Our verdict on Cities: Skylines has been delivered, and overall we were impressed with Colossal Order's take on the city building sim genre. However, to be a top mayor you need to know how to work the system, how to balance the books, and how not to have corpses everywhere (no, really. That can happen.) So, to help you in your goal for the perfect metropolis we've put together a list of helpful tips and tricks to guide you on your way!
Start off small… very small
With such a limited budget at the start, you’ll have to start off much smaller than you would have done in the SimCity series. That includes the placement of power, water, and (eventually) waste collection services. Putting distance between such things to avoid upsetting your populous may seem like a good idea in the long term, but you’ll face certain bankruptcy if you overdo it. So play it safe, and play it small to start with.
Build a roundabout at your highway exits
This one cannot be stressed enough, because without one you’re almost certainly going to run into traffic issues at highway access points. You can either use the pre-set roundabouts, or you can just create a circle with one-way roads for the same effect. Either way, it will be the best move you ever make as it ensures commercial and industrial resources reach their destination promptly.
Don’t be afraid to tear it all down
Because of that need for a small start, you’ll no doubt come to regret the initial layout and want something more practical or – in all honesty – something better looking. It’s for that reason that you shouldn’t be afraid of tearing down large areas of land to start over once you have the budget available. You may suffer some negative income for the duration, but the population (and all those delicious taxes) will come back to you in time.
It’s tempting to just create a huge area and then zone it with one type of building to plan ahead, but that will come to bite you on the ass in Cities: Skylines. This is because it leads to abandoned buildings which cause unhappiness, which leads to other abandoned buildings nearby. This is something you absolutely want to avoid, so only zone as demand needs it – not what you think will be needed.
Living in a ghost town? Reduce in size
If you end up with too many abandoned buildings, the only way to fix it is the make the town small, forcing your population to relocate to the available space. It may seem like retreating (or the nearest thing to it with city planning) but it will fix all your problems and you’ll have a full, happy city again.
Plan ahead with landfills and graveyards
All service buildings can be relocated after being placed, but landfills and graveyards need to be empty before you can do so. This is often a challenging task both logistically and/or financially, so in regards to both it pays to plan ahead until you unlock crematoriums and incinerators, so plan ahead! Make sure they are placed on multi-lane roads that are connected to main routes, as this will alleviate heavy traffic.
Need more money? Play about with the tax rates!
With the starting budget a little on the lean side, there’s a good chance you’ll enter the red quite quickly. Don’t panic though and go for a loan the moment they become available (or even take a bailout, should it get that bad!) Instead, play with the tax rates by raising them by 1%. It’ll take some time, but so long as you haven’t overdone it in terms of your city’s initial size, it should do the trick to get the income you need to start expanding again. Likewise, you can drop the tax rate to entice people to come to your city and fill up your abandoned buildings, so don’t be afraid to play about with them!
And finally… put some distance between water services. Seriously.
Hopefully this is something that will be patched post-launch, but make sure your water pumping stations are well away from your water drain stations. This is because, in a defiance of physics, sewage is capable of flowing upstream, and the last thing you want is dirty water being pumped to your populous. That leads to lots of illness and corpses, which in turn puts strain on your medical services and graveyards / crematoriums. So do yourself a favour, and put some distance between the two.
Unless you want to make the people suffer, in which case that’s the best way to do it.
Those are our top tips to city planning success in Cities: Skylines, but what are yours? Do let us know if you have any tips and tricks to being a top virtual mayor in comments below!