Building a city isn’t easy. It takes thorough planning, thoughtful placement of districts, and careful consideration of the population’s needs. Building one in Cities: Skylines is no different. Players of Paradox Interactive’s urban construction/management simulation control zoning, road placement, taxation, public services, and transport in their own little slice of paradise. The vanilla version of the game is already one of the most advanced city-building games ever made. We put it at number one on our list of best simulation games, but there’s always room for improvement. Enter the best Cities: Skylines DLC.
There are twenty-nine different DLC packs available for Cities: Skylines on Steam. Each of them adds new maps, new assets, and new layers of complexity for you to utilize in your designs. DLC allows you to completely revamp the way your city handles transit, industry, energy, education, and more. Some of them add game modes that have so much depth, you’ll feel like you’ve incepted a whole new game within the game!
Odds are, you probably won’t be buying them all in one go, though. Twenty-nine DLC packs come with twenty-nine individual price tags after all, and it’s unlikely you would even end up using all of them, but how do you know which ones to get with so many to choose from?
You’re in luck, friends, because we’ve put together a list of the ten best DLC for Cities: Skylines in 2021!
10 Best Cities: Skylines DLC in 2021
Starting at #10, let’s work our way down the the #1 best release. Grab your plots and map out your districts, because here comes our list of Cities: Skylines best DLC!
The best atmospheric Cities: Skylines DLC
Winter is coming. At least it will be if you get the Cities: Skylines Snowfall DLC!
As the name suggests, Snowfall turns your city into a winter wonderland, coated in a thick layer of beautiful snow. This DLC has been somewhat divisive for the Cities: Skylines community. Some fans have criticized the fact that the content is limited to pre-selected maps. Many more are disappointed that the expansion doesn’t allow for seasonal changes — you either have snow or you don’t, making the expansion a major commitment to how you plan to play the game.
Still, just as many fans have praised it for the festive way it transforms the map and the myriad of excellent mechanics and challenges that it adds to the game. It adds snowmobiles and streetcars, as well as expanding power assets to compensate for your city’s new heat needs.
Snowfall could be a great addition for the holidays, especially if you pair it with the free Carols, Candles and Candies DLC, but you probably won’t want to play every game that way (unless you really like snow).
9. Sunset Harbor
The best coastal Cities: Skylines DLC
Sunset Harbor is the newest Cities: Skylines DLC on our list. In fact, it’s the only full DLC pack to come out this year. It adds five new maps, plus a lot of new resources and recreational content.
Players will now have the ability to grow a fishing industry in their city. You can control fishing boats and even place fish farms. There’s a new water treatment plant for keeping your citizens drinking water clean and some new transit options as well. You also get a new intercity bus service, but the most exciting thing is the Aviation C1ub, which allows citizens access to personal planes and helicopters.
Honestly, I don’t know if I would recommend Sunset Harbor until you’ve already got some of the other DLC that ranked higher on this list. Fishing and private aircraft are great additions, but you get a lot more bang-for-your-buck with some of the other packs. That isn’t to say that Sunset Harbor isn’t a great time for people looking to develop a coastline. It’s well worth adding once you’ve played a few of the other DLC and know what you’re looking to add to the game.
The best entertainment Cities: Skylines DLC
Are you ready to rock?! Well, your city better be.
Cities: Skylines Concerts allows you to build festival grounds to accommodate massive concerts for your population to enjoy. These concerts feature music from real-life Rock, EDM, and Pop/Folk bands NESTOR, Elijha, MOTi, and Lily La Roux.
This pack is great because it lets you take complete control of the show. You get to set ticket prices, marketing, and security for all of your concerts to make sure they off without a hitch. The new broadcast building will help you get the word out. Keep in mind that these shows pull massive crowds of people, so you’d better have your transit game on point before you attempt one — otherwise, the traffic will be a nightmare.
It’s worth noting that while Concerts is smaller than most of the other DLC packs on this list, it’s also nearly half the price. This pack is an excellent choice for someone looking to add a little spice to the game without changing its mechanics too much.
The best education Cities: Skylines DLC
All the great cities of the world have universities. Cities: Skylines Campus brings higher education to your neighborhood, whether it be Trade School, a Liberal Arts college, or a more traditional University.
This pack allows you to build from five different sports arenas (football, baseball, basketball, swimming, and track and field) and nine educational facilities. You can even customize your teams and earn rewards when they win games for the school! Campus also gives you seven new policies and five new maps to choose from.
It isn’t all fun and games, though. Education is important too. Your school’s academic achievements create academic works, which unlock new buildings and scientific achievements, which in turn can be displayed in museums.
The best recreation Cities: Skylines DLC
Parklife is an amazing expansion for taking your city beyond brick and mortar and adding some natural beauty. There are a whole bunch of new assets, including five new maps and a new park area tool for creating park districts on any available plots of empty land. This can be a great boon to your citizens’ happiness and make your cities look a lot more vibrant.
The pack adds resources to make all kinds of parks. Everything from theme parks and zoos to nature reserves and campsites is on the table. The ability to place buildings next to paths within park districts, rather than exclusively next to roads, is a unique feature that can’t be done anywhere else. There’s also the “Castle of Lord Chipwick,” which has to be the most whimsical monument in the game.
