Cities: Skylines on Xbox One — Building a city has never been more fun

Cities: Skylines was first released back in 2013, delivering a deep city-building simulator for both Windows and Mac. Offering unmatched scale in its worlds, the game soon gained a notable reputation for the extensive opportunities offered throughout its sandbox. With its success mostly driven by a passionate and creative community, the game garnered a significant player base which still thrives to this day.

Now, two years after the game's initial debut, Cities: Skylines is finally making its way to Xbox One this spring. After an initial announcement in 2015 and the lengthy radio silence that followed, we're finally beginning to see the result of Colossal Order's efforts in bringing the game to the console.

However, being a game built solely for mouse and keyboard, Cities: Skylines underwent some heavy changes during its transition to Xbox One. With the challenge of streamlining the game's precise mechanics to operate with a gamepad, both the game's controls and user interface have seen significant tuning. As a part of the Games Developers Conference (GDC) 2017, we managed to get out hands on "Cities: Skylines: Xbox One Edition" to see how the game fares when away from the trusty mouse and keyboard.

Build it your way

Cities: Skylines: Xbox One Edition introduces an entirely reworked user interface for the console.

Although I never invested a huge amount of time into the original version of Cities: Skylines, it's easy to appreciate the sheer wonder behind the game's potential. Giving players the ability to build and manage their own cities, the game provides a level of scale and freedom rarely seen to such a degree in gaming. This is arguably the magic behind the title and a huge factor in the game's success on PC.

As you'd expect, construction is a huge aspect of Cities: Skylines, with the tools available to build out your city on the fly. Between tools to mass-produce city blocks and more accurate options on a per-building basis, Cities Skylines offers a range of both challenging and creative opportunities in city conception.

Management is another core component of gameplay, with the need to keep track of dozens of statistics and data to ensure your citizens are as happy as possible. Whether streamlining the efficiency of your city, keeping the inhabitants healthy, or simply expanding alongside the population, Cities: Skylines is an ongoing challenge to monitor and act on the events occurring in your world.

On a surface level, Cities: Skylines core gameplay aims to offer this balanced mix of both building and management. However, by enabling Sandbox Mode, players can also experience unlimited money and let their imaginations run wild.

New console, new heights

The only major difference between the PC and console versions of Cities: Skylines is the control scheme – an aspect of the game which was heavily tuned to suit the change of input method. With mouse and keyboard offering a different level of complexity than a gamepad, porting the game over while still maintaining precision was a huge undertaking.

Cities: Skylines: Xbox One Edition introduces an entirely reworked user interface for the console, built to accommodate for differences in the two inputs. Among these changes is a reworked menu bar situated across the bottom of the screen that provides easy access to various assets for your city. The game also takes advantage of radial menus, to give you quick access to management tools on the fly.

Cities: Skylines looks like an exemplary port on the Xbox One, managing to retain both the complexities and precision of the original game with a controller input. Although this results in a somewhat different style of play, significant attention has been clearly provided in ensuring the console version still delivers the same open-ended gameplay we've come to expect.

Budget cuts

You lose support for mods – a part of Cities Skylines which prospered on PC.

Overall, little has been lost during the move over to the console, with a special effort having been made to preserve the original Cities: Skylines experience. At launch, all of the content available in both the base game and After Dark expansion will be available to players, with more expansions expected to follow in the coming months. Otherwise, all other components of gameplay have supposedly made the transition to Xbox One, with only minor changes to account for controller input.

On console, you'll lose support for mods – a part of the Cities Skylines experience which prospered on PC. Arguably the driving force behind the game's large community, mods played a huge role in bringing an additional level of player creativity to the sandbox. Although this is understandable due to the closed nature of the console, numerous companies have started to introduce methods of modding Xbox One titles. When asked about mods, Paradox Interactive told us they've been considering mod support on console, but didn't have any announcements to make.

Following the move to x86 architecture for the Xbox One, we've seen a fair share of somewhat effortless ports from existing PC versions. With emulated cursors and questionable optimization across far too many titles, it's great to see Paradox Interactive taking the extra steps to deliver an experience that's true to the original vision of Cities: Skylines.

