Ahh DLC. Do I really want to talk about it? It’s so often the case lately that those very words make my blood boil. Before I see the red mist and begin to ramble, know now that this isn’t me complaining about DLC. I’d call it ranting. So stick the kettle on, pour yourself a brew and make yourself comfortable.
Downloadable content is very much a part of modern gaming. It’s not so much the content that I take issue with, it is the manner in which gamers flock to it without really considering what they’re buying.
Free downloadable content is great, for the record. Let’s get that out there first. It’s an easy and appreciative way of developers thanking their consumers for playing their titles. It’s a simple gesture that often goes a long way, certainly in my eyes. But paid content, more so in multiplayer games, can really grind my gears.
My biggest gripe, is that of season passes. They are a cancer. Publishers love them. They print money. And gamers, despite every possible reason not to, seem to be lapping them up. Similar to the argument of pre-ordering a game, you are buying all of this content before it is released. In the case of DLC though, you’ve parted with your hard-earned cash potentially before it’s even started development. You usually have a vague outline from the developer about what you’ll get in return for your pennies, but your investment is still based on predictions and ideas that may or may not come to fruition.
I’ve bought season passes in the past. In fact, usually they have cost me more money than the base-game itself. Around 15 months ago, I got sucked into a trap I’d never envisaged I’d ever be in; I bought the season pass for Call Of Duty: Black Ops III. Please, don’t laugh at me… or judge me for that matter. Normally, I’d avoid multiplayer DLC like the plague, but I was having such a good time with it. Those first few weeks were an absolute ball and I can wholeheartedly say that it’s the best one since Call Of Duty: World At War; it’s definitely the one I’ve had the most fun on. So one day – maybe I’d had a drink… Hell, I must have had a drink! – I spent £40 on a season pass! I’d been playing Zombies with friends a couple of times, so maybe the additional zombie maps were a factor in my decision-making, but £40 on four map packs, where the first isn’t due out for another three or four months was incredibly silly of me, out of character too. In hindsight, it was totally idiotic. Do you know how many of these shiny, new maps I’ve actually played? Just four. The first four. That’s right, I only played the first map pack as the ‘Black Market’ ruined the game for me, players could get overpowered guns simply by pumping real-world money into the game. I haven’t played that game for a long while, and that’s such a shame because they had a good thing going for them. So yeah, I paid £40 for a single map pack. I dont actually think i even played all of those maps… great.
This wasn’t just my worst DLC purchase of 2015, it was one of the worst and poorly thought out purchases I’ve ever made in my life…
Woah! Was it really that long ago? 2015 sounds so long ago! Yeah, it unbelievably was. Anyway, instead of making me feel old, and depressing all you readers by reminding you that life is quickly passing us by, let’s swiftly move on.
Strangely enough, it wasn’t my Call Of Duty: Black Ops III purchases that let me down in 2015. My biggest disappointment of that year was owed to Fallout 4. Bethesda make some fantastic games, that’s undeniable, I just felt incredibly underwhelmed with the additional content on offer here. The content itself wasn’t actually bad, and thinking back on things, it’s certainly worth the discounted price I paid, I just expected more. If you look back at Bethesda’s previous games, the likes of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3 had amazing sets of DLC. They added vast new areas, huge new quest lines and a vast array of content. The offerings for Fallout 4 were a lot more stripped back in comparison. Perhaps, if the DLC from the pre-2009 games had not been as good as it had been, the DLC for Fallout 4 may not have been such a let down. It’s a similar story with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, if it wasnt for the high standards set by ‘The Shivering Isles‘ released for the game’s predecessor, then perhaps I would have thought more of the ‘Dragonborn‘ add-on. Going back to Fallout 4, although ‘Nuka World‘ looked nice – and gave us something we hadn’t seen before in the Fallout world – outside of lore and a handful of items, ‘Nuka World‘ doesn’t add all that much to the Fallout 4 experience. The previously released ‘Far Harbour‘ didn’t fare much better, it was basically a carbon copy of Fallout 3‘s ‘Point Lookout‘. To be fair, it’s around twice the size of Fallout 3’s hit add-on, but it lacks in content. There are a couple of new weapons, some armour too but nothing to get excited about. The story is okay, but the quests are linear and monotonous, we’ve done them all before a million times. ‘Nuka World‘ and ‘Far Harbour‘ were the only expansions to add new areas, the rest just fleshed out the building mechanics. Hardly worth forking out all that money for a £40 season pass.
If you did get the season pass for Fallout 4, I sincerely hope you managed to get it at it’s discounted price! Even then, I’ve been disappointed, but that’s probably only because I expected so much.
