Cities XXL is a city builder (think SimCity) that's currently sitting pretty on Steam's "popular new releases" chart. It's also basically the same game as its predecessor, Cities XL Platinum, in most ways except one: a much larger price tag.

Cities XL was not, by any means, a horrible game, but it was a pretty middle-of-the-road city building experience marred by serious performance issues. Fans hoped for a patch that would fully fix those problems, but it never came.

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What they got instead, apparently, is Cities XXL. I say "instead" because, based on my time with the game, Luke's experiences, and a truckload of testimonies across the web, small performance boosts and a different—and by some accounts, worse—menu are the only truly notable changes in this $40 follow-up to Cities XL Platinum ($20 if you own Platinum or any previous version of Cities XL). On the upside, the major memory leak that plagued XL appears to be gone, but even then the framerate is still inconsistent. There are also some new buildings and upgrades, but they don't make for a substantially different experience.

Here's a video of the new features from Auriga City:

It's a curious decision on developer/publisher Focus Home's part, to say the least. Crucial fixes for performance issues, especially, sound like the domain of a free patch, not a costly new game. The other changes are nice enough, but minuscule in the grand scheme of things. I'm not asking developers to give away their blood, sweat, and astroturfing materials for free, but the content of Cities XXL seems better suited to—at most—cheap DLC for Cities XL. As is, this is pretty much unacceptable. Even at $20 for buyers of XL, it feels like a slap in the face, a wrecking ball to years of loyalty.

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There is one slim upside: Cities XXL brings Steam Workshop support to the series, so maybe modders will turn this one into something more worthy of its price tag. Still, it's pretty fucking shameful that Focus Home didn't take care of that part themselves.

Players are, understandably, pissed, especially given the Cities series' history of small changes to justify entire new installments. The game's overall rating on Steam is "mostly negative," and many are asking for refunds.

I've contacted Focus Home to find out if they plan to do anything in response to this, and I'll update this post when I hear back. For now, though, buyer beware.

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