Although some minor shortcomings leave the Xbox One version with less content at launch, this is only a minor gripe in what appears to otherwise be a near-flawless shift onto Microsoft's flagship console.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • Although I already have and occasionally play the desktop/Steam version I cannot wait to buy this for the One.
  • I've been looking forward to this for a while. The last two Sim City releases were major letdowns and I've heard good things. Will be nice to have it on Xbox with achievements
  • I haven't tried one since 2000. I used to enjoy them, though I did suck at them. Looking forward to being able to try a good one again.
  • I think I would like this, and my Mrs would love it.
  • Is this going to be an Xbox PlayAnywhere title?
  • I hope it would  
  • I think it will be and even if it is not play anywhere there will be a windows 10 store version with achievements that was confirmed in 2015
  • looks more like Pities: Crylines, amirite?
  • Hope you suffered from an aneurysm thinking that one up.
  • haha!  your hopes continue to go unfulfilled
  • Clever, I wont mess with you
  • Can't wait. Definitely buying this. Great to see another diverse Xbox Console exclusive.
  • "another timed diverse Xbox Console exclusive"
  • Timed? There's been no announcement of a ps4 title from the developers. And it took 3 years to port to Xbox One. If it appears on PS4 at all. It won't be inside the next 2 years.
  • It is timed. It is first on console one XB1. If you don't think it'll come on another console inside 2 years that's just your guess and opinion. I think it'll take 3 months. We haven't seen a lot (if not 0) timed exclusive that went for more than 1 year. We have often seen MS making the deal for few months when it comes to small studios. Inside which was supposed to be a XB1 exclusive came on PS4 after one and half month.
  • It is quite possible as they already have the controls figured out and it was made in Unity. Just a question of what their deal was with Microsoft and what Paradox wants to do. Might be waiting to see how well it does on 1 console before bringing it to the other. Time will tell.
  • There is no deal. The developer chose themselves to make it for Xbox One. They started on an Xbox One version 3 years ago. The developers chose Xbox because they said the Xbox Community was the right choice for a strategy game on consoles. So your theory of timed has no basis. There's no deal and no announcement of a PS version. As of right now its not announced as coming to PS4. So yes. It's console exclusive to Xbox.
  • "There is no deal. The developer chose themselves to make it for Xbox One.They started on an Xbox One version 3 years ago. The developers chose Xbox because they said the Xbox Community was the right choice for a strategy game" 
    Do you have a link to what you posted or did you just make the whole thing up? You have already made up stuff in the past so sorry I can't take anything you say seriously unless you post proofs.  And it IS timed. Just type "first polygon city skylines xbox one" on google.  
  • You come to me. Stating its timed ( with no proof ) stating there is a deal ( with no proof ) and ask me for a link????? Ahahahahahahahaha. You bring proof of your claims and then we can move on. Until then stop spouting absolute BS on these forums like a sad pathetic Sony cannot crying cause the game is not announced on PS4. Everything I've posted before when you asked for a link I provided one. And all of a sudden you stop replying. Interesting every time i show you up, you stop replying? Link after link after link I provide at tour sad request. Only to time and time again show you up. Well please your turn. Provided your first ever Link. Please show evidence there is a deal by MS and that the game is officially announced at all for PS4.
  • I posted the proof. Search "first polygon city skylines xbox one" on google They announced that it's FIRST on XB1 for console. MS themselves said it at Gamescom 2015 (look it up). And it is FIRST on console meaning there is a "time" factor when it comes to console versions.  I didn't invent that. Now when you say "The developers chose Xbox because they said the Xbox Community was the right choice for a strategy game", you need to provide proof because you are putting words in the mouth of the devs.  Looks like you are clearly lying and making this up since you made a whole paragraph and didn't provide a single proof. I guess that's what your community does. They lie and make up stuff to promote a product/brand... That's sad smh Now move along if you don't have proofs/links, I don't have time to deal with liars...
  • When? WHEN? W H E N ??
  • Spring! SPRING! S P R I N G !!
  • The charm of playing cities skylines fades away rather quickly. The one thing that makes you want to come back is all the contributions from Steam Workshop. A new building, new mod, new map makes you want to explore that world again. Sadly, this is all lost in an xbox one.