Cold, Cold Heart picks up shortly after the events of the game’s main story campaign. During the annual New Year’s Eve Humanitarian of the Year party being held at Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne and Alfred are enjoying a bit of respite from all the Christmas Eve shenanigans when a mysterious new villain decides to crash the party with a cryo-infused bang. Utilizing powerful cryogenic weaponry and a gang of hired thugs, this new villain, referred to by his goons as “Mr. Freeze” kidnaps the party’s guest of honor; GothCorp CEO Ferris Boyle, forcing Bruce to once again don his cape and cowl in order to stop this new icy adversary.
Players looking for more meaty story content should be satisfied both with Cold, Cold Heart’s length (my playthrough took me roughly four hours) and its pacing. The early moments of the DLC adventure put players in the role of Bruce as he ventures through an occupied Wayne Manor, battling Mr. Freeze’s thugs on his way down to the Batcave. I enjoyed getting to see and explore new parts of the manor though some of Bruce’s combat limitations, such as not being able to perform limb-break takedowns or use his detective vision-esque “focus mode” from the Initiation DLC definitely threw off my rhythm at times. WB Montreal also decided to get rid of Batman’s glue grenade gadget in the DLC as well which doesn’t really affect exploration but could confuse players who are accustomed to using all of Batman’s gadgets in combat.
After Bruce retrieves has standard Batsuit and rescues the party’s guests, he goes up against the one new enemy type the DLC adds in: cryo-gun thugs. These thugs will shoot a beam of cryo-energy at Batman which will encase him in ice if he doesn’t evade fast enough. The ice can be broken out of but it will leave Batman vulnerable to further punishment. The addition of these cryo-armed thugs adds a new wrinkle to the game’s combat as players must pay extra attention during combat encounters since the cryo-thugs love to attack while Batman is busy dealing with other opponents. Some of the unique enemy types from the main campaign such as shield thugs and martial artists show up as well but the cryo-thugs are the only brand new enemy type players will encounter.
Once Wayne Manor is secure, players get to venture out into a much more condensed version of the open world from the main campaign. Both the northernmost and southernmost districts of Gotham have been shut down which means players can only explore the Coventry and Diamond District. Within this smaller open world are a number of different side objectives players can pursue including finding and scanning Anarky tags, stopping Anarky riots, and rescuing GCPD officers who have been encased in ice. This last objective can only be accomplished once players have made some progress in the DLC’s story and earned its major new addition: the XE (Extreme Environments) prototype Batsuit.
The XE suit has built-in heat coils which allow Batman to break ice walls, free prisoners who have been encased in ice, resist the cryo-thugs’ ice beams, and throw special thermal batarangs that can knock the ice off of frozen objects such as vantage points, keypads, and even hanging stalactites that can fall on foes and knock them out. The suit’s thermal gloves replace the shock gloves from the main campaign and, much like the shock gloves, can be charged up and engaged in combat in order to give Batman an edge. Sadly the XE suit cannot be used in the game’s standard challenge mode so players who were hoping to grow their collection of available costumes just a little bit more are in for some disappointment.
If you’re a hardcore Batman fan, you likely already know Mr. Freeze’s origin story but it’s still a fun treat to play through the iconic villain’s origin events first-hand. Cold, Cold Heart contains a lot of the more favorable elements from Arkham Origins’ main campaign including crime-scene reconstruction, environmental puzzles, and a generous amount of achievements and collectables to keep completionists busy. The final fight against Mr. Freeze manages to harken back to the Mr. Freeze GCPD battle from Arkham City while also feeling fresh thanks to the XE suit’s unique abilities. If you were disappointed by Arkham Origins proper, Cold, Cold Heart is unlikely to change your mind about the game but if you were hoping for another memorable side adventure in the vein of Harley Quinn’s Revenge from Arkham City, then Cold, Cold Heart should serve you just fine.
As a sendoff for Arkham Origins (it is the final piece of DLC content included in the game’s season pass), Cold, Cold Heart isn’t really the best or most original idea WB Montreal could have come up with but it is far from the worst. I’m not entirely convinced it was worth waiting six months for but I still appreciate WB Montreal’s efforts to take one of Batman’s most iconic adversaries and make a playable adventure out of his origin story. Considering its standalone asking price ($9.99 for those without the season pass) I couldn’t completely recommend it as a must-buy piece of DLC but if you did spring for the season pass, I see no reason why you shouldn’t at least give Cold, Cold Heart a try.