Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression Guide

Cities: Skylines 2 brings a new way of growing your city into the game’s franchise. As your city expands, you hit milestones and gain development points, which you can spend on development nodes. This means the direction of your city is in your hands, allowing you to mold the future of your Cim’s lives.

But what are the best development nodes to pick when growing your city? And when should you unlock the different services in your city’s expansion? In this Cities: Skylines 2 development nodes progression guide, we will dive into the 11 development trees and discover the best ways of using each tree.

progression nodes city skyline 2

Essential Progression Nodes

The development nodes progression system allows you to shape your city how you wish. For example, you may want to unlock the recycling center early in your city’s growth to create a green city. But, some progression nodes are essential for a well-designed, well-run city.

Here are the progression nodes you should always unlock in a city:

  • Advanced Road Services: This development node provides traffic lights, crossroads, and stop signs to ensure traffic flows well in your city.
  • Roundabouts: Unlocking larger roundabouts eases traffic at intersections.
  • Parking Lots: As more Cim’s move to your city, more cars need parking spaces. Always unlock parking lots when your city expands.
  • Hospitals: When your city gets bigger, the small health clinics will not be enough for the needs of your Cims. Hospitals bring more services and heal more Cims.
  • Colleges and Universities: Once your city gets big enough, unlocking colleges and universities means more well-educated Cims and more money for your city.
  • Police Headquarters: Police headquarters have a larger service area than the basic police station, with a jail for criminals. There are also great options for upgrades with this building.


Development NodeDevelopment Points 
Advanced Road Services1
Parking Areas2
Underground Parking Building4
Automated Parking Building8
Large Roads2
Grand Bridge8

The first development tree is all about roads and traffic. Traffic management is an integral part of the game, and we must make sure we are unlocking these nodes as we grow our city. Here, we can unlock roundabouts, advanced road services, parking, larger roads, and highways.

roads Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

It is necessary to unlock roundabouts and advanced road services as soon as possible (these nodes are usually the first ones I pick to unlock), as it means you can start controlling your traffic flow straight away. Then, once your population is around 10K, get parking lots to reduce the number of cars parked on your street.

The larger roads and highway nodes can be left until your city gets big and you need another highway exit to ease traffic flow. Keep your eyes on your city’s entrance to see the traffic density and if you need another intersection off the highway.


Development NodeDevelopment Points 
Gas Power Plant2
Coal Power Plant4
Nuclear Power Plant8
Emergency Battery Station1
Geothermal Power Plant2
Hydroelectric Power Plant2
Solar Power Plant4

The electricity development nodes give you two options: a green route or a not-so-green route. You can opt to unlock an emergency battery station and then geothermal, hydroelectric, or solar power. This route is best in the long run, as it reduces pollution and keeps your Cim’s happiness up. However, you may go the other way and opt for coal or gas, which is less expensive but pollutes the city.

electricity Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

If you go down the latter progression route, you will eventually unlock the nuclear power plant. This is by far the best energy source as it produces a lot of power with no pollution. However, it is costly, so you can only get it later in the game.

Regarding when you should unlock the electricity nodes, I would take it slow and only unlock them when your city needs them. Perhaps you have a small coal power plant in your town. Once it doesn’t cover your entire city, look at the options to unlock and see if you can afford any. However, I made the mistake of unlocking and placing the geothermal power plant in one of my cities too early, which drained my budget, so you need to make sure you have the money for greener options.

Water and Sewage

Development NodeDevelopment Points
Water Treatment Plant2
Advanced Water Pumping Station8

This development tree allows you to unlock a water treatment plant and an advanced water pumping station. However, I find these development nodes to be quite unnecessary. The advanced water pumping station provides more groundwater for your city than the basic water pumping station. But, I have found that few basic stations are enough for my city. Perhaps when your city is really big, you may wish to unlock this. But I wouldn’t worry about it.

water Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

Regarding the water treatment plant, unlocking this depends on the water pollution rate and how you feel about it. If your water pollution is well out of the way of your city, it might not be necessary. But if you want a green city, go for it!

Healthcare and Deathcare

Development NodeDevelopment Points
Disease Control Center8
Health Research Institute8

Healthcare is essential for your city, and this development tree is vital for the health and happiness of your Cims. Here, we can unlock hospitals, a disease control center, and a health research institute. Of course, these buildings are fairly expensive, but you should unlock them as your city grows.

healthcare Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

I recommend unlocking the hospital node and placing one down at around the 10K population mark. Then, wait until your city grows to get the other two.

You can also unlock the crematorium in this development tree, but it isn’t necessary. Cemeteries fill up slowly and don’t add to pollution, unlike crematoriums.

Garbage Management

Development NodeDevelopment Points
Incinerator Plant2
Recycling Center2
Industrial Waste Processing8

In this progression node, you can unlock a recycling center, an incinerator plant, and an industrial waste processor. If your city is not too industrial-heavy, I wouldn’t bother with the industrial waste processor. However, I think the recycling center is necessary as your city grows. With landfills, you are taking up a lot of space in your city which you can’t get back. And, as your city gets bigger, more landfills are necessary.

garbage Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

I usually export my garbage until around the 8k population mark, when I then unlock the recycling center and place it. This means that I avoid adding landfill sites to my city.

