We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: this generation of consoles has seen the way publishers and developers make money change irreversibly. As every console is designed to be connected to the internet 24/7, game makers can offer us extra content including new missions, characters, costumes, and even new game modes… for a price.
The rise of DLC (Downloadable Content) has led to some truly wonderful gaming experiences, but at the same time some truly terrible gaming sins have been all too regularly committed. Today The Newb Review makes note of the DLC Dos and Don’ts: dishing out praise to those that produce particularly good DLC, and condemning those that have earned our scorn through their shameful practices.
Do: Experiment With Setting and Game Types
Example: Left 4 Dead 2 – The Passing
As well as offering a new story mode campaign in which you meet up with the survivors from the original Left 4 Dead, Valve offered up an ever-changing multiplayer mode called Mutations. Each week a new game mode was made available for the players to test out, with a total of about 20 different modes on the cards.
So far the game modes have consisted of Last Gnome on Earth – players must carry a gnome from the start of the game all the way to the end (did I mention that the gnome attracts the zombie horde?), Bleed out Mode – survivors have no health packs and their health is slowly draining away to zero, with the only way to stay alive being popping pills or shooting up adrenaline, and Chainsaw Massacre – the only weapon available is a chainsaw with unlimited ammo. As of writing only a handful of the Mutations have been released to the public – frankly we cannot wait to try them all out.
Other notable examples: Borderlands – The Zombie Island of Dr Ned, Borderlands – The Secret Armoury of General Knoxx,
Don’t: Charge For Things That Are Already on the Disk
Example: Soul Calibur 4 – Darth Vader/Yoda
Soul Calibur 4 had a rather erroneous tie-in with Star Wars the Force Unleashed that added Darth Vader’s Apprentice, as well as console specific characters Darth Vader (for PS3) and Yoda (for Xbox 360). Despite assurances that each character would remain exclusive to their specific console (and evidence to suggest that they were lying, such as a blank character icon in the character select screen) within a few months of release, lo and behold; Darth Vader became available for download on 360 and Yoda became available for PS3 users; at a price of course.
Those foolish enough to actually download the characters were incensed to find that the download was a mere few kilobytes, evidence that the character was on the disk all along.
Other Notable Examples: Bioshock 2 – Multiplayer maps, Beautiful Katamari.
Do: Take Your Time To Make Something Decent
Example: Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares
Despite being a perfectly decent game, Resident Evil 5 faced a lot of criticism from fans for being too action oriented and forsaking the personality and atmosphere of previous Resident Evil games. Enter Resident Evil 5’s Lost in Nightmares; a flashback mission that takes place during Chris and Jill’s hunt for the founder of the Umbrella Corporation, was released nearly a year after the game’s original release.
By mixing old school Resident Evil puzzle solving, the co-operative gameplay of Resident Evil 5 and a lashing of creepy Resident Evil ambience, Lost in Nightmares was a fantastic addition that showed the possible future of the Resident Evil franchise.
Other Notable Examples: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – The Shivering Isles, Resident Evil 5 – Desperate Escape
Don’t: Charge For Useless Crap
Example: The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – Horse Armour
Back in the early days of Downloadable content Bethesda released the infamous Horse Armour pack for Oblivion. For 200 Microsoft points (about £1.50) you could purchase some crappy looking armour to protect your in game horse. Never mind the fact that it should have been in the retail game in the first place, the armour actually offered little protection for your precious horse!
The horse armour pack is the epitome of useless overpriced crap, so much so that despite Bethesda apologising for it on numerous occasions, whenever you look in the mirror at midnight and say “useless crap” five times the shadowy image of an armoured horse will appear behind you and steal your precious Microsoft points.
Other notable examples: Mass Effect 2 – Alternate Appearance Pack, Beautiful Katamari – Cousins pack/Presents pack.
Do: Continue To Support Your Titles
Example: Rock Band
Rock Band is an incredibly rare and wonderful beast in the world of Downloadable content. Originally released in 2007, Rock Band and its subsequent sequels have been bombarded with weekly downloadble tracks that have continued to breathe life into the game, long after competitors have become stale. As of writing there are aproximately 1,500 downloadable tracks on offer, with more added each week.
As if this weren’t good enough, if you so happen to decide to upgrade from one version of Rock Band to another more recent version, you can import all of the songs from previous games – at a small price – and use all of your downloadable content without having to buy it again. In short, Rock Band is Fantastic.
Other Notable Examples: Mass Effect 2,
Don’t: Split the Audience
With the release of any substantial online multiplayer expansion there comes with it a risk of dividing up the audience between those that have purchased the add-on and those that have not. In a worst case scenario this will mean that those that have gone ahead and bought the downloadable content will not be able to play with those that have not purchased it.
This is exactly the case with Saints Row 2; a game with a sizeable co-operative component. Once paid for downloadable missions were released, it split the community in two, stopping those with the content from playing with those without the content. This infuriated users the world over, including our very own site writer Campfire.
Other Notable Examples: Very few others of note. Thankfully!
Think we’ve missed off a few blatent DLC sins? Or have we neglected to praise a specific game that you feel has done a brilliant job with its DLC? Leave us a comment below and let the world know what you’re thinking.
- Luke Mears