Up For Debate - Are DLC expansions becoming worse?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, Jul 20, 2019 4:17 PM
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If we were to just jot down a list of what are generally considered ‘great’ DLC expansions, you’ll probably notice the last two or three years would be looking decidedly more threadbare than EA’s ‘Publisher of the Year’ trophy cabinet. Where once they were an exciting chunk of new content for our beloved games, they’re now increasingly carved up slices of XP boosters, character skins, and seemingly hastily thrown together bonus modes. 

To my mind, DLC expansions peaked a few years back with the likes of The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine, The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles, and The Last of Us: Left Behind. You can reel off the names of classic DLCs with ease - Dragon Age: Awakening, Zombie Island of Dr. Ned, Undead Nightmare, Knife of Dunwall.

Try and think of a great DLC released since 2017 though and, if you’re like me, you’ll probably hit a few stumbling blocks. There’s been practically no post-launch content for a single-player game that I would deem essential for the last three years. The Witcher 3: Blood & Wine was a high point for me and nothing has even come close since.

I think we can finally settle the age-old argument of DLC being content cut from the main game though. A lot of DLC these days would drag the score of the main games down, looking more like off-cuts and loose ends rather than prime meat. If you’re into the habit of buying season passes, let alone pre-ordering ‘complete’ editions of games, then you’re definitely a braver person than I. Most season passes these days seem to consist of one meaty bit of content padded out with three or four fluffy pieces which in the old days used to be unlocks, secrets, or cheat codes. If Goldeneye 64 came out today we’d definitely be paying £2.99 for paintball mode and Oddjob would be the token pay-to-win option.

It’s all a bit of a shame really because we know it doesn’t have to be like this. DLC is an excellent way to breathe new life into a game. It’s an opportunity for fans to head back into these beloved worlds and experience them anew. They can trace their lineage from expansion packs. These meaty boxed add-ons re-used the core experience of a game to deliver a pseudo-sequel in the wait for the real deal. Half-Life: Opposing Force. StarCraft Brood War. Quake: Scourge of Armagon. Call of Duty: United Offensive. All fantastic in their own way, and all of them a whole lot better than most of what you can get today. 

I’d love to know the attach rate for modern downloadable content as it certainly seems as if interest in these small add-ons has plummeted. It’s why we see an increasing shift towards other forms of monetisation and ongoing support; dishing out the core content for free while nickel and diming the fans who care about cosmetics.

Still, there are a few gleaming gems out there to be found. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne looks resolutely old-school in terms of scope, while CD Projekt RED has hinted at Witcher-style expansions for Cyberpunk 2077. 

What are your thoughts on this matter then, do you think the quality of DLC has been declining lately? What are some of your favourite recent DLC expansions? Get voting and let us know what you think below!

Are DLC expansions becoming worse?

Our favourite comments:

I'm at a point where hearing about DLC in any form will turn me off from a game. The publishers and even many devs are just abusing it over greed.

malbhet1

Stuff like Blood and Wine feel like a whole new game. And playing the original bits of the Witcher 3 you don't feel starved for content. Same goes for Dragon Age although I've only picked that up recently.

ronweasley

I'm not sure anything could ever top Shivering Isles.

risiblewilbury

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21:54 Jul-23-2019

Just kill DLC's already! It's a waste of time and money! Here's a tip: full games! How's that sound?

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22:06 Jul-23-2019

Expansions should suggest, well expanding the game, thus making a whole new game continuing the current one, without starting over again, IMO expansions are amazing.


If it's a good expansion, you get about the same amount of content as the game itself and you get it much quicker and cheaper than a new game as they don't have to start from scratch.

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18:19 Jul-21-2019

EA:
Pay now 20 euro and get the first DLC at launch!


An intellectual like me:
Pay 20 euro more to get the complete game until DLCs come out.

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16:32 Jul-21-2019

I'm at a point where hearing about DLC in any form will turn me off from a game. The publishers and even many devs are just abusing it over greed.

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12:34 Jul-27-2019

Understandable. Have a nice day.

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13:24 Jul-21-2019

I wouldn't say so,
generally DLCs are crappy,
and few incredible exceptions like both Witcher 3 expansions or Oblivion' Shivering Isles were one of few

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11:04 Jul-21-2019

The Wolfenstein II New Colossus DLC was a low point for me. The Witcher 3, Dishonored and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided DLCs I enjoyed so much so that I wanted to replay the base games again.

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11:04 Jul-21-2019

I'm not sure anything could ever top Shivering Isles.

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08:34 Jul-21-2019

TBH Except for witcher 3 and dmc all other dlc are meaningless..just want money.. why dont they beg....

