Cities Skylines Snowfall Tests the Limits of the Word "Expansion"

Cities Skylines Snowfall Tests the Limits of the Word "Expansion"

Colossal Order drops Cities: Skylines' second expansion, but there's a feeling that it could've ended up being so much more.

Following the successful launch of Cities: Skylines and the first expansion, After Dark, Colossal Order and Paradox Interactive are back with Snowfall. Snowfall adds a weather system to Cities Skylines, alongside a host of new buildings and features that make use of that weather. I say "limited", because the only weather addition that really changes the way you play is the titular snowfall.

Screenshots via Steam user IrresponsibleCaptNathan, because they take much better screens than I do.

Winter is here, with a new temperature gauge on the UI and winter weather blanketing your cities in an icy wonderland. The expansion offers up some heavy snowfall and deep freezes to your prospective metropolis... with a catch. Winter isn't a direct part of the game as a seasonal cycle of any map, instead it's only available on three new maps that are always stuck in perpetual cold. It's a feature that feels important and the developer just missed it this time around.

Winter isn't just a visual flourish though, it somewhat changes the way you have to play. When it gets cold, your citizens will turn up the heat, which hogs a ton of power. That means you need to rethink your power grid and how your overall power management works. Your power plants also require resources that are normally delivered via truck, but icy roads can bring your traffic to a crawl.

Snowfall introduces a host of problems with winter weather, but it also gives you ways to solve those problems. The straightforward additions are the new Boiler Stations, Geothermal Plants, and Heat Pipes. The Boiler Stations and Geothermal Plants produce heat to nearby areas and you can extend their reach with the piping if your city is big enough. The Heat Pipes are an upgrade to your existing piping, so it's a rather quick turnaround, but they cost far more than your existing Water Pipes. There's also a new policy available that forces buildings to be built with more insulation, meaning they'll retain heat much better, but cost more. This is just the stuff that pulls money out of your pocket immediately.

The snow itself will clog your roads, which will increase traffic and prevent your trucks from bringing in the coal and oil you need for power. So you need to build snow dumps as a place to put all that snow, which create snowplows that roam around the city. There's also a city policy for making sure that citizens use studded tires when they ride out into the world.

Snowfall also brings a host of winter-themed buildings to your city. These structures include hockey rinks, ski slopes and resorts, ice skating rinks, and the sauna, which doubles as a heat and health building. There's also Christmas-themed buildings like Santa Claus' Workshop or public Christmas trees to add some holiday cheer. It's a bunch of cosmetic additions to add some variety to your city.

Then there's the general game addition that everyone was asking for: the tram. These electric streetcars run down the center of all your roads, you just have to build a Tram Station to make use of them. It's another great public transportation option that's like buses, but outdoes them in efficiency if you you take the time to plan out proper trams lines and stops. Traffic has always been a major point of Cities: Skylines and trams can be used on every map, so trams actually end up being the most important addition in the entire expansion. Colossal Order also packed in a theme editor as a free update alongside Snowfall, changing the basics of each map, like the properties of the sun, moon, and sky.

Ultimately, the large problem with Snowfall is the price. It's not a bad addition to the overall game, it's just a very limited content drop for the asking price. Most of the additions are visual in nature and the snow is limited to a few maps instead of being spread throughout any map via a dynamic weather system. That leaves the trams to do most of the legwork and for $13, that seems like a bit much. After Dark was the stronger of the two expansions that Colossal Order has released thus far. If you're hip deep in Cities: Skylines, the trams may be worth the asking price, but the rest is wholly dependent on how much you want to make it rain... and snow.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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