RPS Discusses: Do Expansion Packs Still Matter?

Expansion packs were once a core part of playing PC games, but they can often feel less essential in a world of constant updates and microtransactions. Original game Alec, expansions Adam and Graham, and brief DLC Alice gathered to discuss their favourite game expansions and why they still think the model works.

Alec: If you were going to expand yourself, what would you expand? Genitals don’t count.

Adam: I’d probably go for a greater sense of purpose. My life is a bit like a series of sidequests without a mains storyline to distract from them. If I was going to expand anything, I’d make the central journey of life seem like it had a little more direction and some sort of incredible endgoal (other than the cold embrace of the grave). I’d also buy a new winter coat.

Alec: I think I’d like a better lumbar. Or maybe an extra set of knees. I think they’d be a great help when it came to repeatedly lifting up a heavy toddler. Anyway, enough about our desires: we are here to discuss which game expansions – which is almost an old-fashioned word now, isn’t? – have been the most not-rubbish. And, I suppose, if expansions are and should still be a going concern in the age of more nugget-sized DLC. Do we yearn for the days when a large expansion for anything successful was basically a given?

Adam: Absolutely. When I find a game that I love, I’m usually fascinated to see how the creators would expand on their original ideas. Part of that comes from a suspicion that compromises have always been made, for better or worse, and the belief that a few more months of work might allow ideas that had fallen off the drawing board to find their place in the game.

Graham: Yeah, I think expansions are still great. Even in this world of early access and live feedback during development, you still regularly hear developers say they just got good at making a game at the point it came out.

Adam: On top of that, I tend to spend a lot of time with the games that I love so something like Crusader Kings II, which has new bits and pieces every time I start a campaign, is perfect. At this point, it’s a different game to the one I reviewed at release and in another time it would most likely have been a sequel. In the digital download age, those big add-ons still exist and with the right production and distribution model, a single game can support years of expansions.

Alec: I think there’s something huge in that idea of creators expanding upon their original ideas. So often now the DLC is at least planned (and sometimes made) in advance, as part of a careful marketing and revenue plan, whereas before it was wait and see how it goes down, often across much longer time periods. People trying to improve rather than simply add more. What are your highlights, anyway?

Adam: There are two types of expansion, to my mind. Or two types that I love at any rate. First up there are the game-changers, expansions that dramatically alter the feature-set. Those are the kind that can make a mediocre game good, or make a good game great. Civ V falls in that category. I liked it well enough at release but the expansion built on different areas of the game – literally tackling early- mid- and late-game problems – and managed to bring something great out of it.

Then there are expansions that just give me more of something that I already love. Dark Souls did that with Artorias of the Abyss, although that’s a bit of a cheat because the PC version included it from day one. I have fond – and possibly faulty – memories of the Diablo II expansion though. More recently the Dishonored DLC was superb and improved what was already a great game without just adding some new levels. It felt like a different approach to familiar ideas and places.

Alec: I’m fond of expansions where you’re hard pushed to encapsulate exactly how it’s improved the game. The more recent Civ ones are like that, like another pass, filling in gaps and finessing rather than necessarily big screamy features, as was Bloodmoon for Morrowind. Sure, everyone talked about how it had werewolves, but what it really did was add new places, new stuff, new strangeness, new possibility to a game already rich in that stuff. You almost didn’t know it was there. It helped to make it feel the right size, with the right amount of potential.

Graham: It’s “more of what I love”, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s Missing Link is one of the best bits of expandy DLC I’ve played, because it’s also “what I love done better”. It’s a chapter that’s designed to slot into the main game’s plot, filling in an inessential part of the story that went unseen, but it’s the Human Revolution team applying everything they’d learned during the process of making the game. And never more clearly than in its boss fight, which uses the design originally planned for the Barrett fight in the main game, till they had to cut it. It’s a boss fight that makes sense within Deus Ex, proving it can be done: you can stealth it, you can win it non-lethally, you can break into boss’s office before the fight and nick his special gun for yourself…

Alec: On the other side of the coin to that, I wasn’t totally sure about the BioShock Infinite expansions being this weird hybrid of plot continuation and whole new game. I didn’t quite grasp its purpose, although I was hugely impressed by how they went to town on the appearance, and the stealth stuff too.

Adam: I think Bioshock 2 is the best expansion possible for Bioshock 1. Maybe we’d all have realised how good it is if it had been sold as DLC rather than an entire new game. The changes to combat made the entire game so much more enjoyable for me because I actually used plasmids during hectic combat sessions in the second game – and set up neat little rooms full of traps.

