Games throughout the last decade are growing at a scale beyond what anyone in the 2000’s would have dreamed of. Games are able to boast environments with fully realized residents, wildlife ecosystems, intelligent physics, weather systems and seamless day and night cycles. All of which take place in an explorable area spanning for miles. Within these worlds players are often treated to plenty of main and side missions, mini games, customization options and online facilities. So when thinking about DLC, it’s easy to question how the player could possibly ask for more.
Well, simply put, gamers are hungry for content and are consuming titles at an alarming rate. Games are producing titles with over twenty hours of play time to complete as standard. Yet players are blowing through that in record time. Plus if the game is a success, you can bet players will be expecting something else to wet the whistle until the eventual full sequel.
When we think about DLC and added content, it’s easy to garner a mixed opinion. Over the years since added content has been a staple of game design and development. We have seen both absolutely stunning and embarrassingly sub-par DLC additions. Some of these additions are glorified skins and cosmetic changes. Which are popular with those that want to flex on their online buddies. However, they lack in substance and value for money. The DLC content that contrasts from this, are the additions that serve as an extension of their parent title. DLC’s that feel like they could be a fully fledged title if given the time and care.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of all the most jaw dropping DLC that elevated the reputation of the parent title to new heights. Just a disclaimer that the views are completely subjective so behave.
Honorable mentions go to Bioshock 2: Minerva’s Den, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, Mass Effect 3: Citadel and Arkham Origins: Cold, Cold heart
Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money
We begin with, in my opinion, the best of any Fallout DLC that the franchise has offered since Bethesda took over the rights to the franchise. So it’s rather ironic that they weren’t the guys to produce it. Obsidian Entertainment’s DLC for Fallout New Vegas was a brilliant collection of stories that made reference to the main games untold stories, gave insight into the mysterious past of the courier and showcased unique areas of the US and how they were affected by the nuclear onslaught of the years that proceeded your arrival. Areas inspired by Zion national park or the stretch between the Mojave and the Armagosa valley, for example.
What Dead money offered that set it apart from the rest was the gritty overtones and survival horror elements of the Sierra Madre. The player is stripped of all base game possessions and tasked with gathering up a rag tag group of individuals. All of which want to be there as little as you, and trust you even less. The story that unfolds is fascinating and you find yourself truly caring for these forcibly acquired companions. Yes the add on has it’s flaws. Most notably the incessant and presumably random beeping of your slave collar. which will inexplicably blow your head off for standing in a spot in a hallway too long. However, the narrative, survival horror and stealth aspects. The gritty atmosphere and the finale all culminate into a genuinely fabulous experience.
The witcher 3: Blood And Wine
With CD project Red’s famous silver haired monster slayer riding high at the moment, it would be rude to leave him out. The witcher’s Netflix series is going from success to success. So through this the most recent title in the series has seen sales rise by a phenomenal 554%. Not bad for a title produced back in 2015. The game was also revered as a shining beacon of gaming brilliance upon release that year. Boasting a world so brimming with content that it was almost overwhelming to begin. With this in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that the DLC that accompanied this game was expertly crafted and well received.
In this new region of offer, Temeria’s drab color scheme is swapped for a more vibrant and invitingly warm palette. The tone shifts from death, plague and impending doom to more noble and chivalrous pursuits. The blend of bloody battles and self aware silliness is a treat and offers a welcome change of pace to the base game without a complete departure from where the main title succeeds. You’ll often find yourself taking a step back to overlook beautiful vistas instead of pursuing new quest lines or tending to your newly acquired vineyard.
Who would have thought Geralt was the conservative type. Thankfully Geralt is the one aspect that remains exactly the same throughout the trip through Troussaint, offering sarcasm and general disapproval of those around him at every turn. Classic Geralt. This addition is brilliant in that it pays homage to the original content and shines it in a new and interesting light. If you haven’t picked this on up, go to it!
The Last Of Us: Left Behind
When Naughty Dog redefined what it means to create a stellar, immersive narrative within the medium of gaming. Us as players thought we had hit the jackpot. A profoundly excellent story full of complex and gritty content, a competent combat and stealth system. Unique and challenging enemies and even a fun multiplayer mode. It would almost be rude to ask for more from many critics game of the decade. Thankfully, the good guys at naughty dog wouldn’t have us beg. They would release a prequel to the main story following Ellie and Riley in The last Of Us: Left Behind.
