Weekend Debate: What makes a great game add-on? (update)

The Weekend Debate

UPDATE: A big thank you to everyone who took part in the debate this week. Lots of great insight, I thought. The five Killzone Mercenary winners are… *drum roll*: ashton_philip, tiago-kun, hfred123, KILLERGAMER49 and Pelekophoros. Many congratulations – we’ll get in touch this week via a PM to your account on the official forums.

ORIGINAL POST: Hey there everybody. So, I finally got around to jumping into the second part of Dishonored’s Knife of Dunwall expansion this week, and very enjoyable it is too, elegantly rounding out one of the more interesting new game universes of recent years.

My debate topic for you this week then – what makes a great game expansion, and which add-on have you most enjoyed?

Perhaps it was a Call of Duty map pack? Or Red Dead Redemption’s Undead Nightmare add-on? Or maybe even LittleBigPlanet 2‘s excellent Rise of the Cakeling DLC? Let me know below.

Your prize this week? I’ve got five Killzone Mercenary download codes for the most thoughtful responses. Good luck!

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Storm-Iz-SiK 13 September, 2013 @ 6:08 pm   1

Adding alot of content, for a good price point, an example of this would be the GTA IV expansion packs, they aren’t priced too highly, (around the £12 mark), and provide entirely new campaigns

I dislike MP DLC, as I find it separates the community and makes it harder to join and find players to play with.

I also like retail releases of DLC, such as the GTA Episodes disc


I think Minerva’s Den for Bioshock 2 is a real stand out for telling a self contained story separate to the main game as well as adding in new content like a new plasmid and weapon. I’m really hoping Bioshock Infinite’s upcoming DLC does the same

Without doubt, my favourite is RDR Undead Nightmare.

It took a subject that’s rapidly becoming overused and worn out, and gave it a fresh new spin. The humour, the characters, the whole scenario… Undead Nightmare is zombie survival turned up to eleven, and I honestly cannot think of a better add on/DLC.

Rob_from_Cali 13 September, 2013 @ 6:23 pm   4

I think my favorite Addons or DLC are maps that are remakes of very popular old maps. It’s the best of both worlds, something I’m already familiar with & something new at the same time.


A lot of content at low price point and with a lot of content I mean dlc which could also be called a another game example GTA IV TLAD and TBoGT expansions or RDR Undead Nightmare. I also love free or around 2€ costing dlc like skin- and levelpack to Guacamelee! 2-3hour of gameplay for 3€ that’s what I call great dlc. 😀


My favourite add on is the Nightmare on North Point add on for the extremely underrated Sleeping Dogs.
For such a game steeped in realism it was nice to kick back and play a far out horror add on. While smaller than undead nightmare for RDR I felt it was just the right length to be an enjoyable hour or two extra in one of my favourite games.


An example of good dlc is how borderlands 2 or oblivion does it where the dlc is practically an expansion, when we actually get value for the dlc, bad example is how capcom or ea does it when they cut it from the game and sell latter to appear like they are doing anything. my favorite game is red alert 2 if that was produced now by these two companies it would have 3 units that u see in game but cant use until u buy , dlc to change the color of u’r units and pointless stuff like that. on a final note a really bad example is disk locked dlc, there is no way ill buy a game that has this.

anything that isnt already on the disk like capcom dlc


I think an expansion should add something that is new and different, something that expands on the game’s core and takes it some where new.
Undead Nightmare is a great example for this and propably my favourite expansion ever. Admittedly zombies aren’t the most original concept in the world anymore, but it was interesting to see RDR’s world, characters and mechanics adapt to the zombie apocalypse.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of map packs, because I grow bored of multiplayer shooters very quickly and map packs don’t mix things up enough to interest me again. Which is not to say that they can’t be good. You could use the level design to encourage play styles not possible in other maps. It’s just that they usually don’t.
The first part of Bioshock’s new DLC Burial at Sea will be interesting as they have said, that there will be no combat. Looking forward to an entire DLC of just exploring pre-civil war Rapture.

toxic-inferno 13 September, 2013 @ 6:35 pm   10

The other thing that makes great add-ons is the addition of little extras that were developed after the game itself – things which may have been considered too radical, complicated or ‘silly’ for the full game release. I remember watching the “Skyrim: Unadded Features” video that came out of their week of creativity after the release of the game. There were so many fantastic and interesting features in there that it broke my heart that they weren’t in the game – and then filled me with great joy when they were added in updates and add-ons over the months that followed!