I was trying to think of an expansion that actually made a game worse. That seems like something that might happen in multiplayer land, where I rarely tread. Something that messes up balance or divides the playerbase. I’ve rarely been unhappy to see new pieces being added to a game that I love but it would probably be a much more intimidating possibility if I played online. I’d hate a Rocket League expansion that changed the basics, for example.

There is a problem with big singleplayer expansions though. I was playing through Pillars of Eternity, which I’m enjoying a great deal at a very slow rate. Now that the first half of the expansion is out (an expansion released in two parts is undoubtedly grotesquely large and time-consuming) I feel the need to start again. I don’t want to miss things and I don’t have time to play through twice. So I’ll cut my losses, start over and play the complete experience. Except I won’t. Because of the whole two-parter thing. I’m fucked, basically. I can’t play until it’s complete because I’m like that and then it’ll be about seven hundred hours long.

Alec: You’re going to have a very old-school retirement. Yeah, there’s something to be said for expansions you can go directly to, the old C&C model – here are some new missions with some new silly cutscenes, don’t worry about remembering anything. But in this age of everyone knowing everything I don’t know if games would dare to simply repeat themselves like that.

Oh – speaking of BioShock 2, it would be remiss of us not to mention Minerva’s Den, which is arguably the best bit of BioShock ever. And if we go with the idea that BioShock 2 was an expansion to BioShock, then Minerva’s Den is an expansion of an expansion. META.

Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall was like that too. The expansion was better than the parent game, and then they went and expanded the expansion. More games should just endlessly improves themselves, even if it means we can’t quite keep track of which version is which.

I tell you what, I got very excited about the Half-Life expansions back in the day. I was too young and stupid to have at all scrutinised what it was that worked so well about Half-Life, I simply wanted to be in that place with those aliens some more. I even got breathlessly excited about Blue Shift, and would happily have played through three or more so-so slices of Vortigaunt-bothering like that. Clearly, I am more discerning now. Although if someone suddenly put some new Dungeon Keeper missions…

I am so old.

Graham: It helped that Opposing Force was a good distillation of the things Half-Life already did well. I liked that alien gun arm you could feed green goo balls, although I too was simply excited to spend more time in Black Mesa. And you could see Gordon Freeman through windows, doing things that you did in the main game!

Adam: Oh yeah, I was the same. Didn’t even have to be official in any way whatsoever. Disc full of new Doom maps? Yes please! I’d try them all and find a favourite.

I do have an issue with any kind of expansion that forces me to play through the whole game again. That’s fine if something has changed but if I need to trek through the Forest of Introductions and then through the Mountains of Grind before I can visit the Archipelago of Novelty, I’m really going to need a guarantee that those are some truly handsome islands. Situations like that make me annoyed to have joined the party early rather than just waiting for a GOTY edition with all content included.

Alec: Yeah, despite my earlier praise for Dragonfall, stuff like that and the upcoming Wasteland 2 spit’n’polish does make me groan a bit. But I’ve already done that! What am I missing out on? Am I going to repeat myself? Are my OPINIONS going to be wrong and irrelevant if I don’t go back? Why couldn’t you buggers get it right the first time, etc?

Anyway, we should probably wrap up. All-time best expansion pack? Mine is H&M Fashion Stuff for The Sims 2. So heartfelt that they couldn’t even be bothered to think up a proper name for it. ‘Fashion stuff. y’know, clothes and shit.’

Alice: I enthusiastically buy stupid outfits for virtuagirls. I’m the problem.

Adam: Brood War. People like Brood War, right? I’m not entirely sure what my favourite is; probably a Crusader Kings II bit, but which one? God. Something historical. Or not. Err, Alien Crossfire for Alpha Centauri.

Graham: Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance is obviously my favourite expansion. It’s standalone, it adds great new units, it improves the AI, it is the supreme version of the best RTS ever made. Maybe strategy games are just really good at expanding?

Alec: Can I say X-COM: Terror From The Deep, or is that cheating? Fair’s fair, though: they cheated when they called it a sequel.

Adam: XCOM 2: It Was The Aliens Wot Won It is my favourite upcoming expansion.


