While once it was a novelty, post-launch support for video games has now become the norm, and developers routinely add to their games and continue to expand them after their releases. From steady drips of quality of life improvements to major new content additions, there was plenty of that in 2020 as well. Here, we’ll be talking about the ten best expansions of the year.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
GHOST OF TSUSHIMA: LEGENDS
Ghost of Tsushima: Legends was a truly unexpected surprise, not only because its announcement came after the game’s launch out of nowhere, but also because it added multiplayer to a game that had been so focused on single player storytelling. It also proved to be a rare case of multiplayer not feeling shoehorned into an experience where it did not belong. With multiple separate modes, a healthy amount of story-driven content, exceptional class-based gameplay, and even a post-release raid, Legends turned out to be a surprisingly essential part of the Ghost of Tsushima experience. The fact that it was added to the game for free made it that much more irresistible.
METRO EXODUS: SAM’S STORY
Metro Exodus may have missed the mark somewhat with its first expansion, but its second chunk of post-launch content, Sam’s Story, was a perfect encapsulation of everything that made the base game itself so good. An excellent new location to explore, a solid mix of semi-open world gameplay and expertly crafted linear sections, typically engaging storytelling, all wrapped up together in a meaty and beautiful-looking package. Sam’s Story did exactly what fans of Exodus wanted it to- it delivered more of the same.
Remedy Entertainment have revealed their bold and ambitious plan to bring together several of their properties into a single, larger universe, with Control and Alan Wake being the first two to join hands. Control’s AWE DLC was the first step in that shared universe, and though it didn’t stick the landing perfectly, it was still an exciting glimpse at what lies ahead. On top of delivering more of the frantic combat and solid design that characterized the base game, AWE also managed to bring Alan Wake into the Control universe in satisfying fashion. We can’t wait to see where Remedy’s universe goes from here.
DESTINY 2: BEYOND LIGHT
Destiny has been caught in a seemingly never-ending loop of disappointment and recovery for pretty much as long as it’s been around, and every new step that the series takes seems to come with an equal number of pros and cons. Beyond Light was a major step forward for Destiny 2, and though it does leave a few things to be desired (the PvP side of things especially has a lot of room for improvement right now), those who’re looking for more solid PvE content have been serviced well enough by the newest expansion. An excellent raid, fun new Exotics, and largely enjoyable endgame content ensure that longtime Destiny players will have more than enough reasons to check this one out.
MORTAL KOMBAT 11: AFTERMATH
No one really expected NetherRealm Studios to make a single player story-driven expansion for Mortal Kombat 11, especially not when they were already so focused on continuing to add to the game’s roster with DLC characters. Aftermath, then, was the very definition of a pleasant surprise- more than pleasant, in fact. New stages and added mechanics like Friendships and Stage Fatalities were great, each of the new characters was a blast to play as, and in true Mortal Kombat fashion, the new story content was absolutely bonkers, bringing the story of the series to a satisfying conclusion (for now, at least).
GEARS 5: HIVEBUSTERS
The three player co-op Escape mode in Gears 5 was an enjoyable experiment, but it was definitely the weakest part of that meaty package. A single player expansion telling the origin story of that trio didn’t seem like it would be much of an unmissable experience- but boy, did that turn out to be a wrong assumption. Gears 5: Hivebusters is absolutely fantastic. It captures that thrill of frantic combat in tense encounters the way only a Gears of War game can, and keeps things moving at an excellent pace as you move from one expertly designed environment and superbly crafted scenario to the other. Hivebusters is pretty short at roughly three hours long, but it’s also the very definition of “packing a punch.”
REMNANT: FROM THE ASHES – SUBJECT 2923
Gunfire Games’ Souls-inspired shooter RPG Remnant: From the Ashes was one of 2019’s best and biggest surprises, and through steady and consistent post-launch support, the game has maintained a healthy and dedicated playerbase even over a year after its release. With Subject 2923, Remnant’s story was brought to a close in appropriately solid fashion. Rich and engaging lore, thrilling boss fights, oodles of secrets to discover, an entirely new biome to explore- Remnant’s newest DLC was absolutely brimming with compelling new additions.
BORDERLANDS 3: PSYCHO KRIEG AND THE FANTASTIC FUSTERCLUCK
Borderlands 3 has seen no shortage of updates and post-launch content additions since its release in late 2019, but the colourfully named Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Flustercluck is probably one of the best pieces of post-launch DLC the game has had to date. It doesn’t set the world on fire, but thanks to some fun new weapons, a great boss fight, and just how ridiculous it tends to get, Psycho Krieg is still easy to recommend to anyone who enjoyed the base game.
POKEMON SWORD AND SHIELD: THE CROWN TUNDRA
Pokemon Sword and Shield were the first time ever that Pokemon as a series released expansions for a mainline game. It’s fair to say that it was a largely successful first attempt. The second expansion, The Crown Tundra, suffers from a lot of the same issues as the base game itself, such as a lack of ambition and some ideas that haven’t been fleshed out properly, but by and large it’s a fun new addition to the larger experience. There’s more monsters to catch, a new location to explore, and more battles to be fought, and if you manage your expectations, there’s a lot of fun to be had here.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT: SHADOWLANDS
World of Warcraft’s enduring quality even close to two decades after it first came out has to be one of the most impressive things we’ve ever seen in this industry. The MMORPG has, however, hit a few stumbles over the past few years. In 2020, however, with Shadowlands, it came the closest it has in a long time to an unreserved victory. The changes Shadowlands makes to progression are mostly all for the better, there’s a bevy of new content to dive into, the new locations and dungeons in the game are excellent new additions, and the things that the expansion contributes to the game’s narrative and world are hard not to like. Shadowlands is easily one of the better WoW expansions in recent memory.
GEARS 5: HIVEBUSTERS
Gears of War isn’t really a series that does single player expansions too often, and Gears 5, given its consistent ongoing multiplayer support, didn’t seem like a likely candidate for it either, especially not so long after launch. The Coalition surprised fans with Gears 5: Hivebusters, and we’re so glad they did- because it’s easily some of the best Gears content they’ve ever made. Hivebusters is gorgeous, tightly paced, tells an engaging (if unspectacular) story, and is packed full of masterfully crafted combat encounters and set-pieces the way you would want a quintessential Gears experience to be. Like the base Gears 5 itself, it makes us more than a little optimistic about the franchise’s future.