We Need More Standalone Expansions

The hierarchy of post-launch content can be assessed pretty easily. At the bottom, representing the most hated form of DLC, is the $40 season pass on top of an already-$60 game. The benefits are almost never worth it, and it draws attention to the lack of content in the base game. Right in the middle, you have the story DLC pack. The quality on these vary wildly, but it’s a lot better than giving you a few extra maps and charging a ton. Skipping a few rungs, we now arrive at the top, where the best form of post-launch content isn’t even technically post-launch content: the standalone expansion.

This particular two-part buzzword is back in the news and will stay there for the foreseeable future, more closely because of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and in the near future because of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. Both of these games come as extensions to a popular franchise, but they aren’t being release as DLC, and they don’t necessarily flow from or into the source material. More importantly, and perhaps the biggest distinction, you don’t need the base game to play either of these. That’s why it’s not Uncharted 4: The Lost Legacy and why it’s not Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider.

No, these are exactly what they’re advertised to be: standalone. They can be someone’s first entry point into a series and often will be, given that standalone expansions are also generally at a discounted price (The Lost Legacy will cost $39.99 and Death of the Outsider will cost $29.99). More importantly, they can even be a gamer’s only experience with the series. It’s a cheaper alternative, or they may not want to commit to the full purchase, so this more affordable version will give them the happy medium they’re searching for. And, really, we need more of these.

Sure, when it comes down to it, this might just be another way to get us on the hook. But is that really a bad thing? If a game developer finds a cheaper alternative to get us to play their game, and we take to it so much that we want to play and purchase more of the same kind of game, how is that bad? Oh no, you found away to get me to buy something I really enjoy! Damn you!

And, really, there aren’t enough of these. This is too uncommon a practice, with most games releasing DLC expansions, or not releasing expansions at all. This can be handled well, like when Dying Light released its expansion to everyone who purchased the Season Pass, even though that wasn’t originally promised. But derivations of popular stories that give developers the opportunity are few and far between. Off the top of my head, I can name only one other in the past few years: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

Of course, throughout the past decade or so, there have been plenty more to rant or rave about. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City and Dead Island Riptide to name only a few. But we can certainly use more.