Downloadable content is a hot topic. There always seems to be discussion surrounding whether it should be free, if it isn’t what it should include, or whether a season pass is worthwhile. Even with content that is essentially added hours of gameplay, some say it isn’t worth paying extra for. I personally enjoy story based DLC, because I see an appeal in continued storytelling within the context of a game. For the examples listed below, the games on their own are complete, but for anyone who didn’t want it to end, the possibility was there. I’ve compiled a list of DLCs I, and the other Game Savvy writers, think are particularly good. Here’s our top 10 favourite story based DLCs.
10) Dragon Age Inquisition: Trespasser
I have mixed feelings about Trespasser, which is why it only makes it to number 10 on my list despite being probably the most popular DLC from my second favourite game series. My criticism is that the gameplay itself is very linear, whereas the rest of the game is open. The beginning is fun, the end is amazing, but the parts in the middle honestly get a bit dull. That being said, it adds vital plot points to the base game, plus gives the Inquisitor a chance to catch up with all of their companions. It’s a BioWare game, so the storytelling is always going to be phenomenal.
9) Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – Jack the Ripper
Starting us off is my all time favourite Assassin’s Creed title. The treatment of historical characters in Assassin’s Creed games seems to be a hot topic, with some arguing that it’s cheesy and adds nothing to the plot, but personally I’ve always thought it was fun. The history and mystery behind Jack the Ripper has always fascinated me, so the ability to chase him down within one of my favourite game universes is really a treat. What story is more fitting for a game about Assassin’s set in gritty 19th century London than one of the most famous serial killers? If you’re asking me (and you are, because I’m writing this article), then the answer is none.
8) Fallout New Vegas
We couldn’t pick just one. Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road – The New Vegas DLCs play like full separate games, with the Honest Hearts DLC going so far as to expand the Courier’s tale outside of the Mojave into the Utah wilderness. Each DLC story includes new quests, discoverable locations, bad guys, and companions – all of which also serve to broaden the base game’s lore. Each story is fully encapsulated and offers several added enjoyable hours of extra gameplay without seeming like a chore for completionists.
7) Mass Effect 2: Lair of The Shadow Broker
Speaking of BioWare, here is another entry that surprisingly was not suggested by me! Lair of the Shadow Broker was a comparatively large Mass Effect DLC, that had Shepard assisting Liara in tracking down the mysterious Shadow Broker and saved a kidnaped friend. While Liara isn’t one of my personal favourite companions, I know many people love her, which made having the opportunity to go another adventure with her (which also had bonus romance content) a big selling point. While the DLC technically can be played at any point, it makes more sense to play it near the end of the game.
6) The Witcher 3; Hearts of Stone
The Witcher 3 is such a highly regarded game that I think they could have released DLC about Geralt trimming his beard and people would have raved about it. The first DLC, Heart of Stone, adds an additional questline on to the game, where Geralt is caught up in a mysterious plot! There are also a handful of side quests, new map locations, and a new romance! Hearts of Stone is its own story that can be started fresh, or during the main game, but is probably best left until the main story is completed. The DLC adds around 15 hours of gameplay.
5) Skyrim; Dawnguard
This is a DLC that integrates well into the rest of the game. It can be done at any time after level 10, and adds interesting plot elements, items, and abilities to the rest of the game (vampire lord is the greatest ability). The questline for Dawnguard is fun, and it also includes interesting/profitable side quests like finding Arvak’s skull and gaining a spectral horse. It’s also replayable because you can side with the vampires or the Dawnguard. The only reason this is at number 5 on the list is because of Serana, possibly the most irritating companion in all of Skyrim in my opinion. If I didn’t have to deal with her so much, Dawnguard would be my number one.
4) The Witcher 3; Blood and Wine
Blood and Wine was a big one! With an entire new realm to explore, a pretty lengthy main quest, plus a number of side quests, the DLC is well over an additional 20 hours of gameplay. That’s not a small number. Along with all the extra quests and new areas to explore comes new monster, weapons, and a vineyard for Geralt to hang out in. The story is packed full of mystery and intrigue, making it a truly enjoyable addition to the main game. Like Hearts of Stone, Blood and Wine can also be started as its own new save, or continued from the main game.
3) Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare
Most of the DLCs on this list are an additional main quest, or a new area to explore. Undead Nightmare is something different all on its own. This absolute gem takes the original Red Dead Redemption game, gives it a scary makeover, and completely remakes the campaign to be about zombies. This is a full game, and honestly I think it is better than the original. The only thing better than cowboys is cowboys fighting zombies. I’ll be talking about this game more in an upcoming article, but as a DLC, Undead Nightmare was a game changer (literally) with how well it stands alone. It’s no wonder it received such amazing ratings across the board. I’ve yet to see a game completely reinvent itself the way Undead Nightmare did.
2) Dragon Age Origins Awakening
On the topic of DLCs that function well as stand alone games, we have Dragon Age Origins Awakening. This is a personal favourite for me. Of all of the Dragon Age DLCs, I think it is the most interesting, as well as the most replayable. You can continue the story using your Origins player character, or create an entirely new one. The story ties well into the games (and books), and also introduces a number of memorable new characters with interesting backstories. Nathaniel Howe, for example, who can be recruited after releasing him from your prison cell. Awakening consists of one main questline, as well as a significant number of side quests and companion quests. The main quest has significant ties to the lore of the game universe, which is a trait I think takes a DLC from good to great.
1) Skyrim; Dragonborn
Look, Skyrim is my favourite game, but there are a lot of reasons why I think Dragonborn is a fantastic DLC. As with DAO Awakening, the main quest ties well into Elder Scrolls lore. There is also an entirely new map added on to the game, with an almost overwhelming number of new side quests. There are new abilities and shouts to learn, a Daedric Prince to ally with or possibly work against, and an incredibly intriguing villain to take on (you can also ride dragons, so that immediately makes it the greatest). The story can be started after a specific checkpoint in the main questline of the base game, and can be played alongside the main game easily.
Story based DLC is a great way for game developers to expand on the lore, bridge gaps between games, and give players more time in worlds they love. These are just a few of the many wonderful DLCs that I, and my friends at game Savvy, particularly enjoy. Tell us about yours in the comments!