Free content updates, expansions, DLC – this year was full of reasons of revisit our favourite games.
Though it’s been a phenomenal year for new games, 2017 also saw a number of games, some fairly old, receive substantial content updates. Whether paid or free DLC, significant expansions that change the base game or new adventures to embark on, it was a great year for fans to revisit their favourite games again and again. Let’s take a look at the best DLCs, expansions and content updates for 2017.
Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds
Aloy’s adventure through the grand post-apocalyptic world of Horizon: Zero Dawn was full of beautiful landscapes, intense mystery and awkward sessions of arrow-flinging at rampaging robot animals. The Frozen Wilds delivers much of the same action, adding new intense beasts that are even more vicious, new weapons and gear, a heaping helping of side quests and a new story. This also takes place across the new northern wild lands area which looks downright incredible. While The Frozen Wilds won’t answer every single question you might have from the base game, it’s still a fun romp through a gorgeous open world that’s well worth the 10 or so hours it takes to beat everything.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Champion’s Ballad
Is the Champion’s Ballad the big story expansion that Breath of the Wild fans were hoping for? No, but it does offer a ton of new content with brief plot points calling back to the fabled Champions, new shrines, new bosses and even a sweet new motorcycle. Of course, there are other end-game challenges like having a weapon that one hit kills enemies but being susceptible to one hit kills yourself. It’s an invigorating challenge and a reason to dump several more hours into the large open world of Hyrule…even if there are still a bunch of mysteries to solve.
Dota 2: Dueling Fates
Valve Corporation has had a phenomenal year with Dota 2. The International saw its biggest prize pool in history with over $24 million in prizes. The game itself played host to a number of updates like the co-op campaign Siltbreaker but Dueling Fates is the one that deserves the most spotlight. It added two new heroes to the mix with Pangolier and Dark Willow and completely changed how MMR works for both ranked and unranked play (with ranked seasons now lasting six months). New hero guides have been implemented to help players find the build that suits them best. Then there’s Turbo Mode, a lightning fast, Arcade-like mode where Gold and XP flow more freely, respawn times are lowered and the action is quicker. In terms of just making the game more fun, Dota 2’s Dueling Fates is a great addition to the base game.
Warframe: Plains of Eidolon
It was the biggest update yet for Digital Extremes’ Warframe but also it’s most ambitious. After years of tight corridors and static objectives on each map, Warframe was going open world. The initial launch was a lot less ideal than many would have liked with economy issues, glitches, weird design choices and much more. However, the developer has refined the Plains of Eidolon to make its new Bounty System more rewarding and the overall quality of life more engaging. All that aside, the basic tenets of the Plains, from mining and fishing to battling enormous Eidolons, were still tons of fun. Gara may need a little more balancing and Focus 2.5 is only now getting the system on track but Plains of Eidolon is a worthy addition to one of the best free to play games yet.
Path of Exile: Fall of Oriath
Over the years, many games like Warframe and Dota 2 have been held as sterling examples of free to play gaming. However, nearly everyone seems to agree that Path of Exile is at the very top and perhaps the best Diablo-style action RPG currently available. In 2017, this was cemented further as the developer introduced Fall of Oriath. It added six new story acts with new locations and enemies, new gems and weapons, and the new Pantheon system for additional player powers. The fact that Grinding Gear Games added even more with War of the Atlas, significantly revamping the end-game maps system, goes to show how great Path of Exile is to its community.
Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City
Ashes of Ariandel wasn’t the best DLC for Dark Souls 3, especially with all the focus on PvP. The Ringed City made up for that immensely by introducing new lands to explore (including the ominous city in its name), new weapons and armour, and of course, new enemies to battle. The DLC also brought us several awesome boss fights. In fact, Darkeater Midr and Slave Knight Gael remain two of the best and most difficult boss battles in the game yet. The grim fantasy of Dark Souls 3 has always enticed us and The Ringed City leveraged that for an unforgettable last romp into misery.
Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court
If the level of depravity in Dark Souls isn’t enough for you, then Darkest Dungeon will satisfy that itch. This year saw The Crimson Court come into being with a new dungeon, a brand new faction of grotesque nightmares to fight, five new bosses,10 new buildings for upgrades and trinket sets for heroes offering their own set bonuses. Who are the Ancestors exactly? What is this new faction? How many more heroes will you send to die? The Crimson Court rekindled all of those burning questions for us.
Grim Dawn: Ashes of Malmouth
This seemed to be the year of “Diablo-like action RPGs that deliver way more value than Diablo”. Grim Dawn’s Ashes of Malmouth introduced its own version of the Necromancer but threw in the long-ranged, spell-wielding Inquisitor as well. This brought the game’s Masteries up significantly but we also received an increased level cap, two new story chapters spread across huge new areas, four new factions, hundreds of new items and much more. That’s only scratching the surface though and it’s crazy that Crate Entertainment offers so much for such a low price.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
Firaxis Games’ XCOM 2 was one of the best games of last year but War of the Chosen makes it even better. It adds the Chosen, three new enemies that can interfere in your battles, and three new factions complete with hero classes to fight them. Players will also have new environments to explore complete with new mission types, enemies, and new orders for fighting against the Chosen. You can even have certain soldiers bond to activate new abilities, add modifiers for more challenging missions or partake in community challenges for a chance at the leaderboards.
Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood
Continuing its epic saga, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn got even bigger with Stormblood which added huge new lands to explore, two new jobs, a number of battle system changes, and two new raids, one of them taking players back to Ivalice. Of course, you also have a new level cap to grind towards, new story missions and adventures, new gear and a number of exploration options like swimming and diving. Despite a bumpy launch, Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood continues the MMO’s claim as one of the best of all time.
Winner: Path of Exile – Fall of Oriath
Grinding Gear Games has been a fairly humble developer. When Path of Exile first arrived in 2013, it was lauded for its action RPG focus, insane customization options and the freedom to play how you wanted. Furthermore, it was completely free with only cosmetic options requiring payment. These were only really for those who wanted to support the game. Then, of course, Fall of Oriath came.
Fall of Oriath isn’t just a mere expansion to the game which added new areas, enemies and bosses. It was a new path forward for what was already a stellar game, refining how one plays the it while adding a ton of new content to complete. Issues like de-syncs and lag were also majorly addressed and players had even more reasons to play their favourite action RPG than before. The kicker is that all of this content was completely free, for no extra charge. That’s simply incredible and as a result, Path of Exile: Fall of Oriath is our pick for the best DLC, expansion and content update of 2017.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.