The Best Cities: Skylines Mods

By Edward Mass 29 Oct 2019 0

Cities: Skylines was an unexpected gift from the city building gods. After the genre spent years languishing in what seemed like carbon copies of past glories or kitschy abstractions, Finnish developer Colossal Order lived up to its name and delivered a worthy successor to everyone's childhood nostalgia for SimCity complete with all the modern trappings of urban development that have developed since the turn of the millennium as well as its own unique graphical and mechanical twists that set it apart as more than just a successor to the games of old, but as the new gold standard.

And almost like water finally returning to a desert and turning the arid landscape green overnight, so did fans of electronic cities begin to finally thrive and produce their own content to bolster the game's impressive simulation engine. As of the time of this writing, there are nearly two hundred thousand mods for the game listed on Steam Workshop alone.

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What are the best Cities: Skylines Mods?

Finding the right mod to augment one's game is about as daunting as being a tourist in Metropolitan Tokyo, but, thankfully, we've got your Traveller's guide to the living City that is Cities: Skyline's Mods. Like any good city tourist, let's identify some key landmarks that will give you a sense of what to expect in each area. For ease, here is quick summary of all the mods currently listed in this article:

  1. AmiPolizeiFunk Berlin Reichstag (Assets)
  2. Ryuichi Kaminogi's 'Japan' Mod Collection (Assets)
  3. Timboh's Marvelous Interchange Emporium (Transportation)
  4. FBS Airport Project (Transportation)
  5. Shanghai True 1:1 Modded Map (Maps)
  6. Temperate Moon (Maps)
  7. Vyattiga'Vel Atoll (Maps)
  8. Traffic Manager: President Edition (Quality of Life)
  9. Extra Landscaping Tools (Quality of Life)
  10. 81 Tiles (Quality of life)

But before we begin, it's actually quite simple to add mods to the game for first timer. Simply subscribe to the requisite mod on the Steam Workshop and it will automatically load into your Cities: Skylines content manager. It's from there that you can enable or disable mods at your discretion.

ASSET AND LANDMARK PACKS

It is not an understatement that the vast majority of mods for Cities: Skylines are the numerous assets (buildings, roads, doodads etc) that are painstakingly and artistically created by the mod community. These could be as simple as a special type of tree only found in tundra climate to intricate replicas of some of the most impressive landmarks in the modern world.

The good news is that the player can import any and all of these items into their map and construct truly customized cities using the art, architecture, and aesthetics that the international community has to offer. There is a magical moment, however, when something cohesive or familiar takes hold.

The official Cities: Skylines YouTube channel showcased this ability as a prime example of how simple window shopping for assets can turn into the ultimate act of city modeling. Behold the glory that is “Berlin 1:1”.

AmiPolizeiFunk's various assets can be found simply by searching for his username on the Steam Workshop. His version of the Reichstag is perhaps one of his most impressive and intricately detailed creations.

Recreating a city 1:1 like in the previous case is perhaps the maximum level of fidelity, but the power of mods is that we can move along the spectrum of realism vs imagination just as easily as clicking on which mods to subscribe to.

One step down is the ability to make themed cities. A whole new city based off of a certain unified aesthetic is possible through the amazing spread of internationally created assets. Intricate modelers can build their own versions of Japanese cities which was another rather impressive feature on the Cities: Skylines official channel: 

This impressive guide can lead one to the equally impressive Japanese asset pack.

We thus have an example of how there are mods existing on the Steam Workshop that are a collection of sub-assets but curated together to help ease the player into choosing a unified aesthetic or theme. There are plenty of these curated lists and the success of the Japan list is an example of what to search for depending on one's tastes or where one wishes to establish their next city.

One of the most important things for potential mod tourists to know is that YouTube support is not limited to the official channel, but can extend to various content creators who lovingly walk the player through how to implement their assets to achieve a certain look.

