Cities: Skylines launched in March to great critical and consumer acclaim. Six months later, the first expansion, entitled After Dark, has already been released. Colossal Order have decided that owners of the base game should be entitled to some perks even if they don’t buy the expansion, so are people who don’t buy it missing out, or hardly at all?
Additions to the Base Game
It’s not often that developers decide to offer free, major updates to players of a title at the same time as an expansion launches. It’s even rarer for a publisher to go along with the idea.
Cities: Skylines owners who don’t want to immediately buy After Dark still get the new day and night cycle where the name derives from, an overhaul of economy controls, a reworked crime system, new styles for modders and 70 zoned buildings.
That’s quite a list, and there are other minor updates included, too. The most surprising aspect of the free updates is that it includes the primary feature of the expansion – the day and night cycle.
For those that have perhaps stopped playing the game since it released, there’s already plenty of changes for people who want to try to dive back in without splashing out. Getting through a new city build will make it quickly apparent if the extra features that the After Dark brings will be worth the purchase or not.
Release Date: 24/09/2015
Available on: Linux, Mac, Windows, PC Download
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After Dark Exclusives
So the base game gets a ton of new stuff even without purchasing the expansion. That must mean that people who purchase the expansion get a megaton of new content! Well, not really. Obviously, they get the same changes that owners of the base game get – but aside from that, reading the feature list may make for uninspiring reading - at least at first.
Some bigger features include international airports, prisons, new landmark buildings and city specialisations. Smaller additions include roads with built in cycle and bus lanes – sure to be a welcomed addition to players struggling with traffic – and the addition of taxis.
At this point, you may have noticed a couple of things. Firstly, the expansion exclusive changes are nearly exclusively aimed at the late game and people who already have bustling megacities – so for people who didn’t yet buy Cities: Skylines, jumping straight in and buying both the base game and the expansion might be a bit of a risk.
The second thing that you may have noticed is that none of these features seem to be immediately attention grabbing. There’s no major tweaks to the capability of the game – no expansion in terms of city size or the possibility to connect cities together, which would be new features capable of attracting the attention of people who gave the game a miss in the first place.
It’s fair to say then that Colossal Order aimed After Dark at existing players and existing players alone. It’s a bit of a risk, but if they feel that they can get more purchases from the existing player base, perhaps it will allow them to work on larger expansions in the future.
Overhaul or Tweak?
For those that are still madly in love with the game and have been playing the game consistently since release, this expansion will be very exciting. The changes to economy control and the new additional road types will make dealing with large cities a sight easier, while the new building types and specialisations will give them an excuse to start again with a new city.
For those that for whatever reason didn’t find the base game engrossing? There’s not much here that’s going to change their minds. This is an expansion in the smallest sense of the word in many respects, and it’s unlikely to convert anyone who didn’t fall in love with the game straight away.
Does After Dark actually add playtime to Cities: Skylines, and does it live up to the €14 price tag? I’m really not sure it does. As someone who played the game for a solid month when it first came out, I was a little disappointed with the scope of the expansion. Some of the best changes that have come to the game are still those added by modders within the first month of the game’s release.
A cool expansion for those that have never stopped playing Cities: Skylines, but there isn’t much there for people who passed over the game or never quite got into it. Colossal Order need a bigger headline feature for the next release.