Let’s Chat: Hopes & Dreams for Pokémon’s The Crown Tundra DLC

Another week, another Let’s Chat! Once again, with Ashley busy, I have called in support; Pokémon fan Stephen Brown joins me to discuss the recent video presentation for Part 2 of the Expansion Pass for Pokémon Sword and Shield, The Crown Tundra. We got new info on the features included, as well as announcements elsewhere in the Pokémon franchise! So, let’s get into it!


William Robinson: It’s time to, yet again, say hi to a new voice! Welcome, Stephen Brown – similar to the introductions for Jordan Senior, Jed Harling, and Toby Court in the previous Let’s Chat, give us a quick summary of where you currently do your gaming, and your favourite game series!

Stephen Brown: Hello and thank you for having me; I’m Stephen, and currently do all my gaming on my Nintendo Switch. However, I do have a PlayStation 5 on pre-order, so it won’t be long until I expand my gaming experience further past Nintendo. I am very well suited to this conversation, as my favourite game series is Pokémon! The very first game I ever played was Pokémon Gold for the Game Boy Colour, and since then I have been hooked with the series. I’ve always loved the fact that there are so many different Pokémon, and that when new Pokémon are revealed they become the instant favourite for someone, perhaps such as for the long-awaited Galarian Slowking we saw in this video!

WR: Thanks for that! Without further ado, then; prior to the airing of the Expansion Pass Updates today, which content were you hoping to see?

SB: I was expecting an in-depth announcement about The Crown Tundra DLC pack, similar to the trailer we got for The Isle of Armor earlier this year, opening up with Galarian Slowking to mirror the reveal of Galarian Slowbro for the latter. Then, panning shots of the area, with a sprinkling of the returning Pokémon, followed by more details on new mechanics such as the Dynamax Adventures and Galarian Star Tournament. Furthermore, I was hoping for it to end with a closer look at the new Legendary Pokémon Calyrex, hinting to their role, and then a release date. I would say we definitely got the majority of that, and more, all within this almost 11 minute video.

WR: That covers it quite well – and then there was me, with my prediction of Candice returning from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum because we have a snowy setting and the presence of Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, reminding me of Snowpoint City! Which, actually, in a way, I actually got correct with her appearance in the music video that ended the Updates! Presented by The Pokémon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, we opened into a new trailer for The Crown Tundra, and immediately got those landscape shots of the Wild Area free-roam setting – I am drawn to this sort of cold, atmospheric environment, and am therefore excited to explore it. You?

SB: Well, indeed, we did get to see Candice – so you were technically right! Maybe we should add Galar and Sinnoh being connected to copious piles of Pokémon fan theories that are out there! Yes, the snowy setting and variety of ancient, mysterious buildings/temples are a big appeal. I can’t wait to explore all the new areas and find hidden TMs or a Hyper Potion tucked away in some secret corner. I wonder if we’ll see the return of finding Diglett, which was part of the Isle of Armor Pack. There could be another 150 Diglett to find!

WR: Or perhaps 150 hidden Vanillites? Find the ice creams! The more mystical vibe relative to Isle of Armor intrigues me, and ties into the clear emphasis on Legendary Pokémon for The Crown Tundra. We already knew there would be new Forms of the Kanto Legendary Birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, but now we know that every Legendary in the series is going to be available upon this release!

SB: Oh now that would be cruel, but also so satisfying to complete; Vanillite was designed by the Art Director for Sword and Shield, James Turner, so that would be a nice Easter Egg. Yes, it seems that with the introduction of new Legendaries, Regional Forms, and the Dynamax Adventures, The Crown Tundra is going to be focused on giving players the opportunity to catch various Legendary Pokémon. I wonder if this is the role of new character Peony; some kind of Legendary Pokémon expert? I also noticed that there is a shot where the player runs up to a cliff edge and we see Galarian Articuno in the overworld flying away into the horizon. Do you think this could hint at the return of roaming Legendaries?

WR: I’m not sure… It is possible, but could also be a one-off moment. Chasing them around the area could be a fun new twist on the roaming Legendary Pokémon though, yeah! Here I shall express my concern of whether including all these Legendary Pokémon is going to act as a distraction from a lack of content elsewhere; I am not going to judge before I play, and I hope that it is not the case. There is spectacle to the returning Legendary Pokémon, which ideally are backed up by longevity in other areas and don’t seem to be covering up deficiencies, which was an issue with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. We haven’t seen much of the main narrative yet – it could be that they are holding quite a bit back still.

