The harshest among the community may see no place for DLC of any kind to be in gaming, but there certainly are examples of it being done right. Not everyone's out solely to swindle you out of your money—in fact, some of our nominees were completely free—and there's definitely added content to games that is worth your time. Celebrating those that offer great new content for games, allowing us to return to worlds we've already enjoyed, is exactly what this award is about.
Here's the list of nominees (and here's the list of nominees for all categories):
- Destiny 2: Forsaken (Our Review)
- Divinity: Original Sin II – Definitive Edition
- Hollow Knight: Godmaster
- No Man’s Sky NEXT
- Prey – Mooncrash
Here’s what you, the readers, chose as the winner of the Best Expansion/DLC Award for the best piece of additional content to an existing game. Our top three follows after.
Readers' Choice - Destiny 2: Forsaken
Destiny 2 has had a rough go of it for the most part. However, with the release of Forsaken, many fans see it as the series' peak so far. Forsaken not only brought a bunch of new content, but updated the base game for all players as well. There's no better time to get into Destiny 2, and Forsaken is the game at its best, offering a great story, fun sandbox to run around in, and one of the game's best Raids.
Third Place - Prey - Mooncrash
By Max Moeller
Arkane Studios' Prey isn’t what comes to mind when I think of a rogue-like experience. In fact, as an immersive sim, this 2017 space shooter is entirely the opposite. That didn’t stop Arkane from building Mooncrash, a rogue-like expansion to the original game.
As weird as it sounds, this mode is _good_. You play as one of five characters from the extended lore, all of which are trapped on a Moonbase. However, the game takes place in a simulation, which factors into the experience as you unlock more elements. In reality, a character named Peter is trying to recreate what happened during the real invasion.
The goal is to escape with all five unlockable characters at once—no easy feat. Any choices you make as one character stick with the next one, including unlocked doors, hacked terminals, and more. The map stays the same nearly every time, but everything from the enemies to loot is different with each run.
One character may have reduced health, while another is incredibly adept at Typhon powers. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but you can spend upgrade points to balance these out. They all have their own quips and personalities as well.
Every run is a thrilling experience, and experiencing Prey in such an intense way is a nice twist on the formula. It would be great to see more developers push their games into a new genre the way Arkane has done here.
Second Place - Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition
By Robert Scarpinito
I’ve played Divinity: Original Sin 2 at different stages of its development, starting with its Steam Early Access days in the latter half of 2016. Even back then, I knew the game had a lot of potential, and the final product in September 2017 more than delivered. But Larian didn’t stop there. Eleven months later, they launched the Definitive Edition for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, giving console players their chance to play one of the best turn-based RPGs on the market. For PC players who already owned the game, the update came for free.
The Definitive Edition’s biggest change is seen in the third act of the game, which is mostly restructured to improve the narrative. This led to hundreds of thousands of rewritten and re-recorded lines. New battles were added, highlighting the beloved strategic combat of Original Sin 2. The beginning tutorial was tweaked to be more friendly to CRPG beginners, providing a softer launching pad for newbies. Many passive and active abilities have been buffed or nerfed, and the reworked physics engine improves performance across the board on every platform. To top it all off, a lengthy quest involving a squirrel riding an undead cat has been added, just for the fun of it.
To put it simply, the changes Larian made with the Definitive Edition turned Original Sin 2 into a better game. It’s familiar, but the host of welcome improvements make it feel like a new experience. While a majority of the overarching changes won’t be seen until you’re dozens of hours into the story, the small adjustments can easily be felt along the way. Definitive Edition retains its core gameplay elements while complementing them. This is a major game update done well.
Winner - No Man's Sky NEXT
By Robert Grosso
No Man’s Sky NEXT can be given a lot of credit for revitalizing No Man’s Sky. It is, after all, a hefty piece of content that provides not only a re-arrangement of content, but for many, the one thing they wanted out of No Man’s Sky from the get-go: online multiplayer.
With it finally added to the game, Hello Games in the eyes of some seems to find forgiveness from their past transgressions, however valid they may have been. But NEXT is more than just multiplayer, as for Hello Games it represents the next step in their phases of content for the game. The bigger change, to me, was the creation of a third-person mode with a customizable star-traveler who can represent any of the core races if the player wishes them to. Combine this with enhancements to base building, freighters and frigates, and even the game's resources, and you pretty much have a completely different game from the one released in 2016.
One of the more ambitious plans from the company is to promote more community engagement, offering hardcore players weekly content and community events in the form of new items to craft or find in the world. Missions such as cataloguing thousands of alien species, to creating elaborate base camps across the entire galaxy are just some of the goals pushed and played with by dedicated players, all of this supported by the Galactic Atlas, a website created by Hello Games dedicated to the No Man’s Sky community. Community interaction has always been the primary strength of No Man’s Sky, going back to the humble origins of independently role-playing galactic communities through forums and public wikis.
Perhaps that is the biggest achievement of all, considering the blackout of information directly from Hello Games or their founder, Sean Murray for over a year. No Man’s Sky NEXT is pretty much the culmination of two years of work on No Man’s Sky by Hello Games to bring the title closer to what many fans originally idealized. It is an achievement, to be sure, considering most wrote off the game as a failure already. Yet it still comes back into the forefront thanks to these updates and new content, and in the case of NEXT, effectively re-released the game while priming it for future additions.
What would your pick be for our Best Expansion/DLC Award? What do you think we got right? What did we get wrong? Let us know in the comments below!