Cities Skylines 2’s new traffic system is absolute genius

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Cities Skylines 2 is looking better and better every time I see it. The city-building game sequel from Paradox and Colossal Order is already revamping roads, roundabouts, housing, and more, but now we have more details on the CS2 traffic system, and it’s somehow both incredibly simple but at the same time hugely in-depth and involved. Cities Skylines 2’s motorists have a four-part AI system that affects not just their travel, but also how you need to think about and design your metropolis. Honestly, the anticipation for the Cities Skylines 2 release date just gets bigger.

So, we’ve already seen Cities Skylines 2 roundabouts and got a look at how housing will be transformed, too, potentially eliminating the problems with abandoned buildings. Parking lots and simplified highway ramps are also coming, as well as the ability to instantly create perfectly symmetrical city blocks and lay roads that automatically include water and sewer lines.

But the Cities Skylines 2 traffic system is perhaps the best thing Paradox and Colossal Order have revealed so far. It works like this. Every motorist in CS2 navigates through your city based on four different ‘pathfinding costs’ – essentially, their AI considers four overarching factors, then chooses or adjusts their route accordingly.

First up is time: Cities Skylines 2 motorists will always take the shortest route possible, if that route is available. However, there is also a second factor: comfort. If your roads are poor quality, or there are lots of intersections, obstructions, or traffic, that can convince your citizens to head in a different direction.

Availability of parking is also a consideration here – a comfortable journey means easy, plentiful parking, so if you don’t allow much space for folks to leave their cars, they might take a different route or perhaps ignore some areas of your city entirely. This, naturally, will impact design decisions. It’s no use building a big commercial zone if there’s nowhere for shoppers to park.

The third factor is money. If fuel and parking are expensive, that will influence your citizens to leave their cars at home, or at least take shorter journeys. Likewise, if public transport is cheap, you’ll see more people using buses and trains, whereas higher fares might push them back into their personal vehicles.

But it’s the fourth factor that is the most interesting: behavior. Motorists in Cities Skylines 2 have different personalities when it comes to driving. Some are safe, steady drivers, so they’ll stick to established routes and obey the traffic laws. Others are risk takers, so they’ll break the speed limits and pull dangerous maneuvers like u-turns as they try to get where they’re going.

Again, this will impact how you design your city. Wide, straight roads might be safer, but will cost more and take up space. Dropping in lots of roundabouts and intersections may make for safer commuting, but could cause traffic, affecting, again, that comfort factor.

And there’s something else to take into account. In Cities Skylines 2, motorists can have accidents, whereby they crash into other vehicles or even buildings. If the roads are wet or it’s late at night, accidents are more likely to occur. The most significant factor however is road condition – if you don’t pay maintenance vehicles to take care of your streets, you’re going to see an uptick in the amount of accidents.

Once again, this all feeds back into your citizens’ overall experience. While the traffic AI is smart enough to turn around from blocked roads, or navigate around accidents entirely, there’s still a long-term risk factor. Bad roads mean more accidents. More accidents mean more traffic jams. And more traffic jams mean less comfort and accessibility, perhaps leading to a downturn in happiness and commercial sales.

Cities Skylines 2 traffic: A line of colorful cars in city-building game Cities Skylines 2

You can monitor it all using a new info page which gives a real-time overview of congestion, accidents, open and closed roads, and road condition.

Basically, roads and traffic just became a whole-new minigame within Cities Skylines 2, which need to be monitored just as closely as water mains, power supplies, and all the other decisive factors that we’ve learned from the original CS. If you wanted a more in-depth and detailed sequel, with complex but intuitive new systems, Cities Skylines 2 looks like it will deliver.

As we wait, make sure your gaming rig is ready with the full Cities Skylines 2 system requirements. You can also try some of the other best management games on PC.

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