I have to say, though, possibly my favourite add-ons are the extra classes in Borderlands 2. Involving many additional abilities that were deemed too complicated or silly for the original release, these gave Gearbox and players an opportunity to experiment with brand new ways of playing the game. Not only do they add extensive new abilities, often turning gameplay mechanics completely on their heads and drawing on some seriously creative ideas, but they allow for several additional playthroughs of an already quite extensive gameplay experience.


V00D00CHARL1E 13 September, 2013 @ 6:36 pm   11

Personally I’m not a huge fan of add-on dlc, if not done right it can fragment online communities. After spending a fortune on the uncharted 2 dlc I was frustrated at never being able to find a match online for the dlc maps. Dlc or add-ons done right are those that are available to the whole community or are free of charge. A good example would be any of the lbp dlc. Anyone can play any user generated content using the new dlc, but you have to buy it if you want to create anything with it.

Single player dlc also goes a long way to extending the life of a game. I dare anyone to play the tiny Tina add-on for borderlands 2, and not grin smugly at the in game jokes.


An add-on should be something that adds content to an already existing game. So disc-locked content i dont see as an add-on, Day1 DLC neither.

GTA4 indeed had some nice add-ons, i also liked Borderlands DLC. Bethesda also usually releases good expansions that are worth my money.


For me a “must-have” add-on is one that shares the same foundations and qualities from the original material but somehow revitalizes and twists what you’ve come to expect from the game. The add-on must bring something new to the table, something to captivate a player that has already spent countless hours with the game. Must provide gamers with an experience that seems familiar but fresh at the same time. Must feel unique and surprise even the more hardcore players. An add-on should make you feel in over with the game all over again. Taking this into account, My favourite add-ons are “Infamous: Festival of Blood”, RDR UN and Far Cry: Blood Dragon.


@13: * Makes you feel in love with the game all over again


Zombie Island of Dr Ned from Borderlands is my favourite DLC for any game EVER. Closely followed by Assault of Dragon Peak from Borderlands 2 🙂

ashton_philip 13 September, 2013 @ 6:40 pm   16

This is a rather interesting question and one I have thought about for a while. For me a good add-on is something that has an element of risk, something that might not have sold well had it been the main concept of the game but rather can be appreciated as an accomplishment both in its own right and in contrast to the base game. An add-on should push the boundaries and innovate all the keeping the base game at its core. A recent example of an ‘add-on’ type experience is Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon. Whilst Blood Dragon was a standalone game technically it was an add-on to the Far Cry 3 name and thus an extension of that experience and on which put an idea out there that might otherwise have been labelled as too insane for release. It may not have innovated as much as it could have but certainly have the risk factor. Another example of a great add-on was the cross-controller pack for LittleBigPlanet 2. It took the base game and used it to add an extra layer to test a new experience that might have been too expensive or too time costly to put into the base game. It is a fresh and new perspective on a game that had already been out for over a year.

Boogalicious 13 September, 2013 @ 6:40 pm   17

For me it’s DLC which expands the game be it in narrative or even those which bring upon a whole new theme rather than one which simply extends.

Such examples include GTAIV’s Episodes From Liberty City where they not only touched upon characters crossed from the main game but also, in particular with the 2nd expansion, added variation to activities and reintroduced the wacky escapades you could get in a sandbox game.

Another example would be Fallout 3 and New Vegas’ DLC, each had new areas to explore and a whole new narrative to pursue.

Along with the notion of themes the Borderlands DLC was particularly good, again bringing about new missions, areas and narrative.

A game with the same notion of expanding themes was Far Cry: Blood Dragon, sure it was a stand alone but kudos to the developers for using the game engine for something totally left field.

Happy weekend gaming!