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08:27 Jul-21-2019

Besides Witcher's "Blood & Wine",i really enjoyed AC Unity's "Dead Kings" and AC Origins "The Curse Of The Pharaohs".But my all time favorite remains Diablo's II "Lord of Destruction".So,in general - yes.

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03:07 Jul-21-2019

Stuff like Blood and Wine feel like a whole new game. And playing the original bits of the Witcher 3 you don't feel starved for content. Same goes for Dragon Age although I've only picked that up recently.

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02:01 Jul-21-2019

This hugely depends on what DLC brings, there always were and will be terrible cases of DLC. But there will also always be good cases. As long as DLC is not something that feels cut out of the game, is not force fed and so on, that is fine, if it is bringing something actually new to the table. Most of get stronger gear DLC got replaced by microtransactions, but those are bad either way.

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01:11 Jul-21-2019

TOTALLY !!!
Best DLC's i ever played were Liberty City Stories (GTA IV), The Undead Nightmare (RDR), Witches of Brigmore (Dishonored) and Witcher 3 DLC's.
The rest were... Well... "MEH"
Not even worth spending words on them. But these 4 were worth every second, cent and effort i spent on them.

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22:34 Jul-20-2019

to my mind comes just one and its dying light the following...

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22:52 Jul-20-2019

I would add witcher 3's HoS and BaW to that list. Altough i never played the dying light expanions i played through the original game but that expansion came out way later 2 or 3 years and i dont have my saves anymore anyway im sure its good base dying light was pretty good for a zombie game.

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21:46 Jul-20-2019

The Iceborne expansion for Monster Hunter is essentially going to be a new game in terms of content. That's coming later this year. It just depends on the publisher and the developer. We let them get away with cutting content for too long. People also complain if it takes too long to come out. They want a games worth of content a year after the game is out, as if it's doable to a good standard.

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21:49 Jul-20-2019

There also comes the problem that a lot of people seem to have something against paying for extra content. I've seen people complain that Iceborne should be a free update. Like, seriously? I think the price for it as it stands is a solid price for what we're getting.
Developers need time, and they certainly need money, to get it right. In our current world of instant satisfaction though?

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21:50 Jul-20-2019

People will simply move on to the next big thing. Unless a publisher is truly dedicated to either their fanbase, or a game, it can come across as being a financial gamble.

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17:57 Jul-22-2019

Usually when a game leaves "Early Access" they increase their title's price. Then I expect that all new patches that releases, should be free and none the less add 5 new DLCS.

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18:01 Jul-22-2019

Back in the old days of gaming, dlcs wasnt a thing. But as soon as gaming started to attract more people, then companies want a sum of that money too. Everybody wants a piece of that sweet money and sadly it affected the gaming industry.

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18:10 Jul-22-2019

I am not attracted to buy new games today. When I buy one I am like, this is a good game and I havent touched it since with less than 2 hours of playtime. Statistics show that, but also less profit on games in the future. Look that up too.

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21:46 Jul-20-2019

DLCs are now nothing more than glorified MTX or mechanics and pieces of the game that should've been a part of it from the beginning.
Many sequels have bits and pieces of the previous games, such as mechanics, being sold separately even though they were already established in the previous titles.
If you compare, content wise, many current franchise sequels to their beginnings and early iterations they feel like vastly different games in terms of stuff included on start.

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21:05 Jul-20-2019

Well some games have dlcs for dlcs. For example the Sims 4. Than again the sims series is pretty much a cash grab game anyway.

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20:50 Jul-20-2019

expansions used to be whole new games, if wc3 frozen throne counts as expansion to wc3 rain of chaos, even tho its more like standalone game

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20:05 Jul-20-2019

Lots of times you buy a game thinking is cheap, then you click 'see all' and is kinda the triple of an actual game cost because they split the game into thousands of DLCs and sell you only the skeleton of the game.


Train Simulator, the whole game here, cost R$ 16.949,05


Just an example of skins and other stuff.

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19:05 Jul-20-2019

DLC used to be extra's on top of a base game. Now DLC is used to complete the base game.


Luckily there are some exeptions who still has good dlc on top of a good base game. :D

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16:50 Jul-20-2019

DLC expansions becoming extinct if you ask me. Worse? Well for the last 5 years I'd say the games that had proper Expansion DLCs, as in literary another game as an extention of the current game, or in other words all the content from the game Expanded, then I'd say maybe just a little, but overall Expansion DLCs are great.


Single item or character or movement or something like that DLCs are NOT expansion DLCs and they are crap.

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16:39 Jul-20-2019

Lately there have been different kind of "DLCs": the outfit/armor/weapon that gives bonuses and it's really strong, the "i promise this is not cut content from the main game" and the extra mission pack. Last good expansion were in Witcher 3

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