What’s that? You’re STILL laughing at my Call Of Duty purchase? To be fair, I can see the funny side too but oh, it gets worse. Much, much worse. The very first season pass I ever purchased was back in 2012. It was for a little gem called Saints Row: The Third and it was such a fun game. The humour was spot on, the gameplay was awesome and the DLC was short. Jumping in and buying the season pass remains to this day as the biggest waste of money I’ve ever made. Worse than the season pass for Call Of Duty: Black Ops III, and I’ll tell you why… The first two expansions had a combined disk space of 2mb. How outrageously… small. But what does this mean? A measly 2mb for two expansions that deliver new weapons, outfits, characters and missions seems strange to say the least. What it means, is that all of this content was already on the game disk and was available right from the start. Don’t get me wrong, the content was fun. Each add-on presented around a single hours worth of content but they weren’t terrible, just really short. The fact the ‘Genkibowl VII’ and ‘Gangstas In Space’ expansions were already on the disk is just too much to comprehend. ‘The Trouble with Clones’ took up around 30mb, which again, is pretty small which would suggest that most of it’s content was already on the disk. It’s sickening that a developer can create a full game, and then strips it into pieces and make you pay for certain parts.
That, my friends, is the horrifying sound of being shafted. THQ have ripped your theoretical trousers down and milked you dry.
Having said all of that, would you like to know something hilarious? There’s a reason that all of this content was on the disk and I’m going to confess something to you now. Only now, that in writing this out, I thought it was best to double-check my facts. It turns out that I’ve made a mistake, a huge mistake. That game I had bought all those years ago was the ‘Full Package’ edition; which, as the name suggests, has the majority of the DLC pre-installed. I bought it pre-owned so the codes had already been used by its previous owner, but in all honesty, I’d completely forgotten it was a bundled version, without the bundle in my case. Oh God… I feel so dumb. I’ve had all this anger built up about this whole DLC issue for nearly 5 years! Despite my catastrophic error, what I wrote still stands. There are games in the past that have been known to keep on-disk content back from the consumer, only allowing access for a price.
I don’t think my anger was completely unwarranted, as now that I’m aware I had the definitive edition, it feels like a bit of a dick-punch that the DLC was available from a redeemable code and not available to all that use the disk, a far way away from the likes of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game Of The Year Edition, or Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition. Both of these had the content on a disk that would install upon insertion and could be used on as many consoles/profiles as you wanted.
Sticking with season passes, they’re not always a bad thing. Buying them prematurely is not a good idea like I’ve said, but if you make the decision to pick the pass up when most of the content has been released then fair enough. At least that way, you’ve seen the content that interests you and you’re able to make an informed decision on whether it’s your thing. They can certainly save you money compared to buying each expansion separately. I just think it needs to be reiterated that it’s best to wait. Throwing money at a season pass isn’t getting you instant gratification and there are very few positive reasons to get in early. Season passes are pre-orders’ younger, meaner cousin.
Moving on from season passes. It’s not all doom and gloom. DLC can be a good thing, if it’s priced right. Map-packs in FPS games are absurd and I certainly won’t be buying another map pack any time soon. I managed to pick up every single map pack for Battlefield 4 for free last year, which was great. The problem was that nobody was playing them and I’d struggle to find a game on a particular map that wasn’t in the base game. Of course, the game was easily 3-years old at the time. I just think this adds emphasis that single player DLC is the way to go. There’s no doubt about it. It’s timeless and you don’t need to rely on other people playing on it to have fun. If it’s well priced, then it can often be a welcome addition to a game.
‘Undead Nightmares’ for Red Dead: Redemption was amazing. It added something completely new. ‘Blood and Wine‘ from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was incredible, mind you, so was ‘Hearts of Stone‘. ‘Minerva’s Den‘ from Bioshock 2 was great too. I could go one for ages, the likes of Grand Theft Auto IV, Borderlands 2, the Mass Effect series, Dragon Age: Origins, Dishonored have each delivered some top-notch content that perfectly compliment already decent games. Proving that when done right, DLC can be pretty awesome.
There you have it: my thoughts on DLC. While other gamers are sure to adore the wealth of map packs now commonplace in multiplayer shooters, it’s something that I’ve vowed never to contemplate buying ever again.
So, am I ready to concede that DLC is a wonderful part of modern gaming? Absolutely not. But perhaps I should look on it a little more favourably when done properly. I’ll approach my DLC as I seem to approach my gaming: wait. Patience is a virtue, guys. Let the dust settle, checkout some gameplay videos, read some reviews. Just don’t jump in head first, and for the love of God, stay away from day-one season passes! There’s always the chance it will end up in a sale within a month or two anyway.
…I can’t get over that whole Saints Row incident. How embarrassing, I’ll have sleepless nights about that now. Please, just ignore that whole section.