I’ll admit, I was a little sceptical going into Cities: VR as to how much fun I’d have playing a city management game in virtual reality, but it actually made for a really enjoyable experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more trimmed down than its PC counterpart and the visuals have seen a significant downgrade too, but the actual core experience (as well as playing with the surprisingly intuitive motion controls) was addictive and fun.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s worth noting from the get-go that this isn’t just the PC version of Cities: Skylines brought over to virtual reality, but a new iteration of the game that’s designed with virtual reality in mind. The core experience remains the same though: you’ll pick a map to base your city, build the roads that connect it, construct the buildings that bring it to life, and establish a balance between residential and industrial zones in order to make it thrive. You’ll have to keep the city’s inhabitants happy by building additional facilities and making sure that everything is kept in ship-shape, all whilst ensuring enough income is brought in to keep it safe, clean, and sustainable.
It can feel a little overwhelming at first, especially since there’s so much to handle in-game, but Cities: VR becomes a pretty relaxing experience when you get to grips with it. There’s plenty in place to teach you exactly what you need to do, what each facility does, and how to run the city, whilst the building controls are easy to handle – especially with the Quest controllers which act as a pleasantly functional alternative to using a mouse and keyboard. Of course, ensuring your city is successful will come down to a lot of creative-planning and clever-thinking when it comes to both the city’s design and the decisions you make within it, but it’s easy enough to get the ball rolling.
“There aren’t many virtual reality titles that keep my Quest 2 glued to my head for hours on end, but Cities: VR certainly managed it.”
Some of those decisions you have to make can be a bit tricky though. How much tax do you charge? How do you split your budget across the different zones of the city? How will you tackle a surge in crime? Do you have enough money to improve education standards? How can you keep your citizens happy and willing to stay in your city? There’s a lot going on in Cities: VR that ensures there are more challenges to handle outside of simply building your own city, with the actual management elements often feeling like the crux of the experience. They’re engrossing though, with the back-and-forth decision-making as well as the constant re-modelling of your city ensuring that the game remains mighty addictive. There aren’t many virtual reality titles that kept my Quest 2 glued to my head for hours on end, but Cities: VR certainly managed it.
That’s not to say that Cities: VR doesn’t come with some caveats. For one, it’s on a smaller scale than its PC counterpart, with less land to work with to build your city. Don’t worry, you can still make a sprawling metropolis, but it won’t be anywhere near as expansive as those you might have built on the main game. There are some other smaller omissions when it comes to facilities too, whilst the features of Cities: Skylines’ expansions as well as mod support are also missing (that includes disasters unfortunately). Whilst there’s plenty of content here to keep budding city builders happy, those who were familiar with the main game will find it a lot more streamlined.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s also clear that a lot of sacrifices were made when it comes to the visuals, with the buildings and environments lacking the detail seen in the main game; there’s nothing outright ugly and I did like the vibrancy with the colours, but it lacks the pizzazz players might have come to expect. There are some impressive aspects such as the draw distance and everything performs well (even when your city is packed to the brim with buildings and inhabitants), but there’s also a lot of smaller pop-in when you take a look up close. There’s nothing game-breaking that’ll ruin your experience with the visuals, but I was hoping for a little bit more detail in the cities I built.
Still, even with these flaws, there’s lot to like about Cities: VR. Not only is the core city management experience entertaining, it’s also clear that a big effort was made to make it work in virtual reality. The controls and menus are intuitive and make it easy to explore your city, place objects, and manage the behind-the-scenes decisions, it feels super comfortable to play, and it’s just a lot of fun – especially in sandbox mode where your finances are less of an issue. It’s not a full-blown Cities: Skyline re-creation in virtual reality, but it still offers all of the key aspects that made the game so enjoyable to play in the first place. And hey, there’s the promise of more content to come in the future, so there’s potential for some additional features to hit that further boost the longevity of the game.
Cities: VR Review
Cities: VR is a thoroughly enjoyable city management sim that works well on the Quest 2, even IF some sacrifices have been made with the visuals and gameplay. Building and managing my city offered more than enough to keep me hooked in for hours on end, and whilst it wasn’t necessarily a visual marvel, it was always cool to get in close and see my city thriving (or, in most cases, going into debt and spiralling out of control).
Returning gamers might be a little disappointed that it doesn’t offer the scale of the original game and that some features are missing, but there’s still more than enough on offer in Cities: VR to keep wannabe city managers entertained for a long, long time.
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Platform(s): Meta Quest 2 (Reviewed)