Blog of the Blood God: The New Dragon Age DLC and the Trickiness of Downloadable Content for RPGs

Blog of the Blood God: The New Dragon Age DLC and the Trickiness of Downloadable Content for RPGs

How relevant is DLC for a year-old RPG? Depends.

Earlier this week, BioWare launched a new batch of DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, their nearly year-old RPG that I enjoyed quite a bit last year.

Called "The Descent," it's essentially a new raid positioned as a side story, bringing with it the expected amount of new treasure and enemies. Its premise is interesting enough - a journey to the world's Moria-like Deep Roads - but I find that I can't muster up the interest to download it. Outside of being able to spend more time with my party members and score some new gear, there doesn't seem to be much of a point to going back, not when I have Bloodborne to finish.

I didn't expect to feel this way about Dragon Age: Inquisition. When the story wrapped on a cliffhanger, I immediately wanted to play more. I liked my party, I liked my character, and I loved riding through its beautiful environments. I figured that I would immediately play whatever DLC came out.

When Jaws of Hakkon came out in March, I immediately went to download it only to discover that it was a timed exclusive for the Xbox One, making it incompatible with my save. I set it aside and forgot about it. In the months that follows, BioWare released a handful of DLC packs, most of them consisting of armor, mounts, and thrones for Skyhold. In that time, my interest in picking up Dragon Age: Inquisition again waned.

In an ideal world, Dragon Age: Inquisition would receive a meaty expansion pack - something similar to the underrated Dragon Age: Awakening. Full-blown expansion packs are considered somewhat archaic in the current environment, but they generally work well with RPGs, extending the overall story and further building out the characters and the world. In lieu of a semi-sequel, Skyrim's Dawnguard is a good example of an expansion that brought with it a new faction, a large number of new quests, and a meaty story that added significantly to the original game.

Dawnguard.

The problem most RPG DLC has is that it feels disconnected from the original experience. After saving the world, it feels odd to jump back in and travel to a new area to take part in a sidestory. The stakes are naturally lower. The gear feels superfluous, nullifying the sense of progression. What's the point of a fancy new sword if you're just going to turn off the game for six months?

Though Inquisition's new DLC is comparatively large - five hours is nothing to sniff at - it's also fairly conservative. It doesn't build on the base game in the same fashion as Dawnguard. It feels like it's meant for a Game of the Year Edition, which EA is almost certainly preparing for the fall.

With a sequel seemingly inevitable, though - like I said, Inquisition ends on a pretty big cliffhanger - Inquisition might be better served by a true expansion. A prelude, perhaps, that ties up Inquisition and bridges the gap with the next game. That's the kind of DLC I can see myself downloading.

In the meantime, if you haven't played Dragon Age: Inquisition, now is actually a good time to give it a shot. All that extra DLC will tie in very nicely with what is still a very strong RPG. For the rest of us, the wait is on for the sequel.

Interested in more RPG coverage? Check out our weekly RPG podcast, Axe of the Blood God, updated every Friday.

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Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

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