  1. rapchee says:

    i liked the gta IV expansions (and wished that there were more) and i really hope they’ll make at least a few for V as well (without trevor)

    • TehKory says:

      Perhaps I’m alone in this, but Trevor was one of the better parts of GTA, though it’s very very very good that the game wasn’t strictly Trevor. He balanced out the more sympathetic characters by being, all things considered, exactly what people who don’t know GTA very well expect from GTA. He felt like a tongue-in-cheek representation of villainized Grand Theft Auto, a character which you could pick up and play and do the ‘awful things everybody loves to do in GTA’ and not feel terribly guilty.

      With Francis(whom I mostly was meh about) and Michael, things felt like they should be cleaner. If life got ugly during free-play, I felt guilty for putting them through that. But then I’d switch to Trevor and ALREADY be wanted, already be chased by cops or drunk or naked or in a fight. He was a wonderful subversion of what I expected from GTA, a subtle criticism and yet acceptance of what games can be at their most shallow and unsubtle.

      In short, I didn’t like Trevor as a person, no. But he deserved to be in GTA, and as a character he was wonderful to follow and perfect to play. Michael was my GTA hero, but he never felt the type to do the awful things you do in GTA when you get bored.

      • rapchee says:

        yeah i agree with what you’re saying
        probably if i wasn’t forced to play him constantly (and didn’t kill johnny right at the start – but i suppose that was the message) i’d feel better about him
        also, i suppose it’s just me but i usually try not to cause chaos in gtas (there’s just cause for that), so i never felt the need for that kind of an outlet

  2. Captin Dan says:

    Dawn of war dark crusade is great, I love how it changes the single player game into something bigger longer and unending

  3. Oozo says:

    For a very recent example of an expansion done right, look no further than Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows. While it basically re-uses all the levels and a fair share of other assets, the new character with the new skill set alone is enough to change the feel and challenge of the game radically. Throw in new dialogues, alternate paths, new characters and locations, and… well, it’s not a new game exactly, but it’s a damn good reason to play through the “old” game again. Also, it’s free, even though it would be worth my money. (If it’s worth my time, I would often be glad to pay money for it, too.)

  4. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Surely the best expansion ever has to be Warcraft III’s “The Frozen Throne”? Not so much for the new units and campaigns (though the Rexxar campaign is by far the best), but for what it added to the *editor*… Reign of Chaos modding was good enough, but Frozen Throne modding was a whole other kettle o’ fish (well, and still is).

    • kud13 says:

      My absolutely first thought whenever the words “Expansion Pack” are brought up are “Frozen Throne”

      • polecat says:

        I loved it but still resent that I couldn’t beat the final Arthas mission, something I’ve never seen fit to rectify.

      • puzzlepiece87 says:

        Amen to both. I imagine that most who played it have Frozen Throne in their top 3 expansions.

      • Pharithos says:

        Rofl I made a login just to say – holy shit yeah Frozen Throne. Changed my life, but then again, I started gaming in 2002 so….yeah. Was pretty fresh back then. But along those lines – Zero Hour for C&C Generals was just as good or better, it added so much but kept true to the base. Forged Alliance for SupCom was also epically awesome. Hell, Burning Crusade defined xpacs for MMOs – when you thought WoW just couldn’t get any better….course….that gear curve also set a standard. “I’ve got dreadnaught with thunderfury…but I’m a bitch now….lol the tears for the gears…”

        Good stuff.

        And – Shivering Isles for Oblivion…also amazing.

    • rabbit says:

      frozen throne was brilliant. have been meaning to go thru the campaigns of WCIII + TFT for many moons now. onea these days.

    • Assirra says:

      I love expansions and in no way i want them to end. Comparing them to most current DLC in the price/content ratio makes the latter look like outright thievery.

  5. Horg says:

    ”I was trying to think of an expansion that actually made a game worse.”

    Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods. A prime example of why outsourced content is a bad idea.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Alien Crossfire for Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.

      Ruin the game balance/play: check.
      Ruin the lore: check.
      Ruin it on a technical level: check. (It added CD-check DRM.)

    • baozi says:

      Re: Forsaken Gods, absolutely, though thankfully it was separate and didn’t tie in like e.g. Lord of Destruction did, so you can just pretend it doesn’t exist and hide it in your Steam library.

    • rabbit says:

      the Titanfall expansion is definitely guilty of having made the base game worse – it further split an already itty-bitty community

  6. ResonanceCascade says:

    The Knife of Dunwall/Brigmore Witches amounted to game even better than the already excellent main campaign. I also liked The Old Blood expansions for Wolfenstein, but it still wasn’t as good as The New World Order.

