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Is City Skylines After Dark Free? An In-Depth Guide for New Mayors

Let‘s get this cleared up right off the bat – no, After Dark is not free DLC. But for new Cities: Skylines players, there are great ways to eventually get this essential nightlife expansion included with the base game.

With over 6 million copies sold, Cities: Skylines has cemented itself as the premier city simulation experience. After Dark brings 24-hour cycles and bustling nighttime economy into the mix, making your metropolises feel alive around the clock.

As a budding municipal manager, you may be wondering: how can I get After Dark? Is it worth the $12.99 price tag? What else should I look at for expanding this already-massive core game?

Friend, we will answer all of your burning Cities: Skylines questions in this comprehensive beginner‘s guide! We‘ll illuminate tips from seasoned Skylines veterans on everything from traffic flow to zone density.

By the end, you‘ll have expert knowledge for building thriving virtual cities, with or without After Dark‘s neon-lit nightlife. Let‘s do this!

Digging Into Cities: Skylines After Dark DLC

Released in 2015 as the first major expansion, After Dark shifts the focus to recreational pastimes and tourism once the sun goes down. Over 4 years later, it remains one of the most popular add-ons.

But what exactly does this Nightlife-themed DLC include? Key features that transform your city overnight:

  • Working Around the Clock: Citizens and vehicles adhere to day/night schedules, commuting and congesting differently based on time of day.

  • Nighttime Economy: New commercial buildings like casinos, nightclubs, and comedy houses. Zone specialized leisure and tourism districts.

  • Nocturnal Infrastructure: Taxis, bike lanes and a bus hub help cims navigate late-night partying and shift work. Prisons and police policies manage crime.

  • Rest and Relaxation: Hotels, landmarks, beaches and more attract tourists. New parks have night activities. Citizens visit leisure complexes for fun.

After Dark brings all the vibrancy and challenges of real urban nightlife into gameplay. Your city takes on a different mood after sunset. It‘s a vibe shift that fans and critics widely praise:

"After Dark continues Skylines‘ confident approach to expansion content." – PCGamer

"This expansion enhances the experience tremendously." – GameWatcher

On Metacritic, After Dark holds a 78% rating based on over 400 user reviews, making it one of the highest reviewed DLCs. Clearly this nightlife-focused expansion is a hit with fans!

So how can savvy city planners acquire this beloved add-on? Let‘s explore your After Dark access options.

Acquiring After Dark DLC

After Dark is not free content – except in one instance. Here‘s the breakdown of how to get your hands on it:

Nintendo Switch Edition: After Dark is bundled with the Switch version of Cities: Skylines along with the Snowfall expansion. At $39.99, this is a dynamite value.

Steam (PC): The Steam listing for After Dark currently sits at $12.99. However, Steam sales often drop it to $5-10 range. Wishlist it and wait for deals!

Epic Games Store: Periodically offers base Cities: Skylines for free (no DLC). Link your Epic and Steam accounts to then buy discounted DLC.

Key Resellers: Fraud risk, but sites like CDKeys often have After Dark keys around $5 when on sale.

As of February 2023, the cheapest PC option is watching for Steam sales. But the Switch edition with After Dark and Snowfall bundled is arguably the best overall package.

Now let‘s consider if After Dark is even worth pursuing…

Should You Actually Buy After Dark?

Cities: Skylines arguably provides hundreds of hours of base game content without any DLC. But industry critics widely agree that After Dark is a superb expansion:

"After Dark is a straightforward way of expanding the game with small but meaningful additions." – GameRevolution

"After Dark is about making your city feel even more alive than it did before." – TrustedReviews

Fan reviews are similarly glowing. It holds an "Overwhelmingly Positive" rating on Steam with 87% of over 5,000 reviews recommending.

The most-praised aspects include deeper challenge via day/night cycles, the variety of nocturnal buildings, and small enhancements like bike lanes that seem almost mandatory in hindsight.

After Dark may not be revolutionary, but it adds polish and dynamism that make city management more compelling and realistic. For $10-15 on sale, most fans contend it‘s a smart purchase.

Exploring Other Notable DLCs

After Dark kicks off a long and celebrated run of Cities: Skylines DLC. Which other add-ons are worth investigating? Let‘s run through some of the most popular:

Snowfall ($12.99)

Adds seasonal winter mechanics plus infrastructure like snowplows, heating, trams and more specialized architecture. A must-have for creating snowy metropolises.

Mass Transit ($12.99)

Essential transit options like ferries, monorail, blimps and cable cars vastly improve traffic flow. Many players consider this a priority buy.

Natural Disasters ($14.99)

Inject new chaos into your city planning with potential earthquakes, tornadoes, meteor strikes and more. Manage emergency response when disaster strikes.

Green Cities ($12.99)

Take an eco-friendly approach with specialized buildings, electric infrastructure, recycled factories, parks and sustainable policies.

Parklife ($12.99)

New park types, nature reserve tools, expanded landscaping options and recreation management flexibility. Make your cities greener.

Industries ($14.99)

Focused production and supply chain mechanics around industrial zones. Streamlined approach to managing forestry, farming, oil/ore extraction and processed goods.

The general consensus is that Mass Transit and Green Cities are the most transformative DLCs after After Dark. But ask 10 different Skylines mayors which DLCs are best and you‘ll get 10 different answers based on playstyle.

When sales hit, build your own DLC bundle! Even at full price, most expansions add excellent new layers atop the deep base game for under $15. Hard to beat value.

Now let‘s get you prepped for your first time laying roads and zoning districts…

Getting Started in Cities: Skylines

Diving into a huge simulation like Cities: Skylines can feel daunting for new mayors. You‘re not alone! Here are some tips from our urban planning pros on starting off smoothly:

Tutorial First – The in-game tutorials teach you the basics of zoning, utilities management and expansion. Don‘t skip them!

Manage Budgets – Don‘t let upkeep and services exceed tax revenue early on. Review budgets frequently.

Plan Roads First – Lay out main roads and highways to give your city structure before zoning. Limit bottlenecks.

Use Pauses – When things get hectic, don‘t be afraid to pause and assess. Time only flows when unpaused.

Get Mods – Mods like Traffic Manager and Precision Engineering are almost mandatory for optimizing traffic flow.

Specialize Zones – Designate leisure/tourism focused districts once you unlock After Dark mechanics.

There are countless deep mechanics under the hood. You‘ll pick them up over time through trial and error. Experiment often and learn from your catastrophic mistakes!

Above all, have fun growing your virtual towns into bustling metropolitan utopias! For even more tips on mastering Cities: Skylines basics and building excellent cities, check out this comprehensive guide from Steam user ImperialJedi.

That wraps up our jam-packed beginner‘s guide to acquiring Cities: Skylines After Dark and succeeding as a new mayor. Let‘s review key learnings:

  • After Dark isn‘t free, but regularly drops to $10-15 on sale
  • It‘s considered a must-have DLC by most fans
  • There are numerous great expansions beyond After Dark to enhance gameplay
  • Budget management, road planning and mods are key starting tips

Hopefully you now feel equipped with expert knowledge to start building the city of your dreams! The rewarding challenges of traffic management, zoning and resource distribution await.

Just take it at your own pace, embrace failure and experimentation, and you‘ll be crafting magnificent metropolises in no time. We believe in you! Now get out there, mayor – your citizens need you.



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.