Cities VR Review

My Way Or The Highway
| May 12, 2022
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Played On: Oculus Quest
Genre: Simulation
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
MSRP: $39.99 CAD
Release Date: 28/04/2022

Cities VR feels like a necessary step for the management genre. In an immersive platform short of city-building games, players can find a definitive one here. Few classics like Cities: Skylines needed a remake since its 2015 release. But Fast Travel Games maximises the fun by simplifying Skylines’ extensive gameplay into VR.

Players should know Cities VR isn’t for everyone. But it leverages the Meta Quest 2 to make first-time players feel as welcome as possible. Its tutorial lays out the basics with well-thought-out controls. Veteran VR players still use the thumbsticks for locomotion. Never once did I feel queasy as a godlike mayor hovering over my city. Nor did I have trouble snapping quickly across a map with teleportation. All the VR controls come easily to make Cities VR more fluid than its PC counterparts. In fact, players only have to point and manifest anything they want.

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Fast Travel Games deserves credit for making the Skylines experience less complicated. Since acquiring the Cities IP, the studio clearly exercised their freedom to deliver uncomplicated gameplay. Cities VR lets players start with nine different plots of land. Each template comes with its own terrain, slopes, and sections. This made starting a city fun, according to my own New York City layout for islands (sorry, Toronto).

In fact, Cities VR is the simplest way to play Skylines. Its slew of menus are packed into one hand. Gripping the touch controller opens basic functions. Players can find their buildings, zoning, roads, utilities and services ready to go. Each section goes deeper to cherry-pick different types of functions. Once equipped, Cities VR lets players point-and-materialise.

“All the VR controls come easily to make Cities VR more fluid than its PC counterparts. In fact, players only have to point and manifest anything they want.”

This core gameplay works surprisingly well. With practice, players can keep expanding their cities while solving problems faster. Luckily, selecting a building can highlight problems and solutions. Cities VR does enough to give players space and keep them from the deep end.

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Bigger issues, including utilities, are fun to tackle in VR. Meta Quest 2 players benefit by drawing power lines and connecting a grid with ease. More excitement comes with building a network of water pipes under the city. It’s still as satisfying as ever to play for hours, then peel back each layer of your city and admire the messy infrastructure. Progression is still in play without unlimited money. Given time and patience, players can unlock more ways to spruce up their utopia.

The clever, addictive charm of a Cities game are its objectives. There’s a never-ending battle to solve everyone’s problems. Cities VR continues to push players with core issues. From unemployment, to improving transportation and commercial value, Cities VR throws the entire kitchen sink at players. At the start, options including unlimited money and milestones are also available. New players not looking to waste time with budgeting can flex their creativity.

“It’s still as satisfying as ever to play for hours, then peel back each layer of your city and admire the messy infrastructure.”

I admit having a budget is challenging and painstakingly slow. But having game modifiers preserves the realism for veteran players. Despite some quality-of-life changes, Cities VR does suffer with pacing; especially for players waiting to see their utopia grow. Thankfully, a fast-forward function keeps Cities VR going.

At launch, Cities VR feels beefy enough to keep new players engaged. But a lack of variety beyond its sandbox mode might complicate this release without DLC. Community-driven support from Skylines, including mods and user content, are out of the mix. It’s a small consideration which goes a long way for Cities VR as players outgrow their levels.

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Fast Travel Games misses a few opportunities to fully take advantage of its platform in Cities VR. Features, including a street view, could have let players live in their own utopia. This could have included exploring buildings and attractions in true 1:1 scale. Interactive characters and electing community members are also a few ideas not considered. VR exclusive concepts including hand-tracking and cherry-picking buildings are out of the mix. Cities VR wears the platform on its name, but holds back in favour of a playable Skyline experience.

Cities VR is still an enjoyable evolution for the series. The popular Skylines instalment comes in its latest version for VR players. It’s worth noting that necks might get sore from looking down all the time for hours. Players will get this effect from Cities VR, through its scaled-back gameplay that still makes being a mayor fun.

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