When it comes to simulators, there aren’t many titles that are popular enough so that they are at the same level as the Sims franchise, for example. Except for one. And that title is Cities: Skylines, a game that’s all about building and managing your very own city. What’s there not to love about this one? Not much, really, except for the very long hours you’ll have to put into it if you really want to make it into a fully functional metropolis.

Cities: Skylines is a game that has captured the hearts of many gamers, converting the die-hard fans of Sims into a more open-minded crowd. One that wants to build more, to a larger scale, and more intricately than just a house and a few characters. Those people have upgraded themselves from the creators of Sims to the mayors of their own cities. And those who’ve made it to the other side rarely look back to the little house on the street corner.

What To Know About Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines is a game in which your main goal is to build a city that’s not just pretty but completely functional. Aspects such as infrastructure, industry, culture, residential areas, landmarks, parks and recreation, as well as anything else related to cities from around the world have to be considered. You are the mayor as well as the head designer, infrastructure committee, cultural body and everything else.

The game was released in 2015 by the people at Colossal Order and distributed by Paradox Interactive. The game is available on all major platforms besides the Windows terminals, such as PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Linux, Google Stadia and Mac OS. The killer title for SimCity, another important city builder, Cities: Skylines comes with the full range of features and options so that the management of your city feels as real as possible.

The Best Nine Cities: Skylines Expansions

With a game so popular as Cities: Skylines has become in recent years, it’s only natural for it to have countless expansions under its belt. We will not take every single one of these expansions into account during this article but nine of the most popular ones. These expansions have added to the general features of the main game, including new buildings, gaming modes, and even seasonal changes and traffic rules and regulations.

Snowfall DLC - Heavy snow has paralyzed the city, and the only one who can turn it away is you and your management skills. In order to clear the streets of the hefty snow, you will have to find ways to send your available snowploughs on the streets where traffic is close to being fully closed. Snowfall is not just a traffic problem but also a residential one, as you will have to install better heating systems in neighbourhoods, as well as trams that will take citizens to their workplaces and back without freezing. While the visuals that come with Snowfall are remarkable, the effects of snow on your city will surely be hard to combat. Enjoy the scenery but not for long, as the best thing you can do is to act fast when the issues related to this heavy winter arise. Rain and fog are also possible besides the white puff.

Mass Transit DLC - Commuting becomes a piece of cake with the new systems of transit made possible by this Cities: Skylines expansion. You may go to work by water, up the mountains and even over the skies with monorails, cable cars, and superb blimps. Erect some of the new massive transit service buildings, as well as transit hubs, scenarios, landmarks, roads, everything! With this new DLC, you can add the new transit options to your city for all of the good movements of your citizens. When it comes to buildings and services, there are new buildings you can erect, for services and for transportation, as well as transit hubs and stations for your citizens and their comfort. The new scenarios are as challenging as ever, with problems on the roads, the canals of the city, or up in the air with the new ferries or cable cars used for mobility.

Deep Focus Radio DLC - Sometimes, the best thing you can do while playing Cities: Skyline is wait. Waiting for the city to take care of itself throughout the simulation is important. But what to do when there's nothing to plan or manage? For those late-night term papers or relaxing city-building sessions, Deep Focus Radio has the chilled-out ambience you need. Enjoy a selection of Ambient and Lo-Fi study music presented by DJ “Deep Thought”. This station comes with 16 unique tracks that will help you to focus on what’s truly important: perfect street layouts.

Industries Plus DLC - With this pack, you can customize your industrial areas more and better with the features included. Manage supply chains for one of the four resources you can put through your factories. If your industry areas are well kept, they will make the entire city boom with life. New services are also in place, such as the new mail handling and airport cargo. With five new maps, as well as new policies, services, and buildings, this is a must expansion for those interested in business, growth, and manufacturing. Produce your goods from an idea all the way to exporting them to other countries. 

Green Cities DLC - Of course, there's an eco-style expansion to a game that's all about industrialization and growth. Green Cities DLC comes with more than 350 new items to the base game, boasting a serious selection of new visuals, eco-friendly constructions, bio organics shops, EVs and services ready to eradicate pollution. It's all up to you how good or poor you'll do at it. Diversify your cities even more now, or opt for the 100% green option as your population is on the rise. The new services and buildings come with revisions for the general and noise pollution, which adds to safer skies.

