Cities: Skylines, a game which until this week was all about building things, has a new expansion out. And will henceforth be a game about tearing shit down, burning it, shaking it loose then watching it sink under the waves.
The new expansion is called Natural Disasters, and looks to bring a little of that sweet SimCity 2000-style destruction to the game.
I like it a lot.
There are two parts to this expansion. The first is about breaking things. Whether you enable them happening naturally every once in a while or rain them down manually, your cities will face a series of natural disasters ranging from the relatively benign (like lightning in a storm causing small fires) to the apocalyptic (giant meteors that will eradicate entire blocks).
If you’re someone who feels like the challenge of cleaning up after them would be fun, it is, in the kind of sedate fun you get from rebuilding highways and slightly adjusting the zones and blocks lost to an Act of God.
If you’re someone who just wants to see the world burn, though, these are fantastic. When I first booted this expansion up, I was greeted by Corpsetown, the bustling metropolis that I’d nurtured all the way through my initial review and subsequent expansion coverage. It was vast, shiny and successful. A model city.
It had once meant a lot to me, but in November 2016, having not played the game for months, I felt a little cold to it. Distant. It could have been the point where I simply wiped it and started a new city, but with Natural Disaster’s new additions at my disposal, I figured I’d turn my ambivalence and craving for greener pastures into something cathartic.
There would be no clinical “new game” mouse click here. Not yet.
First came rocks from the sky. Then fire, then flood. Then the very ground opened up and swallowed buildings whole. Corpsetown was in ruins, with power lines severed, essential services cut off, its buildings collapsed and its people...on fire. I mean, yeah, I was technically murdering tens of thousands of people who were just trying to live good and honest lives but...fuck ‘em. I am a vengeful god. Or at least a bored one.
Outside of the casual destruction and the immediate clean-up work, though, is a far more detailed system in place to deal with disasters. There are load sof structures you can build to detect and manage disasters, and you can enact policies like setting evacuation routes so people can flee safely.
This stuff is surprisingly complex. And maybe a little intrusive; if you want to brace yourself against the full suite of disasters you’re going to need to find space in your city for a lot of new buildings, from designated response centres (which are enormous) to shelters to firewatch towers to radio transmitters. It’s maybe too many when you consider how many other structures you need to squeeze into a city, but then, maybe that’s the point.
No city is ever prepared for every contingency. London wasn’t ready for its great fire, Johnstown couldn’t stop the flood and Silicon Valley hasn’t yet found a way to stop the earthquake that will one day tear it apart. So it was with Corpsetown, which wasn’t ready for the day a forest fire consumed its nuclear reactor. And a tsunami crashed along its coastline. And a sinkhole swallowed the city’s stadium. And seven meteors struck downtown killing anyone who was left.