It was extremely entertaining and mesmerizing to watch people build the cities, even though not all the buildings and options were available yet in this beta version. If you remember the older versions, the concept is basically the same, but with a lot of the complicated parts (like managing the budget or laying water pipes) simplified so you can focus on overarching city situations like angry citizens and natural disasters.
A few things I am going to love about this game
- Zoning for residential/commercial/industrial is super easy. You literally just paint along any road (whether the road is curved, straight, whatever) and the buildings just build up on any shape or size lot you give them. No more of the square block zones like in games past.
- There are some really cool new road-building tools. You can build square blocks instantly or use the straight or curved road tools to lay out your own grid. There is also a circle road building tool and a freeform road building tool, so pretty much any type of road system you can imagine, you can probably build in this game.
- Tornados! They only demoed one disaster in this beta test, and it does look like there are going to be more disasters added by the time the game ships, but so far the tornado looks very cool. It actually picks up houses and cards and flings them around!
- Trade with neighboring cities is added. You can send emergency vehicles, trade commerce, and even let your pollution seep over and affect them (and vice versa). Also you can team up to build an international airport, the Space Program, or other larger items like that. The other cities weren't turn on for the beta, but you could see where those cities would live if they were turned on, so that was cool.
- Water and electricity travel along roads, so you don't have to worry about anything in that regard. I read some negative reviews about this feature, but I'm not sure why. Apparently people wanted the option to build a house out in the boondocks without a road going to it?? Not having to think about laying a pipeline or remembering to connect power to every single new block you build seems like a plus to me, though!
What I learned after watching a few dozen people play the game
You know how when you watch someone else do something enough times, you start thinking to yourself, "I could totally do that better!"? Well yeah... by Sunday afternoon, after having watching soooo many of these gameplay videos, I started talking back to the screen, "Didn't you know you could do it this way....?" Lol. Some things I learned (that a lot of the testers could seem to figure out) were:
- You can pretty much build roads ANYWHERE, even over houses. Don't worry, the houses will just disappear and the Sims will build a new house somewhere else. It's no big deal.
- Zoning doesn't cost anything, so it really doesn't benefit you to wait to zone until your road system is laid out. Roads DO cost money, so adding them all first before you zone is kind of a misuse of your (early limited) resources. In the beginning, just throw those zones in there and start building your income as you go. You can always rezone later if need be.
- Roads should not go directly next to some of your "plop-able" buildings (Town Hall, police station, hospital, etc) because those are buildings that you can add on to and expand as the game progresses. It'll let you expand right over the top of houses, but if a road is there, it'll complain and make you bulldoze before you can continue.
- Density of buildings in the res/commercial zones are no longer dependent on the type of zone you lay down, but instead on the type of ROAD you lay down. Your city will upgrade it's density as it grows (based on the maximum density allowed by the road you laid down). For this reason it's a good idea to leave some space behind each zone for the upgrade buildings to fill in later on in the game. Don't pack in your roads super tightly or the density of the zones won't be able to expand correctly.
- Also, it's probably not a good idea to build your industrial zone behind your residential zone. There is actually wind direction factored into this game, so if you build your houses downwind of your industrial zone (especially if you also stick your coal power plant up there as well)... which helps your Sims get sick.
- Likewise... don't build your sewage treatment plant in the residential zone. That tends to pollute the ground water... which also helps your Sims get sick.
- The power plant take a second to turn on. It first has to "look for workers", meaning that the Sims literally have to drive there to start work before the power plant can start generating electricity. The other Sims will keep complaining about not having any power until this process gets completed. Don't worry... they will stop complaining after a bit when the lights start turning on! ;)
And now it's your turn to watch!
Of all the beta testers I watching, Hypnotoad was by far my favorite. He just has a fun sense of humor and was also rather quick and smart about building his cities. After watching him build several cities it was a little painful watching everyone else actually. Lol.
The beta only let them play each city for one hour, so Hypnotoad posted a few different cities, as well as a 20-minute video of playing the tutorial level. Here is the first video of the first city he created after the tutorial (you can click around on his channel to continue watching this city's creation &/or his other cities if you like).