Return to a time before the frostpocalypse and plant the seed of one of the emergency settlements necessary to ensure the survival of the human species in this excellent downloadable content for Frostpunk.
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
Developer: 11 bit studios
Publisher: 11 bit studios
Release date: 21 Jan, 2020
I was late to the Frostpunk party and got my hands of it at the beginning of last year, though when I did, I was immediately hooked. I enjoy city builders but I haven’t found many that can compete with Cities: Skylines and the Tropico series (specifically 3, 4, and 5, I haven’t gotten to 6 yet) for my time but Frostpunk was a surprise hit for me and managed to do just that. Its unique world and survival mechanics allow it to stand all on its own in the genre, directly competing with neither of my previously mentioned favorites. Its depth is impressive and it’s capable of challenging even hardcore strategy gamers with a few tweaks to the difficulty options. Needless to say, a DLC that adds a scenario with a plethora of new and redesigned features is certainly welcome especially after the rather unimpressive DLC that disappointed many of its early fans.
Rules, Regulations, and Red Tape
Last Autumn brings us a new scenario that’s something of a prequel to Frostpunk as we know it. There’s still green in the world and the area that your settlement rests in is actually quite pleasant to the eyes instead of a frozen wasteland. That said, your job here is anything but easy and may offer a greater challenge than the previously available post-apocalyptic scenarios.
You are the captain responsible for organizing and maintaining the site of a generator that is being constructed for the coming storm. You’ll not only be fighting to survive but you’ll also be meeting deadlines that have been placed upon you by your employer, the Imperial Exploration Company, that can be rather unforgiving. The company gives you a pass on a single missed deadline, but you’ll be fired on the spot and shipped back to England if you miss a second.
Old World Tech and Company Benefits
The core gameplay of Frostpunk returns for Last Autumn though there are a number of changes that shake things up and create a fresh experience. First and foremost, your position with the company comes with several unique benefits. Building docks is now a possibility and they are capable of receiving shipments of wood, coal, and steel from off-map without being restricted by any kind of a limit, you simply have to have the manpower to unload the ship and move it from the dock platforms to your own stockpiles. The sea (which is refreshingly unfrozen) that lies on one side of your settlement offers its own unlimited bounty once you have a fishing harbor up and running though you may need to supplement these food supplies with a forager’s camp or two. Foragers themselves are a useful combination of the explorers and outpost teams that we’ve seen in the base game, though they not only explore and collect resources and people from the regional map, they’re also capable of setting up camps to ship a more steady supply of resources home.
My personal favorite benefit provided by the company is the telegraph station. Here you’ll be able to send for shipments that include workers, engineers, and the incredibly valuable steam cores, though you’ll be able to unlock additional request options as you develop further technologies and regulations. These shipments are restricted only by the time that is required to build up the company’s allotment for your site as it is continually increasing, being reduced only when you attempt to acquire new resources.
In Last Autumn you’re leading a construction site for a company instead of a last-ditch survival effort of a colony and it shows in the technology and policies available to you. Workers and engineers return but the children are still back in the homeland so you won’t be able to pack your dangerous generator construction site with pre-teen labor like you used to. The unifying effect of endless winter hasn’t settled in on society yet either as class warfare is a central theme eventually even leading to you having to make a choice on the direction of your settlement. Will you side with the workers and establish a proletariat-run worksite or will you bring old world values with you and continue the reign of the engineers at the expense of the workers? As with the original scenarios, new regulations become increasingly extreme as you progress down their paths. Either way, you’ll have to maintain order and efficiency in both groups as the newly developed automatons have not been released for your use.
Discontent and hope are integral to your survival in Frostpunk, though they have been reworked for Last Autumn. Discontent returns but no directly impacts the chances of one of your work sites going on strike which makes it all the more important to manage due to reduced productivity being a massive pain when you have deadlines to meet. On the other hand, hope has been replaced with motivation which has the potential to significantly increase or reduce your productivity settlement-wide.
Last Autumn isn’t a challenge when it comes to deciding who to recommend it to as far as its gameplay is concerned. Its new features make it a relatively fresh experience for Frostpunk fans who are looking for an excuse to jump back into an excellent game. However, they are nowhere near revolutionary enough to convert those who didn’t enjoy the game originally as they are likely to feel similar to those who have spent little to no time with the title. In addition, the price seems quite high for what is offered here, the content is of great quality but many of the mechanics from the base game are carried over and the scenario itself can be completed in only a handful of hours. As great as it is as an expansion, I can’t help but compare it to some other great games that are available for around the same price that offer far more bang for your buck and would say to wait for a sale on this one.