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Skylines – Best Starting Maps

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When it comes to city simulators, the in-depth mechanics of Cities: Skylines make it an excellent avenue for mayor wannabes & city architects out there. After all, Cities: Skylines has a plethora of both DLC & fanmade content that allows players to create the cities of their dreams, from traffic-less utopias, faithful city recreations, & even futuristic cities straight out of science fiction. Of course, the number of features & available elements can make the game overwhelming for them, but never impossible to play.


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In fact, sometimes it just takes a great starting mapto ensure that players have a breeze when it comes to underst&ing the game’s mechanics & unleash the full extent of their creativity. With that in mind, which Cities: Skylines starting maps are the best for players to start with?

Updated on 15 November 2022 by Rhenn Taguiam: With Cities: Skylines adding more local flavors to cities with upcoming creator packs “Skyscrapers” & “Heart of Korea” in November 15, fans of the city-management sim are apparently going to be treated to 10 more flavorful content packs, all geared towards giving players the ability to make more vibrant cities possible.

And to those still starting out in the game, they may want to prepare for these new content packs through studying the intricacies of the game with starting maps. These ideal maps include training in waterworks management through areas close to bodies of water, regions with multiple isl&s, or a tropical-themed setup perfect for those who want a change of pace in the early game.

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15/15 Cliffside Bay

Cliffside Bay in Cities Skylines

Being a vanilla map in the original Cities: Skylines game, Cliffside Bay boasts one of the most straightforward layouts in the entire title. Featuring only a quarter of the map as a lake, Cliffside Bay lives up to its name as it features various hills & a high hill on the shore. This would immediately give players visions of an industrial complex & a fishing focus near the shore, with a posh residential area to the cliffside. The map has enough raw materials across its areas, but maximizing them would encourage residential Cities: Skylines areas with American-style buildings closer to the cliffs since ore is located mainly in the plains. Another advantage would be a railway connection in one of the earliest tiles, allowing players to plot out a railway system early on.

However, players must underst& that the location has difficulty sustaining a current to power a water plant. Not only that, but connecting highways won’t allow players to wiggle with their road systems. Thankfully, the map does boast enough of a regular appearance to sustain an average city.

14/15 Lagoon Shore

Lagoon Shore of Cities Skylines

Fans of Cities: Skylines gameplay who want a more tropical spin on their city-building sim might want to consider Lagoon Shore. This map is a rather interesting take on Greece, with the mainl& being split into two (2), with the upper half comprised of two (2) rivers & a small cluster of isl&s, & with the larger bottom half encompassing the rest of the map with a central lake & a river that leads out to the sea, as well as a cluster of isl&s surrounding it.

The layout of the l& alone gives Lagoon Shore a ton of room for waterworks & decent road networks, & perhaps some Airports from the Cities: Skylines Airport DLC. The tropical layout of the l& may also be motivating enough for players to explore the full depth of their creative minds, especially since not a lot of Cities: Skylines maps offers unique l&scapes outside the usual Western climate.

13/15 Two Rivers

Twin Rivers in Cities Skylines

Players who check out Two Rivers as a vanilla map in Cities: Skylines meta might realize how straightforward the map can become, especially in the context of waterworks. The map is characterized by a single river dividing the mainl& cluster into two (2), with another river from the south dividing the bottom half of the l&. There’s also a lake on the bottom l&, perfect for residential areas or fishing industries to make money in Cities: Skylines.

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What perhaps makes Two Rivers attractive to players is its lack of a naval connection, meaning this is one of the few maps where players can’t build harbors & the buildings associated with them. However, players who don’t want to get overcomplicated with waterworks may want to use Two Rivers as a practice area for l&-focused cities that remain aesthetically pleasing, courtesy of its water masses.

