For about 25 years, SimCity was king in the city building/management genre. Sure, there were plenty of similar games and sub-genres (often with “tycoon” in the title), but Will Wright’s pioneering simulation – and its sequels – kept defining the genre. Now there’s a new kid on the building block. Cities: Skylines has delighted aspiring city builders since its release last year, and launches its second expansion entitled Snowfall this month.
Skylines’ first expansion, After Dark, focused mainly on nighttime dynamics. Not surprisingly, a good part of Snowfall revolves around the weather. Although snow is a major part, fog and rain are also present. They’re new additions that are available to those without the Snowfall expansion as well – but they’re also less impactful. Snow – as in real life – slows commuters down, so you’ll want to invest in removing the excess snow. Snow and ice are also dangers to traffic safety, so you can choose to enforce the use of special tires – making the world a safer place but burdening your citizens with added costs.
Only three (new) maps offer the possibility of snow – perhaps because of incompatibilities in terms of how the city reacts to these weather conditions. Cold temperatures can be found anywhere though – and have become a part of the core gameplay dynamic. You can make sure your citizens are warm and cozy, but investing in more heat comes at a financial price and that has to be balanced out somehow. Winter time also brings things like ski slopes, ice skating and Christmas trees – so everything feels very seasonal and radically different from the other seasons.
It’s a shame Snowfall didn’t come out in late November, just as everyone was getting into a festive mood. Now – nearer to the end of winter than it is to the beginning – it feels a bit ill-timed. There’s plenty of non-winter content in Snowfall as well though – such as the use of tramlines and trams. This gives you the option to add some very distinct character to your city which, especially when combined with some snow, is lovely to just look at. Watching daily life unfold before you is fun, and taking matters into your own hands just to see what happens is even better.
The only negatives we could find were the fact that the game wasn’t released earlier in the winter and that the asking price is a tad on the high side, but there’s no denying that the best city building just got a little better with the release of Snowfall.