Surviving Mars LadiesGamers

Surviving Mars Martian Express Pack Review

Game: Surviving Mars Martian Express Pack
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
System: Steam (Windows, macOS & Linux, also available for Xbox One, Xbox Series, & PS4)
Developers | Publishers: Haemimont Games, Abstraction | Paradox Interactive
Controller Support: Full
DLC Price: US $6.99 | UK £5.19 | EU 6,99
Release Date: April 28th, 2022

Review code used, with many thanks to Johnny Atom Productions.

Surviving Mars is a sci-fi city builder about colonizing Mars and surviving the process. The main game has been available on PC for a few years, with publishers Paradox Interactive releasing various DLCs to add to the gameplay. The Surviving Mars Martian Express Pack is the latest DLC, and this is what this review will cover.

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Mars the red planet, where no man or woman has gone before!

What is Surviving Mars?

Having never played Surviving Mars before, I had to learn the ropes of the game before I could start on the DLC. So let’s have a brief introduction to what the main gameplay entails.

The main goal of Surviving Mars is to build a self-sustainable colony on the surface of the Red Planet, one that can weather the elements and sustain human habitation. You and the colonists are fighting against one of the most hostile environments, using nothing but hard work, decades of training, and several hundred working robots.

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Mission set up.

Space Agency

You choose a space agency from a list with unique bonuses to suit your playstyle. A space agency provides resources and financial support for your colony on Mars. After choosing your command profile and game rules, the game begins with choosing an area on the planet of Mars to land a rocket, set up a base and explore.

Once landing on the surface, it’s time to start building some infrastructure, using drones to do the work. But, first, you send out RC Vehicles or Rovers to scan anomalies on the surface of Mars, which helps to complete research to unlock new technologies and structures.

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Land the rocket

Build Infrastructure

In preparation for the colonists arriving on Mars, you must build an infrastructure of water, power and oxygen, and eventually domes for colonists to live in. Then you have to keep the colonists’ needs satisfied with food and entertainment, keep your wits about you, and figure out just how to make ends meet with the minimum resources you have.

While all those other things are happening, the most important thing to do is keep the colonists alive, which is not an easy task on the Red planet.

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Using drones to move supplies

Martian Express

The Surviving Mars Martian Express Pack introduces a new method of transportation for your colonists and resources. Previously, your colonists could move between domes via a tunnel or by Shuttles in the game’s later stages.

However, your access to building shuttles isn’t available in the early stages of the game, as you don’t have access to them until you have unlocked the proper research and have the right resources.

Surviving Mars LadiesGamers
Tunnel linking two domes

Build Train Tracks across the Red Planet

The Martian express is cheaper to use and build, and trains have two wagons to transport colonists and resources simultaneously. The main bonus is that you have access to the trains and tracks to build them right off the bat. In addition, trains don’t have many limitations like the Shuttles that can’t travel during sandstorms, though they do slow down during cold waves.

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Drones building the tracks

Using trains can open up many more possibilities to expand the colony, especially in the early game. You can also research tech upgrades such as being able to build trains underground or making your trains safer or more comfortable for your colonists. There is a one-track station and a large station with up to four tracks available to use.

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Train on the move.

Pluses and Minuses

Trains aren’t affected by too many weather elements on Mars, however, if the express gets hit by a meteor, the train won’t move until the track is fixed, and any colonists on board will die while waiting.

The trains are great for moving resources between areas, but unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to using the trains. First, you have to build on flat ground as the trains and tracks cannot change elevation. So you’ll have to terraform quite a bit of the planet to get it flat enough for the express tracks to be placed. The tracks are also kind of fiddly to lay down, and it turns into a fight of you against the game’s controls.

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Train station

Planning ahead plays a big part in the construction of the trains, as you can only demolish the stations after the track has been demolished, so if you make a mistake, it can prove quite costly. Stations also must be placed within the dome’s radius since the colonists can’t survive without oxygen. But there can be other survival equipment built around the dome, so it can be awkward to place a station if you don’t plan ahead and leave space.

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Inside a Dome

Future Contemporary Cosmetic Pack and Radio Pack

Paradox Interactive also released a Surviving Mars: Future Contemporary Cosmetic Pack. This pack contains ten new skins for the terrestrial buildings by modder Teerapat “Quad Rioters” Kitjawijit. It is a nice touch to change the look of some items, but it is not an important upgrade as it’s only cosmetic. At the same time, you can listen to the 16 new songs from the Revelation Radio Pack, which adds another radio to an already pretty packed mix of radio stations.

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Linking two domes together with the Martian Express


If I were reviewing the base game on its own, I would be giving it a score of “I like it a lot”. But since this is an add on DLC for the game, the score will reflect that. I love the game, and I think that adding another type of transport is fun. It adds to the gameplay by expanding the reach for your colony on Mars. But….you knew that “but” was coming, didn’t you? I think the express and tracks could have been implemented into the gameplay so much better. Even to make it possible to lay the tracks on slightly uneven ground with less terraforming required and smoother controls. It is cool to play with the Martian Express and add it to your build on the Red Planet.

Final Verdict: I Like It  I like it

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