The first Cities: Skylines 2 patch is now out on Steam, and while developer Colossal Order says it's not going to fix all the issues in the new city building sim, it's a start.
Cities: Skylines 2 makes a number of significant improvements to the original game, but it's also struggled with performance issues including low and unstable framerates, hitching, and outright crashes. Colossal Order had warned players to "manage expectations on performance" prior to release, but that didn't really soften the blow: There is much unhappiness on Steam and Reddit, where numerous players have complained that the game is essentially an early access release.
That's not too far from the truth. Colossal Order said more recently that it was aware of the performance problems but decided to release the game on schedule anyway because "we had seen enough feedback from players enjoying the game that it would be more unfair to postpone" the launch.
"We know we will keep working on the game and do our best to fix issues as fast as possible, so we wanted to respect the announced release date and allow people to start playing the game," the studio said. That definitely sounds like early access in all but name to me.
The studio justified Cities: Skylines 2's sluggish performance by saying it "is built for the future with modern hardware in mind"—it's gonna run great in three years after you've upgraded your PC, in other words. But it also promised that most of the issues players are encountering "are not deeply rooted in the game’s foundation," and thus can be improved or fixed.
The first step in that direction arrived today with a handful of optimizations and fixes. It's not a huge patch, but Rome wasn't built in a day and all that. (It apparently took 1,229 years. Hopefully the Cities: Skylines 2 patches will flow a little more quickly than that.)
The patch notes:
Changed LOD to be independent of rendering resolution to get more consistent performance with high resolutions
Minor optimization with fog
Depth of field optimizations and tweaks
Global illumination tweaks
Optimized stutters when buildings spawn/level up
Optimized various stutters across all systems
Fixed crash after upgrading wind turbine
Fixed crash when car crashes into still hidden car with trailer
Fixed crash with mesh loading (that happens with low settings mostly)
Some of these fixes line up with recommendations we make in our guide to improving Cities: Skyline 2 performance: One of our suggestions, for instance, is to disable "Depth of Field Mode," but maybe you'll be able to keep it enabled after this patch.
It's too early to make any judgments about the efficacy of the update at this point, but the early response seems mostly positive. A couple of users on Steam say their GPU usage has decreased with the patch installed, and players in the Paradox forums have also reported improvements. Colossal Order said the amount of improvement will vary depending on hardware: "Some may see a significant improvement while others might only see a smaller improvement. At this time we recommend you experiment with the settings you turned down to see what kind of fps you're seeing with this update."
Currently, the patch is only available on Steam, but Colossal Order said it's working to get it rolled out to Windows Store users as soon as possible. It also asked that players report any crashes or bugs on its support forum.