Downloadable content (DLC) has become a controversial term in the games industry. While it's undeniable some developers forsake a game's main quest in favor of making and cashing in on DLC as quickly as possible, we shouldn't turn our backs on the very idea of add-on content.
DLC lets us stay with our favorite characters a bit longer when we'd otherwise have to say goodbye. DLC can let an anemic game become more rounded-out and robust. And as far as the Wii U is concerned, DLC is a lifeline for a very trim library.
2015 alone has had some great DLC, some of which costs zero smackers. Keep playing.
Super Smash Bros Wii U / Nintendo 3DS: Ryu and Suzaku Castle
The Wii U and Nintendo 3DS iteration of Nintendo's red-hot Super Smash Bros series have a lot of great DLC. You can grab returning characters from Super Smash Bros Melee and Brawl, and you can even buy a large assortment of costumes for your Mii fighters (let's face it -- said Mii costumes are the only way you're going to get your Mega Man fill this year).
But the greatest bit of DLC is the addition of Street Fighter's Ryu and his preferred brawling territory, Street Fighter II's Suzaku Castle. The fearsome warrior juts out of Smash Bros' colorful roster like a broken thumb, and we love it.
Just think about it: Ryu, ever-hungry for a greater challenge, wandered into a universe populated by technicolor rodents and children. And he stayed.
Dragon Age: Inquisition - Trespasser Story DLC
Set two years after the ending of the main game, the Trespasser story for Dragon Age: Inquisition puts you in the heavy boots of an Inquisitor who has to deal with a Qunari invasion. Trespasser's separation from the main game's timeline gives it a degree of narrative freedom that adds layers to BioWare's already-epic story.
Moreover, Trespasser takes place in the Crossroads, an uneasy and unforgettable land teeming with Qunari and monsters. Trespasser is the last of Dragon Age: Inquisition's single-player story DLC, so savor it.
Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows
Shovel Knight's cast of villains is neat, and the bird-beaked Plague Knight really stands out from his evil brethren. It's no mystery why this sharp, sarcastic alchemist was chosen to star in the first major story-based DLC for Yacht Club Games' action hit.
Plague Knight bears the colors of nausea and disease, which makes him right at home in Shovel Knight's territory. While you probably trod across Plague of Shadows' levels once before as Shovel Knight, playing through them with Plague Knight's skillset (long-distance attacks, floaty jumps) makes the cunning chemist's adventure feel like a completely new game.
Kat's already gone into detail about why Plague of Shadows is a worthy addition to Shovel Knight's golden legacy. Also: It's free.
Mortal Kombat X: Predator and Jason
The Mortal Kombat series serves as a convenient stage for killers to put on their best (worst?) shows. There's no need to for a psychopath to dial back their bloodlust: Everything and anything is permissible.
As a consequence, two of Mortal Kombat X's guest characters, the Predator and Jason Voorhees, fit into the game as snugly as a knife between ribs. The killer from Camp Crystal Lake and one of the universe's deadliest hunters put their best faces forward for the event (even though one face is covered with a mask, and the other is just darn ugly).
Brutality is king in Mortal Kombat. For these two, an engraved invitation to skin people alive is like attending a party with an open bar.
Destiny : The Taken King
Destiny's rough start was the subject of a good deal of scrutiny. People wondered if Bungie's fantastical first-person shooter was dead on arrival, and if that apparent failure would permanently damage the studio's status as a top-tier developer.
One year since its release, Destiny has turned itself around very nicely with the aid of its latest expansion, The Taken King. Our own Jaz gave The Taken King a near-perfect score, praising its improved PvP, the increased enemy variety, and its much-improved voice acting (sorry, Peter Dinklage).
Compared to Destiny 1.0, Destiny: The Taken King is like a broken moon wizard who picked himself up, trimmed his beard, got a solid job, and started giving back to his community. Great job, Bungie.
Mario Kart 8: Animal Crossing-themed Racers, Track
The second DLC pack for Mario Kart 8 brings Animal Crossing's Villager characters to the races, most notably Isabelle. The adorable shih tzu is paired with a moped that's so cute, we could eat it up. Tires and all.
The pack also contains the Animal Crossing-themed race course, which is diverse as well as straight-up beautiful. It cycles through the seasons, treating you to soft spring days and brightly-lit winter nights (which are paired with slippery roads). You might even spot a certain guitar-strumming hound in the background. Go KK Rider!
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate - Monthly DLC Packs
Lucky Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate owners have been enjoying a plethora of DLC through much of 2015. Aside from a steady stream of new missions and items, there have also been Link costumes and weapons, Animal Crossing-themed stuff, Final Fantasy armor, and lots more (free!) series-hopping goodness.
There's no question that you get your money's worth out of this 3DS Monster Hunter title.
Hyrule Warriors: Boss Pack
Hack-and-slash game Hyrule Warriors managed to extend its life admirably with some meaty DLC packs that add lots of new characters, stages, costumes, and items.
The Boss Pack for Hyrule Warriors admittedly isn't as content-heavy as its predecessors. However -- and this is important -- it gives you the option to play as the dread king Ganon in his beast form. You can, in other words, transform into a giant buffalo-pig who literally towers over everything else on the battlefield. And if any gnats try and come after you with their laughable swords and spears, you are well within your right to squash them with your little finger.
Out of all the DLC featured on this list, Hyrule Warriors' Boss Pack is the one you ought to reach for after a bad day at work.
Nintendo's third-person ink-shooter doesn't feature DLC in the traditional sense. Rather, we received a core idea in May, and Nintendo has been adding to it since. There's been a strong and steady flow of content, including new stages, new weapons, new features, and time-limited Splatfest events that challenge us to defend our honor in pop culture wars. Incidentally, cats rule, dogs drool.
Until recently, Nintendo has been hesitant to let its games take full advantage of connectivity. Splatoon is an interesting showcase of how the company has changed its song since.