by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on PC
A seriously huge screen adorned the demo room. It showed a city at midnight with buildings illuminated by lights coming from people's homes, giving it a magical appearance. Karoliina Korppoo, lead designer at Colossal Order, greeted us, looking rather pleased to demo the first expansion of Cities: Skylines called After Dark.
Cities: Skylines is a engaging city builder which gathered quite a following since its release in March this year. Among those followers, a horde of modders have created all kinds of new and exciting buildings. To keep an eye on the complaints and appraisals from their fans, Colossal Order has dedicated employees routinely scanning forums and social media. After Dark is a direct result of this, as it includes some items requested by the community and some that they clearly needed but maybe not asked for directly.
Besides the day/night cycle and the accompanying illuminated buildings, After Dark adds new leisure buildings where your citizens can relax and be entertained in the wee hours. During the day these building are the regular commercial areas from the base game, but at night they turn into casinos, bars and and nightclubs. As traffic is visibly slower at night, you can also add separate routes for transportation and other services. You can, for instance, have your clubbing citizens order taxis and use busses to get to their destination, and let garbage trucks pick up trash during the nighttime which should lead to a smoother traffic flow during the day.
Under cover of darkness
More night activity also means that criminals have more opportunity to commit their acts of thievery. To not let crime get out of control, Colossal Order added prisons and police to patrol the streets. Karoliina also discussed “dual purpose buildings” which will give the modding community the opportunity to finally build that airport that includes a bus station, so travellers don’t have to leave one to enter the other. This too reduces traffic on the streets. This addition is one example of a feature that fans did not specifically ask for, but an idea that sprung up as Colossal Order watched the buildings that modders made. Many of those included two functions which didn’t really work out with the options already available in the base game.
To help the community along, at least 3 of these dual purpose buildings are added in the expansion. The Bus Station is a hub for bus traffic that connect multiple routes within one building. The Large Airport has a metro station within an airport and the Cargo Hub lets trains pick up and deliver cargo in the same process.
Besides public transport and cars, you can also provide bikes to your population. Dedicated bike lanes give your citizens a safe and alternate way of travel and it’s quicker than walking. You can set how many bikes can be used, where cyclist are allowed to go and where to park to keep it all nice and organized. To optimize the space between the outer buildings and the shorelines, specialized beach areas can be commercialized to lessen the otherwise somewhat abrupt ending of your city. Beach properties include small marinas, fishing tours, beach bars and restaurants.
All in all, After Dark adds a lot of new content. The day/night cycle will be available as update for all players but everything else I’ve discussed above will ship with the expansion. A word of caution to modders: you will have to update your buildings with the ‘night-look’, which should normally be a matter of adding a night layer to your creation.
All this goodness is coming your way in the fall of 2015. From what I’ve seen, fans of the base game are going to love the updates and the new look of the city at night, especially when all those pretty lights illuminate all their hard work.