Education and Research

Development NodeDevelopment Points 
Technical University2
Medical University2
Radio Telescope4
Geological Research Center4
Large Hadron Collider8

This development node provides you with colleges, universities, and research centers. Unlocking these nodes isn’t necessary immediately, but they are vital for the growth of your city. When your city gets to around 15k population, I recommend unlocking the college node and maybe the university one, then see what you can afford to place. Higher educated Cim’s means a better city overall.

education Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

I like how you can really mold the direction you are going in here by picking a technical or medical university to add to your city. The medical university makes healthcare better in the city, whereas the technical one adds to the efficiency of the office and industrial zones.

The research nodes add exciting aspects to your city. The geological research center allows you to uncover new oil and ore deposits in your city, which is very helpful! The radio telescope impacts higher education, and the large hadron collider creates demand for software and electronics. These three nodes are expensive but worth it as you grow your city.

Fire and Rescue

Development NodeDevelopment Points 
Firewatch Tower1
Firefighting Helicopter Depot2
Fire Station2
Small Emergency Shelter1
Large Emergency Shelter4
Early Disaster Warning System8

Unlocking this development tree means better fire and rescue coverage over your city, so I would definitely unlock the fire station when you exceed the 10k population mark. The other nodes are only necessary if you have natural disasters on, as they deal with forest fires and tornados.

fire Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

If you play with natural disasters, unlocking the firewatch tower and firefighting helicopter depot means your city is prepared for forest fires. The emergency warning system and emergency shelters help keep your Cims safe from tornados. But do you need to unlock them? Maybe. Or, maybe you want to watch the world burn.

Police and Administration

Development NodeDevelopment Points 
Welfare Office1
City Hall4
Central Bank8
Police Headquarters2
Central Intelligence Bureau8

This development node tree allows you to unlock more police buildings and buildings for city administration. The only one you really need early on (i.e., at the 8k population mark) is the police headquarters node. This building gives you more police coverage and has a jail for criminals.

police Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

As your city expands, you may wish to unlock the prison and central intelligence bureau to keep the crime rate down. However, this is not that necessary and should only be done if you can afford it.

The administration route should only really be explored when your population is at around 20k, as it is not needed but has perks for your city. Placing a city hall and city bank decreases your import costs and loan interests, and the city hall has decent upgrades that affect crime and building costs. Plus, the buildings are nice and add to the game’s realism.


Development NodeDevelopment Points 
International Airport8
Space Center8

Transportation makes your city run better and keeps the cars off the roads. Because of this, the transportation development tree should be unlocked as your city grows. However, this development tree isn’t necessary until your city is fairly big, around the 15k population mark. This is because you have buses unlocked straight away, and the buses will suffice for a while.

transportation Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

Once your city gets bigger, unlock your game’s tram and subway nodes to create a smoother and more efficient public transport system. The trams are pretty useful, as you can place them on existing roads, and are cheaper than subways. However, subways are great once your city expands.

The transport progression tree also unlocks ways to export goods from your city. Here, the train node is perfect for most cities. Once your city grows and you can afford it, get the air and water nodes, too. The space center is pretty cool and boosts tourism and the effectiveness of offices and industries. But only get it if you have no other necessary nodes to unlock.

Parks and Recreational

Development NodeDevelopment Points 
Park Maintenance1
Large Parks2
Sports Parks2
Large Sports Parks4
Tourist Attractions8

Adding parks and recreation to your city boosts your Cim’s happiness and improves the overall look of your city. Once you place your parks down, unlock the park maintenance node to ensure all your parks are at their best. I also tend to get large parks early on in the game, as these are cheap additions that affect the happiness of a larger area. Plus, it is nice to see big parks dotted around my city.

parks Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

The larger sports parks give recreation more of a boost than larger parks, so you may wish to unlock them as your city grows. The tourist attractions are pretty underwhelming, but if you can afford them, add them in. However, I would not prioritize them.


Development NodeDevelopment Points 
Post Sorting Facility2
Telecom Tower4
Server Farm4
Satellite Link8

The last development tree in the game is communications, which can easily be overlooked. You don’t need to add these services immediately, but they do improve your city. Here, we have a post office sorting facility, which decreases traffic a little. It is okay, but I don’t think it is that necessary. We also have options for radio, TV, and mobile communications. The server farm is by far the best as it impacts a large area and boosts your Cims’ happiness.

communications Cities Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression
Image by Lou Siday

You may wish to add the satellite uplink later on in the game to add to your Cim’s happiness and city attractiveness.

Expand Your City with Our Cities: Skylines 2 Development Nodes Progression Guide!

The new development node system in Cities: Skylines 2 allows you to move your city in the direction you want it to grow. Perhaps you are all about green power and will spend your development points on solar power. Or, maybe you want to clean up the streets of your city by unlocking the prison!

Some progression nodes should always be unlocked on whichever route you take in Cities: Skylines 2. Road services, hospitals, and colleges are essential to the expansion of your city and help you get the most out of the game. Effectively choosing your development nodes ensures city success, and this guide will help you on your journey to your dream city.


Question: What Are The Best Nodes To Unlock in Cities: Skylines 2 Straight Away?

Answer: The best nodes to unlock in Cities: Skylines 2 straight away are advanced road services, roundabouts, parking lots, and police headquarters.

Question: How Do I Unlock All Nodes in Cities: Skylines 2?

Answer: To unlock all nodes in Cities: Skylines 2, select Unlock All before you begin your game.

Question: What Are Development Nodes in Cities: Skylines 2?

Answer: Development nodes offer new aspects of gameplay in your city, unlocking buildings to enhance the running of your city and your Cim’s happiness.

Latest posts by Lou Siday (see all)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top