The extension offers a more stealthy and cautious approach to combat in that Ellie, yet to be weathered from the experiences with Joel. Has less combat skill and must rely on cunning stealth and ranged attacks to defeat her enemies. Thankfully, in place of adept unarmed skill and brute strength via Joel. Naughty dog offers ways to pin the infected and human enemies against each other through pushing them together.
It’s something we failed to see in the main game and really offered some intriguing options to progress. However, this additions strength is it’s story and how it gives context to how Ellie has been affected before meeting Joel. It would be easy to have made a quick cash grab to accompany the decades headline act. However, to their credit, Naughty dog, as they so often do. Nailed it.
Dark Souls: Artorias Of the The Abyss
First of all, there was a plethora of great Souls content that could have made it on here. The old hunters DLC for Bloodborne was just barely edged out. In this addition, firstly to even get started you need to be skilled enough to clear the Anor Londo area. Assuming that you can duck, weave and slash your way to the portal, that where the fun begins. Following the story of Londran’s curse, the DLC casts you into the past to navigate more lush and vibrant areas than one might be used to in the base game. Encountering new enemies that punish hasty reactions and boss battles that test the skill, patience and strategy of even more adept players.
The DLC also offered a dedicated leader board, various arenas and dedicated match ups for PvP players to extend the playtime on this addition to really get their moneys worth. Sadly these servers are no longer available so those that invest in the added content now will be short changed. However at the time, it was a welcome addition. All in all, players who loved the original dark souls will appreciate that this DLC added new unsettling creatures, sprawling and unforgiving areas and more reputability through the new game plus feature scaling with the new content.
Dishonored: The Knife Of Dunwall
Dishonored as a series has perhaps faded from memory thanks to the drab sequel that failed to reach the heights of the first installment. This was down to the new first title offering brilliantly self contained levels with innumerable means of succeeding. The physics and abilities were cohesive, combining to offer unique play style options. There was a focus on stealth that matches and perhaps surpasses anything on the market. Plus, although the game wasn’t full of inspiring narrative. It checked all the necessary boxes and gave the player enough motivation to proceed. Allowing the gameplay to take center stage.
The two DLC additions ‘Knife of Dunwall‘ and ‘The Brigmore Witches‘ offer different perceptions of the same narrative through the more nefarious character’s eyes. Giving a unique storytelling aspect to players that may have felt short changed. While offering more of the same brilliant gameplay jam packed with new abilities and play style options. The Knife of Dunwall edges it between the two add ons, simply due to the stark contrast of Corvo and Daud, the man responsible for assassinating the empress in the games opening. It casts Daud in a more soft role and allows the player to understand the games narrative from different angles. A fantastic addition well worth a go.
GTA 4: The Ballad Of Gay Tony
GTA 4’s add on, The Ballad of Gay Tony, promised to return the series to it’s lavish, silly and over the top romps of the PS2 era. Within this DLC that offers enough content to justify a full release with easily twenty plus hours of run time. We seen moments and hints of the previous generation of GTA titles. However, what protruded throughout was the new gritty, realistic and mature design approach that the base game chose to take. Offering a relatable, yet still over the top and intriguing narrative. The moments of comic relief perfecting the balance that fans asked for, which would be further refined in GTA V
The DLC offered a plethora of new side quests, vehicles including more airborne ones to play around with that seemed somewhat absent in the base game. It offered a great narrative that was cohesive with the other DLC and main game with overlap occurring throughout. Plus small welcome changes to the multiplayer through rewards and kill streak bonuses. It was through this addition that Rockstar seen the benefit of moving away from the formula that had served them well for so long.
