In a recent Reddit AMA, the team behind Cities: Skylines 2, fielded a host of questions from the gaming community. Amongst all of its responses was a comment by Colossal Order’s Chief Technical Officer, saying that the game was made with a performance target of 30 fps. Why? Because the developers don’t believe there would be a long-term benefit in pushing it up to 60.
As a sequel to the immensely popular Cities: Skylines, fans undoubtedly expected the game to have better graphics and more expansive cityscapes to build and manage. Possibly what they weren’t expecting was for the game to be extremely demanding on PC hardware, to the point that a mega-expensive machine would struggle.
‘The target is 30fps because of the nature of the game, (arguably) there are no real benefit in a city builder to aim for higher FPS (unlike a multiplayer shooter) as a growing city with inevitably become CPU bound. What matters more with this type of game is to avoid stutters, and have responsive UI.’
They went on to clarify this a little more with:
‘For that reason, our simulation is also built around an expected update rate given 30fps. However, it does not hurt to get 60 fps as it can contribute to better visuals in relation to temporal effects so while our target is 30fps, we don’t intend on limiting or stopping the optimization work just because we reach it on recommended hardware, we just don’t believe there would be a long term benefit in setting the target to 60fps, especially because we face rendering challenges both from close up and far distances.’
The gist of the argument is that Cities: Skyline 2 is a next-gen game. Now that’s a phrase normally associated with consoles and the game was made for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, as well as the PC. But for me, it doesn’t feel right to be classing any PC game in this manner.
I don’t have any issue with strategy or simulation games running at 30 fps, and one of my all-time favourites Hearts of Iron 4 can become grindingly slow in the endgame stages. I don’t like the fact that it performs so poorly but I can accept it based on the fact that the engine it uses is as old as the game’s historical setting.
However, a brand new game, using the latest PC hardware and technology available, shouldn’t be routinely grinding itself well below 30 fps. Especially not on systems worth thousands of dollars.
Colossal Order is a pretty small team, though, and there’s only so much a handful of programmers can achieve. In the AMA, the CTO did say that the group was working on a number of improvements, such as removing stutters caused by synchronisation conditions, as well as balancing GPU performance by decreasing the amount of geometry needed to be rendered.
Performance woes aside, Cities: Skyline 2 is a decent enough game and hopefully with support by publishers Paradox Interactive, the developers can get on top of things and have it running at a constant (and therefore, smooth) 30 fps on PCs that should be more than capable of doing so.