A light dusting of new content.
When Cities: Skylines released earlier this year, the city-building simulator was saved. With SimCity long dead, a reality made most unfortunate by its pedigree, all we had to get us along was Cities: XL, which, while entertaining, never quite captured the aesthetic that audiences were looking for. And while the positive traits of Skylines can be extolled to no end, we’re here for its wintery addition, Snowfall.
With its second expansion, Cities: Skylines is continuing to push the envelope and spur debate on what constitutes usage of the word “expansion.” While they narrowly avoided this issue with After Dark, because the addition of a day/night cycle was a multi-layered success, Snowfall is certainly not without its critics who question whether enough was added.
So what exactly was added? As should be obvious, it snows now! In some cases, it snows a ton. This means high electricity costs to offset the cold, alternative sources of heating to offset electricity costs, upkeep costs of those sources to offset electricity savings, snow plows and road maintenance to offset worsening driving conditions, expanded public transportation to offset the need to drive, and three always-snowing maps to offset the need to ever not be in a winter wonderland. (Whew!) Basically, Snowfall gives you a lot more to manage and a lot more pro/con decisions to make.
It’s hard not to get wrapped up in this new world. How much would a boiler system really save me? If traffic isn’t bad, why should I build Trams? This damn fog is making my wind turbines useless! These added factors and stressors go a long way to keep your butt at your computer chair for hours on end, all the while making these new weather effects beautiful to look at.
It’s also something to be said that none of these additions do anything to ruin what is already loved in Skylines. Take, for example, Dying Light’s expansion The Following which, while fun, was criticized for creating an environment that didn’t allow for its revolutionary and universally praised parkour system. Not so with Skylines. This is still the same game you know and love, just with a light dusting of fresh powder.
Calling it an expansion may be its ultimate downfall. Gamers are already wise to this sort of thing, and the expansion is boasting firmly “mixed” reviews on Steam. While I admit to enjoying the expansion, I can’t help but imagine a world where Snowfall is simply a few-dollar DLC pack à la Arkham Knight’s challenge maps or even, dare I say it, a free update. And when I do imagine that world, it doesn’t seem unreasonable or far-fetched.
That’s what is really at the core of the discussion on Snowfall—not simply if it added enough, but if it added enough for its asking price. At $13 on Steam right now, Snowfall is a difficult case to make for bang-for-your-buck, even while recognizing the amount of work I’m sure went into this expansion. Still, I’m left with a positive takeaway because Colossal Order never seems content with its already-enormous amount of moving parts. They continue to add more factors and more elements if only to show that they can juggle as many objects as you want to throw in their path. It’s truly an impressive circus act, both playing and developing Skylines, and Snowfall is yet another example of Colossal Order flexing its muscles.