Sunset Overdrive, the silly new shooter from the creators of Ratchet & Clank, got its first story-based expansion today, The Mystery Of The Mooil Rig. The DLC adds a lot of great stuff to the game, and also brings some welcome improvements. Because it's so great, however, I wish there was more to it.
As the name suggests, Mooil Rig is a brand-new area that meshes imperfectly with the vibrantly chaotic open world of Sunset City. I say "imperfectly" because while the rig is technically integrated with the original game's setting, Sunset Overdrive creator Insomniac Games could have managed the addition with a bit more grace.
See, Mooil Rig is an offshore oil rig. Getting to it will cost you $US9.99, or $US19.99 with the season pass. But that's not all it will cost you -- it's a little annoying to access in the first place. When you download and install the DLC on your Xbox One, a new area will be added to Sunset City's map. See here:
For a point of comparison, here's a zoomed-out view of the whole map. Notice that I can't quite fit the whole thing into an entire screenshot:
Mooil Rig a sizable archipelago, teeming with gross monsters and festering piles of trash. It's beautiful, in its own way, much like the rest of Sunset City. And an oil rig is pretty much the perfect setting for Sunset Overdrive, given all the ways that a grungy industrial structure allows players to grind and bounce around with the game's uniquely wacky type of half-parkour, half-skateboarding movements.
What's frustrating about Mooil Rig is that while the new location is a joy to romp around in, it's cut off from the rest of Sunset City in an arbitrary and frustrating way. It's within reaching distance of the city -- so close that you can look out from either side and plot your course to it.
But if you try to leap into the water and swim straight to the rig, you'll run into this:
After wandering around in confusion for a little while, I finally realised that I needed to go trigger a specific quest-line if I wanted to gain access to Mooil Rig. The new mission begins with you meeting Troop Master Bryllcream, one of the main characters in Overdrive, who's stranded on a beach and about to be attacked by some bad guys. After taking them out, the two of you travel to the rig in a new flying mission.
On your way over, you encounter a gigantic sea monster. You can probably guess what you end up doing with the tentacled beast.
The reason the game gives you for travelling to Mooil Rig is that you're searching from Bryllcream's sister. Once you get there, you realise that the rig's distance from Sunset City hasn't spared it from the infection that took everyone else by storm. The whole place is teeming with monsters and gross-looking pink sacs. Again, you can probably guess what comes out of them.
As an expansion, then, The Mystery Of The Mooil Rig is not a weirdly disjointed experience like Shadow of Mordor's promising but ultimately disappointing new expansion is. Hell, there's even one mission in Mooil Rig that sends you back to the main city. But the fact that it is almost completely integrated with your main game makes that one last inch that Sunset Overdrive didn't go seem all the more bizarre.
Right before the start of that mission that sent me back to Sunset City, I stared across the water, admiring the pretty scenery for a moment before beginning my journey.
Once I began the mission, I tried to swim for it. My character kept hinting that maybe I should try to use the game's fast-travel feature instead. I ignored her. She insisted. Then, I ran into the wall again.
My character made a crack about how she's living in The Truman Show. I was reminded once again of everything that irritated me about Sunset Overdrive when I first played it for review: the irritating way this incredibly fun game shrugs at its own deficiencies, excusing them with lazy jokes and countless dated movie references. Hell, the new DLC even makes a joke about how its movie references are dated at one point.
Also like the original game, however, Mooil Rig was incredibly fun to play through once I learned to ignore its grating tone and less inspired qualities. While the new missions are small in number, they're all explosively bombastic and genuinely exhilarating. Much of the fun comes from the new setting itself, which is perfectly tangled and puzzle-like.
Mooil Rig quickly became one of my favourite parts of Sunset City to race around while shooting at monsters. It doesn't hurt that the new bad guys are pretty great, either. They're all watery, barnacle-covered versions of the enemies from the original game with the exception of the final boss, which called the "DL Sea Monster."
Heh. Anyways, killing the new baddies is a real joy. My favourite ones were the "oil poppers." Much like the original poppers, these are essentially giant angry pimples who charge at you, just waiting to be popped. Since they're filled with oil, however, their explosions have a fiery end. This makes Sunset Overdrive's already crazy moments seem even more over-the-top, since hordes of monsters are set ablaze every few seconds during tense firefights. There were many moments when the entire screen filled up with gooey insanity:
To give you a better sense of what the space is like, here's a clip of me playing through one early mission that charged my character with destroying the pink egg sacks peppered throughout the rig.
Things only get crazier from there on out. Mooil Rig is Sunset Overdrive at its finest in this regard.
If only it didn't end so soon. I completed the handful of new missions (both the main ones and two side-quests) in less than two hours. There are still a few traversal challenges left for me to complete on the rig. But like the ones in the original game, these challenges are just excuses to spend more time exploring the new terrain. It's a lot of fun to do that, of course. But that's where the arbitrary blockade between Sunset City and Mooil Rig starts to get annoying again. As a $US10 chunk of DLC, it's hard to say whether or not the new stuff is "worth it," because assessing that depends on how you feel about Sunset Overdrive to begin with. But for all its many pleasures The Mystery Of The Mooil Rig does feel rather slight.
The New Water Movements Are Great
Thankfully, despite Mooil Rig's relative brevity, the expansion also has some great new features that make the entire game better. Chief among these are the two new water-based movements, which Insomniac told me all Overdrive players will be getting regardless of whether or not they purchased the DLC. It used to be the case that whenever I wanted to move around in Sunset City's water for more than a few seconds, I'd end up flapping about helplessly in the water like some poor dog who hasn't learned how to swim yet. See here for a dramatic reenactment:
Now, thanks to new water-based movements, I'm much more graceful:
The update allows you to chain water-dashes together so you can cross greater distances without slowing down. That's very practical. The new dive-bombing ability is less so, but it's incredibly fun to use:
As this last GIF shows, the water dive-bomb also rockets you high enough in the air upon exit that you can easily start grinding along the edge of some landmass once you've given it enough practice.
Much like the new guns that Sunset Overdrive added in a weapon pack last month, these water movements make the game much more enjoyable to play. As a whole, The Mystery Of The Mooil Rig feels like a worthy addition to an already great game. And combined with last month's weapon pack, Overdrive's $US20 season pass seems like a solid deal for fans of the game.
It's nice to see that Insomniac is doing a great job improving upon its new game post-release like this. Doing so makes it a lot easier to take Stephen and Kirk's advice to get back into the game -- learn to tune out its unpleasant parts, and just have as much fun as you can. That's certainly what I've been doing, and I'm having a better time than ever.