Cities: Skylines 2 Guide: Progression System and XP Explained

Cities: Skylines 2 Guide – Progression System

Cities Skylines 2 is finally upon us and this city-builder is packed full of features and customisation. Developed by Colossal Order and published by Paradox, the first game was a runaway success, and the second is just as enticing.

One of the new features in Skylines this time around comes from the progression system. This is an important part of your city-building process (unless you choose Unlimited funds and unlocking everything immediately of course!)

So how does it work? What is the progression system? And how do you gain experience points? Here’s everything you need to know:

What Are Milestones?

In the first Cities: Skylines games, Milestones were initially unlocked by reaching certain population goals. However, Skylines 2 allows much more freedom to “level up”, coming from gaining XP points. No, we’re not slaying beasts or taking arrows to the knee on adventures for experience points! Instead, XP points represent Expansion Points. These are gained through a number of different ways. We’ll get to that shortly but the important thing to note, is that XP points allow you to reach Milestones on your journey to creating the best city you possibly can.

There are 20 Milestones in total to unlock, broken up into 5 larger Milestones. These are Grand Village, Big Town, Large City, Thriving Metropolis and Megalopolis. The requirements to reach each, along with what they subsequently unlock, can be viewed by clicking on the bar in the bottom left hand side of the screen.

You’ll start off as a Tiny Village, but over time, that will expand out to show how big your city is growing. Hitting different milestones will unlock different rewards, and you can also check out how much XP you need to reach each milestone too.

How do you gain XP points?

XP points are gained throughout your play-time and, more specifically, through improving your city in various ways. Building roads, placing amenities, generating additional energy to outsource to different cities, and even connecting grids will earn you valuable points.

Furthermore, Cities: Skylines II will also generate passive XP points from Population and Happiness metrics every 1.5 in-game hours. If you’re keeping everyone happy and growing your population, the chances are you’ll gain more XP, allowing you to level up faster.

What are Development Points? How do you spend them?

Development Points are gained as rewards for hitting different Milestones. These can, in turn, be spent within the Development tab on the Progression menu.

To begin with, you’ll have a basic number of different upgrades to choose from, beginning with energy and road upgrades (like Roundabouts) across to more interesting and useful tools further on in the game, like Police and Fire department enhancements.

How you spend your points is entirely up to you, and it can drastically shape how you plan out your city going forward. Upgrading your police headquarters (like we did in the screenshot above) will help control crime a lot more effectively. Similarly, unlocking Wastewater Treatment Plants allow you to control the water amenities. 

As you unlock all Milestones you do receive enough Development Points to unlock everything, but of course the choice to reach that point through various upgrades, is certainly welcome. This is especially true when it comes to public transport, which has multiple branches owing to the different transport methods.

What should I unlock first?

It’s really up to you! The great thing with Cities Skylines is that your upgrades will depend on what your city needs, and what map you’ve chosen first. If your residents are complaining about air or noise pollution, upgrading your energy sources to reduce waste output may be the way to go.

If you need to have better taxi or bus services in your city to help with the flow of traffic, it’s worth investing points in this. Ultimately, you need to be flexible and agile to what your city needs.

You can also save up your points too and spend them when an issue arises. However, if we’re really pushed to suggest something, we’d recommend investing in energy to get away from the nasty polluting Coal Plants. You should also work on upgrading your transport routes too, both of which helping to improve your city planning over time. But of course it’s up to you!


That’s about it for the Development and Progression System, which is one of the newer parts of the Cities: Skylines II experience. Are you playing trough the game at the moment? Are you enjoying the progression system? Let us know in the comments below!

You can check out our full walkthrough and game guide here!

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