Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct DLC Review | Introduces Jet-Pack, Time-Freezing Powers, and Massive Boss Fights

The decision to place one of Atomic Heart’s most eccentric side characters at the forefront of its inaugural DLC, Annihilation Instinct, is a stroke of ingenuity. Some of the main game’s most unforgettable moments were undoubtedly the interactions with NORA, the audacious Soviet AI that fueled the risqué and provocative upgrade machines scattered throughout Facility 3826. In this DLC, the narrative takes us beyond the rather underwhelming conclusions of the main campaign, immersing players in a conflict against NORA, who has now gone completely rogue. Unlike the dynamic nature of the main campaign, Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct steers towards a predominantly linear experience, spanning a few hours that, unfortunately, don’t leave a lasting impact. The DLC offers a trimmed-down arsenal of weaponry and power-ups, limiting its ability to carve out a unique identity.

Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct
(Image Credit: Google)

While the DLC might not quite match the innovation and excitement of the primary game, the choice to spotlight NORA’s escapades still adds a refreshing touch to the Atomic Heart universe. It’s a reminder that DLC content has the potential to expand upon a game’s lore and characters, even if the gameplay itself may not entirely live up to the same standard.

Delving Deeper into the Mystery: The Many Layers of Annihilation Instinct in Atomic Heart

In the world of Atomic Heart, the narrative expansion offered by “Annihilation Instinct” adds intriguing context to NORA’s attraction to the central character, P-3. While this insight may not be vital, it seamlessly integrates within the game’s established fiction. However, the handling of the multiple endings in Atomic Heart becomes a narrative challenge, with “Annihilation Instinct” needing to align itself with one of the possible outcomes, occasionally leading to confusion, especially for those who’ve experienced only one ending.

This narrative intricacy inadvertently shapes a peculiar asymmetry, where we, as players, possess knowledge about certain characters that P-3 himself doesn’t possess in this alternate timeline. This results from a crucial encounter that now appears to have never taken place, generating a unique narrative twist that may prove both intriguing and somewhat perplexing.

Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct
(Image Credit: Google)

At times, “Annihilation Instinct” strays into the realm of techno-babble, delving deeply into technical jargon that can occasionally leave players nodding along in politeness rather than comprehension. This immersive experience, much like explaining complex scientific concepts to a pet, becomes a dance between immersion and abstraction.

The story’s new chapter unfolds within the confines of the Mendeleev Complex, a fresh location under NORA’s potent influence. The intricate visual design remains a strong suit for “Annihilation Instinct,” offering environments that seamlessly blend the atompunk aesthetic and retro-futuristic elements seen in the original game. The addition of the retro-futuristic aircraft hangar showcases the game’s visual prowess, even if its purpose doesn’t necessitate extended exploration.

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While Mendeleev Complex introduces open spaces, the expansion primarily guides players through a linear progression of encounters. This linearity slightly restricts the opportunity to deeply explore the intriguing world it presents. Nonetheless, the allure of “Annihilation Instinct” rests in its ability to unravel new layers of Atomic Heart’s captivating enigma, enveloping players in an immersive experience that continues to push the boundaries of narrative expansion within this hauntingly enigmatic universe.

Mechanical Arsenal of “Annihilation Instinct”: Creative Robotics and Encounters

The newly introduced robot types in “Annihilation Instinct” exhibit an impressive design pedigree, as expected from the legacy of strong enemy designs in Atomic Heart. However, the new additions are somewhat limited in number, comprising only two distinct variations. The humanoid robots, characterized by their crash test dummy aesthetic, deliver a bone-chilling ambiance as they ominously approach, their gait reminiscent of deadly dolls. Adding a unique twist to their attacks, these robots launch their limbs like boomerangs. While a fascinating concept, the effectiveness of this attack even through walls might undercut the intended challenge.

Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct
(Image Credit: Google)

On the other end of the spectrum, we encounter the BEA-Ds, diminutive robots roughly the size of inflatable gym balls. These peculiar entities have the uncanny ability to combine, forming more formidable adversaries. In scripted boss encounters, players find themselves pitted against a legion of BEA-Ds, coalescing into what can be best described as a colossal, weaponized version of Mr. DNA from Jurassic Park. Intriguing as it may be, the downside emerges when the same boss fight is duplicated, leading to a sense of lukewarm repetition as the chapter reaches its conclusion.

Despite the slight limitations in variety, “Annihilation Instinct” effectively capitalizes on the core strength of Atomic Heart’s enemy design legacy. By blending the uncanny humanoid robots with the quirky ingenuity of BEA-Ds, the expansion injects a sense of mechanical dynamism into the mix. While the exploration might be limited by linearity, the encounters with these inventive robotic entities offer players a taste of both the familiar and the novel, a testament to the ongoing evolution of the game’s compelling and haunting world.

(Video Credit: Focus Entertainment)

Weapons and Abilities

Annihilation Instinct, while introducing sparse new enemy types, could have potentially offset this by offering an array of creative tools to combat both the newcomers and the existing adversaries. Regrettably, the arsenal at your disposal proves somewhat limited, resulting in a slightly underwhelming combat experience. Among the new additions, only two weapons make their debut: a hybrid melee weapon merging a halberd with a gardening tool, and a jerry-rigged light machine gun that paradoxically lacks the anticipated stopping power one would associate with its formidable appearance. While these weapons can be upgraded, the effort required to navigate back and forth within the Mendeleev Complex for enhancements might not seem entirely rewarding.

