Developer 11 Bit Studios' superb, if rather bleak, post-apocalyptic city-builder Frostpunk is poised to receive another sizeable chunk of DLC on 21st January. Known as The Last Autumn, its pre-freeze setting shakes up Frostpunk's core mechanics in surprisingly significant ways, and 11 Bit has offered a closer look at these changes in its latest developer video.
The Last Autumn, as its name suggests, unfolds prior to the apocalyptic freeze that's decimated civilisation by the time the base game gets underway. Some have already predicted its arrival, however, and are making preparations should the worst come to pass.
This is where you come in, charged with constructing a generator tower in the middle of the wilderness, in order to establish a safe haven for humanity and support the evacuation efforts of the British Empire. The result, according to 11 Bit, is a "completely revamped experience", affecting "pretty much every layer of the game".
The most obvious change comes from The Last Autumn's aesthetic, which ditches the barely hospitable snow-covered wastes of the base game in favour of environments inspired by Iceland and Greenland, cold but still green and full of life. The shake-up to Frostpunk's familiar formula runs deeper, though, switching up mechanics - and outright eliminating the likes of generator and temperature management - to introduce new strategic challenges.
For instance, the Last Autumn introduces a range of new buildings, a new resource tree, and redesigned economics in order to facilitate the construction of the generator before temperatures plunge. Notably, resources are no longer gathered by citizens from around the base; instead, coal, steel, and wood are now shipped in by sea via the docks near camp.
Crucially, each Last Autumn camp only has a finite amount of space for building on the water. Not only does this restrict the number of docks available, forcing players to think carefully about how they prioritise shipments, water slots are also required for other facilities - including fishing huts to feed workers - meaning strategists will face some tough decisions.
Elsewhere, laws from the base game return, but The Last Autumn is said to feature plenty of new ways in which players can shape their society, satisfy the needs of their workforce and administration, and stave off discontent.
Trying to finish the generator in a timely manner might, for instance, result in worker strikes if labour conditions prove too dangerous, preventing further construction. This ties into The Last Autumn's new safety system, with different areas of camp slowly succumbing to the likes of toxic gases over time, increasing the chances of death and worker revolt.
Players can choose to improve conditions, or perhaps offer a bribe to convince workers to ignore the hazards around them, but when strikes break out, it will be necessary to negotiate to resume work - maybe committing to provide better food, or a bathhouse for increased comfort. Similarly, radical activists might be inspired to rail against certain policies, and players will need to keep motivation up across the board in order to achieve their goals.
And if all that isn't enough to be dealing with, 11 Bit warns that players will eventually need to contend with Frostpunk's familiar cold as the fateful freeze approaches.
Frostpunk's The Last Autumn DLC will be available to purchase separately or as part of the game's Season Pass when it comes to PC on 21st January. Currently there's 30% off the latter on Steam and GOG, putting the price at just under £20 instead of the usual £28. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Frostpunk will receive The Last Autumn expansion at a later date.