TRANSPORTATION MODS

One of the most defining features of Cities: Skylines is the treatment of transportation. No longer is this aspect of city life relegated to abstract shades in some map overlay, but it now forms a functional and integral part of the game engine (similar, interestingly, to the venerable walking pops mechanic from Caesar III). It's no surprise, then, that transportation assets and mods help to really enliven one's Cities: Skylines experience.

interchangeemproium

No mod list would be complete without introducing the player to one of the best examples of 'enlivening' the game experience through tweaking transport: Timboh's Marvelous Interchange Emporium. This is the definitive one-stop-shop for all types of interchanges that truly make one's city freeway system unique and engaging. Roads are not the only things that can be fully expanded to their full potential. Airports in major cities are like cities within themselves and there are mods that finally allow one's airport to be just as unique as one's urban environment.

Thankfully, the FBS Airport Project provides a comprehensive starting point for upgrading one's airport experience and makes this exercise of building a city-within-a-city fun and engaging. Move over model trains, it's now possible to make one's ideal airport servicing millions.

MAP MODS

Where else would these impressive assets reside if it were not for the equally impressive mod support for the landscapes that house them? Let's not even bother mentioning that the “Berlin 1:1” project mentioned above required the creation of a whole new, perfectly scaled map, there are also plenty of other impressive terrain selections out there to delight the player.

In fact, AmiPolizeiFunk collaborated with map savant amamIya to produce an impressive 1:1 Shanghai.

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In the above mod one can also find links to various assets that can be supported by the map to customize that Shanghai experience to its maximum level. Again, it's up to the player to what level of cohesion they want to take their modding experience and the good news is that the mod community is kind enough to offer suggested lists and assets that support each other so always check the descriptions so that being a tourist in the Mods City can easily take one from one attraction to the next.

But why bother making a city here on Earth at all? We can take it a step further and begin our conquest of the Solar System by making sure that Luna is no longer quite so lonely. Temperate Moon provides a fun ride of trying to create a metropolis on the moon's topography. Small part challenge (there's no arable land, for example) and large part novelty, this little mod and other mods out there that depict extraterrestrial landscapes are a fun diversion from the usually mundane (pun intended) playthrough.

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Novelty and Precision aside, there is also room for a truly beautiful and original map. Soedric's Fantasy Map Vyattiga'Vel Atoll is incredibly breathtaking. The lush colours and dense detail is a literal strain on even graphics ready computers, but is worth every moment. One almost does not wish to disturb the natural beauty to create a city here. This mod also features the rather important “81 Tile mod” which will be covered in the next section.

QUALITY OF LIFE MODS

The sights and sounds of a city are not the only things that delight tourists. After all, good infrastructure and ease of living can be just as much of a draw to urban tourism as landmarks. It's the same with Cities: Skylines mods. There are a plethora of impressive quality of life modifications that get into the nitty gritty of the game engine to truly ease one's Mayoral roleplay.

skylines mods traffic manager

Traffic Manager: President Edition is one such mod. A truly comprehensive suite allowing one to modify everything from traffic light timing to junction laws and parking restrictions, this is one of those mods that 'unlocks' the game for total control. Even if one doesn't use all of the options (and there are a ton; one needs to read the full description for the dizzying amount of abilities one receives) just the very option of having all of these ways of playing makes this a must have.

It's not just the mechanical aspects of the world that benefit from the benevolent touch of Mods. Extra Landscaping Tools provides that extra boost for city editors to create their ideal, custom landscape with options that are not available in vanilla. The player can now edit the allocation and location of natural resources as well as simply change the natural landscape with a plethora of different brushes. What's excellent about this mod is that all of these options are also available in the map editor so changes can even be made pre-game.

skylines mods landscaping tools

Finally, as mentioned in the previous section, being confined by the game's tile mechanic can be a pain for the truly imaginative. Thus, here is BloodyPenguin's 81 Tiles mod to the rescue unlocking the entirety of the map. Like with any of these other Quality of Life mods, they truly “liberate” the player from restrictions and allows imagination to run free—something which seems to have been truly triggered by this amazing game and made possible by the response of the mod community.

Obviously no list will be exhaustive and even a carefully curated list overlooks some of the best mods out there, but this is why this list samples the essence of what is available. It is up to you, the Mayor, to determine how to express that essence through the mods that you choose.

What are your favourite Cities Skylines Mods? Let us know in the comments!

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