
● Fixed: Translation issue in RU in Keymapping Settings
● Fixed: Office buildings are unable to grow if player has European / Vanilla style enabled in
European / Temperate themes
● Fixed: Can't start the game, Unity Engine error creating display list
● Fixed: Custom sub-mesh LOD textures getting corrupted

ParkLife expansion:
● Forest fire is not affecting Parklife assets till Milestone 5
● Steam tags for Parklife DLC
● Fixed: Honu island and Cavern Coast have long loading times
● Fixed: Animated citizens on Piggy train periodically are missing cloth textures
● Fixed: Park Main Gates that are placed directly to a Built-in road (E.g. Ferry Stop) will not
count visitors
● Fixed: Tooltip description of Hot Air Balloons Tours is not localized entirely in RU
● Fixed: Park Areas create 'Coverage' for Park Maintenance Info View
● Fixed: Park Maintenance Building does not generate 'Coverage' for Park Maintenance Info

Mass Transit expansion:
● Reduced noise pollution and radius of Monorail Stations

Natural Disasters expansion:
● Adjusted cost of construction and upkeep of Medical, Police and Fire Helicopter depots

UPDATE: The patch will be put live tomorrow instead!
Cities: Skylines

This 25-minute video, from YouTuber TDB Games, begins like a standard flythrough of a Cities: Skylines city build, albeit an impressive, sprawling one. And then the meteors start falling, and it turns into an epic disaster film.

The introduction is arguably a tad too drawn out—the first ten minutes are basically made up of detailed shots of the city at work set to upbeat music. But I enjoyed them all the same, and they made me remember just how satisfying it can be to tinker with a Cities: Skylines build.

But it really picks up when disaster strikes. Multiple meteors, tornadoes, raging fires: the city of Yoko, which is styled after a Japanese metropolis, is battered by the elements. 

The camera work is excellent, and the scene selection perfectly captures the city's response to the disasters. You'll see a sky filled with emergency helicopters, buzzing around like wasps, and ambulances stacking up bumper-to-bumper on the streets, struggling to meet demand.

I had no idea you could make something this good in Cities: Skylines, and it's led me down a rabbit hole of impressive creators showing off their imaginations (just click on any of the related videos to get lost yourself).

Thanks, Kotaku.

Cities: Skylines

This article was originally published in PC Gamer issue 318. For more quality articles about all things PC gaming, you can subscribe now in the UK and the US.  

Arguably the best city builder available right now, Cities: Skylines is a regular fixture in PC Gamer’s annual Top 100. It’s been further bolstered by DLC, updates and a huge Steam Workshop library of mods. Wanting to take a look at the breadth and variety now available, the PC Gamer team is embarking on a shared project to build a utopia. 

The AI civilians of a Cities: Skylines city aren’t capable of democracy, so we’re going to utilise the next best method: taking it in turns, regardless of experience. Each team member gets two years to craft their utopia. To make things interesting, we get unlimited money and all buildings are unlocked. But we also have to aim to make our city profitable, ensuring its viability should the infinite money bubble ever burst. 

Phase one: Phil Savage

UK mag editor Phil goes on a mod hunt.

Opening the Steam Workshop, I spend a while playing with various district styles. My plan is to give each district a theme. I want vibrant, contrasting communities—pockets of cyberpunk technoliving next to medieval townships and fantasy wonderlands. But then I change my mind. After all, isn’t PC gaming one big melting pot—a confluence of community and individuality? I hope so, because using district mods is complicated, and keeps making the game crash. 

Instead, I just download pages and pages of buildings that will automatically construct on any residential, commercial or industrial zones I lay. We’ve got neon skyscrapers, we’ve got classical architecture, we’ve even got a KFC. When I’m done, we’re subscribed to 528 items on the Steam Workshop. I open up Cities: Skylines and wait for a new map to load. It takes a long time. 