For me personally, an add on DLC should be giving me more of what I liked about the main game along with some extra goodness! The Harley’s Revenge DLC for Arkham City was a good example of this, you get more Batman goodness along with the ability to play as Robin. Fallout 3 had some enjoyable DLCs as well with Operation Anchorage being a personal favourite.

jehuty_2174 13 September, 2013 @ 6:51 pm   19

A good Add-on in my opinion is an expansion of the the core game, with a few changes to keep things fresh. and of course for the right price.
My favorite expansion must be Deus Ex Human Revolution the missing Link DLC. It does things right by me. If it would have been forced into the main game, the campaign would have felt bloated, Even if it is important to the overall story and fits in perfectly.
I’m not putting out any spoilers here,so due to storytelling the player is given a clean slate to begin with. Means one can choose a different way to upgrading the skill tree and in turn brings forth a new way to play if you so desire. On the topic of choice, the DlC also corrects the linear boss battle design from the man game. Meaning this time around you really have the choice in all situation.
I cant stress how much I enjoyed this DlC. Anyone who owns the game, owes it to themselves to get this DLC, especially now that the price drop a couple of times.
This DLC is my


A good game add-on, for me, is something that expands your game. Burnout Paradise had a fantastic addition called Big Surf Island which included a new class of vehicle.

It was great because it came along right at the end of my time with Burnout’s Campaign. To this day BP is stil my favourite racing game.

Another favourite of mine is Rock Band. It saddens me that the catalogue is now finite and slowly disappearing from sale due to licensing rights. At 99p a track (1.19 RB3) it prolonged that amount of use Rock Band got in my house. The only downside was the exclusion of the Beatles tracks from the main library. 🙁

DLC/Add on no-no’s:

Day one DLC??? If it is already complete on day 1 it should be included with game we are buying.

Time savers??? Why would you take away a reward? Surely the motivation to finish the game has been diminished by these add-ons?


A good add on is in my opinion something that actually adds something new to a game, not just an extended story, new costumes, maps. Something that wouldn’t fit in with the retail release otherwise why not have it included in the first place. RDR UN dlc is a perfect example, how much further away can you get from the western genre than zombies? A more recent example is the upcoming bio shock infinite dlc, yes it may be a continuation of story but its a fresh revival of Rapture which is exactly what fans want. It’s not really a new place but its different enough to be a great add on.

TomDent_XD 13 September, 2013 @ 7:09 pm   22

I think what makes a great add-on is DLC that completely changes the perspective of the game, but keeps core mechanics and gameplay from original intact, adding a overall feel of familiarity but at the same time presenting something that stands on its own justifies paying that little bit extra.

For this reason, Blood Dragon for Far Cry 3 has got to be a personal highlight of mine from the past few years. By keeping the same basic ideas behind the core game there, but changing it up to work as a beautiful 80s sci-fi action game was a stroke of genius in my opinion.

I share the same hatred for tutorials as the fantastically names Sergeant Power Colt.

Ghost_Rider_5 13 September, 2013 @ 7:21 pm   23

My best add-on is all the fallout 3 add-ons where they expanded a already huge game. They expanded it not only to space new islands and post apocalyptic places but they also expanded the end with the broken steel add-on, where before I had it I cried of frustration every time my character died and didn’t wake up. But now he wakes up in the bed (fatherless) but now I can continue the adventure with completing the campaign.


My favourite piece of DLC was the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion.

It had everything that an excellent expansion needs. Good interesting story, new (useful) items, a whole new area to roam. It expanded the mythos of Oblivion wonderfully and it could have been a standalone game by itself.


What makes a great expansion? Something that fits with the game, doesn’t feel tacked on.

One of my favourite expansions was probably The Pitt for Fallout 3. Exploring the buildings by scaling the scaffolding was interesting, made the world bigger in a way other than the ‘increase the surface area’ way.

BlasterGeo 13 September, 2013 @ 7:27 pm   26

Mine is 400 Days From The Walking Dead

It is a great addition in the game.Interesting Mini-Stories and it felt pretty much the same as if you were playing the main story which made it more joyful!


I am loving the Free dlc for Grid2 at the moment, yes the destruction derby dlc, I literally had tears of enjoyment playing it as I pummelled other cars to oblivion. Fun and enjoyment and great value for money is what makes a great game add-on.

