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USgamer's Best Games of 2015: Best DLC

PART 10: Not every add-on is worth adding on, but these expansions and updates rose above the rest.

List by USgamer Team, .

With this, our (slightly delayed) 2015 recap draws to a close. Tomorrow we wrap things up with the staff's final determination on the overall game of the year. And from there... you have more than 11 months of freedom from year-end lists like this. Rejoice!

Best DLC: The Nominees

These days, every game is "downloadable," even if you bought it on a disc—hi, Halo 5—but we're taking the traditional meaning of the term "downloadable content" here. As in, "content you download to expand your core play experience." DLC run a gamut of scope, cost, and quality last year, but these add-ons made the best impression on us.

Bill: Destiny (House of Wolves)

The Taken King was great for two weeks, but House of Wolves was the best that Destiny has ever been, and the DLC which got the majority of my time in 2015. You had a reason to travel to all the planets, the Year 1 Raids were relevant still, and the Prison of Elders was a fantastic way to spend an hour with friends. The Taken King has largely done away with any need to visit anything but the Dreadnaught, and the Prison of Elders is obsolete. House of Wolves wasn’t just Destiny’s best, it was great DLC by any standards.

Bob: Bloodborne (The Old Hunters)

From Software has always taken their RPG DLC extremely seriously, and The Old Hunters is no exception. This substantial chunk of content offers types of challenges not seen in the core game, plenty of new weapons and armor, some of Bloodborne's hardest bosses, and a variety of vastly different environments to creep through. Seeing as The Old Hunters essentially closes the curtain on Bloodborne, it's refreshing to see this From RPG go out with a bang.

Jaz: Destiny (House of Wolves)

I wasn't that keen on Destiny when it first launched: Its open world just felt a little barren. However, House of Wolves really helped fill in some of those empty areas, and brought with it a bevy of interesting new quests and activities. I found it pretty tough going too, but it was rewarding and fun, and really showed where the game might be going. The Taken King built on that potential, and helped evolve Destiny from a decent game into a great one - but I think House of Wolves was a key stepping stone to its transformation.

Jeremy: Super Smash Bros. (Characters and stages)

I don't even like Smash Bros., but I have to respect the sheer quality and quantity of fanservice going on in the game. Nintendo (and really, Masahiro Sakurai in particular) took the game to a new plateau of preposterous indulgence with each new update, incorporating not only beloved characters at the request of fans, but loading down their announcement trailers with in-jokes and sly references. Great stuff all around.

Kat: Shovel Knight (A Plague of Shadows)

How do you make a brilliant game even better? Put the player in the shoes of one of the villains; in this case, the lovely and totally insane Plague Knight. The new context changes everything about Shovel Knight, which was already one of the best platformers of the past 10 years. Far from being a basic reskin, it has a totally new story, with characters who react totally differently to Plague Knight (and why not?) In many respects, it's a totally new game. And best of all? It's free. To me there's no question that this is the best downloadable content of the year. It's not even close.

Mike: Cities Skylines (After Dark)

Cities: Skyline absolutely delivered on every expectation that players had for EA's SImCity reboot, but I admit, it was missing some things. Developer Colossal Order revisited the game with its After Dark expansion, adding a day/night cycle, improved handling of crime, cargo, and transportation, and more city specialization options. They feel like small tweak, but they have a huge effect on how you play the game. Awesome DLC.

Nadia: Super Smash Bros. (Characters and stages)

Shortly after the last Smash Direct revealed Bayonetta and highlighted Cloud’s abilities, someone took a screenshot of the Smash roster as it currently exists and added, “Look at this. Five years ago, this would’ve been the fakest Smash Bros screenshot in existence.” Indeed, Super Smash Bros on Wii U and 3DS are hands-down gaming’s biggest examples of fan service, but all its add-on content is no mere cash grab. Nintendo treated its third-party newcomers with utmost respect, not just design-wise, but through their background stages as well. Now if you pardon me, I need to try and absorb the fact I can watch Bahamut ZERO nuke Midgar on a Nintendo system.

The Winner: Shovel Knight (A Plague of Shadows)

A surprising victor here—despite garnering only a single staff nomination versus Smash Bros. and Destiny's two apiece, Shovel Knight wins as the dark horse in the race. It's well-deserved, though; where other DLCs in 2015 expanded on their base games, A Plague of Shadows was completely transformative, creating an entirely new play experience from an already expertly designed game. Not only that, but it was free... an embarrassment of riches for fans of the game (of which the USgamer team has quite a few) to enjoy.

