What is Highrise City?: A New Cities-Skylines Competitor [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

What is Highrise City? Well, this image shows that Highrise City is a beautiful, new city-management game similar to Simcity and Cities: Skylines.

No new city-builders have tried to do the modern city building theme. While Tropico, Aven Colony, Frostpunk, Surviving Mars, Anno 1800, and Surviving the Aftermath all exist on their own as great simulation games, they are not truly based on building a modern day city. 

 [Exclusive Interview Below Game Overview]

Modern city-building games have been in a drought, with the last major releases being Cities: Skylines and Simcity 2013. Almost 7 years have passed since Paradox published their competing product against Simcity, Cities: Skylines. It was a great game with minor issues that fixed and addressed many of the issues that the 2013 release of the legendary Simcity franchise contained.

However, enough time has passed that Skylines has unfortunately been showing its age. But, until now, no game had the potential to improve on what Cities: Skylines now lacks. What new game is this? Highrise City.

A view of a detailed harbor in Highrise Cities. There are cranes and trucks in a dockyard.

Highrise City is a new city-building simulation game that is going to be published in 2022 by Fourexo Entertainment. Early access for the game comes out March 24th.

It describes itself as “a modern take one the genre enriched with a complex resource system”. Highrise City’s selling point is that it combines traditional economical management video games with city-building. This creates a complex world where you have to manage many different aspects of your city, keeping you very busy. Displayed by the games' website, it has four main features that they advertise. These four features include bustling cities, smart streets, industry and commerce, and being powered by unreal engine 4.

Watch the trailer:

What are “Bustling Cities”?

A view of the downtown of a city in Highrise City. It features towering glass contemporary sckyscrapers

Bustling cities are a feature boasted by the developers of Highrise City. According to them, you can use 40 different resources and have over 30,000 buildings in your created city. You will be able to have 5,000 cars on your map at the same time, and over 20,000 citizens at once as well. More significantly, there are apparently 5 different population classes, 4 construction modes, 8 different difficulty parameters, and 197 km squared maps. 197 km squared maps are very big, eclipsing every other city-builder. 

The possible play area of Cities: Skylines, without mods, is only 92 km squared if you use all of the playable area, and only 33 km squared if you use the default 9 tile claim area. SimCity 2013’s playable area is only 0.75 km. With mods, you can extend that to 3 km. 

Compared to those areas, Highrise City far outranks them, without any custom user mods. Customization in this game exists, with a high degree of flexibility. There are menus in which you can detail your city with fences, tables, and other decorations.

An image that showcases the UI of an object selector in Highrise City.

What are “Smart Streets”?

A screenshot of the overlay of the road grid network building system in Highrise City

Smart streets are Highrise City’s solution to the various problems many other city building game’s slight issues in building networks such as roads. Roads can be freely placed (no grids) in 4 construction modes. 

You can also upgrade and downgrade your roads.The terrain in the game is voxel based. Due to this, they said “tunnels can be created incredibly easily”. Beautiful mountains, deep valleys, and floating islands can all be created by the player. 

On top of that, they boast a “custom path finding algorithm for vehicles”, which automatically makes them look for the fastest path.

What is “Industry and Commerce”?

A wheat farm overlooking a cityscape with tall buildings in the distance.

In Highrise City, you will be able to have a complex industry system as well as a commerce management system. 

There will be a technology tree, akin to the Civilization series of games. A branching tree. An example of a technology you can research is ”Road Grid”. This technology would allow the width of your road to be increased by one unit. 

A technology tree featured in the game of Highrise City.

“Laws'' are basically policies you can enact in your city.You must first have a courthouse built. “Smoking Detector Program” is an example of a law you are able to enact. This law distributes smoke detectors all around your city, at a cost. 

A screenshot of the view of an overlay of various Laws in Highrise City.