Coody-Baroody 13 September, 2013 @ 7:29 pm   28

A good add-on has to be something that REALLY adds to the experience of the game. Day 1 DLC packs are criminal as they were obviously just taken out of the main game during development to make more money.

Being a 100% Trophy ADDICT means that I have to buy all the DLC that is released for the games I play so I have been through DOZENS of different DLC packs for all kinds of games.

The best DLC pack I have ever played has to be the 2 part story extension of Castlevania Lords of Shadow – Reverie and Resurrection.
++SPOILERS++ After the way the main game ended with Gabriel ending up as Dracula in the present day, it was set up PERFECTLY for DLC packs to continue on that story arc to fill in the blanks and show how his story changed so dramatically.

THAT is what DLC should be about and ive never seen it done better. Cliff-hanger at the end of the game then instead of making us wait for a sequel, release DLC to give us real replay value for our purchased games.

chrisboers 13 September, 2013 @ 7:38 pm   29

Personally, I like addons to be complete rehauls, like the mentioned RDR Undead Nightmares, the inFamous: Festival of Blood, and Farcry 3: BloodDragon. Those are the ones that allow the developers to really go beyond the original storyline, and do some really crazy stuff, without having to wonder about being canon to the original story-arc. On PCs, mods allow for that kind of thing, but on consoles, we have to rely on the developers to bring us that kind of good stuff.

Personally, I like the inFamous: Festival of Blood best, and it has a recurring attraction, each Halloween. I replay that game every year, and will start it up again in about a month, as a prequel to the autumn season ahead…


For me a great expansion is exactly that, something that expands upon what is already and isn’t afraid to even experiment new things, improve the ones that are already there and expand the universe beyond what we know about it.

In a sense, if you think of a game as a window into a different world, then an expansion is to put one more window so you can see more of that world.

I really enjoyed how Dishonored expanded the world, it was refreshing to see the world as a different character with a different sort of powers and problems, but also a more vocal one as opposed to the silent protagonist of the main campaign, it was a great package, and could be very well presented ad a stand alone adventure.

But other expansions mentioned here also deserve a spotlight, the Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is a great homage to the 80s while preserving some great elements of Far Cry 3, inFamous Festival of Blood was a very neat idea, just don’t give me useless hat 27, seriously…

I think usefulness and hours of extra game make great an expansion. Because I think that paying to add some weapons or cars or dresses or skins is not a clever thing, while I’m happy to pay extra money to play more or in different ways (for example the gta iv and dead island’s dlc, where the expansions give you another point of wiev of the main story) My favourite ones are the premium pass of battlefield 3, because it increases the longevity of the game, with 20 online map, and the tbogt and tlad of gta iv because they give you extra online and offline time..

ClimaxAlexander 13 September, 2013 @ 7:45 pm   32

I agree that multiplayer DLC is a real pain, I barely ever play BF3 because if this. I’ve been noticing that games are coming out with less multiplayer maps and then hordes of expensive map packs come out only weeks later. And I really find the addition of online passports not on. NOT ON.

I think DLC should extend the campaign but also be a way for devs to get ideas off their chests. When Vikings Relax! is a great example of awesome ideas that wouldn’t ever fit with the premise of the game. An extreme and awesome example of this is also Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon.


dlc like red dead redemtion or far cry 3 blood dragon,I like it because the main game is set in the most logical game world and the dlc is a what if scenario in the case of far cry 3 i would like to see a dinasour expansion/dlc not an extra island that is the same as the main game there 80s themed expansion is good

Cannibal_Wombat 13 September, 2013 @ 7:45 pm   34

I’m not usually one for DLC, I have too many unplayed games as it is!

However, I don’t regret buying season passes for both Borderlands and Borderlands 2. Gearbox seems to know what people want from DLC; an enriching new experience that supplements the main game without out-staying its welcome. Each of their story expansions have had a clear narrative and a satisfying slew of added characters, weapons and environments. Probably my favourite of them all was The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned. It felt like a separate game, but that just made it more interesting to play! I’m a sucker for zombies too.

