DLC Breaks Unwritten Rules

Why is it that some DLC makes you wonder just what the developers were thinking?  Should I really need to buy more armor or weapons to enjoy a game ?  While some DLC hits their target dead on, others leave me wondering WTF.

I’ll start with some obvious examples of what I consider top-drawer spot-on DLC.

  • Guitar Hero / RockBand Music Tracks
  • First Person Shooter Map Packs
  • Racing Game Car Packs and Track Packs

These are perfect examples because they follow the rules.  Not my rules, and there are no universal rules for DLC, but they follow the rules of the game they are made for.  Music tracks expand Guitar Hero and RockBand without changing the rules of the game.  Map Packs for Halo are just new environments to play the same game with the same rules.  Car and Track Packs… you see where this is going.  DLC should stick to the rules of the original game while expanding the experience in some way.

Here are a few that I feel just didn’t hit the mark.

Fallout 3 – Operation Anchorage: Bethesda created a masterpiece when they rebooted the Fallout franchise.  They created a huge, immersive world of ruble, danger and destruction, and then with the first DLC – they pull you completely away from everything that makes the game special.  If I wanted a modern day shooter where I sneak around and kill enemy soldiers, there are many to choose from.  Bethesda broke the rules and took me away from the things I love in the Fallout universe.  Fortunately they seemed to recognize this and all of the four following additions where rooted solidly in the retro-future world of Fallout.  I can only hope that Obsidian Entertainment will have additional content available of this caliber for Fallout: New Vegas.

Dead Space: There are many weapon and suit upgrades that you can buy for this game but what do they add?  Do I really care what color my suit is in a single player game?  No.  I’m doin’ fine with my standard issue gear without the scorpions painted on it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Dead Space.  It’s a brilliant game and the sound design is ground-breaking – but give me DLC that gives me more of what I love – the game itself; not painted suits and weapons.  I hope Visceral Games will  rethink the DLC strategy for Dead Space 2.

Burnout Paradise – Cops and Robbers: With all the wonderful DLC that Criterion Games gave us for Burnout Paradise, this one broke the rules.  All of the car packs were great, Big Surf Island is amazing, and the Party Pack was an expansion of the game that didn’t technically break the rules, it just let you play the same game in a party atmosphere with up to 8 players.  And I have not forgotten that the first expansions which gave us more cars, more game modes, and even motorcycles were free.  However, Cops and Robbers requires all the drivers to own the pack to be able to play.  Never before in Paradise did I need the other players to purchase something before I could enjoy it.  The saving grace of this pack is that it has 33 police vehicles included with it which are very nice, but the new game mode breaks the rules.

Borderlands – Mad Moxxi’s Underdome Riot : Two of the DLC packages from Take-Two Interactive gave us more storyline in new environments and they followed the rules.  Of course I’m talking about The Secret Armory of General Knoxx and The Zombie Island of Doctor Ned.  Both are chock full of bite-size quests and follow the structure of the rest of the game and best of all – every time you exit the game your progress is saved.  Mad Moxxi, on the other hand, much like her personality, is cut from completely different cloth.  It takes hours to grind through wave after wave in each arena – and if you die – you start over.  Sorry Moxxi but you break all the rules.

Metro 2033: Even before releasing their first DLC for this game, THQ said that DLC for the game would not expand the story line.  Instead, THQ announced the following about their forthcoming Ranger Pack.  “The Ranger Pack adds new weapons, new achievements and the deadly ‘Ranger Mode’ game rules.”  It looks like they are only changing the rules as to play the game again with fewer resources.  We’ll have to wait and see if there is more substance to this expansion.  Can’t we just have some more tunnels and stations to explore?

Perhaps some games just won’t allow a new storyline to be snapped onto the existing experience without diluting it.  Such may be the case with linear games like Metro 2033 and Dead Space, but open world games such as Grand Theft Auto, Borderlands, Fallout and now Red Dead Redemption really allow for great DLC possibilities, just as long as they follow the rules.

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  • Hit that dead on Chris! DLC should be for example like the General Knoxx DLC for Borderlands, so much content for 800 MSP.

  • Two words…. horse armor….

  • Great article. I agree wit your points. There is DLC that relates to the games which is good, and then there is DLC that just shouldn’t be released or at least not as they are. I mean, why pay a small amount just for a new gun, suit, track, or whatever. I want new maps or expansion to the single player experience; something worthwhile.

  • I think you are wrong. It is kind of cool when dlc can change the way a game is played, like it will with Metro 2033, and did with Burnout Paradise. Games have evolved and if you are over 25 you know this. This means that we have options of customizing games beyond what is on the disc. Games like this include weapon skins for Dead Space, and characters skins for games like Lost Planet 2. I understand that you like the Fallout universe but you are wrong when you say Operation Anchorage didnt belong as dlc, because its weird quirkiness was right at home with Fallout 3’s antics. We should instead complain about why we pay $60 plus tax for games that last barely 9 hours, games like the so-called Alan Wake, Uncharted 2, and God of War 3. These games are apparently so great that no one is talking about them. in case you didnt notice, that is sarcasm.

  • Battlefield BC 2 is adding a co-op mode. Great DLC! A free downloadable NEW ending for God of War 3, strangely ok. Anime Pack DLC for Mod Nation Racers. Not too shabby for those that crave more customization. Buying xp levels as DLC for Tales of Veperia, wtf? Of course horse armor, enough said.

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