Review: Frostpunk: On the Edge – A Chilly Last Course

Frostpunk has carefully walked the line between a survival game and a city builder with the skill of a tightrope performer, solidly locking in the base game as perhaps my favorite survival game of all time. Real-time strategy fans have flocked to Frostpunk, and through numerous free updates and a few paid DLC 11 Bit Studios has managed to keep fans coming back for more two and a half years later. On the Edge is Frostpunk’s final DLC, and though it adds some welcome elements to a new scenario, it’s a bit lacking in content for a big finale.

Start small and dream big!

On the Edge is a new scenario that kicks off with some key differences to the main campaign. Your town, Outpost 11, is a colony of New London, full of fat cat money grabbers sitting in their ivory towers and looking down on your poor working-class citizens through custom-made monocles. While sitting many miles away from New London, Outpost 11 is dependent on food shipments from their corporate overlords that will only come if the colony is able to supply a healthy stream of both steam cores and steel. Not having to consider food as a resource for the first two weeks leaves the player free to explore the revamped tech tree right away.

I was intrigued by many of the new skills available, but the thing that really pulled me in was the politics of communication with New London. The scenario is set up so that it is impossible to survive without their help, but if we asked for too much, we were denied food altogether. The communications outpost allowed me to contact the idiots in charge at HQ at any time, so I was always debating on when to use my “political capital”, so to speak. Additionally, you cannot make your own laws as you could in the default scenario; New London makes all your laws for you. Later in the scenario you’ll end up connecting and forming trade routes with other settlements, and political capital becomes just as much of a resource as coal or wood.

After just a few days I had a thriving… well not metropolis, but it’s pretty good for the apocalypse.

The way that On the Edge is set up with a lot of starting supplies and theoretically endless food, you’ll be able to build out a full settlement much more quickly than the main campaign. New locations for your scout team are much closer, and as I mentioned earlier, many of them are other settlements that you can form trade pacts with. Automatons are a bit harder to come by this time around, but you’ll have more workers coming in more quickly to make up for it.

The main difference is the very reason the outpost exists – an abandoned army storehouse built into the mountain. That storehouse holds an infinite amount of both steam cores and metal (the two resources needed for trading with New London), and working through the tech tree will unlock an option to mine either one material or a mix of both at a lower rate. Managing your warehouse workers becomes second nature after an hour or two, and cold quickly becomes the biggest enemy in On the Edge.

Managing expectations and wants of your neighbor settlements was the most fun new element of On the Edge.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the new elements added for On the Edge. It is, however, much too little content for the asking price of $15. The Last Autumn expansion provided a total overhaul of the environment in addition to many new features, while On the Edge mainly just adds political dealings trades to the base game design. The Game of the Year edition includes all DLC packs but is still priced rather high at $65. I can’t help but feel in retrospect that The Last Autumn should have been the final big blowout DLC, but I will qualify that I enjoyed On the Edge‘s customized scenario more than the base game. If you haven’t checked out Frostpunk yet, I’d recommend trying out the base game before getting the DLC packs. Fans of city builders and survival games alike should find something to love in the ice-pocalypse.

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