Modern Japan DLC - Skylines are so popular that many people can identify cities from around the globe just by looking at a photo of the skyscrapers of a city. Anybody can identify the popular Empire State building, for example, and New York City thanks to it just by looking at a photo of the remarkable building. With this DLC, the game introduces over 20 buildings of Japanese inspiration, as well as 6 props, all from the mind of modder Ryuichi Kaminogi from Japan! These are the very first buildings coming from the Japanese culture, ever to be added to the Cities: Skyline portfolio. The models are ornate and range from pristine skyscrapers to the sweetest little ramen shops. And for the price of this DLC, you simply shouldn't say no to the offer as it costs less than an instant ramen pack.

Sunset Harbor DLC - Why stop at just taking care of the city in general when you can also take care of the aviation part of the metropolis? Get some action going into your city with the Aviation Club, and have people fly around in helicopters or small aircraft. Put your new cities over the new five maps, and build the latest, most impressive fishing infrastructure, developing your booming agricultural enterprise. In the harbour, explore the fishing industry, as you control boats at sea and fish farms. Make good, smart use of the Water Treatment Plants for the best waters for your stock. Find the new bus routes that work best for you and your transit goers, going in and around the harbour for the best times. And surely, try the new Aviation Club building, inviting owners of small planes to be part of leisure flying.

Campus DLC - A great city will never thrive without proper education. With "Campus", you can create the best Academic Works so that you can unlock new buildings, as well as attract students to come and get educated at your university, by increasing the reputation of your campus. There are 5 sports arenas to be built, as well as 9 different faculties, policies to be employed, achievements to be unlocked, and 5 new maps to be used as your ground. The three new zones for campuses are Trade School, Liberal Arts, or University, and you can increase their reputation by luring in students with your Academic Works. Also, college sports are all the rave of today! Build your arenas for football, baseball, basketball, swimming, and so on. Manage teams, bring in great coaches, and sell tickets! Besides sports, put on book fairs, for-profit lessons, and many other policies, as you sponsor academic works with research money and staff support, for the best results!

Natural Disasters DLC - The apocalypse may strike at any time, so it is always time to plan your way out of any natural disaster with the warning systems, as well as the emergency routes you’ve established for the citizens. The effects of these disasters are devastating and destructive, so you will have to show up for your people as they build their lives back. Included in the expansion are a new scenario editor, as well as the new gameplay mode. With "Natural Disasters", you will learn how to keep the city on its feet through thunderstorms, forest fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, meteors, or sinkholes. Plan for any disaster and respond as quickly as you can, using all of the power you’ve got to save as many lives and rebuild as fast as possible. There are 5 playable scenarios delivered with this DLC.

How To Master Cities: Skylines

After going through many hours of gameplay of our own, as well as looking up countless articles on the matter, we’ve come up with five simple rules you have to follow in order to master your city in this game. These rules might sound simple but they make a huge difference on either the success or failure of your metropolis.

Keep the people happy - With many demands and different opinions, it's hard to keep the people of your city happy. Once you start listening and building as you're requested by the people, you will see the change starting to happen right away. When people are happy, they spend more money, which means more income and therefore more opportunities for growth.

Use the city policies feature - The game allows for different policies in the different parts of the city, so don't forget about this one, as it can split the needs of the people into zones and make it easier for you to manage them. A diversified city will increase land value, and happiness, as well as earn you more money for an even better and brighter future. Use an education boost in a residential area, for example, to create more land value or recycling in areas with parks and recreational zones.

Infrastructure is key - Infrastructure is the trickiest aspect of the game. If you can manage that, you win the game, basically. Cars, trucks, service vehicles, busses and trains, have to somehow use the same lines to move around and never stop. Ban heavy traffic in central areas, or on priority roads, but make sure you divert it to a safe area. Vehicles will take the short road every time, not the easiest one, so make sure you are well connected not just internally but also with the highway network outside the city limits.

Pollution - The health and wellbeing of your people are important for a happier city. Pollution is a feature that can get out of hand quickly if not managed properly. Besides building industrial zones outside the city, make sure you are doing your part as a city manager when it comes to recycling. Keep the air clean, and the people will breathe in relief, literally.

Residential, Commercial, Industrial - Finally, the most important tip about Cities: Skylines is this: keep these three zones, residential, commercial, and industrial, as distinct and as apart as possible from one another. This distinction, as straightforward as it might seem, is always tricky. If you can limit the three main zones any city comes with, you win the game.