SB: True, it could be similar to Crystal, where you simply see Suicune at various points within the story and then battle at a certain point. However, with the Wild Areas and Pokémon appearing in the overworld, this could be a fresh take on roaming. No more tedious planning to enter the right area at the right time and then lock Pokémon into a battle with Mean Look! On the distribution of content, I think that’s a fair point to raise. It does seem as though including Legendaries is a shiny distraction for perhaps a shorter story; a reward for completing a 4 hour narrative that some will easily get through in one sitting, encouraging you to keep exploring the new area. Their inclusion could also be to make up for the lack of a National Pokédex, which still seems to be some peoples main hang up with these games (it’s been almost a year now people stop whining about it). The inclusion of Legendaries may be becoming a post game staple for Pokémon. We saw this in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, entering Ultra Space to catch them, and now we have Dynamax Adventures for Sword and Shield.

I’m really excited to try this out and team up with my friends for evenings of Dynamax Adventures

Stephen Brown

WR: Aha, another great segway into the next topic! It’s as if you’re doing it on purpose… So, yeah, Dynamax Adventures are a new addition to the Raid Battles of Sword and Shield. They make Raid Battles into more of a dungeon-crawling mode, where you go up against consecutive battles in a row to either get to an end goal or even try the Endless mode! This is going to be a way to meet many Legendary Pokémon; it seems really fun, adding extra intrigue to the Raid Battles and offering even more ways to team up for multiplayer. I’m glad they are expanding this side of the experience – and it should offer a challenge too, as you go in with rental Pokémon!

SB: Definitely, I’m really excited to try this out and team up with my friends for evenings of Dynamax Adventures, in the hopes to catch epic Legendary Pokémon! Additionally, I think only using rental Pokémon for these adventures is a really clever move on Game Freak’s part. At first I was a bit shocked that – unlike regular Dynamax Raids – we couldn’t battle with our own Pokémon (who, let’s face it, are all probably Lv100 and EV trained by this point). However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. With Legendaries from all previous games coming back, and the idea that at this point players will have at least completed the main story, using rented Pokémon will allow Dynamax Adventures to remain a challenge and feel even more satisfying when you get to the end and capture a Legendary Pokémon. You won’t be able to go in with a team of Eternatus’ or other Legendaries to quickly sweep through with relative ease. I think it will add a layer of strategy and longevity to the new mechanic and stop people falling off of the DLC within a week.

WR: Yeah, that’s a great point, it’ll add lasting challenge to the Raids, and hopefully make them more similar to how the recent Mewtwo Raid was a really tough battle. It reminds me of the Battle Factory from Pokémon Platinum, too! You were hoping for a glimpse of Calyrex, and we got that, though we don’t know much on them yet.

SB: I thought about the Battle Factory as well (Gen4 Remakes Confirmed haha). Yeah, compared to the Isle of Armor and its Legendary Pokémon Kubfu, it seems that Calyrex is less pivotal to the storyline of The Crown Tundra, sharing the spotlight with the Regional Legendary Birds and the new Regieleki and Regidrago. It’s still too early to tell how Calyrex will affect the story, but with their being on the official logo artwork, it may well be a big role. I’m excited to find out more on the mysteries that surround Calyrex; how they interact with the player and other characters in the story.

WR: In terms of the narrative, there isn’t much else we know; you have mentioned Peony, but we are going to have to wait to find out more on him. There is a bunch of more intrinsic mechanical introductions as well, including the new Ability Patches that bring out the Hidden Abilities of Pokémon. This further opens up training options, which is an area Sword and Shield have put a clear focus on, for example with the Mints to change Natures. Personally, I am very excited for the new fashion items and League Card customisation options!

SB: The introduction of Ability Patches is going to contribute to shaking up the competitive meta game. Like you said, Sword and Shield did a lot to help get more players involved with online competitive battles. With the addition of Mints, Ability Patches, and new terrain setting moves – to name three – it’s now easier than ever to build up a strong team full of your favourites. Shiny hunters are probably rejoicing at the fact they will be able to give their special Pokémon Hidden Abilities. It does make me wonder how we will get this item. Will it be purchasable through Battle Points (BPs); some new Ore based item similar to Armorite Ore; or will this be a limited item with only 3 or so in the game, making it more critical a decision? The little additions of new fashion items and League Card options are great for keeping the game fresh, trying out new styles that show off your personality! One thing we can see from the trailer is that Peony has a Dynamax band, and appears to have a pre-battle animation screen, so it’s more than likely we will have to battle him at some point. I wonder if he will have a Gigantamax Pokémon as well; maybe G-Max Melmetal to help tie in the upcoming connectivity between Pokémon HOME and Pokémon GO.