The one sole character to represent the title was something they would move away from in GTA V. Offering diverse and contrasting characters and stories. It’s opened up a new world of narrative possibilities for the series. So it’s hard not to recall this addition fondly as the catalyst for change. Go download this add on and decide for yourself. Also as a side note, why not check out our GTA retrospective here.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: The Shivering Isles
For anyone that has made their way back to Oblivion will know that this game has not aged wonderfully. It’s NPC’s although groundbreaking in 2005, are comical now. So much so that they have been indoctrinated into meme culture. However, putting aside the age related flaws of this title. It still remains a classic of the RPG genre. Offering a multitude of guilds, quests, character customization and a fantastic main story that will see you traverse the hellish realms of Oblivion themselves. The amount of content of offer in 2005 was staggering and completely justify’s roughing the shaky graphics and far from advanced AI to relive the adventure.
So when we were offered a trip to the Shivering Isles. The realm of residence for the zany and quite mad demon prince, Sheogorath. The player is treated to weird and wonderful vistas, unique characters and an overarching plot centering around the demon prince of madness. With this in mind, madness and weird experiences are plentiful in this DLC. Offering unique Armour, weapons and a brilliant departure of the wonderful main land of Cyrodill. Anyone that loved the base game will adore this brilliant extension.
Farcry 3: Blood Dragon
This one is perhaps an unfair inclusion because technically its a standalone title. Though it borrows the Farcry 3 name, runs off the same engine and although there’s very little to tie the two together in terms of aesthetic or content. It’s my list so im going to do it anyway. Sue me. Blood Dragon is a complete departure from it’s parent game, giving the player the neon heavy, eighties fever dream they never knew they wanted.
This game pays homage to the cyber-action heavy Terminator series of the same era. Offering the player an excess of power from the offset and only ramping up the levels of overpowered excess as the game progresses. Taking notes from FPS shooter Doom, this title keeps the level of high octane action from start to finish with little time for respite.
The only times where you will find yourself exercising caution is in the first encounters with the daunting blood dragons themselves. However, as soon as your arsenal of weaponry is upgraded to include mini guns and the like. Things begin to sway in your favor and the fast paced action continues. If your a fan of neon overtones and 80’s action movies. This one is a must.
Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
Dragon Age Origins was a an absolute smash hit of the seventh generation, by offering RPG fans a game that was rich in great combat, compelling story and game altering decisions. Thankfully, Bioware didn’t change the formula for their follow up DLC and would offer more of the same brilliant content that made fans flock to this franchise.
The DLC would offer a plethora of side plots and collectible codex entries that offered fresh new lore and were brimming with detail. Although the main plot offered twists and turns that forced players into corners. Tasked with making decisions that would change the course of the whole campaign and would even affect those that would play the sequel Dragon Age 2. The game also gives you the option to start brand new in terms of character choice for this section of your adventure. With the addition of the Orlesian Warden character option. New companions, abilities and a flexible character system. This extension is everything you could ask for.
Bioshock Infinite: Burial At Sea
Bioshock Infinite was a genuine shock to all the players that followed the franchise. The choice to ditch Rapture in favor of a city in the clouds akin to a heavenly metropolis was a bold move. Although the title had it’s critics and perhaps fell short of the lofty standards set by it’s predecessors. It was still a competent title with a compelling story, if a little confusing. The gameplay had it’s moments and many will even claim it was the pick of the trilogy. Ken Levine has always stated that Infinite was not the product he envisioned upon release. Though if this is considered a failure, it’s a pretty positive one.
The title would pay homage to Rapture and tie the trilogy together neatly in it’s finale but DLC would offer a return to rapture with much more substance. It offered a return to rapture in it’s heyday, before the crash and the horrors of the first two titles. Although the gameplay is much more of the same without the gimmicks that made the sky bound title unique. What the DLC does offer is a great story and fan fare for those that love the city of Rapture and all it has to offer.
It continues the phenomenal art design, unique atmosphere and attention to detail that the series is synonymous with. Plus it offers a unique gameplay option of playing as Elizabeth and allows you to make avail of her tear powers. If you want a quintessential pre-destruction Rapture adventure, this one is the way to go. You even get to see your old pal Sander Cohen again. Joy!
So that’s our list on DLC’s that do their parent games justice and more! Is there any DLC’s that you feel are missing from this list? How many of these did you play and enjoy? Would you like to see a follow-up on the most pointless DLC’s ever? Let us know in the comments! As always thanks for reading COG!