In the right hands, I believe that any genre can work in VR – and Cities: VR is proof that this belief is supported. Not every trait of its more complex older brother, Cities: Skylines, fits, but playing a mayor with near-omnipotent architectural skills and creating a new urban metropolis is fun and feels natural and surprisingly intuitive.
Keep in mind that this is not the case Cities: skylines with a VR mode; Fast Travel Games has developed a new adaptation for Meta Quest 2 that will transport you to this bright and colorful world. Like skylines, Cities: VR lets you control every major aspect of city planning without getting bogged down in the smaller details. You can easily plan your city without worrying about every little detail by choosing from one of nine maps. Starting from an out-of-bounds highway, you start laying out roads and choosing buildings to accompany them. From residences to basic utilities, there is a gentle learning curve based on milestones that unlocks new facilities as the population grows. It’s effective in teaching you city management as if you can’t make the citizens happy, they just won’t stay.
Prioritizing commercial and industrial zones over residential zones means you don’t have the staff to keep the factories afloat, but doing the opposite leads to high unemployment. If you need higher-skilled workers to fill those positions, invest in education. Do citizens complain about a high crime rate? Better build a police station, people don’t stay where they don’t feel safe. If you prefer things to be simpler or want to be creative, you can activate unlimited money when founding a new city. Milestones can also be shut down, making more advanced facilities such as nuclear power plants immediately available.
Then we come to the ever-popular topic of taxes. As Lord Mayor, you are responsible for setting tax rates for various institutions and zones, and for determining how much money goes into public services. This requires a flexible approach, so adjust accordingly to keep citizens happy and – assuming you haven’t activated unlimited money – to avoid putting the public finances in the red. Book balancing is essential, and if you run into trouble, you can take out up to three loans at once, each with different repayment schedules.
I’m not an expert in infrastructure planning – I realized this as I kept creating cities from absurd street layouts – but it was fun to build a fully functional city. However, compared to Skylines, there isn’t much building space. You can’t expand a city beyond a tile x kilometers long, and for those with grander designs, that could feel significantly limiting. So it’s all about carefully planning the space available, but if you make mistakes they can be quickly wiped out with the magic bulldozer, which will recoup some of your investment in the process, so it’s not all bad.
Cities: VR just doesn’t have the scope of Skylines, which probably better accounts for Quest 2’s hardware limitations, allowing it to serve as an entry point into the series rather than a true expansion. Important features like terrain editing and natural disasters aren’t included, or at least not at launch. Cities: VR feels both sleeker and more restrictive than its predecessor at the same time, so it’s a shame to lose certain aspects, but given the many, many features it packs and the benefits of VR, it doesn’t feel right to name barebones. As you might expect, managing a city is much more immersive than sitting in front of a TV. You can’t walk around town like a citizen, unfortunately, but it’s fun to pop to the surface to see daily life unfold before you, even if vehicles sometimes cut through it.
The controls also feel good. Movement and construction options are easily accessible at all times. It works well, but if you’re looking for precision, aiming where buildings are being built can be a bit fiddly. Cities: VR lets you fill in empty zone tiles individually by clicking on them, even when you’re far out, but the nature of the motion controls means you’ll need a steady hand. If that’s not a problem, you can point your controller like a brush to quickly “swipe” across squares like a canvas, or press the “Fill” option to instantly fill in that empty zone, so it’s never a big problem.
Cities: VR Screenshots
One benefit of never really walking the roads you set out for is that you don’t have to worry about getting nauseous if you’re sensitive to it. Grab a chair and get comfortable. But Cities: VR has some convenience options. In addition to a vignette filter that shades the edge of the screen when moving, there’s an adjustable snap rotation for the camera.
My only real complaint is that the graphics look plain. Cities: Skylines is seven years old, but Quest 2 just doesn’t have the horsepower to keep up. Environment designs are washed out and lack finer detail, while buildings appear noticeably low-resolution. It doesn’t detract much from the gameplay, but I can’t deny that having this visual made me want to be able to play the cities of Skylines from this point of view.
https://www.ign.com/articles/cities-vr-review Cities: VR Review – IGN