The launch of Cities: Skylines II on Xbox Game Pass is off to a rocky start. The highly anticipated city builder sequel was released today as a day-one addition to Microsoft’s popular subscription service. However, serious performance problems are hampering the experience for many players.
Original Game Earned Praise
Cities: Skylines II is the follow-up to 2015’s hit city simulation game Cities: Skylines. The original gained a devoted fanbase for its deep gameplay systems and creative freedom. As such, fans were eager to dive into this new iteration.
Initially announced at E3 2022, Cities: Skylines II was confirmed to launch directly onto Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. The news was well-received, with Cities: Skylines fans praising Microsoft for securing the high-profile day-one release. Expectations continued building over the last several months leading up to launch day.
Reviews Overwhelmingly Negative Over Performance
Unfortunately, those expectations now seem to have been grossly mismatched with the game’s actual readiness. Reviews and impressions from early players point to performance issues seriously hampering the experience across PC and console.
Steam Reviews Pan Performance
On Steam, the game is being overwhelmingly panned for its technical problems. Out of over 500 reviews so far, an astounding 81% rate the game negatively. Most cite unacceptable performance even on high-end hardware.
The game’s frame rate is dipping as low as 10-15fps when building larger cities, making it nearly unplayable. Surprisingly, this is happening even with powerful modern GPUs like the RTX 3080. Clearly, the game lacks proper optimization.
Consoles Face Issues Too
Console players are reporting similar problems, with consistent crashing and screen tearing. Load times reaching up to 5 minutes make iteratively designing a city a grueling process.
Execution Falls Short of Developer Pedigree
The reception is especially disappointing given the stellar track record of Colossal Order, the developers behind the beloved original Cities: Skylines. Their expertise in complex simulation and urban planning mechanics had fans expecting big things from this sequel.
However, it seems that expertise has not translated to strong execution on the underlying game engine and technical performance. Without optimization passes, smooth frame rates, and stability, the game’s intricate systems are hamstrung.
Fundamentals Show Promise
The one silver lining is that when the game does manage to run properly, the fundamentals appear sound. Reviewers praise the potential depth of the simulation, planning tools, and new features like real-time public transit.
But until severe performance issues are addressed, Cities: Skylines II falls devastatingly short of expectations. This will no doubt be a blow to Xbox, who likely positioned the Game Pass day-one launch as a major coup over rival Sony and its PlayStation Plus service.
Outlook Hinges on Quick Patching
Going forward, Colossal Order will need to quickly issue patches improving optimization, frame rates, loading times, and stability. Only then can the game properly showcase its ambitious simulation framework.
For now, Xbox Game Pass subscribers may want to take a wait-and-see approach before diving into Cities: Skylines II. The game’s inclusion in the library means players will have an opportunity to experience it after technical problems are (hopefully) resolved.
But at launch, the poor execution is severely undermining what should have been a celebratory release for fans. It illustrates the risks of heavily promoting day-one launches prior to performance optimization. And it deals a blow to public perception of Game Pass as a platform for premier content.
Yet if the underlying framework of Cities: Skylines II can be realized in the months following release, it may still become a flagship Xbox Game Pass title. But the developers have significant work ahead to regain trust and satisfaction from disappointed fans.