  7. daphne says:

    I don’t think that Civ V deserves all that praise.

    Gods and Kings plugged in a religion-sized hole that was by all indications deliberately left out of the initial release: It’s just that games journalism coverage (mostly made up of casual strategy players), amidst all the hype, gave Firaxis a free pass with it around the time of the game’s release.

    Brave New World, again, does not really fill a meaningful gap: It offers some flavor and inconsequential clicking (ideologies, Archeology, World Congress) so that the above demographic don’t get bored as they steamroll their games on Prince (or lower) difficulty. It may be enjoyable for those players, but neither expansion, nor the base game actually resonated in any way with the enthusiast segment of the Civ playerbase that helped make Civ IV your best strategy game ever.

    An actual Civ V expansion would have fixed the terrible, terrible AI (especially Combat AI) that shipped with the game: As I recall, only the inimitable Tom Chick had to courage to say anything about that back when the game was released.

    • TehKory says:

      As someone who plays on Prince difficulty at most on Civ _anything_, I wouldn’t consider myself a casual strategy player. My most played games are Crusader Kings 2 and Dominions 4, each topping around a thousand hours.

      I’ve just never found “piling on the bonuses” that higher difficulty levels do entertains me much. Entertainment comes from self-assigned restrictions(refusing to ever build a second city, in Civ, playing as a Count in CK2, weaker nations in Dom4) rather than bland free units/techs/bonus income from higher difficulties. Things past the standard difficulty are more difficult, I just don’t think they’re more fun. If it’s too easy I start making up my own challenges.

    • AngoraFish says:

      More or less every Civ game has had terrible AI. In any case, better AI should be a patch, not an expansion.

      Also, my 439 hours played in Civ 5 says you’re wrong.

      And ditto TehKory. Min/maxing numbers is just not my idea of a fun time.

    • Lord Byte says:

      Brave new world was the moment the CiV V surpassed IV in my opinion. And I’ve won several games unmodded on Deity but usually play Immortal (as I’ve done in every CIV game).
      The AI finally got decent, there were actual interesting bits throughout the ENTIRE game, not just the first half and then just end-turn until you win. The choices felt more meaningful than just filling bars. I agree with Gods & Kings though, that one was clearly left out, and didn’t add much of anything.

      Oh and Brave new world made the AI fun again instead of a bat-shit insane warmonger, that couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

  8. daphne says:

    (in lieu of an edit) I should add that “casual strategy gamers” make up the majority of the Civ playerbase at this point: This is not a bad thing by any stretch (as more players are introduced to the genre), and a definite success for Firaxis. But a commercial success and an actually better game should not be conflated with each other.

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      But if we’re going there then we have to acknowledge that there’s no way to objectively measure what a “better game” even is, because it’s all just opinions. Many people think the Civ V expansions were great expansions, and those people aren’t wrong just because you don’t agree.

  9. amateurviking says:

    XCOM Enemy Within was a lovely expansion. And made it onto RPS’s Games of the Year list iirc.

    I think the first expansion I ever bought was Defender of the Empire for TIE Fighter. I still remember how excited I got when I saw it in the local Virgin Megastore.

  10. JoeFX69 says:

    Half Life 2 Episodes?

    • criskywalker says:

      Especially the ending that was brought by Episode 3. That was amazing! Oh, wait…

  11. fuggles says:

    Unusually I would say dawn of war winter assault made the game worse by cutting out existing content!

    The best would be total annihilation the core contingency adding 125 new units including New tech like hovercraft and sea planes. or the c&c one which added dinosaurs.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, Core Contingency was great, as were all the C&C mission packs up to Generals:ZH. TibSun:Firestorm actually has a really good campaign, despite the parent game being a bit naff.

  12. Csirke says:

    For recent expansions, The Talos Principle: Road to Gehenna was good. It was mostly more of the same, but that made me happy enough :)

  13. polecat says:

    XCOM: Enemy Within (plus the various bits of DLC) add up to something massively more replayable than the original game. I think Firaxis get this dynamic – in the interviews for the sequel they have talked about the extra modding potential giving you something that’ll keep you ‘playing forever’, which I have mixed feelings about having spent far too much time in the original.

