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Facepalm: Developer Colossal Order launched the highly anticipated sequel to 2015's Cities: Skylines earlier this week, and things went just as most expected. A week ago, Colossal Order warned that the game's performance might fall short of some user' expectations. As we highlighted at the time, the admission was either a novel bit of honesty or an accurate portrayal of the state of the industry. Regardless, the developer forged ahead and knowingly shipped a product it knew fell short of a certain standard.
Did the gamble pay off? I guess that depends on how you measure success.
Cities: Skylines II touched down on PC on October 24 and according to SteamDB, peaked at 104,697 concurrent users that day. As of this writing, the game has more than 14,800 reviews on Steam with an overall rating of "mixed" and unsurprisingly, much of the negative feedback points to performance issues.
For comparison, the game has a score of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic but a user score of just 3.8 (generally unfavorable) out of 10.
Fortunately, fixes are on the way. Colossal Order has already pushed out the first of what it says are several patches to improve performance in the game. Patch 1.0.11f1 doesn't fix everything, and it is only available on Steam right now, but it should be available on the Microsoft Store soon.
This patch includes the following improvements and fixes:
- Changed LOD to be independent of rendering resolution to get more consistent performance with high resolutions
- Minor optimization with fog
- Depth of field optimizations and tweaks
- Global illumination tweaks
- Optimized stutters when buildings spawn/level up
- Optimized various stutters across all systems
- Fixed crash after upgrading wind turbine
- Fixed crash when car crashes into still hidden car with trailer
- Fixed crash with mesh loading (that happens with low settings mostly)
Colossal Order published an optimization guide earlier this week to help players get the most out of the game in its current state. Based on early feedback, it seems as though adjusting the depth of field setting could net a solid performance boost. Lowering your resolution and disabling volumetrics is another surefire way to raise frame rates on struggling machines.
The developer also addressed a performance-related issue that recently sprung up on Reddit involving in-game characters' teeth. Responding to the matter, a rep told IGN that the game's "lifepath" feature is not linked to the geometry of characters and thus, doesn't impact characters' performance. The full statement from the dev has been reproduced below:
"Citizen lifepath feature does not tie to citizen geometry and does not affect the performance figures of the characters. We know the characters require further work, as they are currently missing their LODs which affect some parts of performance. We are working on bringing these to the game along general LODs improvements across all game assets. Characters feature a lot of details that, while seemingly unnecessary now, will become relevant in the future of the project."
That last sentence is particularly interesting, and now we can't help but wonder what CO has in store for the future of its city building game. Could it evolve into more of a people sim than a city building sim, and would that even be the right move?
Cities: Skylines II is due out on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series in the second quarter of 2024.