Downloadable content is a divisive topic. On one hand, it is great when developers put some extra time into an already released title and give you the option to pay a little more to gain access to a wealth of extra content for your favorite game. On the other hand, many believe that the DLC that is eventually released (especially day-one DLC) should have been included in the game in the first place. Whatever your stance on the issue, downloadable content has found its foothold in the industry and it seems as though it is here to stay.
While the early days of DLCs were little more than quick cash-grabs (Oblivion’s horse armor fiasco of ’06 comes to mind), recent forays into the world of downloadable content have been much more worthwhile investments and can be a great way to reinvigorate games, giving players a reason to go back to the titles they have already finished.
Here is our list of the top five best DLCs of all time.
Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss
As any Dark Souls fan will tell you, the franchise can only be described as a cathartic experience. Souls offers a level of difficulty and bare-bones lore that keeps us all coming back for more and its gameplay is pure digital addiction. If all you want is more Dark Souls, Artorias of the Abyss is exactly the fix you need. The expansion sent players back in time to play through some of the key moments that were hinted at in the ambiguous lore presented throughout the base game. The expansion also included tons of new weapons, armor, and NPCs to interact with. On top of all that, players got to fight Artorias himself, which was easily one of the hardest bosses the series had ever delivered.
Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea
Bioshock Infinite was a hell of a great surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the original Bioshock, but the second installment really left me disappointed and I kept my hopes way down for the third. Bioshock Infinite was fantastic and it was serendipitous that Infinite’s DLC would take me back to Rapture for another horrific jaunt through its underwater halls. Involving characters from the Infinite base game, Burial at Sea gave players a glimpse into the world of Rapture on the eve of its downfall. It was great to have a chance to engage in the faster paced Inifinite-style gameplay while also getting a chance to experience Rapture like never before.
Destiny: The Taken King
Destiny was a strange animal when it was first released. Part Halo and part… something else entirely, people flocked in droves to grind out level after level. However, ask anyone and they would probably admit that the game was missing something. Enter The Taken King. This expansion fixed many of the problems that people had with the base game and provided a story that was actually coherent, something that the base game lacked. The DLC also brought on Nolan North to not only be the ongoing voice of the ghost in the game, but he also re-recorded and replaced all of Peter Dinklage’s awful lines from the base title. It’s rare that a piece of DLC changes the face of a game so consistently across all aspects of its design and adds a great story and more content to top it all off.
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
With the sequel to Red Dead coming out later this year, I have found myself reflecting on the original as of late. Beautiful landscapes and a thrilling tale of Wild West-style revenge tickle my nostalgia button as I dream about the dozens of hours I logged into Redemption. Maybe some of the best hours I’ve ever played in the Red Dead universe would be the eerie Undead Nightmare expansion. Unlike most DLCs that give players more of the same, Undead Nightmare turned the classic Wild West world into a zombie playscape. Toss in a muzzle-loading blunderbuss to fight off the droves of undead and this little piece of DLC is truly a time-tested gem.
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
The second of two major DLCs for The Witcher 3 (the other being the almost as good Heart of Stone DLC), Blood and Wine is what a DLC should be. The final expansion for an already massive game adds an entirely new nation to explore with countless new side quests, armor sets, weapons, and a cast of new characters that are both interesting and memorable. Not to mention that the main story of the expansion is utterly massive adding at least 20 hours of gameplay on top of the original 60+ hours that the base game already offers. Add in the “new game plus” mode, which was released alongside the expansion, and you may find yourself revisiting those low-level quests you never got around to as the new mode increases the level of all enemies in the world. It is rare that a DLC seems like a game on its own and Blood and Wine truly feels like a full-fledged, standalone title from the epic opening boss fight all the way to the last.