    Also I really like the concept of a developer getting their wish list of extra content on the original game tech out of their system while they’re really efficient at coding it and still have enthusiasm for those ideas. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood was (per reviews) less original and less story-deep than The New Order, but the combat mechanics were a slight improvement on something already great, I had a lot of childish fun with it and it all just felt like a bonus given I only had to wait a few months. (Also whilst it was less compelling story wise, the ending is great in that it gets you more invested in the opens for The New Order, which is now the middle of the story.)

  14. graytina14 says:


  15. steves says:

    Best expansions ever – Neverwinter Nights. Parts I & II, with Hordes of the Underdark & Mask of the Betrayer respectively, both far better than the base games, and epic RPGs in their own right.

    An honourable mention for the Fallout: New Vegas expansions too, particularly Old World Blues. Sure, they called it “DLC”, but only ’cause you couldn’t buy ’em in a box!

    • rabbit says:

      good call! NWN benefitted enormously from expansion — also really opened up the modding / total conversion playing field

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        I played NWN 1’s demo a long time ago and didn’t really like it, or rather, didn’t like the combat. A second try might have gone differently, but I had too many other games to play even back then.

        I’ve heard that the reason to buy NWN is everything else but the main game, so maybe I’ll get it from GoG someday. Are there many singleplayer mods and stuff? I don’t care for playing with other people and don’t know if these modules everyone talks about when discussing NWN are like regular mods.

  16. Barberetti says:

    Quake’s mission pack Scourge of Armagon. The proximity mine launcher and Mjolnir were great additions to Quake’s arsenal, and it had some great new toys for us mappers to play with, like being able to create revolving doors and traps by rotating groups of brushes around an entity. The nail-firing scorpions were great new enemies, and the weapon-stealing gremlins were fucking bastards.

    Ooh, and it shipped with the first official Quake deathmatch space map, which absolutely rocked.

    • Skabooga says:

      Scourge of Armagon was great! I played both Quake 1 and Scourge of Armagon again in the past few years, and while I still love Quake, in Armagon they got really creative with what they could do within the confines of the Quake engine.

  17. Cinek says:

    If I’d vote we change something – it’s to stop calling expansion packs a DLCs or even worse – “DLC expansions” (which is quite common RPS sin). Either something is content-rich enough to promote as an expansion, or it’s just a small tidbit that should be called an DLC.

    “DLC expansion” is as much of a nonsense as “small big” is.

    All of the content for all the modern games can be downloaded online, so using “dlc” as a term to distinguish something that can be downloaded online doesn’t make any sense since the last 5 years or so.

    • Gus the Crocodile says:

      Then it seems odd that you still want to call the small ones DLC? Nothing in that term means “small”.

      We could all decide to use, I don’t know, “addons” or whatever instead of “DLC”, if we want to escape the superfluous nature of “downloadable”. But personally I don’t see the advantage of then trying to exclude “expansions” from that label. I would just say that there are big addons and small addons and everything inbetween, and know that people tend to call the bigger ones expansions but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

      I mean the line between “expansion” and “DLC” would be subjective anyway – there’s no standardised way of measuring the “size” or “significance” of a bit of videogame – so the exclusion doesn’t gain us anything apart from the ability to have internet arguments about whether or not something qualifies as an expansion. Seems perfectly natural to me to just say they’re all bits of videogame, some bigger than others.

      • Cinek says:

        These discussions are there already. Nothing changes in that department. The advantage you gain is from removing this whole mess of “DLCs” and “DLC expansions”, simplifying the whole matter. DLC = small stuff, expansion packs = big stuff adding new gameplay features, multiple missions, or in the games that have no missions – packs of multiple kinds of content (eg. new gameplay features + things like maps, units, etc.).

        • welverin says:

          The problem here is you equate DLC with something small in size and that is not inherent, it is simply additional content that is downloaded instead of being acquired physically, which for PC is everything.

  18. blur says:

    I’m shocked and appalled that TES Oblivion’s Shivering Isles hasn’t yet been mentioned. As with the likes of Shadowrun, it uses the base game and concepts, and says, “Let’s go someplace completely different.” Shivering Isles gave us Sheogorath, categorically the best character in any TES game, and a WAY more interesting location than the base game.

    • freedomispopular says:

      Agreed. I would have loved to have seen more expansions taking place in the other various planes of Oblivion.

