Frostpunk The Last Autumn Review
The Last Autumn achieves what most DLC fails to deliver – Value. Frostpunk is one of the best survival sims I’ve ever played, one that I invested countless hours learning the games mechanics and learning how to lead my civilisation through the longest winter known to man, all without compromising my morals. Naturally, I couldn’t hide my excitement when Frostpunk The Last Autumn was finally downloading. Gone was the harsh winter that saw countless of my people freeze to death (I swear it was their own fault). Finally, I could experience the game in the non-hostile landscape of Autumn. Surely the Autumn air, the green trees, and that big yellow thing up in the sky would provide a far less of a challenge? Oh, how I was wrong…
I’ll be honest, I thought The Last Autumn would be easy. After all, I poured around 30 hours into the base game and mastered to art of building big Generators… But boy, how was I wrong. This is what makes The Last Autumn such a great expansion. On face value, the core mechanics appear quite similar – Keep your people content, motivated, and ensure completion of the Generator is done within the 45 days that you have been allocated, but nothing is quite as it seems.
For those unfamiliar with Frostpunk; you are assigned the task of creating the last city on Earth during one of the unpleasant winters imaginable. Last Autumn takes place before these events and plays as a prequel to the base game where players will discover to grim events that lead to the creation of the first Generator and the Frostpunk universe that we know. You will face a number of challenging decisions based on laws to enforce, buildings to construct, and learn the impact of your decisions… no matter how big or small. Sounds simple, right?
The Last Autumn takes place 45 days before Winter’s imminent arrival, this is your strict deadline, like it or not. Over the 45 days, you will be given a deadline for each stage of the generator’s construction. As you progress, you will find that each stage becomes increasingly difficult thanks to not only time, but due to the number of both pre-determined and dynamic scenarios/events that play out. The tunnel around the Generator collapses, trapping several people, do you continue working and leave them to die so you can meet your deadline? Or do you stop production, send in a rescue team to escort them out, and resume production? So now you are two days behind your deadline, do you extend work hours to 12-hour shifts? or find other methods to increase production without causing discontent amongst your people.
Speaking of discontent, The Last Autumn introduces (well, replaces) a new metric to gauge how your people feel about your decisions, Motivation. The Motivation meter is exactly how it sounds, it’s a statistic of how motivated your people are. If your people are motivated, they will work more efficient. If motivation is low, you will see a dramatic decrease in production. There are several ways to keep motivation at its highest, with my personal favourite being Cocaine Pills. What downside effects could this have other than some of my people turning into addicts? Oh, never mind…
The motivation meter isn’t only one of the metrics you have to worry about, returning to The Last Autumn is the Discontent meter. Most choices in The Last Autumn will impact both meters, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. A group of workers suddenly die because you have neglected safety? The result? Your Discontent meter rise quicker than Jimmy at an all you can eat buffet. If you being to improve safety by passing a number of administrative laws, your discontent meter will begin to drop. You’ll quickly learn about Newton’s Third Law – For every action there, is an equal and opposite reaction. You can guarantee that for even something as positive as increasing safety laws, there will be a negative reaction.
At first, these bars are easy to maintain, but as the winter slowly draws closer, your workers begin to panic, unforeseen events happen, and even some early game decisions may come back to haunt you (Honestly, who doesn’t enjoy A House of Pleasure?).
An interesting mechanic added to The Last Autumn is worker Strikes. Strikes occur when your workers aren’t happy and want better conditions, which is fair enough. But once you’ve bargained with your workers after the first strike, you will be met with a divide in your workforce. This is similar to the faith vs order mechanic in the base game, except this time its Workers vs Engineers. As with faith vs order, siding with each faction does have its significant rewards, but also significant consequences. I played through both factions and was pleasantly surprised by how much siding with either faction actually impacts the direction of the game, kudos 11 bit studios.
Combine these mechanics with a handful of new structures and resources, this what makes The Last Autumn feel like a completely new game. Speaking of structures, the warmer weather allows for several new structures that can be constructed. The addition of docks means you can import/export resources by the way of the sea, along with setting up fishing docks. While building your structures such as housing and medical facilities around the generator is quite like its base game, but with one slight difference; there is a designated area directly around the generator that only specific structures can be built.
These structures are critical to the generators build and as you progress, neglect their importance throughout the 45 days and you may just regret it. There are also a number of optional buildings that can be built if you have time and manage to not kill the majority of your population, like I constantly did. These optional buildings increase your final score and impact which of the multiple endings you encounter. Other than that, your score doesn’t really mean anything, apart from bragging to Chris who doesn’t even own a left handed screwdriver.
I honestly enjoyed the game a lot more than I expected, which surprised me as I rate the original Frostpunk game as one of the best strategy games of the last decade. It adds several new mechanics that add surprisingly vast amount of content to the game, all while maintaining its link to the base game. I enjoyed experiencing the game in a different light, or season if you will. It provides several new, and rehashed challenges that change how you perceive life and why you should never play God!
- GAMEPLAY - 93%93%
- GRAPHICS - 89%89%
- AUDIO - 85%85%
- VALUE - 91%91%
The Last Autumn is a great addition to an already excellent game. Its surprisingly deep amount of content creates a game that will challenge seasoned verterans of Frostpunk, while new comers to the series are in for a treat!
For more on Frostpunk, check out our previous coverage.