Runner-up: (2) Bloodborne (The Old Hunters) (2) Smash Bros. (Characters and stages) (tie)

Previous categories

  1. Most Rewarding Game
  2. Best Open World
  3. Best Character
  4. Best Level Design
  5. Biggest Disappointment
  6. Best Quest
  7. Biggest Surprise
  8. Best Emergent Gameplay
  9. Best Time-Waster

Tomorrow: USgamer's 2015 Game of the Year

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Comments 15

  • Avatar for nimzy #1 nimzy A year ago
    I think this year is the perfect time to mourn the death of the term "expansion pack."
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  • Avatar for twopenny #2 twopenny A year ago
    The Witcher 3's Hearts of Stone was amazing, and personally had the edge over Bloodborne's DLC (which I loved, too) for me. Hearts continues its examination of the game's major themes, then puts Geralt in a bunch of really unique situations/encounters. There's new equipment and customization options for players, too, which helps fix some of the late-game's progression plateau. While I don't think time will necessarily be super kind to the Witcher 3's gameplay, the storytelling and narrative design feels light years ahead of the curve, and the expansion is absolutely a high point.

    And, damn it, Gaunter O'Dimm might be my favorite character of the year.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #3 cldmstrsn A year ago
    @twopenny Did you know O'Dimm is also in Fallout 4? Tell me that doesn't look exactly like him!




    ?version=75434303664d5874c4e9ef6823835db9Edited January 2016 by cldmstrsn
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  • Avatar for Avante #4 Avante A year ago
    I would've nominated Driveclub, in my opinion the most underrated game of the current generation. Evolution Studios have provided a model for DLC that I wish other developers would pay attention to; actually listening to what their fans want, and delivering. The monthly updates are something I genuinely look forward to.

    I really can't think of another game (outside of MMOs) that's benefitted so much from post-release updates. Even if you exclude the things that should have been in the game at launch, it's been outstanding. Not a fan of season passes generally, but with Driveclub's I felt I got my money's worth several times over. And the Bikes expansion turned it into the best bike racing game in years (not a lot of competition there, but still...).
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  • Avatar for ojinnvoltz #5 ojinnvoltz A year ago
    @cldmstrsn@twopenny I think the O'Dimm thing could also be a reference to Stephen King. Walter o'Dim is another name for Randall Flagg, an antagonist throughout the Stephen King multiverse.

    Sorry for the weird tangent. Best expansion is The Old Hunters. From excels at adding to their games. I like Demon's Souls and Bloodborne more than Dark Souls, but for the longest time I thought Artorias of the Abyss was the best segment of any Souls game. That is until the Old Hunters. That sense of progression through it is astounding. For most of the time throughout Bloodborne, the clocktower is a fixture in the skyline. It's only natural that the player reaches there eventually a la Dracula's tower in Castlevania. And then beyond the clocktower! What a fantastic Lovecraftian continuation. A quaint coastal village. Also the idea of the nightmares being built upon each other is a great way of connecting the dream-like nature of the environment. When you're in the Hunter's Nightmare, a snail woman falls from the sky. Only by ascending the clocktower do you get to the fishing village, and from there you can see Yharnam (the Hunter's Nightmare) below the water. And there are masts sticking up around the fishing village; masts can be seen coming out of the mist in the Nightmare Frontier. And the Hunter's Dream is probably in the sky above the Frontier since it's really part of the Hunter's curse and not a place of reprieve as initially it seems which ties into the Dream becoming a place of danger and housing the final bosses of the game. Bottom line: The Old Hunters is fucking genius and anything Bloodborne should win any and all arbitrary awards.
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  • Avatar for rudderless #6 rudderless A year ago
    Not one mention for Mario Kart 8's DLC Pack 2, with 8 terrific new courses and 200cc mode? Pfft.
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  • Avatar for Darkarm66 #7 Darkarm66 A year ago
    I'd give Splatoon some credit because all the added content was free (acknowledging the fact that most of that content was probably on disc already) but it kept me engaged in a way that most games usually don't.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #8 Neifirst A year ago
    Not even a nomination for Mario Kart 8 DLC #2? Let's see: 16 new courses + new characters, costumes, and racers for $11.99 between both DLC packs. Wrong, wrong, wrong, USGamer.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #9 SatelliteOfLove A year ago
    Man, Mona's a great character design from a hue standpoint.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #10 Roto13 A year ago
    @Darkarm66 Do game updates really count as DLC? (But, then, Plague of Shadows is technically a game update, too.)
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  • Avatar for Darkarm66 #11 Darkarm66 A year ago
    @Roto13 Yeah they do if they actually add more or even alter how you play. And most games get developed with that content in there to begin just to make sure it stays compatible down the line
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  • Avatar for I-m-not-Daredevil #12 I-m-not-Daredevil A year ago
    All these games produced great DLC but Plague of Shadows was practically a whole new game - and it was free! A great winner :)
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  • Avatar for I-m-not-Daredevil #13 I-m-not-Daredevil A year ago
    @Neifirst Ah, only 8 new courses in 2015. Would have won easily if all that content came out last year.
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  • Avatar for seanmitchell #14 seanmitchell A year ago
    so many good choices this year. its hard to argue with shovel knight though
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  • Avatar for seanmitchell #15 seanmitchell A year ago
    @ojinnvoltz i didn't realize is was above the rest of it but that is awesome. the snail lady falling now makes sense
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