With good reason Frostpunk was one of my top games of 2018. 11bit Studios’ masterpiece took city management to a whole other level by having it happen during the toughest winter its steampunk world has ever seen. Keeping everyone safe and sound is perhaps one of your best hopes coming into Frostpunk, but that quickly fades away once the proverbial shit starts hitting the fan, and the temperatures begin to drop ever further down. Getting through any of its campaigns proved to be quite a thrilling feat, and one that forced upon you some very tough decisions. All in all, Frostpunk could easily headline the antepenultimate year of this decade for me in gaming.
So it’s particularly surprising that having a go at yet another new scenario would have as big of an impact as The Last Autumn has had. On paper, it really shouldn’t, given that it takes place before winter has arrived, so the biggest worry — that is, keeping the generator going and with it, the temperature up so everyone doesn’t freeze to death — is not an issue. But that didn’t make things any calmer during my playthrough, and in fact, getting a stable production line going in order to build that generator, which is the main goal of The Last Autumn, proved that Frostpunk still has a lot left in its tank when it comes to providing a fantastic setting for societal managing.
As part of a group of journeymen that has just arrived from the old land, you’re tasked with putting together the generator that’s the key for surviving the coming cold. Problem is, not everyone is privy to the knowledge that this winter is set to be the worst one yet, which makes matters worse, since disinformation can eventually lead to a revolt. Worse than death in this DLC is the prospect of getting fired, which, trust me, can happen really easily and quite early if you’re not careful. Be mindful of your saved games!
Outside of the usual tech growth that you should be familiar with if you’ve played Frostpunk before, there’s now an alternative food gathering source in the form of fishing spots, which is convenient, since the starting plot for the scenario is right next to a body of water. At the very outset, you’re tasked with putting one of those together, but if you choose to, you can pick a hunting lodge instead. You can also now build a port, which can be paired with the fishing spot, where exports and new work hands can come into your city. It’s a good thing that you can get materials in that way, since there are no clear gathering spots like in the main game in this DLC, only frozen trees that require further research before they can be harvested.
So the main drive in The Last Autumn is getting the very first generator going, which is what will keep everyone alive come the deep freeze. It takes many in-game days to get that off the ground since it requires a number of layers to be researched, materials gathered, and a lot out of your workforce before you can even think about building yours. Considering that the all the drama is in full effect here, you can expect to have one heck of a hard time getting into a stable enough situation in your managerial machine before investing on the generator.
11bit Studios clearly assumes that you have gotten accustomed with Frostpunk’s core demands and gameplay loop when you get into The Last Autumn, dropping heavy demands onto you as soon as you anchor in and step into your mayoral office. It’s really easy to get into a rough spot right away if you don’t mind the steep schedule that you quickly have to set yourself up into in order to meet those deadlines.
While it’s a little nerve-wracking getting in the rhythm of things, it also works to the game’s advantage by pushing you along to follow a path, at least for the first moments of the campaign. The base content for Frostpunk was a little more lenient in regards to that, which helped make things a little more aimless and more prone to failure states at the later game, so in a cruel twist of logic, I can say that I’m glad that I got fired twenty minutes into this DLC during my first run instead of getting canned at the 10-hour mark.
Nearly two years after its initial release, there still isn’t anything to play quite like Frostpunk. It certainly isn’t a game for everyone, and this newest DLC won’t really turn things around if you didn’t like the main content. On the other hand, if you enjoyed your time managing the chaos of just barely keeping people alive before, The Last Autumn is yet another fantastic scenario to play, one that features a different obstacle to overcome that’s even more tragic than what you saw in the original Frostpunk.