WR: BP in exchange for Ability Patches would be okay with me, as I have so much to spend from my time with Shield! I imagine that we will indeed be battling Peony, and I hope that he is challenging. Was there any other details from this part of the video which stood out to you, or should we go on to the Galarian Star Tournament?

SB: Same here, I have an abundance of BP from all my time on Sword. Let’s go onto the Galarian Star Tournament, another new mechanic coming with this DLC where we can pair up with Pokémon Trainers from the core game and the DLC in 2-on-2 battles. Do you think there will be a reward for competing, or is it mainly a fun way to develop the lore of the characters? Also – I can probably guess – who are you going to pair up with for the Star Tournament?

WR: I mean for me, that extra lore is the reward! The characters in Sword and Shield are wonderful; finding out more details on them is a fantastic prospect! Hopefully, there are various different combos of characters, with it taking quite a few goes to hear all the different dialogue. Personally, I am confident that there will be other prizes as well, for example perhaps items or awards for your Pokémon. Of the characters we have seen in the Galarian Star Tournament so far, Marnie is the one I am going to be prioritising teaming up with. Though, I am still hoping for appearances from other regions too… Do you know who you are going to pair up with?

The characters in Sword and Shield are wonderful; finding out more details on them is a fantastic prospect!

William Robinson

SB: I couldn’t agree more! I love reading the League Cards you get from the other trainers, learning about their personality and goals. Same here, I think there shall definitely be a variety of combos, which will unlock new dialogue for already established pairings. Marnie and Piers, Melony and Gordie, Bede and Opal, Hop and Leon, Leon and Raihan, Leon and Mustard, Leon and Sonia… Leon sure does get around for someone who’s constantly late and bad with directions haha! Oh! I hadn’t thought about other regions, that’s a good point, we could have something similar to Pokémon World Tournament in Black 2 and White 2; if so, that would be pretty awesome! On the other hand, I do think because it’s called the Galarian Star Tournament and not the World Star Tournament we might just be limited to those from Sword and Shield. For me, I’m most excited about teaming up with Bede or Opal and using my all Fairy team with theirs!

WR: You reckon Professor Sonia is going to be in the pairings? It’d be great, but I doubt that. Having so many options for battling characters again is one of the endearing aspects of Sword and Shield, and this is an emphasis on that. I imagine you are correct on the characters in Galar being the only ones participating, but hey, I can dream right?

SB: You’re right, I was just pointing out how many pairings you could get with just Leon and someone else – he’s a popular guy! Maybe we shall see a return of Sordward and Shielbert, the post-game antagonists with the, um, unique hairstyles? You certainly can dream, and there isn’t anything to say trainers from other regions couldn’t join the tournament; we may have even seen a hint to this in the music video that premiered at the end of the presentation. After this, we found out that The Crown Tundra comes out on October 23rd in the UK, and the 22nd in other parts of the world. We also learned that a physical copy of Sword and Shield with the DLC included will be available on 6th November. I’m curious to see how well it does in terms of sales, and if it will be enough to help boost Sword and Shield‘s overall sales positioning. It’s currently the third best selling Pokémon game, after recently overtaking the sales of Diamond/Pearl/Platinum.

WR: I’m glad; the 22nd gives a decent amount of time to play before the many releases in November, with the new consoles and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. I can now put aside time to play The Crown Tundra! I really hope it builds upon Isle of Armor; the first DLC was very enjoyable as a base platform for them to progress with new ideas. I may be disappointed if they don’t continue to innovate with The Crown Tundra. In retrospect, how did you find Isle of Armor?

