When Future Soldier released back in May, I thought its multiplayer was fun. Despite being similar to other online experiences, enough of the unique single player formula was injected into the multiplayer game to keep it from being derivative. With the Arctic Strike DLC, Ubisoft is hoping to provide enough new content to extend the life of the multiplayer and have fans coming back for more.
Arctic Strike includes three new multiplayer maps (Riot, Evicted, and Skyline), one new Guerilla mode map (Arctic Base), a new multiplayer mode (Stockade), an increased level cap, six new weapons, and new achievements. Personally, I think the title “Arctic Strike” is a little misleading for this DLC because you are only getting one snow-covered map: the Guerilla map. Other multiplayer maps actually take place in the streets of Moscow or on enormous skyscrapers. While the Russian setting certainly can be identified as “arctic”, I was expecting at least one multiplayer map in the snow. The multiplayer maps themselves are big and expansive affairs allowing for diverse and open combat for all three classes.
“Riot” takes place in the streets of Moscow where vehicles litter the open roads and tight corners are lined with rubble. The middle of the map provides a great chokepoint where teams can get trapped inside long buses fighting for survival; the outer areas of the map sacrifice sniper vantage points for close encounters inside of small buildings. Out of all the new maps “Riot” feels like the smallest and because of that it has certain spots that hold tactical advantages for the most combat. “Evicted” continues the Moscow theme in a residential area with a creepy abandoned playground and plenty of apartment buildings to take cover behind. The map caters to players who like taking cover behind terrain and sneaking around to attack an enemy from behind. I had a lot of fun playing the map but at times got a little lost because of how big it was. If you don’t stay with your team you might find yourself wandering around the map and stumble into a scout trying to keep hidden and snipe from a distance. “Skyline” was my favorite map out of the three not only because of how cool it looked but also how the multi-level setup allowed for various styles of play. Sticking with your team is essential on this map because the enemy could be anywhere whether it is off in the distance aiming for your head or right around the corner. “Skyline” is one of the biggest maps the game has to offer and by implementing different paths to complete objectives makes it one of the best. The Guerilla map is what you would expect out of the mode; it’s big and has several places for your team to strategically defend the HQ. If you are a fan of this mode then you will appreciate another map to experiment with but it is hard to understand why this also couldn’t have been included as a normal multiplayer map.
Stockade is the new multiplayer mode that is basically like a team deathmatch game with elimination elements in it. In Stockade when you die you are put in the “stockade” which is basically a respawn queue and can’t be released until someone on your team kills another enemy or completes an objective. The goal is to completely eliminate the other team before time runs out and in the result of a tie points are used to pick a winner. Stockade isn’t the most complicated mode in the world but it can be fun. The balance of power can shift frequently if people are playing smart. The “objective” that appears is basically a point you capture to instantly respawn your entire team while also activating a map-wide radar that reveals the location of the opposing team. Objective points are intense fights for survival especially if your side is down to a couple people but can turn hopeless if only one person is left and they are underequipped. What would have made Stockade even better was if it had blended other modes into it like capture the flag or control points.
The other new additions aren’t much to talk about. Don’t get too excited about the chance at getting lots of achievements because you are only getting two (and they won’t take long). The new weapons are okay. Each class gets two new primary weapons (one for each faction) but whether or not they will replace the ones you have been working with for a couple months is up to personal preference. Curiously, there were no new secondary weapons, attachments, or items that I noticed. The increased level cap will take you from level 50 to level 60 but getting there isn’t going to get you anything but bragging rights. This would have been the perfect opportunity to unlock some new items or, at the minimum, additional achievements but no great rewards seem to come with getting any class up to level 60.
Overall, Arctic Strike adds a decent amount of content but it is a shame that most of it is delegated to the multiplayer. Things like increased level cap, new achievements, and new guns make for great selling points on the surface but do little to add to the value of the total package. There is a possibility that Ubisoft could patch in some new unlocks for raising your level but only time will tell on that.
The biggest question is whether or not you are going to get your money’s worth by purchasing this new content. For many, that value is going to be reflected in how much fun you get out of the multiplayer and how worthwhile new maps and one new mode are. Personally, I think $10 is a little steep especially when you have probably paid upwards of $60 for the game itself. If you never play Guerilla mode then the new map is worthless to you. What you are ultimately paying for are the three new multiplayer maps and the one new mode because the other additions are hollow—even the increased level cap will only excite the most hardcore player because it doesn’t add any unlocks. What would have made the DLC worth more would have been the addition of a new class or even a new single player level just to make it seem more than just a map pack with a few bonuses. I can’t help but think of how the same week Arctic Strike was released, Mass Effect 3 received a new DLC that added maps, characters, and guns and had all of that content available for free. Suffice it to say: unless you are a hardcore Future Soldier player then you might be a little hesitant to get this DLC for the money.
Based on all of these factors does Arctic Strike add more life to a relatively new multiplayer experience? At first glance, yes. The new maps are a lot of fun, the new mode has potential, and even raising the level cap could unlock rewards in the future. As it stands, though, with or without the DLC Future Soldier remains the same game with few new additions. In no way do I believe this is going to be the last piece of DLC for the game but Ubisoft could have set an amazing precedent by adding just a bit more for your money. Adding a new character class would have been a great way to change the way people played; the same can be said for new equipment and secondary weapons. Instead of adding just another Guerilla mode map they could have added new Wave Streaks to change up the formula a bit. And just because I enjoyed the single player so much I really wish there had been a new stage no matter how long or short. It is more than likely that all of these issues will be addressed in the future with both paid and free downloads. Until that point, however, I would only suggest getting Arctic Strike if you can’t get enough of Future Soldier’s online experience and want a few new different ways to play.