Monday, 7 March 2011

I miss proper expansion packs

Personally, I love a good expansion pack. This may sound a bit silly and redundant (as surely nobody would love a bad expansion pack), but I genuinely feel that game expansions have come under a bit of threat in the last couple of years. Fortunately it seems that Relic haven’t lost their touch, with the fantastic Dawn of War II: Retribution that dropped through my post hole last Friday.

As you may or may not know, Retribution has finally opened up the single player experience to five additional races on top of the vanilla space marine man tanks we have been steering through the campaign mode so far. Okay, the storyline has taken a slight hit so that the other races’ individual plots can be shoe horned into the same selection of maps, but hey – it adds variety. There’s certainly a fair amount of meaty, man shredding substance to it.

My real gripe with the current generation of game expansions lie with the three letters that I have now programmed myself to completely ignore: DLC (downloadable content for the three people out there who’re not in the know). It really bugs me when a developer thinks they can squeeze a extra few quid out of me in exchange for a new dog, a couple of maps or fifteen minutes of extra gameplay. The minimal change that the majority of DLC offers really grinds my rusted, cynical man gears.

There is so much cheekiness being passed under our noses in the world of DLC that I really can’t understand how people willing hand over their money like it were bottle caps or naked lady playing cards. I know I’ve said it so many times that my brain has managed to scratch it into the walls of my skull, but I remember a time when map packs were free.

Now we have games like Call of Duty and Halo that feel they can get away by charging close to £10 for a set of three maps. Personally I think this is daylight buggery, but many coin tossing shoppers will retort my sentiments by saying that they were getting bored with the original maps. Considering that maps in most games are mashed up areas from the single player mode, surely that just says the developers were lazy when they originally designed the multiplayer mode?

I think the absolute worst thing about DLC is that many companies seem to plan for it ahead, before the actual game is released. To me this just says that devs are now releasing games that aren’t even finished, that don’t include all the content of their original vision. The worst example of this in my swirling vortex of hate cloud is Bioshock 2. That game actually shipped with parts of the DLC content on the disc, with the actual purchase of the DLC merely unlocking files you had already bought.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if downloadable content actually offered more content, something that adds a radical change to the formula we already have. I’m curious about the Dead Space 2 mini-campaign that was released recently. That one actually sounds like it adds a little more than a funky haircut and a new skin for the protagonist’s crotch plate.


jen/haly said...

I wish there were proper expansion packs again too.
From things I've heard and from what I've played so far, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare feels more like a 'proper' one than other pieces of DLC I've played.

DLC is a great idea but far too many companies seem to exploit it for easy money. :/

Anthony said...

I've heard good things baout Undead Nightmare too, but I must admit that I haven't tried out any RDR DLC. From the quality I have seen though, I think it's fair to say that Rockstar have delivered some good content for that game, and GTA4.

I'm just more annoyed at the seemingly hundreds of other developers that offer insignificant new content as an excuse to grind more money out of people.