    • Pharithos says:

      I’m glad you mentioned it, b/c Shivering Isles was NUTS GOOD. But that’s the glory days of expacks. Honestly, – I think Steam (and I pray at the altar of Steam) ruined xpacs. What we’re talking about is all about shipping. Shipping is expensive and you have to have purchasable content to burn it to a disc, stuff it in a box, ship it, and expect folks to pay. Online platforms becoming a force changed everything because then devs could release little dinkies and folks would give up the bucks. Don’t get me wrong, I love little dinkies as much as the next girl, but they’re not the same as expansion packs, but they yield much more buck for the bang for devs. I can not call them Greedy Devs, though (not all of ’em) because the insane upscaling of gfx from what they used to be requires more time, skills, employees, and all that = $$$$$$.

  19. fish99 says:

    I prefer expansions to be seemlessly integrated into the main game, which may be part of the reason I slightly prefer Dawnguard over Dragonborn for Skyrim. I feel Dawnguard made Skyrim better, rather than giving you a new area that didn’t feel connected. Dawnguard had the more interesting story too, and gave you an actual choice which faction to side with, something largely missing in Skyrim.

    Got to agree about Forged Alliance too, the best RTS I’ve played.

  20. rabbit says:

    it didn’t make the base game worse I spose but the expansion pack for Aliens vs Predator 2 (a game which I loved) was absolutely terrible and did do a fair amount of damage to my rose-tinted glasses when looking back on the game itself.

  21. cpt_freakout says:

    It’s been ages since I last enjoyed an RTS, but I’d say some of the best ‘add more of the same, with little twists’ kinds of expansion come from that genre, from Warcraft to Age of Empires, C&C, Rise of Nations, hell, even Empire Earth had an interesting enough expansion. It’s not fortuitous that AoE and Mythology are still getting expansions after all these years, I guess.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah, The Conqueror’s Expansion for Age of Empires II is one of my favourites.

      • Pharithos says:

        Agreed – and actually, since one mentions AoM – I LOVED and LOVE and WILL LOVE AoM, but – Titans….titans made the game worse. Atlanteans are cool and fun, but Titans changed the game to a Titan race. They were just too much.

  22. skyturnedred says:

    Did none of you heathens play Throne of Bhaal?

    • Horg says:

      Points deducted for Cespenar. It’s like the God of Murder decided his hell plane wouldn’t be complete without a demonic incarnation of Clippy.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Well that was a pretty nice ending chapter for the series. Also liked the “there can be only one”-theme with the twist and lots of over the top-battles and epic abilities.

  23. brucethemoose says:

    The Shivering Isles was the last expansion I felt was worth the money I paid. I wasn’t some missing part of the core game… It was a fantastic new world with more content than most other games.

  24. Hebrind says:

    The best expansion pack, without a doubt, was the Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force expansion, which gave you access to run around Voyager like some crazed Ferengi on a hunt for anything valuable or nerdy or something that nodded in some way to the episodes of the series.

    link to en.wikipedia.org

  25. Xzi says:

    Expansion packs were just lots of DLC packs bundled together and sold at a fair price when they were ready. DLC packs are the same thing, just strung out over a lot of releases, some of which are still buggy, and if you buy them all new you’ll pay 1.5x as much as you would have for an ex-pack. It’s one way the gaming industry figured out how to sell you the same thing for more money.

    • dethtoll says:

      This is pretty much it. Nothing really has changed.

    • Cinek says:

      “Expansion packs were just lots of DLC packs bundled together” – no, they are not. DLC bundles are DLC bundles, expansion packs are easiest to distinguish by containing a new gameplay features. Eg. in EU IV “Conquest of Paradise” is an expansion pack, “100 Years War Unit Pack” is a a DLC, “Europa Universalis IV Extreme Edition” is a game + DLC bundle.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Not really. I’ve played plenty of games where the expansion packs amount to little more than one or two new dungeons, some new gear and little else. Tales of The Sword Coast, the expansion for Baldurs Gate was half the price of the main game and only added a handful of barely related maps.

  26. Jason Moyer says:

    Favorite expansions: Tiny Tina’s Assault On Dragon Keep, Claptastic Voyage (which is probably my favorite bit of all 3 Borderlands+DLC), The Missing Link, Knife Of Dunwall/Brigmore Witches, Bloodmoon, Shivering Isles, Dragonborn, Point Lookout, Old World Blues, Lair Of The Shadow Broker, and Citadel.

    I’d also include Thief II, which always felt like an expansion pack to me that added a few amazing levels (Life Of The Party, Trail Of Blood, probably something else) and a bunch of filler.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Tiny Tina’s Assault On Dragon Keep! Indeed, quite good.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Best RPG spoofs in a game. From D&D, pen&paper to Dark Souls, WoW, LotR, they had it all summed up. It felt very complete.

