Cities: Skylines was first released in March 2015 for PC, Mac, and Linux before receiving a port to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in 2017. Since then, the game has reached a broad audience and inspired a new generation of city planners over the last seven years. Now, the game is getting its next evolution with a virtual reality port.
Cities: VR was released for the Oculus Quest 2 on April 28th this year. Starting a new game is easy and allows the player to get right into the action of building their city. Players even can start the game with all unlockables open and an infinite amount of money. There’s also the option for a semi-comprehensive tutorial for players who’ve never played before.
The first thing that players will learn how to do is build roads to hold the different housing and commercial districts. The road tool is a bit touchy and connects roads you had no intention of ever intersecting. Heaven forbid you to have two parallel streets with which you’re trying to make a straight path. Every time you want to extend it, the roads will connect at the endpoint, which is frustrating.
On the other hand, this tool does give you the ability to create some fascinating designs. Better yet, the road recognizes when the player inputs an intersection, making the appropriate signage on the road. So while the streets merely serve as the bones of your city, it’s truly a great feeling when you can see it all laid out from above.
The next thing to learn is how to place residential areas, and you’ll need a lot of them. As your city population grows, you’ll unlock more tools that allow you to develop your city further. If you played with the milestones unlocked, you have no reason to follow the objectives and learn how the game is supposed to be played. Instead, it immediately gives you all the content, letting players run through it.
You also have no control over what size house will take up the land you zone. Instead, the player colors in a zone where they would like people to live, and then the game fills it up once there is a demand for more housing. Most residential areas will fill up fairly quickly, especially as you’re starting your town and your beginning population begins to move in.
There are two types of Residential zoning in Cities: VR separated by High Density and Low Density. Players start with Low Density, which is more like single-family housing that takes up more space, but it has a chance to populate your city further as the families have kids. The High Density residential areas are unlocked later and take up less space while welcoming younger people who are less likely to reproduce.
Each house will require that the player also connects freshwater, sewage, and electricity to ensure that the people have essential utilities. If they don’t, the people will likely become dissatisfied and eventually move out of their homes. However, that doesn’t mean that hooking up these services will be a walk in the park.
Creating a comprehensive utility system feels like a chore as the player builds further out. Some pipes won’t connect, and it quickly becomes a headache for the player. If you’re using a local lake or reservoir, you better hope it doesn’t get polluted, or your whole city will be poisoned.
Once you have enough residential areas, you’ll need to zone for Industrial buildings. These places of commerce are lumber yards and other essential material locations. The Industrial zones will earn you money and allow you to sell the materials through your commercial properties. It also gives lower-educated populations a place to work.
Like with the Residential areas, the commercial properties are split into High and Low Density zones. The Low Density zones buy products from the Industrial zones and sell them to people. These zones don’t require the workers to have a higher education but serve fewer people than the High Density zones. The High Density areas are more prominent buildings that create more noise but serve more people.
As your city grows, the game becomes more complicated. You learn where to place things, have enough workers, and provide utilities all pile together. Players who can tackle each issue one by one will have a much easier time playing this game. However, players who like easy-to-understand menus and clear objectives might find Cities: VR a little frustrating.
Part of what makes it frustrating is how touchy the game’s controls are. It’s easy to lose track of how many times the player is accidentally teleported across the map because they pressed the wrong button. While more of a control layout issue, it often takes the player out of whatever they were doing so they can readjust their position.
Seeing the town develop and people take to the streets is unparalleled. While buildings wait until you’re a few inches away to render, they’re still really cool to see. The people walking down the street, signs spinning, and traffic does a lot to make the city feel like it’s lived in. As the player grows the town, the populace and movement grow along with it.
The VR headset lets players get closer to their city than ever before, putting them at eye-level with the buildings they’ve just created. This is a unique thing about Cities: VR and the developers would be wise to double down on this level of exploration in future updates. On that note, the developers have stated that Cities: VR will continue to receive free updates like its predecessors.
The Final Word
Cities: VR is what most players have come to expect for the Cities: Skylines franchise. Players will load into a new map each time and attempt to use the land to create a booming metropolis. Unfortunately, while Cities: VR does this well enough, it doesn’t accomplish much over its screen-based predecessor. While the game is fun for a while, it quickly becomes annoying when the systems stop listening to the player.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a Meta Quest 2 review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!