Frostpunk: The Last Autumn – difficult and morally challengingPublished April 19, 2021
Frostpunk: The Last Autumn is an action-adventure, survival expansion and a prequel scenario to the apocalyptic original, developed and released by 11 bit studios in 2020. The gameplay centers around building a unique generator that should house Liverpool’s citizens while managing a team of engineers and other employees.
The Last Autumn’s predecessor, Frostpunk, published in 2018, unfolds in an alternative late 19th century. It tasks players with developing and preserving a city after a volcanic winter takes the world in its clutches.
Compared to the principal campaign, the expansion appears to be more uncertain, and although you know the future, you still have the responsibility to ensure the generators happen. Without that, people will die in horrifying conditions.
But various elements are against you, such as lack of resources, insufficient space, and people issues. In that way, The Last Autumn requires a different kind of strategy while still staying loyal to the main story.
How does this DLC differ from Frostpunk? Is it worth purchasing? Here is what we think.
Promising, but fails to provide a dynamic experience
The game starts with a player taking the role of an IEC subordinate. The goal is to build a generator that can fit into the desolate area surrounding Site 113.
The problem is, you know that things will get worse, but you and your employees don’t know genuinely comprehend what’s coming. Regardless of how grim the situation is, you have to be the leader and give people assignments. Moreover, you have to build houses, foraging posts, and research stations around the core that would become the heating source.
Different issues and components plague your efforts to work quickly. It is where attention to detail shines out, as you’ll need all the structure that you would need if this were a real-life situation. Hence, you have to think about the spaces that will produce the necessary resources. It is why you’ll need workshops and forges, and you’ll have to fight against the clock that’s ticking.
Time is one of the critical issues in this Frostpunk DLC. It is about punctuality and not rushing or slowing down the process. The storm is on its way, threatening to wipe out human existence and destroy all your work before you even begin.
Since time is a luxury you can hardly afford, you have to build the generator as soon as possible. The best way to do it is by introducing policies people have to follow to save lives. However, even though you have the leadership in your hands, that doesn’t mean others will mindlessly obey.
Instead, your employees can and will go against you and rebel. Their rebellion isn’t strictly verbal. They will likely turn to violence, and you can answer in the same manner. Since the game starts with everyone being friendly and open to collaboration, you’ll have to make some tough and morally compromising decisions.
When things are going well, the inhabitants will appreciate how you run the things and be grateful for the food they get. They will acknowledge when you ensure there is someone to take care of the sick. That will likely provide you with a sense of comfort and security, especially when you manage to expand your workforce population.
Moreover, you’ll also have to pay attention to who you bring in because engineers are crucial for the generator functioning smoothly due to their education and skills. Likewise, you should also ensure you build the machines that are compatible with your objectives and have research teams looking for food and other necessary supplies.
Over time, you will probably notice a particular path you have to follow to succeed, and there is not much room for improvising or being strategically creative. It means that you do as the game dictates, doing what’s inherently build into The Last Autumn structure.
That takes us to this DLC’s ultimate pitfall. The origin stories have become a Hollywood-must, but they are still a guilty pleasure. The same applies to gaming. The developers had a great idea and an unforgiving yet immersive environment for The Last Autumn.
But the expansion struggles with a debilitating lack of dynamics. As you progress through the game, you’ll realize that everything unfolds right according to the script. Whatever you do, an event will occur at the same time over again. That can cause a sense of absurdity because regardless of how much you invest in researching how to prevent something, it will happen anyway.
As a result, you always know what and when to expect. Its predecessor makes the timeline feel much more natural and reasonable. But The Last Autumn kills the tension with predictability. It is not anymore about how skilled you are in preparing for a catastrophe.
Instead, it’s about following a scenario that’s already set in stone and filled with rigid events you can’t stop. That makes the game incredibly difficult, but not in a meaningful way.
Even though the developers warned us that this campaign would be all about excruciating decisions, it feels forced, inevitable, and illogical. On the other side, the resources and workforce aren’t as scarce or challenging to gather as in the Frostpunk. It is what can result in losing interest and force you to go back to the base campaign.
Not the best option for those that crave freedom of choice
Frostpunk: The Last Autumn pulls you in with its promise of challenging scenarios that will question your moral compass. The chilly visuals fit perfectly a world that’s falling apart quickly, and the time is working against you.
Overall, it is an engaging setting that feels nerve-racking initially. However, not everyone will enjoy having to follow the same order of doing things every time. While some players will find The Last Autumn intriguing due to its strategy-fueled premise, the lack of choice could be disheartening to others.