Spotlight On: Cities XL

If you haven't played a good city-building game in a while, you may want to keep an eye out for Cities XL, which will try to combine the peaceful pursuit of building up a tiny virtual city with cooperative (and competitive) online elements and Web-based social networking. We've previously taken an...

If you haven't played a good city-building game in a while, you may want to keep an eye out for Cities XL, which will try to combine the peaceful pursuit of building up a tiny virtual city with cooperative (and competitive) online elements and Web-based social networking. We've previously taken an in-depth look at the game and its unusual premise and have new details to report today.


What's better than being a land baron? How about being a land baron...online?

To catch you up, here's a quick recap: Cities XL will basically offer an offline experience right out of the box and a continuing online experience should you want to pursue the dream of being the world's most successful architect. Like in many other city-building games, such as the SimCity series, the out-of-box, offline game in Cities XL will let you use editing tools to build up the virtual city of your dreams, using powerful tools that will include some 500 different buildings, so you can click, drag, copy-paste, and brush-paint tiny individual houses or sprawling roadway networks, then maintain your population's happiness and income while using your funds to build a bigger, better, happier city.

The online portion of the game will let you go beyond just puttering around in your own city; you'll actually be able to, for instance, putter around other players' cities on foot, as well as monitor the progress of your city online through the game's Web site, which will act as both an online scoreboard (which ranks all players' cities by their relative wealth, popular happiness, and other statistics) and a social hub. The Web site will let you create your own profile, write your own blog, post images, and maintain a friends list. You'll also be able to use the online interface to trade any excess resources that your city, or other players' cities, may have produced. All cities produce and consume resources (such as energy, power, and cash), and depending on how you've built yours, you may end up with a town that creates a daily surplus of this or that resource. This daily surplus will disappear from your city's coffers at the end of the day, each day, to avoid the dreaded practice of "farming"--in this case, repeatedly hoarding resources each day until you have an unreasonably huge stockpile. Resources will be traded in the form of "tokens"--one token will represent one unit of resources, and developer Monte Cristo currently intends to let the resource market regulate itself, rather then get too involved in the player economy. However, since you will have access to resource trading online, you won't necessarily need to create a well-rounded, self-sustaining commune. For instance, if you want, you can build an industrial wasteland that's nothing but factories and smokestacks--and just trade for whichever resources you don't generate.


Will you create a simple but beautiful country town with rolling meadows, or a wealthy industrialized wasteland?

Resource trading will be important not only for generally keeping your town running, but also for creating "megastructures"--famous wonders of the world that will grant powerful bonuses to whoever builds them. (Cities XL will ship with about 20 of these right out of the box, and more will be added at a rate of about five or so per month). In order to build one of these impressive monuments, you'll need the blueprints, which will randomly appear in the accounts of a handful of users every so often (and can be used to start construction immediately, or traded for resources, or given away for free...otherwise the blueprints will expire in about a week after use to prevent players from accumulating them in their accounts). Megastructures will be fantastically expensive projects that go through three different phases of construction (and each phase will require a different mix of resources). Successfully building one will grant serious bonuses for your city; for instance, plopping the Arc de Triomphe in the middle of your metropolis will grant your city powerful economic bonuses as tourists from your principality and from neighboring towns take a holiday to come see your wondrous new masterpiece. And the tourists will build up the local economy, presumably by purchasing cheap T-shirts and souvenir coffee mugs.

However, megastructures won't offer clear-cut, no-strings-attached advantages; they'll actually have their own set of realistic concerns that you as the city's mayor and chief architect must address. For starters, an attractive monument will bring in many guests and their big, bulky tour buses--and the buses may congest traffic and lead to noise pollution that creates unhappiness for any of the locals who live or work nearby. More importantly, if your city becomes too wondrous and begins drawing in too many of your neighbors' citizens, your neighbors (other players who are in control of their own cities) may become jealous that you're getting all this great tourist revenue and they aren't. In fact, this will be a real concern for all online land barons when they go looking to trade resources. Yes, you need four tokens of oil for your own town and you'd be willing to trade four tokens of water...but do you really want to give that water to someone who will just end up spending it on building an Eiffel Tower that will draw in your citizens and line your neighbor's pockets?


One day, all this will be yours. Then you can build a frozen-yogurt stand there.

Cities XL is still in development and will likely go to a beta-testing phase in the coming months. The game is scheduled to launch later this year.

Written By

Want the latest news about Cities XL?

