Little Cities was first introduced again in late 2021, displaying off what gave the impression to be pint-sized VR model of standard metropolis simulator Cities: Skylines (2015)—only some months earlier than the very franchise introduced the creation of its personal official VR adaptation known as Cities VR. Unhealthy timing apart, we went hands-on with Little Cities earlier than its April 21st launch on the Quest platform to see if it supplied up the entire anticipated attraction of managing our personal tiny diorama village in VR.
Followers of conventional metropolis sims gained’t have any hassle adapting to Little Cities’ important mechanics: you tower over an island that permits so that you can sequentially develop throughout unlockable zones and earn new buildings as you entice residents who want a spot to dwell, work and store.
You’ll collect taxes on a weekly foundation, so that you’ll have every thing it’s good to begin planning out your roads, residential neighborhood blocks, industrial areas, and industrial zones—all of them hooked as much as energy, water, and mobile phone protection. That’s the fundamentals of it, and regardless that it doesn’t get a lot deeper than that, the steadiness Little Cities goes for makes it really feel prefer it’s extra about offering an enthralling and enjoyable expertise that’s by no means too fiddly or fast-paced that you could’t simply watch the world go by.
It’s obvious from the beginning that Little Cities is supposed to be a extra informal city-managing expertise than others within the style. You don’t must take care of air pollution, water piping, sewer wastage, electrical networks—all of that’s dealt with robotically by connecting buildings to the central street community that you just lay down. You possibly can’t pause throughout gameplay to plonk down buildings or overhaul your roads. For my preview, the sport appeared to offer loads of time to breathe and do every thing at a leisurely tempo.
You additionally gained’t must paw by countless menus, which you may in any other case discover on 2D metropolis builders which can higher present becoming items with a bevy of roundabouts, street curve items, administration instruments, and so on. For instance: in Little Cities, you throw down one fashion of street which solely permits for 90-degree grid patterns and fundamental intersections. At the very least for my playthrough, which allowed me to progress as much as degree 25 solely on the desert island map, visitors was nonexistent. I might construct large industrial zones with just one entrance, bizarre intersections that might in any other case imply gridlock—principally most of the points you may need to take care of in additional a extra in-depth metropolis sim.
So now what’s lacking, or quite the intentional omissions indie studio Purple Yonder made when designing Little Cities. So what does carry to the desk in addition to being in VR?
For the reason that recreation is concentrated solely on constructing on island areas, it gives up a whole lot of enjoyable methods to degree hazards on the participant, which it’s good to take care of in distinctive methods. Within the recreation’s desert kind island, I had a large, persistent sand storm that prevented me from constructing something in addition to roads. Plonking down any zone, which you do by elevating your wrist-mounted menu, resulted in a constructing website that’s by no means accomplished. The reply? Plant a couple of bushes!
Sand storms could be banished should you put down sufficient bushes, which unlock the realm to you may proceed constructing out blocks of homes, companies, and factories.
The opposite environmental hazard is the necessity for water. On some maps, floor water is extra ample, however not on the desert island. As soon as your metropolis will get large enough, you’ll unlock a desalination plant, which you’ll want all alongside your shoreline to maintain the water bar stuffed. You possibly can see under that my residents are largely pleased, though my water might use a lift. Within the 3D pie chart left of the happiness meter, you can too see I would like extra business (yellow) and industrial (mild blue) to maintain individuals employed. It’s the identical factor with energy; construct extra wind generators in windy areas, or photo voltaic vegetation the place the solar shines the brightest.Picture captured by Highway to VR
Like all industrial buildings, and issues like water towers or mobile phone towers, you don’t wish to put them close to residential areas. The happier your inhabitants is, the extra money you may extract from them. That’s as deep as that mechanic goes although, so simply be sure that to keep watch over the place you’re constructing stuff.
As with every clear flatscreen-to-VR adaptation, we at all times must ask ourselves whether or not the sport really feels prefer it belongs in VR, or whether or not it’s extra suited to a monitor, mouse and keyboard. Right here, it appears Little Cities has made a couple of useful concessions together with quite a lot of minor additions that will simply make it price taking part in in VR over the same flatscreen expertise… should you’re on the lookout for a really informal city-building expertise, that’s.
The ambiance, the enjoyable music, the little occasions that occur every so often (sizzling air balloons lifting off, a whale breaks the water to greet you, planes race overhead), all of it’s designed to get you to take a beat and relax. Graphically the sport is strictly what I’d count on too, a vivid and cartoony world that gives up simply sufficient random constructing variation to make it really feel actual sufficient.
As for consolation, I used to be anxious I’d be spending an excessive amount of time with my head tilted ahead, which places pressure on my neck. Fortunately the motion scheme is easy, and means that you can get a snug view of your little city.
Locomotion relies on a ‘grab-the-ground’ kind of sliding motion that allows you to place your self precisely. Zooming up and down helps you to transfer between Godzilla to Godzooky in measurement. Or perhaps from the Burj Khalifa to a 10-story constructing. I used to be at all times someplace within the center, so I might hold my head largely degree. Because of snap-turning, you may simply play seated should you select, or go full room-scale if you would like, the latter serving up a sense I can solely describe as making me really feel like a child taking part in on a kind of massive street map-style playmats.
So taking part in in VR has its cool moments, nevertheless exterior of the nifty arm-based UI menu, which is easy to make use of, it’s largely all a recreation of pointing and clicking with laser pointers. I undoubtedly really feel like there’s some missed alternatives right here to combine constructing and bulldozing into extra immersive actions in addition to merely highlighting and clicking.
Anyway, there’s loads extra for me to expertise as I’m going in for the complete recreation earlier than it launch on April 21st for Quest and Quest 2 (Retailer hyperlink right here), priced at $20. I’ve but to play all island sorts, though what I’ve skilled to this point is basically promising—and simply so rattling cozy that I’ve simply spent a number of hours at a time simply unwinding in my very own cozy little island city.
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