Cities VR isn’t Cities Skylines: VR Edition, but it does make smart changes to create an enjoyable virtual reality experience.
If you’re old enough to have played SimCity, you’ll no doubt have heard of Cities: Skylines. This spiritual successor of sorts really carries the torch for city-building titles and has done ever since it launched in 2015.
After launching on PC, the game made its way to consoles in the years since, and it’s now made the jump to VR in Cities: VR… sort of. Cities VR is, sadly, not a fully-fledged Cities: Skylines experience, but it does offer a decent approximation of what makes building your own metropolis so special in VR.
Cities VR – Key details
- Price: $29.99/£29.99
- Developer: Fast Travel Games
- Release date: April 28, 2022
- Platforms: Meta Quest 2
Cities VR trailer
Not such a city slicker
Sadly, first impressions in Cities VR aren’t likely to have you moving town anytime soon. The basic gameplay premise is much the same as it has been in the genre for years — you’ll lay down utilities, build roads, and then designate regions and build specific buildings.
What is different, however, and is immediately noticeable when coming from playing Skylines on any platform (even the Switch) is how much the visual fidelity has been toned down. That means your blank canvas of rolling plains where you’ll start building your new home looks more like a green tablecloth sprawled over a dining room table. You’ll have a series of nine maps to pick from, too, since there’s no terraforming option.
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If you can look past that, though, it remains more than a little magical to see your barren streets grow, with houses and industrial areas popping up like a diorama that you can lean into. That’s really the crux of why Cities VR works so well: perspective. Being able to lower the camera down and move street-by-street through your monument to your mayoral abilities is great, and is sure to interest anyone that’s been fascinated by miniatures or scale models.
It’s not all about architecture, though, and you can expect to shift taxes and respond to residents’ complaints to try and find that sweet spot that keeps your economy going and your neighbors happy. That means you can expect to build hospitals, police stations, and recycling plants to keep people healthy, streets safe, and the city clean.
It’s worth noting that Cities: Skylines’ natural disasters (added in DLC) are absent, and while that’s a shame, the prospect of an earthquake, tornado or meteor landing in VR makes us feel more than a little queasy.
Cities VR is presented in a breezy, gentle way, so you won’t have to worry about your citizens grabbing their pitchforks — at least not yet. Despite the lack of detail in environments, it’s bright and responsive to head tracking, and even Cities: Skylines veterans will want to follow the (optional) series of steps to get a basic city up and running.
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That’s not because anything here is majorly different, but the switch to Meta touch controllers does have some quirks. For one, using a pointer to place buildings or lay down roads can take some getting used to, while a series of radial menus and sliders keep stats and important info at your fingertips in lieu of keyboard commands and a UI border. The good thing is that doesn’t take long at all to acclimate, which isn’t something that can be said of other franchises that have jumped to VR.
Cities VR might not offer what Skylines veterans are looking for, but it’s an excellent jumping-on point for newcomers to the franchise that takes a genre full of inherent complexities and makes it work in VR.
Sure, its visuals lack pizazz and there’s definitely a lot more to do in the PC or console versions, but as a first step for the franchise on a new platform there’s a lot to like.
Reviewed on Meta Quest 2
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