Cities: Skylines — Sunset Harbor DLC — More variety is always welcome

Yes, I am aware that the mall looks like a giant piece of children's playground equipment.
The latest expansion for Paradox’s Cities: Skylines city builder brings new mass transit options, huge transport interchanges and an entirely new fishing industry to the game, amongst other things, within Sunset Harbor.

The thing about Cities: Skylines at this point is that it is what it is. What is that? The most engaging, comprehensive and vast city-building simulation on the market. It’s so good that it has basically cornered the market; there is pretty much no point in even looking for an alternative. If what you’re clamouring for is a full city-building experience then Cities: Skylines is what you want; no question.

The sheer amount of options that you have when building a metropolis in Cities: Skylines is almost overwhelming now. Between the already sizeable base game, a large number of DLCs of varying sizes and the bafflingly incredible amount of mods available easily at the click of a button from the Steam workshop there are a huge number of things to be done, built and micro-managed in Cities: Skylines at this point.

Sunset Harbor: The city's high school
The Steam workshop contains a huge amount of custom content, including many of these plants and this high school.

The real question that Cities: Skylines – Sunset Harbor needs to answer is not about the quality of its content — which is, as expected, excellent — but rather whether the game actually needs anything more at this point? What more could be added that would enhance the experience?

The answer to that is something fundamental to the game; namely that Cities: Skylines is a rare game where YOU CAN ALWAYS HAVE MORE! At this point I’m pretty sure that the technical limitations of even the most powerful home computers could be reached well before a Cities: Skylines fan would tell you that there was enough content. In real life, a city is such a vast and varied beast that any attempt to recreate the building of one can pretty much not have enough variety.

A fishing farm
The irony of this fishing farm complaining about a lack of water is not lost on me.

Take the trolleybuses added in Cities: Skylines – Sunset Harbor. Are they necessary? Absolutely not. They add nothing to the gameplay that isn’t already being provided by buses, trams, metros, trains, ferries, blimps and cycle lanes but they are cool! Look at them go! Rattling and clanging about the place in an incredibly inefficient and stupid fashion! They’re adorable! And, more to the point, they exist in the real world. Why? Who knows? But they do and it is hard to escape the feeling that Colossal Order, the makers of Cities: Skylines, are on a mission to try and put everything that exists in the real world into Cities: Skylines sooner or later.

Pretty much the same can be said for helicopters. Yes, your little dudes and gals can now shoot around the city in helicopters if they’re feeling fancy. They add nothing to the gameplay beyond a visceral, and essential, excitement at seeing helicopters buzzing around your city. It just makes everything feel another step more real. I can sit back and watch the goings-on in my city for minutes at a time, following individual cars and people around, getting a first-person view of the city (and spotting trees I’ve left in the middle of the road while I do it). I think I’m far from the only person who enjoys this and the huge amount of variety of things happening in Cities: Skylines is a big reason why that’s enjoyable.

Sunset Harbor: A trolley bus on its usual route
A motherfudgin’ TROLLEY BUS!!!!

There are some elements of the Sunset Harbor expansion that add more to the gameplay side of things, chief among them being the new fishing industry. Slap on the new fishing resource overlay and players will now see their waterways light up with different colours to indicate the fishing and seafood that can be harvested from them. From tuna to salmon to shellfish to anchovies, the game has a small but sufficient variety in types of sea-meats that can be obtained.

To gather these precious finny friends from the water a bunch of fishing wharf buildings are provided. When you put them in place routes will have to be set for their boats and these routes will define the type of catch they bring back and how much. At the start, players will only have access to a generic fishing wharf but types for specific fish will be unlocked in time, as well as farms for fish, algae and seaweed. As with other industries in the game, there is a chain to be built for the fishing industry. Once you’ve got your fish you need to do something with them. The options are straightforward here; a fish market building that will sell directly to the population of your city and a cannery that will turn fish into consumer goods for your shops (and for export).

A fishing boat out on the water
The citizens of my metropolis do not have imaginitive names for their boats.

Fishing isn’t the most complex or deep industry out there in Cities: Skylines but it brings an entirely new aspect to the game and the simple pleasure of seeing the fishing trawlers out and about on the water (and hearing your citizens complaining about the stink if you place them too close to the market) is well worth it. The expansion comes with five new maps, heavily favouring water as you would expect.

The other major gameplay addition is interchanges. No longer do players have to manually build these things by slapping metro stations and train stations near each other and using the power of imagination. Sunset Harbor comes with a variety of interchange buildings that bring different transport options together into one location. There are bus-metro interchanges, bus-train interchanges, metro-train interchanges; I’m sure you get the idea. It’s a small thing but it can make a big difference to the efficiency of public transport networks and, like everything in the game, is just damn satisfying to watch in action.

Sunset Harbor: One of the new transit terminals
It occurs to me that the option that includes an underground train is not the best for demonstrating the new transit terminals

There are also interchange buildings for the new intercity buses. No longer do visitors to your city have to arrive only by plane, train and automobile (and boat). They can hop on long-distance buses and travel in whatever the opposite of style is. To take advantage of this players need to build the new intercity bus stations (or interchanges). These buses don’t add anything that trains or planes didn’t already have covered but they’re another layer of realism and an extra thing to manage when it comes to traffic and infrastructure. If there’s one thing we Cities: Skylines players love it’s managing traffic and infrastructure. It gets me hot under the collar.

It’s pretty easy to work out whether Cities: Skylines – Sunset Harbor should be recommended or not. If you have no interest in Cities: Skylines or tried it and didn’t like it then this will do absolutely nothing to change your mind. If you’re a fan of the game then you should absolutely look at picking up Cities: Skylines – Sunset Harbor because it is just more stuff and more stuff is always great. Variety really is the spice of life with Cities: Skylines and, with that in mind, Sunset Harbor is a no-brainer.

You can find Cities: Skylines – Sunset Harbor on Steam.

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