Originally published at: Review | Atomic Heart: Annihilation Instinct DLC - XboxEra
Atomic Heart, which released Day One into Game Pass earlier this year, has just released its first major DLC. Titled “Annihilation Instinct”, it takes place after canonizing one of the endings of the main game. You return as Major P-3 and have to fight robot after robot for a few hours or so. Unlike the original campaign it is a series of frustrating moments that coalesces into something thoroughly disappointing in the end.
I’ll keep this spoiler-lite, as if you’re playing this then you should have beaten the campaign and hopefully seen its multiple endings. In this one it makes one of them canon and picks up almost immediately after that choice is made. Nora the vending machine who is madly in love with you has taken over the facility and is locked in a struggle with Granny. If you don’t know what that means then go play the base game, it’s on Game Pass and I loved it.
Your glove, for reasons thoroughly explained in the original, isn’t working early on and you’ll spend a while walking around and getting some backstory. Once the combat begins you have a shovel, and that is it for 45 minutes. It is a mix of maddeningly unfair and clunky combat against large numbers of robots that had me contemplating not reviewing this DLC at all. I persevered and made it through fixing my glove and getting some guns. This is a far more limited arsenal and ability system than you had in the main game. I ended up with two melee weapons, a new assault rifle, shotgun, and pistol. Ability wise you have the new Techno-Stasis ability, which is ridiculously powerful, slowing all enemies around you so that they’re easy pickings. The other ability is the returning telekinesis shield, and your character is fully upgraded.
All the main systems from the base game are here, and you’re quickly powered through upgrading your new weapons and abilities as you loot massive amounts of crafting materials. Make sure to craft ammo and health packs when you can as outside of the new gun I didn’t get much in the way of ammo off of enemy corpses. Even with all of these tools the DLC is rarely fun. It was a two-and-a-half-hour slog that I barely enjoyed a second of. Enemies feel cheap, even on easy difficulty, and the story made me hate the characters involved. The main character comes off like a simp, and seemed oddly unaware of things that I knew from playing the first game despite this taking place after. Gameplay-wise once you have all of your tools it goes from horrible to OK. It’s never great though, as the new enemy and boss-types feel like work instead of a puzzle to solve.
Wrapping Things Up
Atomic Heart is a good game, but this DLC is an unsatisfying follow-up to that story. It removes the surprising depth of both the characters and gameplay and replaces it with a linear mess that rarely resembles the far superior original title.