Cities: Skylines, just two short years later, looks like an entirely different game. Several small patches and three expansions have fundamentally altered the city simulator for the better, and recent expansions have wiped away the reputation earned by After Dark which many criticized for not adding enough content.
Colossal Order certainly turned things around since then, so that leaves us in a pretty good spot with Cities Skylines: Mass Transit releasing today. The transportation focused expansion adds a litany of new ways to get your population around and a few sharp new scenarios to offer quick challenges such that, despite a misstep here or there, Mass Transit is a worthwhile expansion to the forever-great Cities: Skylines.
Not Just Planes, Trains And Automobiles
Cities: Skylines already had plenty of options for public transportation, but I guess busses and planes weren’t enough for the folks at Colossal Order. After playing around with everything Mass Transit has to offer, I realized that they weren’t enough for me either.
Mass Transit adds ferries, monorails, blimps, cable cars and more. Each of these systems is entertaining enough in and of themselves, adding new layers of micromanagement anywhere from creating ferry lines to restructuring roads to accommodate raised train tracks.
But, they’re perhaps best experienced altogether, because the beauty of this transportation is found in their cooperation. The addition of transit hubs makes this possible, at least for some of these, allowing you to combine monorails with bus stations with regular passenger trains, accomplishing a public transportation system enviable by any real-life society.
Free Bus Fare
Along with this update, as per usual, Colossal Order added a free update which changed a lot for the better. Call it a free ride, but not a full bus pass, if you catch my drift. The question this raises is “does Mass Transit add enough by itself to warrant the purchase?” I experienced a similar feeling with Stellaris: Utopia, where I really liked the new content they added, but much of the content I liked the most was added with a simultaneous free update. This is not a bad practice, and I want to make that clear.
Developers should give out solid gameplay improvements and additions whenever is practical, but the issue is whether or not you are enjoying the expansion you paid money for or mostly the free update that you would have liked anyway.
The main thing you’ll notice is the improvement to roads. They’ve made constructing roads a lot easier, such that you never have to simply “eyeball” two roads to see if they will connect at a right angle. Mass Transit will show you a line that connects with parallel road when you get close. It’s a good way to make sure you can get a good-looking grid system going in any situation, at very least.
But, what I always look for in these situations is whether or not the new content was evenly spread throughout a game’s playthrough. How long will it take me to know I’m playing an expansion? In After Dark, Snowfall and Natural Disasters, they sprinkled the new content throughout, and it didn’t take me very long at all to realize there was some drastically new changes.
With Mass Transit, I’m not so sure that’s the case. Most of these huge new transportation depots won’t become available until a population of 9,000, which, I’m sure to veterans of Cities: Skylines can be accomplished in a short while, but to even moderately knowledgeable players, that can take quite some time.
What does help, though, is Mass Transit’s new scenarios. One of them will have you start from scratch and build up a bustling train system, but the other two will put you right in the middle of an already-developed city and give you a new transportation-related task. So, while your fresh new games might be a little delayed, you can skip ahead with the scenarios.
These scenarios have also gotten a lot better. The last expansion, Natural Disasters had scenarios that required you to play for far too long before you could reasonably complete it. Not only are Mass Transit’s scenarios much shorter for victory, they can also be short for defeat, which makes them feel like a fun arcade challenge.
Colossal Order has given the Cities: Skylines community yet another exciting expansion with Mass Transit. While the new content may not be available immediately in every way you play, it’s worth it once you get there. How you get there is completely up to you, but might I recommend the blimp?