12/15 Shady Str&s

Shady Str&s in Cities Skylines

Players with a knack for geography would prefer associating Cities: Skylines gameplay maps with familiar real-world locations, & Shady Str&s resembles Instabul in the context of this map-management simulator. This map is characterized by a large strait dividing two larger l& clusters, making itself a river. On the left is a l& cluster divided by half via a river, alongside two isl&s on top. On the right side is a l&mass with an extensive mountain range & a small river leading to a lake.

Players must consider setting up waterfronts & bridges to maximize travel & communication between these two (2) l& clusters. However, the l& layout doesn’t make it as difficult for players to tinker with various options & city-building mechanisms to see how crazy they could get with this dynamic map.

11/15 Isl&s

Isl&s in Cities Skylines

Compared to other vanilla maps in Cities: Skylines gameplay, Isl&s resembles Venice in terms of its general layout in the simulation game. Comprised primarily of two (2) connecting rivers & two (2) separate rivers meeting in a large sea to the right side of the map, Isl&s is therefore divided into four (4) mainl& clusters with four separate isl&s. The sheer detail of the map alone is heaven for anyone with the base game, especially since this immediately gives them room to tinker around with overall isl& aesthetics on the get-go.

In terms of resources, players immediately get many opportunities for bridges & waterfronts to their liking. Not only that, this is the only map in the vanilla title where players can put a dam & have it perform at its maximum wattage. Moreover, there are two (2) isl&s with separate oil deposits, paving the way for two (2) potential industrial districts. The sheer volume of things to do with the map can make this overwhelming for beginners, but definitely a great gateway for newcomers who want to be more playful with their maps.

10/15 Windfield (Parklife)

Windfield

Of the five maps available in the Parklife DLC, Windfield is perhaps the most intuitive for starting players. Divided by half water & half l&, with a small isl& pocket on the lower left, Windfield offers a lot of options for players to tinker around without sacrificing the integrity of the space. With 56% space for building & multiple oil reservoirs, this map can give new players ample resources to turn Windfield into a suburban city paradise.

The main l&mass itself is generally flat, offering a lot of trees & greenery for color. The highlight of the map, though, comes in its smaller l&marks such as a cave & its isl& component. On the isl&, players can join delights such as a lighthouse (albeit at a rather awkward position), & a plateau on its mountainous center. These are perfect for an exclusive village, an industrial district, or even a large forest.

9/15 Black Woods

Black Woods

Among the vanilla maps of the game, Black Woods is rather unique in its layout, as it gives a lot of room for players to immediately explore the different l&masses. Characterized by a lake that splits into two rivers before ending in a larger lake, Black Woods has quite a lot of isl&s: five on the left corner, two central larger isl&s, & a smaller one on the upper right. The area boasts a building area of 69%, making it an ideal starting map.

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Given its proximity to water & the prominence of isl&s, Black Woods easily relies on fishing for its major industry. As the name implies, the map is populated with tall trees & forestry, giving players a lot of room to transform it into a suburban paradise. The foliage around the roundabouts & the scattering of trees gives Black Woods a pristine feeling.

8/15 Diamond Coast

Diamond Coast

Perhaps one of the best maps among the offerings of the vanilla game, Diamond Coast not only serves as one of the few tropical maps in the game, but also one that offers a realistic take on the surrounding l&scapes of the city. Bordered by a sea with a triplet isl& cluster on top, Diamond Coast is populated by mountains on almost all its sides, alongside rich foliage. Its starting block is neatly placed along the center, allowing players to explore its areas at their own pace.

Diamond Coast boasts 69% buildable area, which is decent considering to the sheer natural beauty of its l&scape. Its rich, detailed build extends to the technicalities, offering all resources & all connections to transportation.

7/15 Murky Coast (Campus)

Murky Coast

Fans looking for a serene, quiet l&scape for their city might appreciate Murky Coast from the Campus DLC. Characterized by its two-pronged rivers, Murky Coast is bordered by the sea to the right & is divided into three major l& masses in the three other directions, with a mountainous isl& separated from the rest of the city.

