When SimCity was released back in February, it became one of the most controversial game releases to date. It was a polarising release, giving the series a visual upgrade with gameplay tweaks, but it came at the cost of an anti-consumer always-online component which became a noose when the game experienced major connection problems at launch.
Since then, EA and Maxis have regained control of their servers and have been talking about making the game offline compatible, as well as allowing user generated content (but not bigger cities). That will go some way towards pleasing fans who weren’t convinced by the game’s redesign and issue. To sweeten the deal, the new expansion Cities of Tomorrow will be rolling out in November, allowing players to design and maintain a city that could exist 50 years in the future.
Gizmodo was shown a demo for the game and have recounted their time with what looks like a fascinating expansion. As well as crafting future cities with a ton of new content and an “impossibly dense web of subsidiary information to take in”, the expansion brings in a whole new element into the game. Players may not expect to have strong class and political themes that influence everything you do in a game like SimCity, but that is exactly what Cities of Tomorrow is bringing. Gizmodo recounts game designer’s Stone Librande intentions.
[he] wants that to be uncomfortable, he said, to show players the temptation of designing a city only for the affluent, with both carrots and sticks for sculpting an unequal-opportunity metropolis for the elite, causing players to make real, moral decisions in the administration of their cities.
Player actions and decisions will be dictated by a mysterious and intentionally unexplained resource called Omega. It is a highly sought after resource by everyone despite its disastrous effects on the environment, but managing and distributing it will be key to a cities success. It is supposed to be an ambiguous element of the game, both literally and morally as Librande explains:
“There’s no dialogue box that ever pops up and says, ‘this is what you should be feeling right now. This is the message we’re trying to send you.”
This kind of morale dilemma can be very strong in a city builder and hopefully Maxis has figured out a great way to represent the Sci-fi dystopias, much like those in Elysium and Blade Runner.
The expansion seems like a genuinely fascinating addition to the troubled rebooted. Bringing up tough political questions such as the 1%, the environment, technology and pitting your intentions against the reality is a stark but provocative move by Maxis. EA will certainly be hoping that is can turn around how the game has been perceived and invite older and new fans to jump into the new SimCity.
SimCity: Cities of Tomorrow will be available November 12, 2013 on PC.