Since its release in 2015, Cities: Skylines has captivated aspiring urban planners with its blank canvas. Eventually you might end up with a dense forest of skyscrapers or a sprawling network of highways—but it always starts with placing a single road. You don’t build your dream city so much as grow it, from nothingness.
Now you can get even more hands-on with that process courtesy of Cities: VR, out today on Meta Quest 2.
See the streets come to life like never before as you lay down roads, place homes and hospitals, run power lines and sewers, and more. Learn what it takes to plan and run the perfect metropolis, whether you’re a Cities: Skylines vet or new to the city-builder genre.
We recently caught up with Creative Director Erik Odeldahl to learn how Fast Travel Games managed to adapt the Cities: Skylines experience for Meta Quest 2. Read on for details about designing a built-for-VR interface, the benefits of community playtesting, and a tease of the first major update coming to Cities: VR in June.
Who approached who for Cities: VR? Were you fans of Cities: Skylines at the studio?
Erik Odeldahl: We do have a lot of Skylines players at the studio, but the approach came from Paradox Interactive. After making Wraith: The Oblivion - Afterlife, the first VR game set in the World of Darkness (which Paradox owns), they asked us about our thoughts on bringing the experience from Cities: Skylines into VR and we immediately saw enormous potential in this!
How does VR change or improve the Cities: Skylines experience?
EO: VR really makes you feel even more closely connected to your creations. There is something magical in building your dream city and then, from street level, watch it come to life around you! The way you design your cities is also a unique experience in VR, you really feel like an artist when painting your zones. That said, the core of the experience and the management systems are very much recognized from Cities: Skylines.
How did you approach designing a city builder that’s playable in VR? Any specific choices (i.e. UI) that you’re particularly proud of?
EO: Cities: Skylines is quite a comprehensive game! We knew it would not be an easy task and that a straight port of that game to VR would not make for a very enjoyable experience. A lot of time and focus has gone into creating a UI that feels smooth and quick, while still allowing for deep management and building mechanics. The palette control system, which is accessible with a press of a button and holds a lot of options and information depending on the angle of your hand, is a great example of this.
You ran a community playtest in March. Did you get useful feedback from that process? Any features that benefitted from getting them in front of players early?
EO: We did, and that playtest included both Skylines veterans and players completely new to the franchise. The one main thing that we benefited from was using their input to improve the onboarding in the game, making tweaks to the tutorial so that players more quickly can get to the fun in the game - which is building and managing, something super fun to spend time doing as long as you know how! The tutorial is now greatly improved compared to how it was before the playtest.
Cities: Skylines has received years of post-launch support covering everything from parks to universities to radio stations. Are there any features you’d especially like to bring over to Cities: VR post-launch?
EO: Oh, we have hundreds of things we want to do in the game, and some are actually already planned for: In June, we will add Metro stations and new ways of directing the flow of traffic in the Metro & Traffic Routing Update.
This is the first of many free updates we’ll provide to the players post-launch. Then we will also keep a very close dialogue with the community and listen to their requests and expectations. Not everything will be possible of course, and there are brand pillars in Skylines we need to adhere to, but I’m confident that players will be happy with the way we plan to support Cities: VR in the long run.
Do you prefer to build your cities on a grid or get artsy with curved streets and green space?
EO: In Cities: Skylines on PC, I always preferred the grids for practical reasons—but in VR, tilting your hands to really “draw” your road in curvy, surprising angles is so much fun!
What’s next for Cities: VR and for Fast Travel Games more generally?
EO: In June we’ll release the aforementioned Metro & Traffic Routing Update, and we have more updates planned after that.
Of course, Cities: VR is not the only game we are working on at the moment—but what those other titles are is something we will come back to a little bit later!
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
EO: We hope you have a fun time as mayor in your Cities: VR creations. Take your time with the game, go through the tutorial and start exploring—the game really gets more fun and interesting (and challenging) the bigger your cities get!
Also, please follow us at @citiesvr on the social media platform of your choice to stay updated on all things related to the game!
If you’re ready to break ground on your very own urban oasis, head on over to the Store and pick up Cities: VR for $29.99 USD on Meta Quest 2.