Cities XL

Cities XL

Follow

Discussion

42 comments
austinite04
austinite04

I already pre-ordered it from STEAM, I have been waiting for a real Sim City Successor and this is definitely what I wanted, I played SimCity Societies for ONE DAY and wished I never downloaded it. I want to sell the idiotic game so bad. I have wanted a game like this for sometime. I have Windows 7 I just hope it works on Win7. This is a very promising game. I'm still not sold on Monthly online subscription though. They will have to pry the monthly dues from my cold dead hands,lol. I hope that I can be convinced that paying to play online is worth the costs. $10 a month is a little expensive. I hope that I can get more hours at my job to cover the extra money I'll need for this game. That said, Monte Cristo has learned from their past mistakes, and this is very obvious by watching all the trailers. I have seen worse looking City Sims, this one does look like when you develop a HUGE city it will require a ton of micro management. I hope they solved that issue before making the DVD's I will have a blog on this site when I've played Cities XL enough and a rating of it of course. I could have bought anyother game on steam but chose to pre-order this one. I hope it was worth the trouble.

krisroe_213
krisroe_213

These guys made City Life, which I enjoyed very much. This could be very promising!

steve79ldn
steve79ldn

Wow, at last a proper city building game whith quality and character (i hope). Looks fab. Has anyone noticed how alot of games such as these from the big studios lack decent graphics and are quite formulaic? Anyway, Il be waiting for this one;)

clembo1990
clembo1990

Waiting for a PC Gamer review before I get this, looks promising.

ebfmga
ebfmga

The graphics look good ... almost like they've taken their overhead maps from some topographic mapping software. That would be great ... if we could download a real location and build on it.

splitterside
splitterside

I am really looking forward to this game. I haven't played a good city building game since SC4 and have been itching to get my hands on another new classic. I just hope this game isn't as big a bust as SC:Societies. The online game play is what really interests me. I just hope that the subscription fee isn't that significant so that I can pay in confidence that I am getting my monies worth.

nyranasaurus
nyranasaurus

MASSIVE SIGH to what they did to the poor Sim City series. EA really screwed the pooch with Sim City.

forhekset
forhekset

I'll be getting this. But as for the online components? Sounds interesting but unless there's more to it, dunno if I'd bother.

Chronikas
Chronikas

I dunno....the last game I played from MonteCristo was SilverFall...blech.

Szkeptik
Szkeptik

Sounds interesting. Don't know how large a fanbase it's going to get.

Helloiseeu
Helloiseeu

Man, can't wait for the release.

tsyunami
tsyunami

sounds lika an interesting concept

itechgamer
itechgamer

i looking forward for this game,

ghostlyrics
ghostlyrics

hopefully they'll make it run smoother than Silverfall -.-

jrabbit99
jrabbit99

I looks like it will be a great game

Wings_008
Wings_008

city life was kinda cool but way too easy plus if you beat it once you can do it again and again!

Gornax
Gornax

i want prostitutes in da game

alexender00
alexender00

For the people complaining about the fees, the fees are only if you want to play online, If you are content with just building a city by yourself, then there's no fees whatsoever except for buying the game of course.

BimC
BimC

Can you nuke your neighbors?

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Leb why not look into the payment an what it is..From what ive gathered an been told..Its not to much..Its $9.99 a month for three months..Thats not to shabby a deal now..Plus the online fee will be for added houses an other such buildings an add ons..At first i was checking the price thing out myself..Than some one told be about that..

lebman69
lebman69

monthly fee ruins it, its Sim City with fee's. I do like some of the photos. Looks more realistic in a small way

sdron
sdron

This game will be huge!! But sadly ... another game that will cost monthly fees :( Im ruining myself

Dr_Notes
Dr_Notes

this is... interesting. i'll definately be keeping an eye out on this one, though i'm not sure how the whole online thing will really pan out

gijas
gijas

this is hopefully going to be what Sim City Societies should have been to begin with.

tholgair
tholgair

Frankly, in a sea of mindless hack and slash rpgs in MMO market, either this one gathers a cult follower community or it swims with the fishes. I would love to see that i am wrong and this game becomes popular and serves to all expectancies but i must say: Even with its concept not being a hack and slay or action packed combat, it starts the way behind. Well, am i pesimist or what:P

bodylotion
bodylotion

Looks good, hope it's more than just looks

brilhasti
brilhasti

I'm looking forward to this since everything past SimCity 3 has been pretty poor. I played a ton of SimCity 4 and I really tried to like it but it simply has too many issues to go down in my book as a top-end game.

p8riot08
p8riot08

This has a lot of potential. I really like the online aspect of the game.

sub-raid
sub-raid

It's been a while since we played a city building game... it's interesting.

RealBlackPuma
RealBlackPuma

Looks very interesting, I might give this a try.

The_PC_Gamer
The_PC_Gamer

very excited for this game since the announcement last year

Fandangle
Fandangle

Looking like a decent city building game - the online component adds an interesting extra

Joesocwork
Joesocwork

There's a whole city building gaming community waiting for a worthy successor to Sim City 4. I hope Cities XL permits greater realism in design and variety while avoiding City Life's predictability and redundancy when you solve its puzzles as well as the gimmicks of CL's class conflict and Sim City Societies's societal energies.

