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Aliens: Fireteam Elite – Pathogen DLC review for Xbox Series X, PS5, and PC


Platform: Xbox Series X
Also On: Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC
Publisher: Cold Iron Studios
Developer: Cold Iron Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-3
Online: Yes
ESRB: M

It’s been a while since I checked in on Aliens: Fireteam Elite, a game that I reviewed at launch, and really enjoyed at the time. So with the launch of the new Pathogen expansion, it seemed like a good time to jump back in, and I’ve spent the last couple of weeks running through the three new story missions, testing out the pre-expansion addition of crossplay, and just having a good time mowing down wave after wave of pesky Xenomorph. 

Priced at $14.99, the new Pathogen expansion for Aliens: Fireteam Elite gives you a good slice of new content, including the aforementioned story missions, which are meant to be played after you complete the core campaign. In addition to that, you’ll see new weapons, new attachments, new emotes, new outfits and headgear, new weapon skins, and a new class perk for each class in the game, which is meant to modify your main ability in a variety of ways. Lastly, the Pathogen expansion also introduces a new Hardcore mode, which is a separate save from your primary one that includes the possibilty of permadeath for a new character. 

While the new cosmetic customizations and emotes are OK, the real meat of this expansion is the new story missions and the new class perk. The story involves exploring a new Engineer site, in which Xenomorph’s are being infected with a left behind pathogen causing them to mutate into a slightly different form, which in turn the non-infected Xeno’s are battling against. There are no android enemies in these three story missions, and while there are certainly some differences between the infected Xeno’s and the standard ones, you’ll likely be employing much of the same tactics as before. The infected Xeno’s are slightly harder to kill, and hit harder as well, so you’ll want to make sure your gear level is up to the task before diving into the new content. 

That said, the story missions are pretty brief, but like the rest of Aliens: Fireteam Elite, these are meant to be played over and over in order to grind out experience and money for the various classes available. So the length isn’t extremely surprising going in, but worth noting if you’re wanting more than an additional hour or so of new story content. The story side of the new missions is also relatively light, told via voiceovers and bits of collectible info scattered about. Again, not super surprising considering that’s how the base campaign also worked. I still dig that this game tries to delve into the Prometheus side of Alien lore, and while the infected Xeno’s are new, their visual style does appear to be a nod of sorts to the Neomorph look from Alien: Covenant. 

The expansion also touts the first actual boss encounter for Aliens: Fireteam Elite thus far, which if you’re a fan of the films I doubt it’s going to be too tough to figure out what that fight is. It’s essentially making up for the final encounter in the campaign by actually allowing you to see and engage with the threat instead of running away, which is nice, and visually impressive. That said, the boss fight itself is kind of basic, and doesn’t really try to employ any unique mechanics other than focus your fire and shoot a lot, which sort of just makes it a tougher variation of the basic Xeno encounters. 

Lastly, while Hardcore mode is a cool addition for the people that want it, it wasn’t a mode that I felt particularly incentivized to play much of. Aliens: Fireteam Elite is so dependent on co-op play that unless you’re running with a dedicated squad, I’d imagine trying to progress far would be pretty frustrating. On the plus side, the Crossplay feature that was introduced prior to the Pathogen expansion works really well, so I really had no need to pair up with A.I. teammates to complete missions, and had little trouble finding other players randomly via matchmaking, even for the new stages. 

If you stepped away from Aliens: Fireteam Elite after launch, I’m not sure that the Pathogen expansion brings enough to the table to bring you back, but I can’t really argue that the $14.99 price point seems pretty fair considering all the extra stuff that comes along with the new, albeit short, story content. The new class perks are fun to play around with, giving you unique modifiers for your main special skill, most of which really boosts up your power level when paired with the right modifications. I certainly had some fun revisiting the game, and if you’ve been playing the game a fair amount up to this point, I can’t really see a reason not to pick up the DLC. Just temper your expectations when it comes to the new story missions and boss fight, which won’t blow you away in comparison to the main campaign. 

Note: Cold Iron Studios provided us with a Aliens: Fireteam Elite – Pathogen DLC Xbox code for review purposes.

Grade: B