I won't get into detail unless someone really wants me to, but I think SimCity 2013 was the last great city builder. I know people didn't like it, but I also know they didn't give it a chance- the game's supply line systems and the way every single aspect of play rolled into every single other aspect of play felt really good and would be incredible on a larger scale. Everything you did had tangible consequence on other things you did, and there were processes and goals you had to achieve to unlock stuff. It had a real sense of meaningful progression and a HUGE variety of things to work towards.
Cities Skylines is of course the go-to nowadays, but I find the graphics to be unbearable. The game is comprised of re-used assets from the developer's earlier games, and are the buildings are largely mismatched and even misscaled to each other as a result. Later packs (like the college one, which for some reason was split into two packs) have buildings made by modders that are much better, and of course there's mods, but by and large the game's art style isn't very appealing without a million mods.
Its gameplay is unfortunately nothing to write home about. Without the Industries DLC there's nothing to industry but placing it when the bar demands it. Without the University DLC the University is a single building the size of a burger king that simply bumps an invisible number telling the game how educated citizens are. The whole game is largely cosmetic and the gameplay is mostly imbalanced towards the player's favor, with everything you can do locked merely behind population milestones rather than any actual achievements or progress markers. It also lacks things like wealth values, which really limit how your city develops in any meaningful way, and limitations on the scale of buildings, which tends to make cities look very bizarre, with high rises and fast food restaurants having identical footprints…
It's a fun game to make neat looking expansive cities, if you have the mods for it, but it's a very poor simulation experience and it runs like absolute ass garbage.
My kingdom for a game with the scope and mod support of Cities Skylines, but the rich, interconnected gameplay systems of SimCity 2013.
Can I expect such a thing in the near future? Or is the city builder genre essentially "dead except for cities skylines, because cities skylines proved that people aren't into the genre for the gameplay, but rather to watch two dollars twenty do time lapse builds and the spiffing brit use the exact same techniques in a hundred videos to solve the exact same traffic issues"?
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