CooLDsteR
CooLDsteR

I stopped playing the SC Series since SC4 came out. I tried SC4 but the beauty wasn't able to overcome the difficulty for me; let alone replay value. I enjoyed playing the pre-SC4 games over again for some time. Cities XL, though still in dev., looks promising and hopefully great replay value. The online community seems pretty cool, too. I've been away from city simulations for a long time; this may bring me back.

AndrewP
AndrewP

If you haven't played a good city-building game in a while, you may want to keep an eye out for Cities XL, which will try to combine the peaceful pursuit of building up a tiny virtual city with cooperative (and competitive) online elements and Web-based social networking. We've previously taken an in-depth look at the game and its unusual premise and have new details to report today.

What's better than being a land baron? How about being a land baron...online?

To catch you up, here's a quick recap: Cities XL will basically offer an offline experience right out of the box and a continuing online experience should you want to pursue the dream of being the world's most successful architect. Like in many other city-building games, such as the SimCity series, the out-of-box, offline game in Cities XL will let you use editing tools to build up the virtual city of your dreams, using powerful tools that will include some 500 different buildings, so you can click, drag, copy-paste, and brush-paint tiny individual houses or sprawling roadway networks, then maintain your population's happiness and income while using your funds to build a bigger, better, happier city.

The online portion of the game will let you go beyond just puttering around in your own city; you'll actually be able to, for instance, putter around other players' cities on foot, as well as monitor the progress of your city online through the game's Web site, which will act as both an online scoreboard (which ranks all players' cities by their relative wealth, popular happiness, and other statistics) and a social hub. The Web site will let you create your own profile, write your own blog, post images, and maintain a friends list. You'll also be able to use the online interface to trade any excess resources that your city, or other players' cities, may have produced. All cities produce and consume resources (such as energy, power, and cash), and depending on how you've built yours, you may end up with a town that creates a daily surplus of this or that resource. This daily surplus will disappear from your city's coffers at the end of the day, each day, to avoid the dreaded practice of "farming"--in this case, repeatedly hoarding resources each day until you have an unreasonably huge stockpile. Resources will be traded in the form of "tokens"--one token will represent one unit of resources, and developer Monte Cristo currently intends to let the resource market regulate itself, rather then get too involved in the player economy. However, since you will have access to resource trading online, you won't necessarily need to create a well-rounded, self-sustaining commune. For instance, if you want, you can build an industrial wasteland that's nothing but factories and smokestacks--and just trade for whichever resources you don't generate.

Will you create a simple but beautiful country town with rolling meadows, or a wealthy industrialized wasteland?

Resource trading will be important not only for generally keeping your town running, but also for creating "megastructures"--famous wonders of the world that will grant powerful bonuses to whoever builds them. (Cities XL will ship with about 20 of these right out of the box, and more will be added at a rate of about five or so per month). In order to build one of these impressive monuments, you'll need the blueprints, which will randomly appear in the accounts of a handful of users every so often (and can be used to start construction immediately, or traded for resources, or given away for free...otherwise the blueprints will expire in about a week after use to prevent players from accumulating them in their accounts). Megastructures will be fantastically expensive projects that go through three different phases of construction (and each phase will require a different mix of resources). Successfully building one will grant serious bonuses for your city; for instance, plopping the Arc de Triomphe in the middle of your metropolis will grant your city powerful economic bonuses as tourists from your principality and from neighboring towns take a holiday to come see your wondrous new masterpiece. And the tourists will build up the local economy, presumably by purchasing cheap T-shirts and souvenir coffee mugs.

However, megastructures won't offer clear-cut, no-strings-attached advantages; they'll actually have their own set of realistic concerns that you as the city's mayor and chief architect must address. For starters, an attractive monument will bring in many guests and their big, bulky tour buses--and the buses may congest traffic and lead to noise pollution that creates unhappiness for any of the locals who live or work nearby. More importantly, if your city becomes too wondrous and begins drawing in too many of your neighbors' citizens, your neighbors (other players who are in control of their own cities) may become jealous that you're getting all this great tourist revenue and they aren't. In fact, this will be a real concern for all online land barons when they go looking to trade resources. Yes, you need four tokens of oil for your own town and you'd be willing to trade four tokens of water...but do you really want to give that water to someone who will just end up spending it on building an Eiffel Tower that will draw in your citizens and line your neighbor's pockets?

One day, all this will be yours. Then you can build a frozen-yogurt stand there.

Cities XL is still in development and will likely go to a beta-testing phase in the coming months. The game is scheduled to launch later this year.