X-Morph Defense is one of the best hybrid genres of recent times and for its first major DLC, European Assault, EXOR Studios have done a decent job.
European Assault runs parallel to the events of the base game and sees players once again assume the role of the X-Morph alien species, blowing lots of teeny tiny humans up as they drive around in their tanks and fly around in choppers.
As always, the effects and environmental damage are stunning, it’s as fast-paced as ever, everything flows nicely and most importantly, it immediately escalates the challenge so that it will be a real test for seasoned players.
And yet, it all feels a bit too familiar.
Well, yes, but I guess that’s the point as the DLC pack is purely three new campaign missions to wade through as you try to protect your core in Finland, Holland and Paris. Each one needs to be unlocked in set order, though, so you’ll have to play them the way the game wants you to. Perhaps, because the enemy has adapted slightly and has some new surprises for you.
For instance, in Finland the humans will fire a frostbite cannon. This is used to freeze the X-Force towers, rendering them completely useless. And as you can imagine, without towers, your core will quickly get overrun.
If you can somehow gut that out, though, later on in the waves the enemies will go one step further and use air support to blow the towers up completely once they’re ice solid. So it’s up to you to try and defend them as well as your core, otherwise you’ll need to rebuild. If you can stay alive.
And as you’ve probably seen on the store page, there’s a massive tank late on which absolutely decimates the Eiffel Tower. To be honest, it’s a surprise EXOR showed this off as that’s probably the biggest highlight of all the content and quite a sight to see up close and in person.
But for me, that’s where European Assault shines is in creating these full-scale, epic confrontations, battles and wars really well. Each wave is going to be an edge of your seat affair. You’ll never be quite sure if you’re going to make it to the other side. Even on the easiest possible difficulty settings, European Assault is a challenge. It’s almost too hard.
Each campaign plays out as you’d expect. Fight waves of tanks, buggies, massive cannons and aerial troops. Place lots of towers of varying properties, set up laser fences to make the human forces go the longest route possible and fire on everything twin-stick shooter style. The core of X-Morph Defense is still very much in-tact.
I guess my issue is, seeing as the enemies got some new upgrades, it would have been cool for the X-Morph to have some of their own. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the case, and you’re still saddled with the same bells and whistles for both defense and offense as before.
So there’s nothing new at all?
Well, that’s not entirely true. The environments do provide a somewhat refreshing aesthetic and offer some nice tactical advantages with the night lights of Finland, the water and windmills to weave around in Holland and the open roads in Paris.
Each campaign stage offers some really gorgeous visuals, but some equally crazy action possibilities with opportunities for a wildfire to spread and routes be blocked. It all blends into the chaos.
And of course the game now has the Survival Mode as a free update, though for some reason you can’t use the new levels even if you own the content. Right now, you only have the option for Canada, Russia, USA, Mexico, and Egypt. This is a weird exclusion.
Same as the European Assault campaign, each stage also needs to be unlocked by acquiring a bronze medal on the one previous, so you can’t just pick and choose. Survival Mode does offer a nice change of pace, though.
Once you start the game each wave is on a 30 second timer, so you’ve got little time to think or plan ahead. You’ll just need to slap down towers, put up a few fences and hope for the best.
And you can also access additional community levels via the menu screen now, so there are certainly new things to check out with X-Morph Defense, in addition to this content. It’s just very difficult to shake the sense of ‘more of the same’ while playing European Assault, which is completely fine in principle, but I also like to see a DLC bring something dynamic and new to freshen up the gameplay.
While Survival is a great mode and the Community Features give you so much more to do in-game, I can’t really count the inclusion of either here seeing as they’re free upgrades and not actually part of the paid package.
European Assault is an absolutely fine piece of DLC if your expectations are more of the same, but tougher challenges, slight changes in enemy strategy, a few new powerful prototype weapons to compete against, and some additional narrative context.
However, if you’re in the market for more, like new upgrades, gameplay tweaks, and environmental evolutions, this is probably going to disappoint you.
X-Morph Defense: European Assault does great battles really well, it will have you sweating bullets with its brutal difficulty and diehard fans will almost certainly appreciate all of the narrative links. It just feels a little bit safe and EXOR Studios probably could and should have aspired for more.
+ Epic scope battles and great prototype weapons for the enemy
+ Cool narrative links
+ Hard as nails
+ Very samey
+ No gameplay tweaks or upgrades for player
+ New stages can’t be played in Survival
X-Morph Defense: European Assault DLC
7 out of 10
Tested on PC
Code provided by the publisher