  27. DaceX says:

    One Expansion I´m very fond of is Immortal Throne, the one for Titan Quest. Gave a massive fith Act,with so much variety in the setting, an arguably broken new mastery which you could mix with anything and it would work, and lots of other small things.

    And who could forget Yuri´s Revenge, the Red Alter 2 Expansion. Sure, it had some balancing issues, but it was so much fun.

    • quietone says:

      I was so confident nobody would mention TQ:IT and I would sound so clever for mentioning it!

      Now I hate you and no, I am not going to help you save your horse.

      • DaceX says:

        I am very sorry to hear that, friend, but apparently you and me both must have been sent by the gods.

        Though I think the horse will be fine either way, its practically immortal.

  28. SuicideKing says:

    Expansions need to come back properly, and this DLC non-sense needs to go.

    • Harlander says:

      I struggle to find a definition of “DLC” that doesn’t include “expansion pack”, personally.

      If you mean stuff like the little bundles of extra weapons and whatnot – yeah, I can do without that.

      • Cinek says:

        Horse armor DLC is a classic example of a DLC that got nothing to deal with expansion packs.

  29. Wowbagger says:

    Diablo 2: lord of destruction was very good. It had an entirely different theme and dynamic from the original release. Which all good expansions should.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I liked the main game better than Act V in Lord of Destruction, but the additions from the expansion made the core game better, which is what the best expansions (and mods) do.

  30. Chaoslord AJ says:

    To get it straight, expansion or add-on is an older term, players usually payed for more levels of the same, sometimes with extra fixes, characters etc. Now a DLC can be an expansion but is most of the time just a small addition. Expansions today are usually DLC unless it’s also a standalone game.

    As mentioned above-
    Lord of Destruction (Diablo 2) was good, adding runes and two extra classes.
    Warcraft 3 -Frozen Throne, same company back then, still more good gameplay and more units.
    Blood moon was an entire isle and fixed the journal (Morrowind), Tribunal had a nice story but I hate sewers.
    Shivering isles (Oblivion) was also great like Sigil in the elder scrolls. >> Knights of the Nine.
    Shadows of Undrenzit (?), Hordes of the Underdark (Neverwinter nights), much better campaigns compared to the main campaign.
    Mask of the betrayer (NWN2) -just the same applies.
    Throne of Bhaal as mentioned, love the “highlander-movie” approach. And you can visit the big dungeon from within the previous chapters.

    At the very best they learned from the mistakes they made in the vanilla game and also fix the bugs.

  31. Synesthesia says:

    Enemy within was absolutely wonderful. The BoI expansion was pretty substantial, too.

  32. InternetBatman says:

    I’m surprised no one mentioned Dragon Age Awakening, which I honestly thought was as good as the original campaign. ToB was of course excellent. Gothic II: Night of the Raven was great (we had to download it in German and put a fan translation on).

    I also like sizeable DLCs which are like mini-expansions. F:NV Old World Blues is by far the best bit of additional content I’ve seen on a game.

  33. Durbanite says:

    Hi! First post here.

    My experiences with DLCs have been more good than bad. However, I think that there will be a much greater push towards user-created mods on games that fix holes the original coders/publishers hadn’t thought of at that time.

    That being said, I’ve had good and bad experiences with both user-created mods (mostly good, though!) and with original publisher-produced DLC. The worst DLC that I’ve played was Dead Money for Fallout New Vegas, simply because of the difficulty of the environment in general and in particular the Sierra Madre’s vault (especially if your character was level 40+) and that you could not return later in the game to find other stuff, something I recall Bethesda took a lot of flak for at the time. Generally speaking, Bethesda’s original stuff for New Vegas was very good (I pick Lonesome Road as the best of the original DLCs, due to the different endings and the emphasis towards sneaking around due to the environment).

    Fallout 3 was also excellent – the atmosphere in the game was better than New Vegas on the whole in my opinion, possibly in part due to the creepier-sounding soundtrack and the greater feeling of loneliness and isolation, if you can call it that. Also had good DLCs which expanded the game, particularly Broken Steel in increasing the overall difficulty of the game and Point Lookout! for having tough opponents, even with the games’unique weapons like The Terrible Shotgun and the Xuanlong Assault Rifle.

    Thanks for reading!