Commerce in the game is very detailed. Resource amounts are found in easy to read windows. Your revenue / expenditure chart shows the incomes and expenses of every industry, zoneable areas, and utilities. You can pull up graphs on any resource you find yourself interested in, for whatever reason. The graphs can even be turned into comparison graphs of multiple different resources.  There is a trade tab accessed by clicking on a built harbor building where you can import or export any resource.

The trading screen when you click the harbor port button

A city list tab exists, where you can sort every building by different efficiencies. If you hate lists, you do not have to use the trade tab, as every problem in your city will also show up in special icons over the buildings they occur in. Map overlays are also available, for many different needs, like land value.

What the city list tab button looks like

An image of the city list tab overlay in Highrise City

What is “Unreal Engine 4”

A view of various ports on a coastline with a city in the background

Cities Skylines is built on a version of the Unity engine first released back in 2015, this version of Unity does not take the full advantage of the modern multi-core CPU. Multi-core CPUs are very common nowadays. Every gaming computer has one, as well as almost any decent consumer computer. Multi-core CPUs allow for more data to be sent in a shorter amount of time. 

Unreal Engine 4 is the ‘most powerful video game creating tool on the market’. Developed by Epic Games, creators of Fortnite, it was named as ‘the most successful video game engine’ by Guinness World Records in 2014. It has been used in the film and television industries. It is robust, and well-made. Furthermore, it allows for easy modification. The developers of the game stated that the steam workshop will be able to be used for user mods. Mod support is always good for the developer-customer relationship as well as the lifetime of the game.

Exclusive Interview

cityAn aerial view of a police station in Highrise

In an interview over Discord with the Senior Product Manager of the game, I asked 7 questions in order to get a better understanding of what the game’s direction is headed, and where the game’s future lies:

1. Will there be mass transit in the game?

[d13_Michael]: Not from the very beginning. It is something we have in mind of course. However, just a base version of it will become available in the main game, Mass Transit with all its functions will most likely be a DLC. Parts of it will however be free. Mass Transit will change the gameplay quite a bit - at least if done right. And our design philosophy has always to do things in a way that they have impact and actually are well made 

2. Will there be in-game default traffic management tools, like allowing you to change AI paths or change whether an intersection is a traffic light stop, or yield?

[d13_Michael]: Traffic Management in HRC is quite different from what you might think. The AI is pretty smart and will always take the fastest way to its destination which means that they will not take the shortest way but the one which takes the least time. Right now you cannot yet configure Traffic Lights but if the demand is still there, we'll take care of that.

3. Will there be mixed-use zoning available? (Mixed-use zoning would be like a building that can be both a commercial and residential zone)

[d13_Michael]: Not from the start. We are actually thinking about a third zone but that's something that we need to carefully think about as it would influence the gameplay quite a bit. Right now the two different zones are quite different in their needs and it makes sense to separate them.

4. Will there be inter-region interconnectivity? As in, trade, tourist, politics with another city in a region you have built.

[d13_Michael]: Trade is in there via the Harbor. Tourism is something we want to integrate at some point.

5. Will there be options to turn off certain parts of the game? IE. Research

[d13_Michael]: There is a Sandbox mode which allow players to just build whatever they want.

6. Will population metrics be realistic? IE. life span, services required.

[d13_Michael]: The overall numbers yes, lifespans not so much. However, we did some math and figured that if you'd fill up the New York Map similar to the Real New York, population numbers would be quite equal (a difference of a roughly 70 - 80k. Considering in reality that is 1.6 Million people in Manhatten), that's quite cool. Services are a bit gamey of course but overall more or less realistic.

7. Will there be districts and specialized zoning (leisure/tourism)

[d13_Michael]: No, not as of now. Don't think too much in Skylines ways, the game is way closer to the Anno series 😄

From the interview, it seems that the game is not meant to be a true successor to Cities: Skylines. Yet, this game holds a great amount of potential, and already looks worthy enough to sink an ungodly amount of hours into. CHeck the game out on Steam, and add it to your wishlist!

To check out more detail on the game, check out their playlist, where they show off game features:

images: Highrise YT Channel and website: http://highrisecitygame.com/


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