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.