We ranked Cities: Skylines at number seven on our list of the best city-building games for strategy and creative expression. Content like what Parklife offers can only add to the game’s creative merits. Constructing a perfect park is like a mini-game within the creation of the larger city. This might be the DLC that puts Cities: Skylines right in your wheelhouse if you’re a fan of games like Roller Coaster Tycoon or Planet Zoo.
5. Green Cities
The best aesthetic Cities: Skylines DLC
Even simulated people need clean air. That’s why Green Cities is next up on our list of the best Cities: Skylines DLC. This expansion adds hundreds of new assets for you to use to make your city more eco-friendly, three new scenarios, four new policy options, and a new monument.
This is the pack to get if you’re looking to make a clean, modern city. It adds ecologically-friendly buildings, geothermal power plants, floating garbage collectors, water treatment plants, parks, electric cars, and a new biofuel bus system that includes an intercity bus service. Recycling centers are probably the most useful new addition, proving very helpful for dealing with waste buildup.
Green Cities is an excellent DLC pack for making your skyscrapers look better, but it’s also nice to see all the ways a city can “go green” in real life. There’s no reason our metropolitan areas need to be masses of grey buildings and concrete.
4. After Dark
The best basic Cities: Skylines DLC
Vegas isn’t the only city that never sleeps.
After Dark came out shortly after the base game in September 2015, making it one of the oldest DLCs for Cities: Skylines (not counting the deluxe edition upgrade), and it remains one of the most essential additions to the game. Vanilla Skylines didn’t actually have a day/night cycle, meaning your cities were always trapped in the blisteringly bright gaze of the sun. They added it via a free patch shortly after this wonderful DLC’s release.
So why buy it if the day/night cycle is free with the base game? The cycle may have been the biggest selling point upon the expansion’s release, but there are still plenty of other reasons After Dark makes our list.
First and foremost, commercial zones get to stay open all night and can specialize in tourist and leisure activities such as bars and restaurants. The DLC also expands a number of other city services. It adds prisons, taxi services, cargo hubs, an international airport, and bus terminals. Those can be especially useful if you don’t already have Mass Transit.
After Dark makes it so that your cities are more active in the evening hours. Having a day/night cycle isn’t all that interesting if everyone goes to sleep the moment the sun goes down.
3. Mass Transit
The best infrastructure Cities: Skylines DLC
Planes, trains, and automobiles. The ability to get from point A to point B is the foundation of a functioning city. Cities: Skylines Mass Transit is the single best tool for keeping your population on the move and out of traffic.
Cities: Skylines veterans know that the traffic system can be one of the most frustrating things to keep balanced in the game. Mass Transit brings monorails, ferries, blimps, and cable cars to your city to help keep things moving. It also brings new mass transit hubs, which allow you to connect the various transport services into a sprawling network. This takes the mundane traffic management of the vanilla game and expands it into a genuinely interesting logistical puzzle. New scenarios focus on the player fixing complex traffic problems and building new transit systems.
This pack is a must-have for players who wish to expand the game. We consider it the best Cities: Skylines DLC for beginners, followed closely by Industries.
2. Natural Disasters
The best catastrophe Cities: Skylines DLC
A lot of the DLC on this list are here because they make the game bigger. They add maps, assets, and other basic improvements that enhance your gaming experience as a whole. Cities: Skylines Natural Disasters is here for a different reason — it changes the way you play the game.
Since SimCity, fans have had a strange love affair with natural disasters coming in to demolish their carefully-crafted metropolitan utopias. Natural Disasters features earthquakes, thunderstorms, tsunamis, forest fires, tornadoes, sinkholes, and even meteors, any one of which can do some real damage to your neighborhood. This makes the game less about building an idyllic city that would be a joy for your population to inhabit and more about building a resilient one that can withstand the trials of nature’s fury.
Luckily, the pack also gives you plenty of resources to deal with this. Early warning systems, bunkers, scenario countermeasures, an emergency radio broadcast network, and disaster response units such as medevac helicopters help prepare your population for the inevitable destruction headed their way.
I’d argue that this is one of the most exciting DLC packs on the list. It adds a degree of urgency that other game modes don’t have, but I can see why some players might not want to see hours of their hard work whisked off to Oz by a tornado.
The best Cities: Skylines DLC overall
Cities: Skylines Industries might not seem as flashy as Natural Disasters or Green Cities, but it’s one of the biggest and most in-depth pieces of content you can add to your game. In addition to three new industry policies and five new maps rich with natural resources, Industries also adds so many detailed systems to manage that it feels like a whole new game.
This DLC allows players to utilize farming, forest, oil, and ore resources, then customize their industrial areas with supply chains. You can design the entire life cycle of a product, moving from harvesting materials to processing, storage, production, and distribution. You can also use your resources to build new roads, processing facilities, and warehouses. It even adds mail carriers and a Post Office!
Having a booming industrial center fits in seamlessly with nearly any playstyle. No other DLC on this list adds so much to the game without becoming the sole focus of gameplay. That’s why Industries is our top pick for the best Cities: Skylines DLC.
If nothing else, Tropico fans will certainly love it.
Wrap-Up — Best Cities: Skylines DLC
We hope you enjoyed our list of the ten best Cities: Skylines DLC in 2021. Skylines is one of the most intricate urban construction and management simulations ever made, and having a few of its best content packs only makes it better.