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!