I christen this land ‘XxxxxxXxx’ in the hope that something clever will come to me once the city starts to take shape. I hit pause to stop the clock, giving me time to lay some bones. Roads are built, zones are designated, power and water is sourced. I build fire stations and schools and hospitals. I create suburbs in tidy rows. It’s efficient, but I soon get bored of forming grids. I’m British, and that means I’m used to cities that sort of fall together by accident. I start putting in curves and odd angles. 102 degrees! 84 degrees! I’m tearing the rulebook apart.

I know from experience that I’m terrible at creating intersections that link the state highway to the sprawl of the town proper. Inevitably, I end up with an unworkable mess that causes massive traffic problems years down the line. To this end, I download Timboh’s Marvelous Interchange Emporium, the most popular mod collection on Cities: Skylines’ Steam Workshop page. I look through Timboh’s creations, but they’re all massive—far too big to fit into the space I have remaining. Instead I botch something together, once again ensuring massive traffic problems. I name this junction Please Fix This, in the hope that the next mayor will try to do better. 

I create a district for agricultural industry, named ‘Farming Simulator 2018’, and a district for nightlife and tourism, named ‘Just Dance 2018’. Then I set up a transport network consisting entirely of blimps. Finally ready, I unpause and wait for the magic to happen. It does, but slowly. Six months in, and most of my land is empty. I panic-build more roads and designate more residential land—I’d vastly underestimated how much you need to support even a small amount of industry and commerce. I drop taxes to 1%, tanking profits, but boosting growth. 

My tenure flies by, and I’m largely happy with what I’ve created. I need to put the city in profit before handing it over—it’s not a utopia if you’re in debt, even if you’ve got an unlimited cashflow. I crank up tax, and turn down funding on all the public services. Good luck with that, Andy. I email him the save file, only remembering at the last second that I forgot to name the place. 

Phase two: Andy Kelly

Section editor Andy tackles disaster.

I take over from Phil and find a small, pleasant city buzzing with blimps, and I’m appalled. There isn’t enough sin in this town. I build a long four-lane road, which I name the ‘Alley of Sin’, and line it with clubs, commercial zones, and an enormous, garish casino. That’s more like it. People in this as-yet-unnamed city have somewhere to take a load off and indulge in some good old-fashioned hedonism. But to ensure the crime rate doesn’t get out of control, I build the police tower from Blade Runner—a reminder for all the crooks in the Alley of Sin that the future-police are watching, always. 

I notice that pretty much the entire city is blinking with the ‘abandoned building’ icon, and I realise that it’s because I don’t have enough citizens to staff all these new casinos and commercial zones. So I build a large high-density residential zone just off the Alley of Sin, which simply refuses to develop. Not a problem: I simply lower the taxes for residents to 1% and suddenly the tenants and homeowners come flooding in. But, as a result, I’m starting to absolutely haemorrhage money. It’s a good thing it’s unlimited, otherwise I don’t think this place would make it through another year without collapsing. 

Suddenly, disaster. A meteor rains down from the sky, smashing into the industrial zone that Phil so carefully constructed, destroying buildings, starting fires, and leaving a bloody great crater behind. I actually like how the crater stays there. It’s become a landmark, and I’m annoyed the game isn’t sufficiently complex to allow me to charge people to come and see it. I repair the damage and get back to trying to make money. I build a stadium and a giant, gaudy shopping mall, which is making the city incredibly noisy. The roads are starting to get jammed up with traffic too, and the city is starting to look rather dystopian.

Phil’s blimp system is cool and all, but I need a way for outsiders to come to the city and indulge in all that lovely entertainment I’ve so graciously supplied. So I build an international airport on the edge of town, which brings with it all manner of pollution, noise and skyrocketing operating costs, but surely the influx of tourists will counteract that? I don’t know the game well enough to know if any of these strategies make sense, but I go with it. Pip can always clean up any mess I make. My tenure is almost over. Planes start taking off and landing in the airport, which is a good sign, but elsewhere in the city there are more job shortages and abandoned buildings sprouting up. 

