As long as you’re willing to do the unspeakable and download the Epic Games Store, that is. Jokes aside, Cities: Skylines is Epic’s latest freebie, and it’s quite a good one.
Though the giveaway version lacks any of Skylines’ DLC (which you’ll probably want eventually), the base game’s content is still the culmination of years of free updates, patches, and bug fixes, so you’ll hardly be suffering through a subpar experience.
I’ve clocked in a couple hundred hours in Skylines myself, and I’ve probably built at least a dozen cities across many different maps — each with their own themes, designs, and troubles to overcome.
If you’ve never dipped your toes in this genre before, now is a great time to start building the city of your dreams. But be wary: Skylines has a steep learning curve, and it’s very easy for problems like insufficient healthcare coverage and poor traffic management (through badly-placed roads) to come back and bite you later, causing your bustling city to plummet into chaos. My advice? Start small, and zone districts slowly. The faster you expand, the more you’ll have to deal with.
Still, if you can get past some of those early struggles, you’ll soon be enjoying one of the most compelling PC games out there — again, so long as your system can handle it (even with an overclocked 8700K, my framerate tanks in larger cities).
Notably, this giveaway is only good for roughly the next 18 hours: as part of its ongoing holiday sale, Epic is cycling through freebies pretty quickly.