Metro: Last Light Factions Pack DLC [Review]
If I’d only received the sniper and heavy combat sections of the Metro: Last Light Faction Pack, I probably wouldn’t have thought it was worth the five dollars they were asking for it. Both of those sections are pretty short with very little to them, feeling more like some generic shooter pack than anything else. Shoot some guys, snipe some guys, then you’re done in twenty minutes. The Polis section, one where you explore the landscape of the Metro world looking for lost items from before the disaster, is where it’s at. The ability to be a scavenger in the wasteland (carefully balancing out your air supply and ammunition) is easily worth the full price on its own, and makes for some fun gameplay.
The heavy combat section is by far the worst of the bunch. It’s neat that you’re given access to a new chain gun, sniper rifle, and grenade launcher, but the whole time you’re using them you’re under constant attack from wave after wave of enemies. All you’re expected to do is hold one tiny position with whatever gun the game happens to have handed you in that moment, so you just work with what you have. There’s little in the way of cover or strategy, so all you do is fire at the enemies as fast as you can with the current gun. I might have had some time to enjoy the guns if my main worry wasn’t just getting as many shots out as I could, but as it stands it’s a dull section where you win by hitting the fire button fast enough.
With a bigger area or even different sections, the heavy combat pack might have been fun on some level. Maybe if you like to brainlessly fire bullets into crowds of enemies you’ll enjoy it, but overall it felt like an extremely lazy section; one that’s barely held together with the promise of new guns. I’d much rather have seen those in a more expansive area where I could play around with them, or at least an arena with more places to move and fight from. It’s about five minutes worth of gameplay stretched out to a good twenty minutes given how hard it is to avoid enemy fire in your small area, so expect to get frustrated on top of having very little fun.
Still, I never much played this series for its firefights. The stealth sniper section was a whole lot better, but it’s still a little bit too short. That may come from the fact that you play a bit of a super sniper — one who doesn’t have any difficulty aiming. Unlike most games which feature small movements from the sniper or difficulty keeping the reticule in one place due to breathing, this one lets you point and shoot without a hitch. I’d just snap my sight onto the enemy’s head (and a LOT of the enemies stand still for long periods of time in this DLC, too), and plug away. It felt far, far too easy because of that, and I breezed through it quite quickly.
The game attempts to counterbalance that ease by giving you a game over if you or one of your kills get spotted. It encouraged me to look around the environment and see who was looking at who, and sometimes I had to wait for crowds to break up before I could take my shots. Still, as long as one guy had his back turned to the other, I could kill him without his buddy noticing. More so, I’d often just shoot my way from right to left, picking off the enemies who were higher up before the lower ones. That’s about as far as the strategy had to go before I was clearing areas without any issues. Every once in a while someone I didn’t see would get to an alarm, but mostly I got through these sections with little resistance.
There are sections that are indoors that I imagine were supposed to challenge me, but those guys had it even worse. When enemies were indoors, they were typically just standing in set positions waiting to get shot. I could open a door and shoot the guy inside without worrying about him turning around. Even the groups were usually so close together indoors that I’d just shoot one guy and move to the other, killing him before he could move due to how easy it was to aim my gun. If some small aiming difficulties had been added the challenge would have felt a lot more even, but as is, the sniper faction just wasn’t challenging at all. It’s nice if you just want to pick some heads off, but anyone expecting more than that is going to be disappointed.
I was pretty underwhelmed after playing those two sections, but then I played the Polis faction. This was well worth the five dollars by itself, and is just a great add-on. In this section, your job is to leave a central hub area and collect items, bring them back to that hub to trade them for money, weapons, and filters. Looking around the surface and exploring the ruined land is good fun, and the level of strategy you have to factor into what you bring along with you makes these trips pretty stressful, but in a good way.
You’ll be moving across the surface during a lot of this section, so your air supply is something you’ll need to be keeping an eye on. In the main game, you can find more filters for your gas mask while working your way around the environment, but they’ve pretty much all been removed from this area. Instead, you have to buy them from the starting area, using the limited funds you can find while exploring (Which is practically nothing), or by selling the items you find up on the surface. You also have to keep in mind that however much air you have, you’d better have enough air to get back to the starting area.
That central hub is where you’re expected to bring everything back to. Considering it’s the source of all your necessary items like ammo, filters, med kits, and ammo, you’ll want to be going back there with some frequency. When you’re ten minutes out from it, though, it’s a bit much to expect you to go back. To counteract this, there are shortcuts you can open up along the way that will let you sneak back to earlier areas, making the return trip much easier. They’re not spaced especially far apart until after you’ve played this section for a long time, though, so getting back isn’t often an issue. Still, when you’re low on air and a shortcut isn’t showing up, it can start to get a little stressful.
Adding to that stress is the enemies. Instead of wasting my time with human enemies, you get to face off against a lot of the sneakier monsters from the game. I almost never saw any of the creatures first, often finding myself taking damage from behind due to the little buggers getting the drop on me. This would leave me sweeping the environment with my gun, usually only seeing what hit me a split second before it was about to pounce on me again. This often lead to frantic gunfights with groups of enemies that were ripping me apart, creating these wonderful tense moments were I’d only just survive. Getting surprised does get old after a while, but knowing those attacks are coming makes every new room interesting.
That’s not even counting the big enemies, either. There’s a creature called a Librarian — one that basically looks like a shaved ape, and even on the lowest difficulty this thing can kill you in a few hits. They take a ton of damage to put down, usually running away before you can finish the job. Luckily these guys retain their accrued damage when they run away, so fighting them will eventually put them down. Even better is the fact that they don’t respawn when you return to the hideout, so you have a free pass through that area unless you get yourself killed and have to go through it again.
Sound makes their appearances even harder on the nerves. The game plays the various grunts and footsteps these creatures make when they’re in the area, making sure you know that a Librarian is just around a corner waiting to stomp you flat. The sounds don’t seem to get louder or quieter based on proximity, which is a little annoying as it makes it harder to tell how close the creatures are, but in the same vein it means that you’re scared any time you hear their grunts. It’s enough to let you know they’re near, and at those times I felt myself getting pretty nervous, especially if I hadn’t found a shortcut or been back to base in a while.
You have a limited carrying capacity to make things a bit more challenging in those sections, so you can only pick up so many artifacts before you have to head back. This really only showed up once or twice, as the game usually provided me with a shortcut whenever I was about to run out of room. The artifacts themselves aren’t that hard to find, either. If you poke around any given environment you’ll find just about all of them. Just be thorough and check every room and you should be fine. It makes the search itself a little pointless, turning what should be exploration into a linear path.
I still loved looking around the environment searching for these artifacts. Buying just enough filters and ammo to get through an area, watching my supplies dwindle as I hope to find an exit; it all makes the trips into the world very tense and exciting. Everything feels like you have to carefully calculate risks, come up with a plan, and then pray everything goes right. I got beaten a handful of times before I really got a feel for what items I needed to get me where I needed to go, and once I did the game just kept challenging me with harder enemies and routes. It’s a fantastic mode, one I’d enjoy seeing more of in the future. It would need to be a lot less linear than this, though.
The Faction Pack DLC is a mixed bag, with the heavy combat section being the worst of the bunch. Still, if you have five dollars and want to try something new in the Metro world, it’s not a bad add-on. The sniper section can be entertaining so long as you don’t mind how easy it is, and the Polis section is tense and deep. Just ignore that stupid combat section unless you’re dying for anything Metro, though.