SB: Don’t forget Pikmin 3 Deluxe comes out the following week! I’m glad it’s not a new Pikmin game, otherwise I would be torn on which to play. Considering that Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra were announced together as a package, it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t get anything too different from one to the other and the parties involved use the two to test the waters for future endeavors. However, I could be wrong; there is still so little we know about The Crown Tundra and the potential surprise features, such as how in Isle of Armor there was the return of Pokémon following you in the overworld. Isle of Armor was not only challenging at points, it was also packed with cool details and great humour to get you invested. As well as this, the story really helped me build up a bond with Kubfu. If I had been given them as a Mystery Gift, as with other Pokémon in previous games, I wouldn’t have battled with them as much or struggled over which form of Urshifu to choose. There were definitely some aspects that felt a bit tedious, mainly the fetch quests, but overall I really enjoyed Isle of Armor and I think that’s down to it being a DLC as apposed to a repackaged Sword and Shield with added content.

WR: For me, Pikmin 3 Deluxe isn’t a game I shall purchase, as I have played the Wii U original. There are so many other games to play – I am confident I shall be busy either way! After this, we got the news of the distribution of Ash’s Pikachu with 8 separate hats, the first of which can be downloaded now with the code P1KACHUGET! I’ll continue on past this soon, and onto the Pokémon HOME and Pokémon GO news, but a quick word on this? Excited?

SB: I actually found out that there are two Cap Pikachus now available; the second one is through the code 1CH00SEY0U, and both are available now until November 30th. Honestly, I’m not that excited as I already got all these Cap Pikachus when they did a similar distribution for Gen 7, with the exception of the new World Cap Pikachu that reflects the cap Ash wears in the latest anime. Either way, I will be getting them again because who can resist a unique, free Pikachu!

WR: Right, onto the next part of the video, where we got news of Pokémon HOME now being compatible to connect with Pokémon GO, allowing you to send over Pokémon from the mobile game. Yet, there are caveats. It is confirmed that after sending over Pokémon, there is then an allotted time you have to wait before being allowed to send over more, unless you pay with PokéCoins, which does seem unnecessary and monetary-minded. Is there a reason for this other than creating extra financial gain?

I imagine this has ruffled a few feathers for all the avid Pokémon GO players out there.

Stephen Brown

SB: The only reason I can think is to stop a flood of Pokémon ascending onto the HOME servers and overwhelming them. Remember GO is one of the most successful and longest-running Pokémon apps, with people having collections ranging in the thousands. If everyone tried to upload all of those in one sitting, I can see it causing a lot of technical issues. So, it could purely be from a logistics point of view, with the addition of money-making on the side. Who knows.

WR: But in that case, why allow it at all? Monetisation doesn’t need to be there. It appears really dodgy to me; do they really need another source of income? The aspect of how many Pokémon could be making the journey over from GO I get, but how they are implementing the restrictions is the side I do not agree with; it isn’t a pro-consumer move.

SB: It is really bizarre, especially with the changes they made when lockdown began, allowing players to keep playing from inside their quarantined homes. However, from what I hear, they have been making some strange decisions, turning some players off the app completely. Most notably, the Mega Evolution mechanic being overly tedious and complicated, all for a one-use battle boost. I think if sending over Pokémon was entirely monetary then I’d have a real issue with it. Again, as someone who’s not played the game in over a year, it doesn’t really affect me – but I imagine this has ruffled a few feathers for all the avid Pokémon GO players out there.

WR: Indeed, and now taking away the alterations they introduced so players could play at home seems badly timed, as it isn’t as though we’re all allowed back out… I shall say I am excited to finally get Melmetal, though, which is possible after sending Pokémon over to HOME from GO. I also have a certain friend who can send me them… I wonder who, aha! The Gigantamax form is awesome, appearing in a liquid metal style; with my favourite type being Steel, this is exciting for me. We were informed that the HOME/GO functionality is going to happen this year, too!

SB: Yeah, as of October, Pokémon GO will get rid of the changes they implemented… Let’s hope they decide to go back on that decision. Haha, I wonder who this friend is, I have a feeling they may have a few Meltans spare for you! Another Steel type for you to play with, and a new Gigantamax form as well! We were shown Gmax Melmetal earlier this year by accident in a Pokémon Showcase in Japan, but since then its appearance in the game has been a mystery. You couldn’t even transfer over a Melmetal and feed it Max Soup on the Isle of Armor to give it Gigantamax capabilities. I’ll be interested to see if they fix this with an update, or if we will have to find some new Max ingredient to allow Melmetal to Gigantamax, maybe Max Metal or Max Cake!