Notably, a strikingly explosive power-up that resembles a chocolate bar emerges as an occasional asset, particularly in a pivotal encounter that feels disproportionately challenging as P-3 faces off against an overwhelming wave of robots within a confined space. However, these power-ups remain relatively rare, rendering their grand effects a sight seen sparingly.

Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct
(Image Credit: Google)

The introduction of a new ability to manipulate time within a localized bubble proves to be a noteworthy addition, effectively enriching the gameplay experience. Yet, it’s puzzling that several of the powers from Atomic Heart, including ice and telekinesis, are conspicuously absent from this DLC, a decision that lacks clear justification.

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Adding to this, the reliance on a limited selection of weapons from the main campaign—such as a pistol, shotgun, and club—leaves the weaponry somewhat lacking in variety. These limitations in both weapons and abilities occasionally contribute to a sensation that Annihilation Instinct might lean more towards offering a teaser for the main campaign rather than providing a fully fleshed-out post-release expansion.

In the realm of weapons and abilities, Annihilation Instinct strikes a delicate balance, offering some engaging tools while occasionally feeling constrained by the absence of certain powers and a limited selection of weapons. This intricate interplay between combat mechanics and available assets contributes to the expansion’s distinctive flavor, with moments of satisfaction and glimpses of missed potential, ultimately creating an experience that leaves players yearning for a more comprehensive exploration of the game’s mechanical possibilities.


Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct continues to uphold the standard of the main game with its remarkable and imaginative enemy designs, coupled with the introduction of stunning new environments. Yet, it also ventures into some pitfalls, like its linear progression and a peculiarly constrained arsenal, which slightly dampens the overall experience when compared to the foundation set by the original game. The compelling enemy designs remain a standout feature, seamlessly transitioning from the main game to the expansion. The infusion of fresh environments adds a layer of intrigue, capturing the player’s attention with the same creative finesse that defined Atomic Heart. However, the expansion takes a slight step back with its linear progression, a departure from the open-ended nature of the main campaign. This shift might leave players yearning for the broader exploration opportunities that defined their initial experience.

Moreover, the limited arsenal presented in Annihilation Instinct feels somewhat confining, veering away from the array of options that the main game offered. This constraint could be a tad perplexing for players who have grown accustomed to the expansive combat possibilities. Despite these limitations, Annihilation Instinct still provides a glimpse into the tantalizing narrative threads that the planned series of DLC expansions aims to explore. As a potential precursor to the continuation of the Atomic Heart story, it might not completely fulfill the role of tying up loose ends left behind in the original game. Nevertheless, the return of NORA, the memorable fridge character, adds a touch of familiarity and nostalgia, serving as a comforting presence in this enigmatic journey.


What is the focus of the Annihilation Instinct DLC for Atomic Heart?

The DLC shifts the spotlight onto NORA, a quirky Soviet AI character from the main game, who has gone rogue. Players engage with NORA’s story after one of the main game’s endings and confront her in a new environment called the Mendeleev Complex.

How does Annihilation Instinct’s story connect with the main game’s endings?

The DLC picks up from one of the main game’s endings, but it’s not immediately clear which one. This can cause confusion, especially for players who have only completed the game once.

How does the gameplay in Annihilation Instinct differ from the main campaign?

The gameplay in Annihilation Instinct is more linear and less memorable than the main game. It offers a shorter experience with fewer opportunities for differentiation due to a limited set of weapons and power-ups.

Does the DLC shed light on why NORA is interested in the main character P-3?

Yes, the DLC provides additional context for NORA’s attraction to P-3. While some might find this information inessential, it does align with the game’s fiction.

How is the storytelling affected by the DLC’s connection to different main game endings?

The DLC introduces a unique narrative challenge as players may know more about certain characters than the main character P-3 himself due to an encounter that now seems to never have occurred.

What is the setting of the Annihilation Instinct DLC?

The DLC takes place in a new location called Mendeleev Complex, which is under the control of the rogue AI NORA. The visual design of the complex is well-praised and showcases a range of environments.

How are the new robot enemies in the DLC?

The DLC introduces two new robot enemy types that are well-designed, including humanoid robots and inflatable bots called BEA-Ds. These enemies offer unique challenges but are somewhat limited in variety.

Are there new weapons available in Annihilation Instinct?

Yes, the DLC adds two new weapons: a melee weapon resembling a halberd-gardening tool hybrid and a makeshift light machine gun. However, the arsenal is relatively sparse and lacks a diverse array of weapons.

Are the main character’s abilities from the main game available in the DLC?

Some abilities from the main game, like ice and telekinesis, are absent in this DLC without a clear explanation. However, players can utilize a new ability to slow down time within a localized area.

How does Annihilation Instinct compare to the main campaign in Atomic Heart?

While the DLC maintains the imaginative enemy designs and introduces new environments, it falls short due to its linear gameplay and limited arsenal. Some players may find it more reminiscent of a demo rather than substantial post-release content.

What’s the overall verdict on Atomic Heart Annihilation Instinct?

The DLC is generally considered a bit of a step down from the main game due to its linear approach and lack of weapons variety. Despite this, it still features creative enemy designs and intriguing new environments, making it a somewhat perplexing introduction to the planned series of DLC expansions.

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