However, a game I went out of my way to find good quality expansions for was Amnesia: The Dark Descent. There are some very, very good community-made add-ons for that game. Some of the best DLC I’ve ever played, not least because it’s free! Particular highlights were White Night (bizarre, mind-bending campaign in a mental hospital), La Caza (really creepy) and The Great Work (great story and puzzles – best add-on IMO). I have spent way more hours on these than the main game and I commend the people who put the massive effort into designing them.

Anyway, essay over (sorry). My vote goes to The Great Work for Amnesia 🙂

The best DLC add-ons are the ones that don’t feel like they were cut from the game just to earn some extra cash from us. So they have to consist of enough content to not feel like a cash-grab.

The DLC add-ons that I have enjoyed the most have all been ones that don’t feel afraid of changing up the formula of the base and deliver a unique and fun new experience in the DLC.

This is DLC add-ons like The Undead Nightmare in Red Dead Redemption which expands the base world with a zombie story or the Infamous Festival of Blood expansion to Infamous 2 which for fun makes Cole McGrath into a vampire 🙂


Being tacked onto a good game helps for starters. I think a good question is how many good add ons are there? When you think about it, there are more average ones than good ones. 400 days for walking dead was meh at best when compared to the main game. Most of the fallout add ons are average at best. You can compare any add on to the main game and think it was average. Don’t get me wrong, iv downloaded a lot of add ons and enjoyed them but I would rather a developer work on a sequel than work on add ons. What was wrong with the old fashioned days before digital downloads

XzSlLENTSNIPERzX 13 September, 2013 @ 7:49 pm   37

The best way to make a great add-on is to sustain the feeling of the core package but expand on it to make a return-trip absolutely worthwhile. For example, this can be achieved by introducing a “wacky” vibe per-say such as the Undead Nightmare DLC’s zombies in a Western scenario – now that is wacky.

Furthemore, one may go about introducing an abundance of new features to make the package seem separate – but still connected with regard to the world in which it has been set – which can be a new gameplay mechanic or a new world (inFamous DLC is an example of this, so is LittlebigPlanet 1’s water expansion pack).

In short, the best way to create a DLC package is by grasping the essence of the original game then spicing it up with new world, new features and most of all, all-new gameplay mechanics. Examples range from LBP’s water, GTA:TBOGT’s parachute, GT5’s speed test mode etc…

runicdagaz 13 September, 2013 @ 8:03 pm   38

Borderlands 2’s DLC allowed me to slap prince “Jeffrey”. Not just once either. I call that getting good value for my money.


I think a great add-on is one that brings something new into the core game, in order to give the player a reason to continue spending time with the game. This can be everything from an item to a new campaigns and map packs. There really isn’t a definitive answer on what a good add-on is, because you have to take the base game into account. If you’re making a fighting game, you won’t need more than a new character in order to spice up the game, and make the player come back for more. If your making a shooter however, you would need a new campaign or a map pack, if you want people to spend more time with it.

Add-ons and DLCs need to bring something new to the game. If it’s just more of the same, chances are high that people have already moved on to a different game, and won’t bother coming back for more.

My favourite add-ons are probably the massive expansions that MMOs usually has. That’s because these expands upon everything that’s already there. Minerva’s Den for Bioshock 2 and Knife of Dunwall for Dishonored, are two examples of great add-ons. These bring a new campaign, with new characters and gameplay elements.

pressmyfoot 13 September, 2013 @ 8:20 pm   40

Horse Armour


For me it’s got to be Pirates of the Caribbean and Metal Gear Solid expansion packs for little big planet, not only some good levels but loads of stuff to make your own levels.


And don’t forget it’s all still usable in LBP 2

Default-Gamedude 13 September, 2013 @ 8:41 pm   43

I think a great add-on should deliver the same experience as the game you chose but with a fresh new experience or look that makes you want to play the game even more. It shouldn’t be just a way for the creator to get more money but to give the players a better experience and let them enjoy there game. Also add-ons that make the story richer, give more background or expand the story are great, as for single players games I find many games to short. Multiplayer add-ons are also nice but these make the community more divided in some games like COD.

The add-on I enjoyed most was The Zombie Island of dr. Ned. I bought Borderlands in GOTY edition and the amount of fun I had with my brother in split-screen still can’t be surpassed (except with Borderlands 2). Also the three add-ons for Gravity Rush are great as I find Gravity Rush a great game and with the add-ons I could play it even more and it also refers the some parts of the story that felt unfinished.