WR: The presentation was not over though, because we ended on my personal highlight, the “GOTCHA!” by BUMP OF CHICKEN music video that celebrated the history of Pokémon, with appearances from many different characters and a delightful art and music direction; BONES Animation Team were involved! It includes Jasmine, so yeah, it’s amazing.

SB: It was a brilliant and fun video celebrating the history of Pokémon, packed full of fan favourites from all the regions, and also celebrated the current generation of Pokémon with a big focus on Galar near the end half of the video. Previously, I mentioned that characters from other games might be returning, and we may have gotten a hint to this; at the end of the video, we see two billboards with Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra landscapes depicted on them. In addition, on the billboards closest to us, the Battle Subway Duo Ingo and Emmet appear on the left and on the right we see Nita, Evelyn, Dana and Morgan from the Battle Maison. Both of those locales have a focus on chain and double battles, so do we think we will see those characters appear in the Galarian Star Tournament?

WR: I’m not sure, that is possible, and would be really fun to see! Pokémon has such a wonderful history, and I hope they lean into that more and more. Seeing all the characters in that video was just delightful, and it is no surprise to me that the physical single is selling very well! It is tempting to get it…

SB: My opinion is that it would be great to see them – and possibly other characters – return in a Battle Tree-style way, and that could be a secret we don’t learn about until the release of The Crown Tundra. We know with the success of Pokémon Masters that players love seeing trainers from all regions come together to compete in customisable teams; it would be great to see that reflected in the main series games. The physical edition is tempting, I wonder if that will ever come with some great big poster with all the trainers from the video featured – that would be epic!

Pokémon has such a wonderful history, and I hope they lean into that more and more.

William Robinson

WR: Maybe with the success of “GOTCHA!”, they shall make extra merchandise around it. I really appreciate the detail and references that went into the music video. It was a fantastic way to finish this presentation – I eagerly await October 23rd! We’ve covered most of the info now, so I’ll end with this: in your opinion, is this the end of the DLC plan for Sword and Shield? I personally don’t see them doing another DLC, with focus going on to the 2021 game; perhaps you see it differently.

SB: I could see extra merchandise happening – for now, though, I’m happy about the success of the music video and all the amazing references and detailed shots that capture the heart of the Pokémon series. In my opinion, another set of DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield isn’t out of the question. If we combine the success of this DLC set and the fact that next year is Pokémon‘s 25th Anniversary, I think we could potentially get one or two more DLC packs quite early on in 2021, around February 27th, Pokémon Day. The rest of the year could be dedicated to the Pokémon Unite rollout, a summer release of Pokémon Snap 2, and then a mainline game, remake, or something else later in the year. All I know is that next year is definitely going to be packed filled with some great Pokémon content, and I can’t wait to see it!

WR: Don’t forget Pokémon Sleep, aha! February seems a bit soon for DLC in this vein, but perhaps it is dependent on how The Crown Tundra does. Either way, yes, I am excited for future Pokémon releases! This seems a fitting place and sentiment to end on, so unless you have any other comments, we’ll close out here.

SB: Ah yes, Sleep! I’m sure we will get further info on Sleep and more unique Pokémon app ideas soon. Nope, I think we’ve covered everything; hopefully we’ll now see a steady stream of short trailers as we run up to the release date of The Crown Tundra. I’m already super excited, and can’t wait to embark on another adventure!

WR: Awesome, thanks for joining me!

SB: Thank you for having me! It’s been great discussing Pokémon with you, and I hope your readers enjoy our thoughts.


Here we are, in the end segment of a Let’s Chat article once again! For official info on the Expansion Pass for Pokémon Sword and Shield, then you can go to this link. For more Let’s Chat articles, you can go here. I hope you have an awesome day!

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Review

Developed by: Guerrilla Games
Published by: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: Out Now


Horizon Zero Dawn‘s major DLC expansion delivers more of what made the action adventure so compelling to begin with – beautiful environments, visceral action, and an engaging story about woman and machine (you can read my review here). The Frozen Wilds also makes subtle but noticeable improvements on weaker areas of the base game, which bodes well for the inevitable sequel.


