Why Gamers Should Stay Online In SimCity
It’s been almost a year since the embarrassing launch of SimCity. As Electronic Arts (EA) Games have now learnt that listening to the voice of their customers might actually be worth their while, SimCity will soon be playable completely offline with Update 10.
Whilst this is welcome news for many fans who heavily resented the always online requirements for SimCity, we’re going to put a case forward why you might not want to unplug your connection right away.
Always Online Was Never the Big Problem
Restricting players to playing only when connected to a server caused one of the most disastrous high-profile launches in gaming history. With so many trying to play on launch week, the server capacity simply wasn’t enough. Because you couldn’t connect, you couldn’t play the game that you’d paid for.
To add insult to injury, after EA Games solved the server problem, people soon found that the game itself was actually very broken. After you’d built up your city to a certain size, everything would just collapse around your ears. Causing this was woeful AI behaviour which would make traffic gridlock too often, stifling you city’s ability to grow, or baffling things like all your fire trucks attending the same fire despite numerous other needing extinguishing.
The biggest problem with SimCity was it was too hastily developed and tested, not because it required an internet connection. Server connection issues have not been much of a problem since fixed making concerns about the connectivity requirement more of a grumble than and problem. After nine major updates making significant changes to the AI and how the simulation engine operates, the game seems pretty stable and finally playable, online or off.
YouTuber TheHollowBlade bemoans some of the shockingly bad AI in early versions of SimCity. Contains some bad language.
SimCity is Designed To Play Online
The whole raison d’etre of SimCity is that it that it is an online game, therefore its mechanics revolve around how other players in your region affect your city. So why play a game how it isn't meant to play?
"Why play a game how it isn't meant to play?"
In saying that, it was always possible to play solo online by creating a private region. So if you already play the game by yourself, then the ability to play offline isn’t going to change much.
Online Makes SimCity More Dynamic
The level that other players can influence the region in which you play in makes this a very bold and different game from other SimCity games. For the first time, players have to think a lot more on their toes and react to other players' decisions. The result was that you could play the same city on the same map with the same specialisations and it could look completely different by the end of play. It’s actually a really interesting approach to the game and one that is actually quite absorbing if it all goes well.
The downside to this is that players might start building a city next to yours and then abandon it quickly, causing effects that are never followed through or just generally messing things up. Whilst some might see this as a challenge, it’s mostly a great irritation.
Online Makes Building a City Easier
Getting access to bigger bonds, better transport solutions, and other things in for your city is dependent on the requirements to unlock these being completed in just ONE city in the region. This means you can build up your city at a much quicker by having other players do some of the work for you. As other player specialise, the benefits will spill over into your city, such as getting your Sims educated, making progress towards the metropolis you’re dreaming of much quicker.
Why You Shouldn't Play Online
However, this is not the experience some fans look for in a SimCity game, and there are some good reasons to play offline too. Some of these reasons you might want to consider are:
Experimentation is Easier
The ability to save and reload a city when playing offline means players can fine-tune or dramatically change their city without causing permanent damage and/or spending boatloads of Simoleons on bad decisions. Something gone terribly wrong from a wild punt? Just reload the game and try again.
You Have more Control
Whilst online makes play more dynamic, some might prefer being able to precisely control aspects of the game to create a very specific city without the frustration of other players derailing strategy. Why this can technically be done playing private regions whilst being online, there’s no reason to connect to the servers if you wish to play solo.
Should You Buy SimCity When Offline Becomes Available?
This is very dependent on whether you want the dynamic play outlined above, or a very structured city-building experience. If you’re after the latter, or want to build absolutely massive cities (the size is very restricted in SimCity), you’re better off buying either SimCity 4 or Cities XL.
Yes, SimCity looks very pretty, but be aware that it is very different from what has come before it in many ways.
How to Make the Best of Online Play
The answer is short: bring your own friends. If you actually know the people you’re sharing a region with, then there’s less chance that they’ll scarper too soon or cause problems with your game-plan.
SimCity still has a lot of potential online if the idea of it appeals to you, and we for one are still willing to give it a second chance. But if it doesn’t, then there are better suited city building for the experience you want.
SimCity is available to purchase directly from the Origin store. For more information about the game, visit www.simcity.com.