Cities: Skylines often felt more like a traffic management sim than a city simulator, as I spent hours tinkering with my road networks to try to clear jams. Cities: Skylines 2 looks like it's going to support an even deeper level of tinkering, judging by two feature spotlight videos released on roads and traffic AI.
Among the new additions: car crashes, much improved pathfinding, and car parks. I find all of these as exciting as each other.
You can watch the video about roads for a look at construction tools, sound-blocking walls, roundabouts and more, but let's embed the traffic AI video:
One of the issues with Cities: Skylines was that your citizens wouldn't always make the predictable, sensible choice to drive on the fancy new road you created for them. Cities: Skylines 2 overhauls traffic pathfinding in a way that sound much more logical.
"In Cities: Skylines pathfinding was proximity-based, meaning agents would calculate their destinations or order services by straight line distance without taking the existing road network into account," reads a developer diary on the feature. "In the case of a fire, this could mean the fire truck responding would come from the closest station even if it had a longer route because of how the roads connected it to the destination."
"In Cities: Skylines II agents choose a route based on a pathfinding cost. This cost is calculated using multiple factors such as the city’s road network, traveling time, travel cost, agent preferences, and more"
This means that your citizens should always favour fast-moving multi-lane roads over that one-way backstreet that's always clogged with traffic. It also means drivers can re-route in real-time, such as if their path becomes blocked by an accident.
Road accidents are another new feature, triggered by several factors including the quality of the road itself. You'll need to have road maintenance crews working to maintain your network, but "lighting conditions, weather, and disasters" all also play a role. When an accident does occur, a vehicle is randomly selected to "lose control" and turns into a physics object that can careen into other vehicles or buildings. Emergency vehicles will then respond at the scene.
It's been a while since I've read any Ballard, so I'm not sure whether a liminal space like a multi-storey car park is more or less sexy than a car crash, but Cities: Skylines also lets you construct parking structures for the first time. Drivers will factor the availability and cost of parking into their decisions about where in the city they're willing to travel.
All of these changes are underpinned by performance improvements over the original Cities: Skylines, meaning "Cities: Skylines II doesn’t feature hard limits for agents moving about in the city." Instead, the "only real limits to the simulation are the hardware limitations on the platform running the game."
Cities: Skylines 2 is due to launch on October 24th.