I can't be the only person going straight for the "You Little Stalker" achievement in Cities: Skylines 2, right?

Cities: Skylines 2
(Image credit: Paradox)

After countless years of delving into the strange intricacies of Cities: Skylines, it's only natural that I've picked up some questionable habits. In my time as an avid city builder, and colony sim enthusiast, I've been able to derive a lot of pleasure from understanding how my strategy and design choices affect my settlements' inhabitants. So with Cities: Skylines 2 offering a wealth of data about its tiny simulated citizens, you can bet I'm gunning for the "You little stalker" achievement.

What? I can't seriously be the only one who's ready to snoop on my citizens' most intimate moments, can I? Call me a freak if you like, but peeping on my Cities: Skylines citizens (also known as Cims) is a super fascinating hobby.

Power from the people

Cities: Skylines 2

(Image credit: Paradox)

As such, it's really the emergent stories arising from my city designs that give me the most satisfaction when playing a city builder or colony sim. I think I first picked up the habit of naming roads and farms after the town's first settlers from City Planner Plays, and it's something that's stuck with me through the years – this idea that settlers have a blossoming legacy that grows along with the city makes the game all the more rewarding.

What's missing in the original Cities: Skylines, though, is the ability to keep an eye on specific characters; once you click off them, their story effectively ends unless you actually remember where they live and bother to come back and check on them. 

It's easier when you're playing a colony sim like Rimworld, for example, since your settlers are limited and you know exactly where everyone sleeps. The characters are also much more fleshed out, which makes it more worth coming back to see how they're doing. And since their unhappiness is likely to affect your other colonists negatively, too, it's a useful variable to keep tabs on. 

While Cities: Skylines has always been a little lacking in the Cim personalities department, it doesn't stop me from making up little stories about that asshole who almost ran over someone's dog at a crossroads, or some old boy innocently standing around in a kiddie play park… with no kid.

As for Cims in Cities: Skylines 2, however – which the devs announced in a recent blog post – they'll not only live much deeper and more complex lives, there's also a new tool called the Lifepath Journal. It looks like it's going to end up being super useful for keeping track of citizens' lives and understanding their needs. Not only can you check up on their wellbeing (aka, their 'Happiness' level), you can also make sure you never miss a beat by following their Chirper feed.

You'll get to see them "graduating from a school, finding a spouse, landing a new job, and moving to a new home" the dev diary says. On top of all that, households all have income, expenditure and resources to balance. As stated in a previous dev diary entry, "households go shopping when the AI detects that it lacks resources. It then checks the household members and their product preferences and chooses a product based on the preference weights." So making sure your citizens have access to the kind of goods they need is going to be all the more important to keeping your city chugging along.

Cities: Skylines 2

(Image credit: Paradox)

"I'm looking forward to using the lifepath journal to tell some intense stories. The kind of stories I'll tell to my grandchildren as if they actually happened."

Even more amazingly, homelessness is an entirely new statistic you'll need to keep an eye on to keep everything working smoothly. "If the household is very poor and unable to find a new apartment and lacks funds to leave the city, they become homeless. In this case, they can live in the city parks until their living situation changes."

This is a whole other level of simulation, and it looks like it has the potential to really place citizens at the heart of the city building experience. Rather than feeling distanced from your settlers, you can get real up close and personal. Stick your nose in their business as the intrusively benevolent surveillance state mayor.

Tools like this will mean I can follow my settlers journey from the joy of moving into their new place, to landing that job they've been working toward, to witnessing their reaction as the rivers turn to sewage and all hell breaks loose when I stumble on the "Things Are Not Looking Up" achievement – something that unlocks when you experience a rat infestation. With each citizen's 'lifepath' promising a cornucopia of narrative fuel, you can bet I'm going to spend a great deal of time stalking my Cims. Of course, I'm going to mess around to see how horrible I can make things for them, but I'll do it with godly love in my heart. Love for the plot, at the very least.

I'm looking forward to using the lifepath journal to tell some intense stories. The kind of stories I'll tell to my grandchildren as if they actually happened, alongside tales of dragon fighting and swashbuckling adventures in D&D.

I'm especially looking forward to overtaxing the rich into homelessness, just for a giggle.

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Katie Wickens
Freelance writer

Katie is a freelance writer covering everything from video games to tabletop RPGs. She is a designer of board games herself and a former Hardware Writer over at PC Gamer.