Living on beyond launch in the best way possible.
Some games are so good, we just cannot get enough of them. Others show potential, but never truly tap into it as well as they should. Still others hint at interesting ideas, but leave you wanting for more. In all these circumstances and more, expansions save the day. It’s not always easy to get an expansion right- how much do you hold back? How big do you go? How much should it cost? But thankfully, there were plenty of worthy and quite meaty DLCs for several games this year. Here, we’ll be taking a look at ten of our own favourites, before picking out what we felt was the best of the best.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
THE NOMINEES ARE…
What do you get when you take the design, mechanics, and atmosphere of the incredible Prey, and put them to use in a roguelike experience? You get a heavy dose of excellence, which is exactly what Mooncrash is. It offers an experience that is, at its core, so much like the best part of Prey, but throws in new elements and mechanics to significantly change things up as well. Using the different powers of each playable characters is a blast, while that inherently addictive loop of “one more run”, which so many roguelikes are defined by, makes the experience infinitely replayable and endlessly enjoyable.
FORZA HORIZON 4: FORTUNE ISLAND
Forza Horizon 4 is one of the best games of the year, and one of the greatest racing games ever made, so we’ll take any excuse we can get to play more of it. Fortune Island knows that all it needs to do is provide more– just more new areas to drive around in, more events to take part in, more cars to drive and race with, and tons of other side activities to keep you busy for plenty of time. It’s an extremely meaty piece of content, and the fact that it’s all very, very well made only adds to its allure.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT: BATTLE FOR AZEROTH
World of Warcraft is fourteen years old- has anyone told Blizzard? One after the other, they continue to put out massive new expansions for their wildly popular MMORPG, and for the most part, they’re very impressive new additions. 2018’s Battle for Azeroth didn’t get everything right, and if you were to ask a longtime WoW player, they’d certainly let you know about everything that’s wrong with it- but there’s also plenty that’s right with it. Some beautiful art, a gripping new narrative, thrilling raid encounters and some fun new mechanics are among the expansion’s biggest strengths, and though certain things, such as the more frustrating than ever grind, do deserve criticism, the parts of Azeroth that are good are good enough to compel you to see it all the way through.
ASSASSIN’S CREED ORIGINS: CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey may have dominated all Assassin’s Creed-related headlines in the back half of 2018, but the franchise’s success this year isn’t limited to just its newest entry. In March, Ubisoft released Origins’ final DLC, called Curse of the Pharaohs, and it was absolutely fantastic. You’re almost always in for a ton of fun when Assassin’s Creed chooses to let go of its mostly historical settings and goes instead for something outlandish and fantastical, and Curse of the Pharaohs was a perfect illustration of that notion. Most importantly, it was also brimming with meaningful content, and could easily provide roughly fifteen hours of additional gameplay, all of which is to say that it was well worth the price of entry.
NO MAN’S SKY NEXT
Hello Games had been quietly working on delivering on their initial promise of No Man’s Sky ever since the game’s initial release, and had, over the course of two years, put out a few great updates. No Man’s Sky NEXT was a culmination of that long road to redemption. Multiplayer, expanded base building, the addition of an optional third person perspective, and many new features were added on to deliver an experience that was, at its core, obviously still No Man’s Sky, but much better than it had ever been. With NEXT, No Man’s Sky became the game it was always meant to be.
FAR CRY 5: DEAD LIVING ZOMBIES
Just like the other two DLCs that Ubisoft put out for Far Cry 5, Dead Living Zombies is guilty of a few flaws, such as not really leveraging the biggest strengths of the base game in any meaningful ways. And while that makes for an experience that is shallower than Far Cry 5 itself, the pure, campy charm of Dead Living Zombies is also undeniable. With humour that is, for the most part, pretty well delivered, and mindless action that involves blowing zombie brains one wave after the other, Dead Living Zombies makes for a good time, if nothing else.
SPIDER-MAN: THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
When we were done with the campaign in Spider-Man, we were obviously thrilled, but just as powerful was the feeling of wanting more. And more is exactly what Insomniac gave us with the DLC for Spider-Man. More of the same excellent combat, more of the same dreamy traversal, more of the same charming characters, witty writing, and excellent acting. Spider-Man split its DLC into three episodes, and while there’s an argument to be made that that may have hurt its pacing, taken as a whole, The City That Never Sleeps was a meaty and immensely enjoyable addition to an already amazing game.
DESTINY 2: FORSAKEN
Destiny 2 was a game that made a lot of fans unhappy. While it was a serviceable sequel, it didn’t feel like the step forward many had hoped it would be. The two subsequent DLCs for it that Bungie put out – Warmind and Curse of Osiris – were sorely disappointing, if we’re being generous. However, much like The Taken King turned things around for a failing Destiny, Forsaken did the very same for Destiny 2. In many ways, it almost felt like a true sequel, the one fans had been waiting for for several years. It told a gripping story, a wealth of content, an engaging lootgrind, and several beautiful locations to explore and gawk at. Here’s hoping this represents a continuous growth for the franchise, rather than yet another temporary reprieve.
XENOBLADE CHRONICLES 2: TORNA- THE GOLDEN COUNTRY
The size and scope of Torna- The Golden Country is, to say the very least, staggering. For a game that was already 80-100 hours long, one would expect its expansions to be shorter, bite-sized versions of the same experience. Torna, on the other hand, was pretty much an entirely new game in its own right. Telling a full fledged story, set in a new, vast environment, and holding content worth anywhere between 20-30 hours, Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna- The Golden Country was a much meatier and more meaningfully packed experience than any of us could have hoped for.
SPLATOON 2: OCTO EXPANSION
No one really plays Splatoon for the single player. That’s because Splatoon as a series hasn’t ever really cared much about single player- until very recently, that is. Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of 2018. Rather than working on a huge update with new maps and weapons and other things to add to the wildly popular multiplayer mode, Nintendo instead chose to go all in on the single player front. What we got was a surprisingly long campaign that was, by all accounts better than the campaign in the base game itself. Something else that was surprising was that it dived deeper into the series’ narrative background and lore than anyone had expected it to, and did it really well. If Octo Expansion is indicative of the kind of single player content Splatoon is capable of delivering, then we can’t wait to see what the inevitable Splatoon 3 will have in store for us.
AND THE WINNER IS…
ASSASSIN’S CREED ORIGINS: CURSE OF THE PHARAOHS
Where most expansions are, as the word suggests, extensions of the game that they spawn from, once in a while, one comes along that chooses to not just build on a foundation, but to put a completely different spin on it. That is exactly what Curse of the Pharaohs is. Throughout the course of its 10-15 hours, this excellent piece of content takes us to outlandish and visually stunning locations that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen in an Assassin’s Creed game, all of which is part of an entirely new excellently designed map. Almost at all times, Curse of the Pharaohs exhibits the same level of quality that you can find in Origins itself, and at times, it even exceeds it. Ubisoft clearly devoted all their energies into the development of this DLC, in order to make sure that it was the best experience it could possibly be, and that is abundantly clear in the final product.