The standard addon usually just adds “more of the same”, which is enough to please hardcore fans. Decent addons eliminate bigger issues with the engine, might improve the graphics and offer polishing that goes beyond common patching. Good addons enrich the depth of the legacy. Awesome addons rethink the gameplay basics and make a game feel fresh and exciting once more.

In the awesome category there are thus only few addons that I’d name. The strategy genre being the one offering the most breakthrough moments. If I had to name one I’d probably take Europa Universalis III – Heir to the Throne. Won’t bore everyone else with details but it changed the Casus Belli system, added dynasties, made the Pope and the Emperor more important etc.
It simply changed the game so much that other developers would have sold it as a complete new, better game.

MissDreamer 13 September, 2013 @ 8:50 pm   45

My all time favourite dlc is the Shivering Isle expansion pack for Oblivion. Now that’s dlc worth paying for. In fact I like all of Bethesda’s dlc for the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games.

Project2insanity 13 September, 2013 @ 8:52 pm   46

Story DLC is always best such as Harley’s revenge for Arkham City or the aforementioned Lords of Shadow and Deus Ex content. It needs to stay true to the main game by incorporating the same feel- the same atmosphere.

Skins are pointless but if a completely new playable character is available, that works well such as Nightwing, Robin and Catwoman for Arkham City. I’d probably have to say these are the best DLC I can recall because I swore I wasn’t going to go through all those challenge maps again. Several hours later, it made a liar out of me…

windscare007 13 September, 2013 @ 8:52 pm   47

The add-ons provide gamers a chance to visit their favourite games once again and allow a chance for devs to make people keep their game copies for a longer time, hence good add-ons benefit everyone.
So, obviously, the best add-ons provides player an awesome reason to boot up his favourite game once again to enjoy the experience with a new flavour.
I would say great add-ons should be dependent on what the original game was, and what people liked most about it. Take GTA 4 for instance. The best thing for me about it was the world of Liberty City itself alongwith the awesome story of the original game, so the add-ons (TBoGT and TLaD) gave me just the perfect excuse to fire me my favourite game of this gen again.
Similarly, for Guacamelee, the addition of costumes which altered the gameplay style significantly and new tricky levels lured me back into the luchador story again just to enjoy the meteroidvania in a new way.
Therefore, in essence, I think the best add-on for a game would allow fans to enjoy the best ideas from the original game in new and exciting ways.


The best kind of add-ons/DLC for me are ones that change up the base game making it a totally different experience. Something that makes the game fresh and fun to play again!
Also huge expansions like The Shivering Isles for TES:Oblivion, so much content adding to ther overall world!
Then we have FREE DLC which is always nice like colour swaps for costumes etc., I think charging for 100kb unlock files is bad practice!

TBH I hope the freemium model and IAP dies out in the next gen, or we are all going to start paying even more for less. Remember guys, vote with your wallet!

I’d have prefered the question about the worst DLC btw.
Train Simulator simply needs to be mentioned! With all it’s shiny trains … mostly for 14€ each. Purchase all DLCs that are available and you’ll pay 2058,71€. And you get nothing that goes beyond the “more of the same” content. For shame!


For gamers like me, the DLC usually releases a while after I have already completed the game and therefore I think a great add on is something that reinvigorates your passion for a game. It can be anything. I’ve had plenty of fun with something as simple a rocket fueled parachute from Just Cause 2, and I’ve had plenty of fun with larger DLC, such as GTA Episodes from Liberty City. It also has a lot to do with the price point of the content. The rocket propelled parachute in JC2 was fantastic, because it cost very little. If it had been £20, I probably wouldnt have been as happy about my purchase.

As for the add-on I most enjoyed this gen, I have to give that to Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam. As someone who got my ass kicked several times in BF: Vietnam before, it felt good to be back in the lush green maps. It was a nostalgic trip, as well as being a highly polished piece of content that would have easily been able to stand on its own legs as a full blown PSN title. Hearing Ride of the Valkyrie as I dodge RPGS in the Huey while my teammates mow down opposing forces…and then crashing… is a pretty unique experience.

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