Cities: Skylines
© Colossal Order

Cities Skylines tips: How to build a great city

The PC strategy classic is now available on PS4 – get off to a great start with this city-building guide, direct from the developers.
Written by Tom East
4 min readPublished on
Cities: Skylines has been a big hit on PC. Originally released in 2015, it shifted 3.5 copies as fans enjoyed getting stuck into the little details of urban planning. From roads to residential property and even sewage, there's so much to think about. That's before you've even considered building a football stadium – you know you want to.
The superb strategy game is also on PS4, so to help you get off to a good start in this superb strategy game, here are five top tips from Colossal Order.

1. Make sure to keep those citizens happy

Keep your citizens smiling
Keep your citizens smiling
Just like in real life, your city’s citizens have demands and opinions. Cater to these and you will not only be able to grow your city as the rumours about how happy your population are spread, but you will also earn more money! To satisfy your citizens and increase their happiness you will need to respond to their needs. There are different needs for each zoned category: Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Office Zones.
Occupants of the residential zones need to feel safe, have a clean environment with no pollution, good healthcare, education possibilities and leisure opportunities. Commercial areas have many of the same needs as residential areas but also require a strong supply of goods – either locally produced or imports.
They will also need educated workers to get their business going, and a few nice parks here and there for having their lunch breaks outside. The Industrial areas will need services including fire stations and security, good access to raw materials in order to manufacture products, and commercial areas to be able to sell their goods. Good traffic flow for effective supply chains will also boost your business.

2. Don’t put your water pump downstream from your sewage outlets

Observe the water flow
Observe the water flow
Cities: Skylines has a water simulation which means the waste water from sewage pipelines will float away with the water stream. Small arrow markers in the water will indicate in which direction the water flows so make sure you observe those before starting any massive pipeline digging projects.
If you place the fresh water pumps (essential for your citizens) downstream of the sewage pumps you will start pumping raw sewage into the water supply of hospitals, residential areas and so on. Sickness will occur and spread rapidly across your whole city, killing your citizens within a few hours!

3. City policies for the win

Add policies to increase land value
Add policies to increase land value
In Cities: Skylines you can steer different parts of the city with different policies. It is not only a great tool to create diversified city areas but also a feature to increase land value, make your citizens happier and earn more money to create an even better and bigger city. Once you have created a district you can start choosing between a wide variety of policies that will only affect that specific district. For example, for increased land value in residential areas, why not use an education boost, use recycling, high-tech housing and add some park and recreation services?

4. Infrastructure is important

Connect your city to highways to avoid gridlock
Connect your city to highways to avoid gridlock
One of the trickier aspects of Cities: Skylines is that when your city grows it inevitably leads to traffic congestion. Cars, trucks, buses, and service vehicles will all use the same roads so make sure to plan carefully both where you put your different areas and how the traffic networks should lead in and out of them.
You can use policies to ban heavy traffic and select priority roads (main roads) but you should also carefully decide where to lead the different vehicle types from the beginning – think 'how can this scale'? Remember, vehicles will always use the shortest way possible to their end destination, not always the quickest one. And if you don’t connect your city to the highway network, no one will be able to move into your city

5. Avoid pollution

Pollution is bad in Cities: Skylines
Pollution is bad in Cities: Skylines
Pollution is rarely used as a selling point in real estate brochures so should be avoided at all costs. Pollution is simulated in Cities: Skylines and there are a few ways to make sure it does not disturb the city. There are two types – noise and ground / water pollution. Ground pollution is mainly created by industrial areas, but can also be created from sewage outlets, fossil-fuel power stations and garbage disposals. Keep these away from residential areas to avoid sickness and unhappiness.
Noise pollution is generated from traffic, commercial areas and special buildings such as football stadiums or concert halls. You can determine how far the sound will spread when placing the buildings so you know what distance to use. You can, for example, prevent noise pollution by placing roads with specific noise reducing qualities, and avoid industrial pollution by creating a forestry or farming district instead.