I survey what I’ve created so far, and this is a very ugly city. I’ve been quite scattershot with my building and road creation, and the place is a damn mess. But I prefer these sprawling, messy cityscapes to the rigid, grid-like streets of the United States. There’s a problem, though. Many, in fact. I’ve neglected to build more sewage outlets and water pumps, and the city is both suffering a major water crisis and is backed up with tonnes of stinking sewage. I don’t have time to fix it, so I’ll leave it to my successor. Also, there seem to be dead bodies everywhere, lining the streets. I forgot to build a cemetery. Sorry, Pip. 

Phase three: Philippa Warr

Deputy editor Pip adds whales.

I don’t really remember how to play Cities: Skylines, much less how to make a functional city with a vaguely healthy economy. But I did just install a whale from the Steam Workshop so there will be at least one element I understand. (I do not understand where the whale will live yet.) 

Figuring all of that out can wait though, because Andy’s version of leaving the city in profit involves a $34,000 deficit. My initial inspection of the city also reveals that at least one building is on fire and several buildings appear to be accumulating dead folk. 

I plonk an emergency cemetery into the first chunk of available space I see and throw down a few fire stations to bring the fire hazard rating for swathes of the city back into a safe range. 

I find myself doing similar crisis-management for all the city’s rating systems. It’s pretty straightforward for the first few but noise pollution seems to be a huge problem. I blanket-upgrade every single road in the main town hub to ones lined with trees to dampen the noise of traffic. The impact is nowhere near what I’d hoped, though. I’ve also destroyed whatever one-way systems Andy and Phil might have set up.

Speaking of problems inherited from the last two governments, neither of my predecessors seem to have gotten round to naming the city. I christen the metropolis ‘Pipville’. This also doesn’t solve the noise pollution problem, so I try creating tunnels for the most congested routes; underground no one can hear you beep. I end up with one tunnel and one entirely missing segment of road which I accidentally upgraded into not existing. 

It’s at this point I lose my temper. You know what’s noisy? Living people. You know what’s really quiet? A necropolis.

It s a glorious diorama a mysterious necropolis next to an equally mysterious whale-spewing crater.

I find a cul-de-sac and install multiple cemeteries. It is blissfully quiet. I can feel the stresses of the city ebbing away as I pick out new trees and bushes from the Steam Workshop to decorate Pipville’s necropolis. Soon, lovely hibiscus bushes and cherry blossom trees are hugging the graveyards. 

Then I remember the whale. I mod the game to allow props and put a whale at the entrance of the necropolis. While adding additional whales (for company, of course) I notice their bodies hug the terrain. That means when I place them on the lip of a nearby crater they bend around the slope and look like they’re crawling out of the ground. 

It’s a glorious diorama—a mysterious necropolis next to an equally mysterious whale-spewing crater. In case the next player somehow misses ‘Necropowhale Zone’, I also leave a trail of whales going from the crater to the edge of the city. 

With my remaining months in power I build a canal in an attempt to fill the bottom of the whale crater with water. Ignoring the multiple instances of massive flooding across the city, this is a resounding success. I end my rule in profit by making taxes 10% across the board and hit save. Good luck making sense of any of this, Samuel!

Phase four: Samuel Roberts

UK editor in chief Samuel ushers the city to its final form.

I want to extend the city in my time as mayor, and put my mark on this place. I’m going to build a new district that has high-end shopping and nice houses. I lay down some road to a quiet area of the map and build a pentagonal region that links to the Just Dance 2018 district. The site of my new utopia for bastards.

How do you connect pipes again? I’ve forgotten. Everyone needs electricity and water and I’m not ready! I should’ve put the utilities down first. I’ve barely built my new area of the city and we’re over $30,000 in debt. I start to panic that my city is doomed to never break even, and I’ve only been mayor for two months. 

