Man, the feel good hit of the summer has been 4A Games' "Metro: Last Light," hasn't it? What's cheerier or more lighthearted than a group of scrappy Ukrainians, beset upon by harsh winter and hobbled by government corruption, releasing a tense, oppressive game set in an nightmarish, radiation-blighted hellscape, and then porting it to Mac and Linux? That's like a tall glass of lemonade.
And, man, nothing says sunshine and puppy dog tails like giant, mutated, carnivorous spiders, which exactly what we can expect to find in the "Metro: Last Light Developer Pack" DLC.
The upcoming "Developer" downloadable content -- the third of four planned packs after the "Faction" and "Tower" sets -- comes in three parts: a shooting range, a solo mission to the Spider's Lair area, and an in-game museum. The mission is likely the main draw here. Described by the team as "pure survival horror, 'Metro' style," here's a synopsis:
Awaking unarmed, with only your lighter and compass, you must escape the murky depths of the Spider’s Lair – a forsaken Missile Silo that has become infested with arachnids.
Light and fire become your weapons – the latter provided by a new addition to the 'Metro' arsenal, the hand-pumped Flamethrower…
Growing up in the rural South, I had a healthy fear of spiders. Black widows and brown recluses were common enough in closets and shoeboxes, so I was always on the look out. Now, I've just kind of resigned myself to the writing spiders that live in eaves above my porch and in my basement. Still, I'm not exactly thrilled about facing off sure-to-be mutated spiders with nothing but a gas mask and a Bic lighter.
Oh, and in addition to constantly scavenging for air filters for your gas mask -- an old habit for "Metro" veterans by now -- your new-fangled flamethrower will also require fuel. Happy hunting.
The other neat part of the "Developer" pack is its shooting range. A post on the official "Metro" blog explains that the new shooting range is actually a salvaged and re-purposed debugging level from early in "Last Light"'s development.
"[The test level] was a vast, abstract environment where new gameplay features, AI behaviour, art and tech changes could be quickly and easily demonstrated outside the narrative constraints of a campaign level," reads the blog.
"And at the centre of the Test level was the Gun Table, where every weapon in every possible configuration could be found and tested empirically for rate of fire, recoil, damage etc. against a row of endlessly re-spawning bullet fodder that lined the far wall."
Eventually, 4A realized that it was a neat thing to play around in, and the shooting range was born: a set of marksmanship tests against increasingly varied and complex groups of enemies.
My default appreciation for DLC is that it often provides a workshops for devs, giving them chances to be creative and risky without worrying about blown budgets or narrative constraings. We can see this in the new shooting range, but also in "Last Light"'s previous DLC: the "Tower" pack, for example, features free-form level design that would have never worked in the core game.
At $3.99, the "Developer" pack is a low-risk option for players, as well. Even if it sucks, the "Metro" DLC costs less than the pint of beer you'll use to wash the distaste out of your mouth. It'll be available on September 17th for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Mac. Previously-released DLC includes the "Factions" and "Tower" packs, while the "Chronicles" pack is planned for later this summer, all of which should be included in your Season Pass.
Joseph Leray is a freelance writer from Nashville. Follow him on Twitter