Cities Skylines 2 has launched big on Steam, hitting over 100,000 concurrent players and sitting atop the best-sellers chart. But performance issues have marred the launch, which was met with a ‘mixed’ user review rating of 48% on Valve’s platform.
The majority of the negative user reviews include complaints about the city builder’s performance, which developer Colossal Order had warned would be a problem before the game came out. The current ‘most helpful review’ for Cities Skylines 2 on Steam, from user Ariegan, simply states: “Who would imagine that we would get another unoptimized mess of a game in 2023… I am tired, boss…”
Steam user CountCristo goes into more detail. “Sadly the game isn’t ready for release, hold off for now – I’ll be happy when the time comes to change this review! The game performs horribly, and on the settings that allow it to scrape by with 20fps it looks dramatically worse than Cities 1. There are also various bugs (especially around ‘not enough customers’) that fill the game with annoying bubble alerts for no reason.”
And here’s another Steam review, from user Stin: “Everyone already knows the performance is terrible, so I’ll just share my experience so you have a further example to compare to. I have a 13900k, 64GB of RAM, and a RTX 4090, playing on a 1440p ultrawide monitor. I got 35fps at the main menu and in game on a brand new map w/o building a single thing. Turning off motion blur and depth field increased this from 35 to 50fps. Not a single other graphics setting changed the performance at all. I turned off every single setting I could or set it to the lowest possible, and still only got 50fps. This is impressively bad optimization, I actually can’t recall another game recently where changing the graphics settings literally did nothing to fps. Just stay away from this until they fix it.”
This week, Colossal Order developers revealed Cities Skylines 2 targets 30 frames per second, even on the most powerful PCs. Chief technical officer “damsku” said there’s “arguably no real benefit in a city builder to aim for higher fps”. What matters more with city builders, damsku said, is to avoid stutters and have a responsive user interface.
Earlier this month, Colossal Order admitted Cities Skylines 2’s performance wasn’t up to scratch, but insisted it would launch the city builder on PC as planned on October 24. “Cities: Skylines 2 is a next-gen title, and naturally, it demands certain hardware requirements,” Colossal Order said at the time. “With that said, while our team has worked tirelessly to deliver the best experience possible, we have not achieved the benchmark we targeted.”
In a new post on Steam issued today, October 25, Colossal Order went into more detail on the controversial decision to release Cities Skylines 2 knowing it had these performance issues.
“While some setups on PC have challenges, we concluded the performance is not a dealbreaker for all the players,” the developer said. “For us, the number one priority is for the players to have fun with the game, and we had seen enough feedback from players enjoying the game that it would be more unfair to postpone. We know we will keep working on the game and do our best to fix issues as fast as possible, so we wanted to respect the announced release date and allow people to start playing the game.
To that end, a number of performance-related updates are planned. “Firstly, we want to assure you that the issues are not deeply rooted in the game’s foundation, so we fully expect to be able to improve performance going forward,” Colossal Order said. “The issues we are currently facing are tied to the rendering of the game, and decreasing the quality of visual effects such as Depth of Field, Global Illumination, and Volumetrics will get you a fair performance without affecting simulation – at the cost of some eye candy.”
Cities Skylines II Screenshots
Colossal Order recommended the following to those experience low FPS in Cities Skylines 2:
- Reduce screen resolution to 1080p
- Disable Depth of Field and Volumetrics
- Reduce Global Illumination
The developer even published a guide to improve Cities Skylines 2’s performance. “With the upcoming patches, the situation will largely improve with default settings,” Colossal Order insisted.
Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or confidentially at email@example.com.