A Cut Above

The Frozen Wilds is set in The Cut, a brand new addition to the north of the map. As we know from popular culture, heading north often means cold, harsh conditions, and it is no different here. Horizon is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where sentient machines caused widespread devastation and led to the human race essentially hitting the reset button; The Frozen Wilds introduces a new handful of these imposing robot dinosaurs, and the linear path up to The Cut forces an encounter with one straight off the bat.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20180125220942

This is the Scorcher, to be precise – a machine that is ferocious at close range and can produce devastating bursts of fire. Even the players who are experts with the the way combat works in Horizon will find a big challenge here, especially when multiple machines are attacking at once later on. Whilst the recommended level for entry was 35 (the previous cap was 50, which is raised to 60 in this DLC), even my lv50 Aloy struggled at times. Another introduction is a machine based on a polar bear, which can unleash consecutive melee attacks that leave Aloy reeling. The added challenge is welcome for those who had perhaps gotten too comfortable with the cycle of strategic combat.

A big draw of Horizon was not only the gameplay but the intriguing story that was interwoven in; the Banuk were a tribe that were involved at times, mainly though the enigmatic Sylens, who assists Aloy at crucial points. They remained mysterious, though – however, The Cut is the residence of the Banuk, and reveals a lot about them. The overarching plot does little to deviate massively from what Guerrilla presented in the main story, with dangerous machines populating the freezing mountain known as Thunder’s Drum due to a hostile AI.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20180131170139

It’s what The Frozen Wilds gives you within that structure that supplements what came before. Aratak, the Banuk Chieftain, and Ourea, who discovers a friendlier AI, are the most developed side characters and provide the main emotional payoff, but the Banuk tribe is full of other perspectives and troubles that Aloy can help with. It’s like learning a different culture – one quest requires finding missing hunters that didn’t return from a survival ritual, and dealing with the morality of saving them when they think their failure makes their lives void. Other quests teach you about new materials and techniques, adding slight variety to gameplay whether it is spear modifications or a new flamethrower weapon. Horizon was already good at giving you side quests that weren’t just busywork, but felt unique and worthwhile, and The Frozen Wilds continues this.


Ice, Ice, Aloy

The mini-open-world addition that is The Cut is full of notable things to do. Some are changed-up versions of what came before, such as a Tallneck machine which needs putting back together. Others are new additions, like the Control Towers that repair nearby machines. The latter is one of the better introductions, as it makes you think about new approaches; if you sneak in and disable the tower first, the ensuing battle will be much easier. The Frozen Wilds is at its best at times like these, where it is ever-so-slightly changing up the the gameplay while sticking true to what made Horizon one of the gaming highlights of 2017.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20180201210233

It’s the little things that you notice, as well. In my original review of Horizon, I noted the animation as sometimes looking a bit stiff in conversations. The Frozen Wilds features exchanges where characters look more natural – swaying, using hand motions, and pacing as they express emotion. It makes everything a little more believable, and is a good sign that Guerrilla know what to improve for the sequel that they are surely working hard on.

It’s just a shame that not everything can be magically fixed in DLC. The timing of Horizon Zero Dawn‘s release – so close to the groundbreaking Zelda: Breath of the Wild – emphasised the clunkiness of traversal when ascending more awkward, mountainous environments. The Frozen Wild‘s snowy world is full of these areas, awkwardly limiting where you can and can’t go. At one point, I got lost in The Hunting Grounds of The Cut just because a small wall was blocked for me; one issue with being given another chunk of the same game is that you have more time to examine the intricacies of how it works – flaws and all.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20180123151440

Then again, it is saved to a degree by the stupendous beauty all around you. Even by Horizon‘s already-high standards, The Cut provides another level of technical achievement. You’re either journeying through tranquil, crisp white sheets of snow, or you’re being battered by relentless blizzards that block out everything further than a few feet in front of Aloy. In the spirit of Horizon, this is mixed in with the remnants of the old world, like the massive, frozen dam in the centre of The Cut; in both art direction and raw technical prowess, Horizon remains at the pinnacle of games as an art form.


Final Thoughts

The 8-ish hours it took me to get through the majority of The Frozen Wilds gave me a strong sense of closure. There is enough DNA from the base game to keep it feeling familiar, but also enough new ideas – and considerable challenge – to make playing through the entirety of the DLC both justifiable and enjoyable. Learning new bits and pieces of info about the events of Horizon act as a neat epilogue, but also set up what might come in the future; just like being reminded of some weak points raise the excitement for what an improved Horizon sequel could achieve.