What perhaps makes Murky Coast quite attractive is its 71% buildable l& area, making its quieter surroundings perfect for serene city life. The division between foliage & mountainous regions gives the Murky Coast great openings for resource, transportation, & fishing.

6/15 Green Plains

Green Plains

As stated by the name, Green Plains is perhaps one of the most basic maps offered in the vanilla game. Characterized by a central river that splits into lakes in the north & the south, Green Plains is a vanilla yet flexible map for beginners.

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Boasting a buildable l& area of 74%, Green Plains has a lot of foliage for newbies to appreciate. It also has a sizable transportation network with up to four incoming/outgoing routes for l&, air, & sea transport, making it great for shipping-focused cities. Not to mention, the two lakes to the north & south make for a decent change of pace from the map’s three main l& divisions.

5/15 Foggy Hills

Foggy Hills

Players who want a starter map with prominent atmospheric effects like fog & perspiration will appreciate Foggy Hills. Boasting a buildable l& area of 74%, Foggy Hills is notable for its forked river system that splits the map into three l& masses, alongside a smaller lake closer to a larger one at the bottom.

It’s this division of areas that give Foggy Hills more than enough basic resources for players, including foliage, fertile l&, ore, & water. Quite notable is its starting block, beginning at the central isl&, which allows the players to create three bordered city sections, removing the pressure of creating a gr& city layout.

4/15 Lavender Lake (Green Cities)

Lavender Lake

Of the maps offered in the Green Cities DLC, the straightforward nature of Lavender Lake makes it viable for starter players. The map is characterized by the sea border to the left & a lake at its right-center side, with the coastal area giving it the appearance of a sideways face. L&mass-wise, the area also has an upwards slope, which players can capitalize for creative city builds.

Lavender Lake boasts a buildable l& area of 75%, alongside a decent division of fertile l&, ore, oil, & water. Its simplistic appearance offers a lot of travel channels, particularly four routes for airways thanks to its large floor area.

3/15 Riverrun

Riverrun

The base game’s Riverrun remains iconic due to its inherent majesty, especially when explored. Riverrun is best entered from the bottom, as it’s characterized largely by the mountain ranges that run on both sides of its southern section. Its main river splits into two along the top, offering an islet. To its right is a rather odd tadpole-shaped lake, with a larger isl& to the center.

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Despite this rather mundane makeup, Riverrun has a 76% buildable l& area that gives players a lot of room to build a hidden gem in this mountain-gated city. Not to mention, the large yet straightforward room offered by its central river gives it a lot of potential for aquatic shipping opportunities.

2/15 Eden Valley (Green Cities)

Eden Valley

True to its name, Eden Valley from the Green Cities DLC is perhaps the true definition of “fresh” in terms of maps. Eden Valley is characterized by the bordering of lakes to its west & east, with the east particularly noticeable for its curved river & the small peninsula on the upper-right. Given its lack of mountains but prominence of quarries & hills, Eden Valley boasts a 79% buildable l& area.

Perhaps most interesting about Eden Valley, this map offers almost all opportunities for resource gathering & transportation for players, characterized by the l&’s flatness. The bordering of lakes on both sides also gives players a lot of flexibility in terms of creative coastal builds.

1/15 Garden Rivers (Green Cities)

Garden Rivers

Among the maps of Green Cities DLC, Garden Rivers offers the most buildable l& at 80%, & is also perhaps the best starting map across the entire game. Boasting a warmer look with a main road that stretches to the left, Garden Rivers offers room for a city build that may have a bustling cityscape bordering the waters.

Garden Rivers has a major river that splits into two into the east & the south, splitting the map into three major areas. The largeness of the river gaps gives a lot of room for both forestry & water resources, making it the perfect starter build for both small-scale & larger cities.

Cities: Skylines – Airports is the latest expansion pack for Cities: Skylines, released in January 2022.

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