I don’t know how you demolish buildings in this game, but I bet doing that will balance the books a bit. Hey, what about this natural disasters panel? How about I just call in a meteor and pretend this never happened? I didn’t realise it takes a while to call in these events, so I might have clicked too many times. Now seven meteors have hit the city, as well as two fires and a hurricane, entirely wiping out the district. It’s pretty grim, but on the bright side we’re soon back in profit! 

The road is now cut off from the rest of the city. Everyone is dead. I name the district ‘Failed Experiment V1’ and pledge never to think about it again.

It’s time for a fresh start: Pipville has been through some dark times (of which I’ll take some responsibility), so I rename it ‘Robtropolis’. I name the industrial district ‘Chemical Plant Zone’ and the populated area ‘Bathtub Geralt’. I build a space shuttle, which is never ready in my two years as mayor and therefore never takes off, meaning that I’ve failed my space manifesto. On the plus side, however, I think some of the fun buildings I pop around the city do some good for happiness, which is generally positive during my time—stuff like botanical gardens, a sci-fi skyscraper and a casino/hotel. 

I try again with my gentrified area idea, buying a new patch of land off to the south east and creating another pentagonal set of roads. What I call ‘New Haven’ goes loads better than Failed Experiment V1—indeed, it’s a thriving district that just has a bit of noise pollution. I give it an expo centre (next to a crematorium—a bold choice by the mayor), a festival venue and some other niceties. It’s a neat blend of dense commercial and residential living areas. I bet it costs a honking fortune to live there. Just like every major city in the UK. Success! 

Dropping the industrial tax to 1% seems to do some good for the money side of things—I thought this might bring the abandoned industrial area back to life, but it doesn’t. That area is done for, and never recovers. While I tax everyone to hell in an effort to make the city break a profit before 1 May 2025, I end up $700 down on the day, thereby failing the task that Phil set us. I got so close, though. 

Show me another mayor who would murder loads of their own people with asteroids just to balance the budget.


Phil: I was worried this would be a broadly pleasant feature in which we had a nice time building a picturesque city. So congratulations on all of the murders, everybody. Other than the enforced disaster, how did you all get on? 

Samuel: I tried to build a new part of the city but instead felt I had no choice but to murder lots of my own people with natural disasters. That was during the era of Pipville, though. Nothing like that happened after the city was renamed Robtropolis. Coincidence? 

Pip: I want to make it clear that when Pipville was under the leadership of the great and benevolent Pip there was an influx of whales, which are a great indicator of, uh, environmental responsibility. They were clearly attracted by the robust economy or the affordable rent or the thriving nightlife. Maybe all three. If you inherited problems they must have come from Andy. 

Andy: Going second, I had it fairly easy. Phil didn’t leave many problems for me to deal with, and left me with a blank canvas to make a mess. A mess that resulted in a lot of dead bodies and backed-up sewage. A parting gift from me to Pip. 

Left 4 Dead 2 - (Dominic Tarason)

Steam Spring Cleaning

I’m not sure if Valve’s latest promotional wotsit on Steam knows whether it’s coming or going. On one hand, it’s nice that the Spring Cleaning Event (running until Monday, 28th May) is nudging players into trying out games they may have bought in sales and never touched, but pairing that with nine simultaneous free weekend events does somewhat undermine the message.

Ah well, it’s an excuse to play videogames all weekend. Can’t grumble about that. Plus, there’s an actual free game giveaway running – take a peek within. Oh, and yesterday’s big Steam giveaway is still live until tomorrow, so try that too. Oh dear, there’s just too many games.


Cities: Skylines - (Alice O'Connor)

Now that summer is near, Cities: Skylines developers Colossal Order are taking a break from disasters and management to kick back with the Parklife expansion. Released today, it lets builders fancy up their cities with amusement parks, nature reserves, zoos, sightseeing bus tours, and other sources of summertime fun.

As with all the Paradox expansions, so many Paradox expansions, this goes hand-in-hand with a free update adding new features for all players. Expect new props for parks, new models for tourists, and loads of tweaks and fixes. (more…)


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