Expansion packs and DLC help extend a game's life, and keep it fresh and interesting. At least, it does if it's done right. And that's the subject of this week's community question as we enquire, which expansion pack or DLC do you think is the greatest? As always, we asked the USgamer team to answer the same question. Here's what they had to say:
For a long time I have carried my main World of Warcraft character forward: my Blood Elf Protection Paladin. I played World of Warcraft in beta and I was there at launch, but I wasn't really in the game until its first expansion.
Taking players from the lands of Azeroth, The Burning Crusade sent players through the Dark Portal that had remained quiet in vanilla. It introduced us not only to the shattered world of Outland, but also the Blood Elf and Draenei races. Before BC, I was always either a Human Warrior or Night Elf Hunter. (I know, I know. Night Elf Hunter was the most bog-standard race/class combo in vanilla. Is your name an offshoot of Legolas or Drizzt?) In Burning Crusade, I decided it was time for a change. I chose Blood Elf, since the Draenei didn't do much for me and Paladin, because I was avoiding being a Hunter again.
The class sang for me. And as a Protection Paladin, I was there on the frontline as a tank. Burning Crusade was the first time I tanked dungeons or raids. It was the first time I really ran both on a regular basis. It was when I finally joined a guild. Wandering across Hellfire, Zangarmarsh, and Nagrand was an amazing experience, one far stronger than I had in vanilla. I remember the late nights spent running Karazhan, Tempest Keep, Zul'Aman, and the Black Temple.
I've enjoyed the game since then, but Burning Crusade represented the perfect mix of game content and my current life situation. I'm unlikely to be able to get that perfect combo of content, shiny newness, and the ability to play incessantly at all hours of the day. I don't care about raiding like that anymore, I have no patience for guild drama. But for a great moment game and person were aligned.
There are two games that I'm having difficulty choosing between. World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King was an incredible expansion in my book, and I spent hundreds of hours playing through it. I particularly liked the way the leveling up quests, dungeons, and raids tied together the storyline, and think that the whole expansion had a simply brilliant feeling of progression. It just packed a tremendous amount of quality content over its duration that I believe represents the very best of what World of Warcraft has to offer.
However, I think I have to go with Hearthstone's continual updates as my favorite DLC. Some very creative and well designed additional card sets have helped keep the game interesting and compelling over its two and a half year lifespan, and the three DLC adventures have all been really enjoyable and challenging to play. Indeed, I'm really looking forward to the new Karazhan adventure that debuts next week.
What's really impressed me about Hearthstone, though, is the way that the developers have carefully tended to the metagame, generally keeping it really well balanced and fun to play. Sure, there have been a few overpowered cards released that have slightly upset the balance of things, but Blizzard has always been prompt to react and tweak anything that has proven problematic. The end result is one of the best PvP games out there - a brilliant mix of strategy, gamesmanship, and a little bit of luck.
Without question, my favorite DLC was Dragon Quest IX's. I can't believe how crazy they went with that — the creators published a new content update every week for an entire year, ranging from silly fan service (classic characters visiting the main inn to become permanent guests) to bonus dungeons to new side quests. For a game that already, at its base, could inspire 100+ hours of play, having these regular infusions of new material was just amazing. Man, I would love for a game I enjoy that much to come along again, and to keep churning out new material to keep things lively for that long.
It's rare that I spend a lot of time with DLC. Most of the time, I wind up moving on from a game before any of the major DLC starts dropping. Every once in a while, though, an expansion will come in that really hooks me. Far Harbor, instance. Or Mass Effect 2's Lair of the Shadow Broker.
But my absolute favorite piece of DLC is probably still Shovel Knight's Plague of Shadows - a totally free expansion that fundamentally alters the entire game. Playing as Plague Knight, you know you're in for something special the first time you walk behind the main village's scenery and spin down into Plague Knight's secret lair. It was so good that I happily played through Shovel Knight again while soaking in Plague Knight's unique story.
And did I mention that it was free?
Plague Knight is perhaps the best example of the love and care put into Shovel Knight, which is one of the best platformers I've ever played. I can't wait to try out Specter Knight and King Knight.
Shout-out to Kat for doing the heavy lifting this week, because my answer pretty much reflects hers. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows is a great little bit of DLC that completely changes up Shovel Knight’s platforming action, even though you re-tread many of the same levels. Throw that in with some seriously charming characters and a very reasonable price tag (free!!) and you have yourself a winner.
I’d actually love to see more DLC for platforming games. I normally don’t have the necessary time to finish the core quests in open-world games like Fallout 4 and Skyrim, so I don’t always get around to bothering with the DLC. But a great platformer gives you a few hours of action, and sometimes the fun ends long before you’re ready to say goodbye to your hero.
For example, I’d love to see an expansion for Image & Form’s Steamworld Dig, which ended on a cliffhanger. I’d also like a reason to keep on playing the follow-up, Steamworld Heist--
Wait, Steamworld Heist’s “Outsider” DLC has been available since April? Excuse me a moment.
[Leaves empty chair spinning in her wake]