“…Natural Disasters changes the game up by throwing some drama and direction into the mix.”
Cities Skylines has already established itself as the very pinnacle of city builders. Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive have supported the game strongly since its release just under two years ago now, with DLC and mod support consistently keeping the game fresh for fans. The latest DLC pack however knocks the previous efforts by the developers out of the park.
Until now, you overarching goal in Cities Skylines has been to build up your prosperous cities. The new Natural Disasters DLC challenges you to save them from utter destruction. Throwing everything from tornadoes, tsunamis and earthquakes to floods and forest fires at you, the new content in the latest expansion is designed with one purpose in mind; chaos. That being said, its integration into the wider Cities Skylines model is perfect.
Despite changing up the dynamics of the game significantly, Natural Disasters fits itself into the base game’s structure like a glove. The disaster triggers themselves, along with the new structures, policies and notifications that come with it, sit comfortably along the UI which is already in place. This makes finding the new content easy, and keeps the overall look and operability of the game clean and tidy. Consistency has been tightly cohered to, meaning the adjustment and learning curve for long-term fans is minimal. You can easily jump right in and continue playing like before.
The disasters themselves are exactly as destructive as you might expect and then some. After the first tornado hit my city, I genuinely feared any that might follow. Roads were torn up, buildings collapsed everywhere, and sadly people died. The levels of destruction for each disaster are realistic and unique, with a variety of responses being required to combat each individual incident. Sometimes however, there is simply nothing you can do other than watch, gawp and cry in a corner. All that means that these disasters have been executed by the developers exactly right. Perhaps the only problem that I found with this DLC is that it didn’t prepare me for the destruction that was coming, or guide me though dealing with it afterwards.
Whilst you can rarely save everyone from disaster in this expansion, preparation can often lead to damage limitation. Disaster response and management is the area of this DLC which really changes up the way that you play the game. The spectacle of destruction is great to look at for sure, but your defence against the elements is what will really test your city management abilities. To an extent, the emergency services that are already in place in your cities will do their part, but some new options come along with the new DLC as well.
An early warning system is great for making sure you are prepared in the game, and gives you and your citizens accurate information about what is coming your way. Obviously, you cannot move your city out of the way of impending destruction, but you can make sure you know what to do when the danger has passed. Sometimes countermeasures can be an option, which is a fun device for the game, but more often than not it is emergency services which must respond. Awesome new helicopters, as well as evacuations and shelters, can help save lives in the moment. Shortly after, road crews, demolition teams and fire departments can move in and clean up. Once again Cities manages to create a fluid system out of all of this, integrated into those that already existed, maintaining the pleasure that gamers already felt when playing the game.
What sweetens the deal in the Natural Disasters DLC is the new scenario mode. This is something which Cities Skylines had certainly been lacking, so it is a delight to see if finally introduced. Offering a new aspect of objective based gameplay, scenario mode introduces both new challenges and increased playability to the game. These can include growing a city to a certain point in the face of various disasters, achieving a goal in a set time, or anything else that creators can think of; literally. Once you have finished the game’s premade scenarios you can try your hand at creating your own or playing those created by others. Once again, the support of fan made content in Cities Skylines allows it to be something truly special.
Cities Skylines Natural Disasters changes the game up by throwing some drama and direction into the mix. Previously, as good as the game is, you reached a point where there was no more to be done. With the threat and challenge on the new disasters, the game has more playability than ever. Scenario mode works perfectly alongside the new dynamics too, introducing some much needed objectives to the already working gameplay model. Cities Skylines is given direction with this new DLC, which is well worth the money for any fan of the game. You do have to bear the loss of the creations you so love, but if you can then this expansion is packed full of features to be appreciated.