9/10

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Injustice 2’s DLC Approach is Losing this DC Fan

Despite not really being a fan of fighting games – other than Super Smash Bros.Injustice 2 became one of my favourite games of 2017. A noticeable effort went into making it a game that appealed to people like me; there is an exceptional story picking up where the original Injustice: Gods Among Us left off, and the Multiverse supplies endless replayability for solo players who don’t want to get destroyed online. A lot of my gaming time went into that game last year, maxing out my favourite characters like Green Arrow and getting new gear for them. With the long tail of DLC characters coming, I could see myself playing Injustice 2 for a long, long time. Yet, the DLC strategy has sadly failed to retain my interest.

Let’s be clear here – I’m a huge fan of DC and their characters, which is another major draw of the Injustice series for me. Having that investment before even starting the game gives Injustice 2 a big advantage compared to the likes of Street Fighter or Tekken, which are very foreign worlds to me. Using Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, or even side characters like Robin give an extra level of enjoyment to my time with the game, especially as the history of the characters is used brilliantly in opening exchanges and mid-fight clashes.

Batgirl

The concept of DLC opened up more possibilities in my mind for characters they could introduce. Once we got to see the silhouettes of the hidden characters, that only added fuel to the fire (check out this Jeremy Jahns video to see I’m not the only one), with some characters being clear – only Black Manta has a head shaped quite like that – but others bring more ambiguous. I was quite hoping to see major DC personalities like Batgirl (DLC in the first Injustice) or Shazam return, after being noticeably cut in the transition from the first game. Also, with Injustice 2 already introducing many side characters that have rose to prominence in the CW TV “Arrowverse”, maybe Killer Frost or Arsenal would be sweet additions.

With my Deluxe Edition of the game, I got the first DLC Pack of 3 fighters included. This meant Red Hood, Sub-Zero, and the highlight, Starfire. Red Hood was ultimately quite a generic, ranged weapons-focused fighter, and sort of just another version of the Robin persona. Sub-Zero was a character from Mortal Kombat, and a reference to the origins of developers NeatherRealm. I had very little enthusiasm for him, but it was a one-off; it was fine, and some fan service for fans of that series. Starfire was the pick of the bunch, a reference to the beloved Titans (a group of younger superheroes, including Nightwing and Wally West). Her space-faring powers were something we hadn’t quite seen before, and she brought a colourful look with her to Injustice 2. Starfire was the only character I played with of these 3, despite having access to all of them – and that was the start of my interests waning.

DLC Pack 2 was another step down in my eyes. Again, I see the appeal to fans of having Hellboy in Injustice, I really do, and my personal happiness with the DLC choices doesn’t have to reduce the enjoyment other gamers have with the game. My point here is that Injustice 2 did such a good job to bring in new players with the accessible story, solo game modes, and perhaps most importantly, the DC affiliation. I feel the DLC forgot that. We got Black Manta – shock, eh? – and Raiden, who are two neat characters, but not top-tier names of DC in my eyes. Now DLC Pack 3 has also been confirmed, including Enchantress (recently seen as a belly-dancing Cara Delevigne in the film Suicide Squad), Atom, and… the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? What?

TMNT

Look, don’t shoot me, but I am indifferent to the Turtles – though I recognise their cultural significance and the massive fanbase around the property. But again, the DLC pack is being led by a non-DC character(s), when the DC property is a big reason why I came to love this game so much in the first place. It must be said that Atom is a great choice, being prominent in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – though Enchantress is, like a Black Manta, more of a lesser-known character. I would be all for the more obscure choices if there weren’t gaps in the roster of big-hitters. No Shazam? No Nightwing?

I’ve been meaning to get back to Injustice 2 for a while. The Legendary Multiverse was a superb extension of the base Multiverse mode, giving you (frankly ridiculous) long-term tasks for each character. The reward for the commitment is extra special gear, and completing this with Green Arrow or Supergirl was appealing for me. I also have yet to 100% the Story Mode – but I’m just not finding myself booting up Injustice 2. The DLC should have been a sure-fire way to keep the attention of those who came for the DC characters, but the focus has instead moved to crossovers with other series. Knowing your audience is a crucial part of the success of any product, and Injustice 2 has lost its way a little bit for this small segment of that audience; I can confidently say that I am in the minority by saying that I’m not overjoyed that the Turtles took one of the 9 DLC slots. Come on, though, wouldn’t Batgirl have been cool?


You may have an urge to tell me I am wrong after reading this. If so, you can leave me a comment below!