"The Pitt"falls of DLC: A look at my favourite games' DLC

This originally posted on Kneel Before Pod on Sunday, April 5, 2009.

So, I make it no secret that I am kind of picky about my games. I have so many hobbies and habits that I have to play it smart with my money. This is why many times you’ll see me get very passionate about the games I play. I try to choose games that will have a lot of replay value and deep storylines. There are two such games that I have talked about at lengths that fall into this group. Mass Effect and Fallout 3 are prime examples of what I think is right in the video game world. They both feature a robust mixture of action and RPG. They both have deep storylines with moral choices that will rock you to your core. Both are just fun, rewarding and engaging games.

There is one other thing that both these games have in common, they both completely fail in the way they incorporate their post-release downloadable content. I have played to completion both games multiple times before this content was released. I was completely consumed by these games and couldn’t stop playing them even if I wanted to. So why would both these games release content after the fact that depends on you not finishing the game? Do they expect me to not finish these wonderful games until they have released all their DLC? Apparently so, because in both cases, once you finish the game, that’s it. There’s no more exploring or free roaming as a post game reward. Unless you have the foresight or the blind dumb luck to have a save file, you’re going to have to start a completely new character just so you can access this new content. In most cases, this new content is maybe a night’s worth of extended play. Now, this might not sound like a big deal, but for me personally it is a deal killer. I have downloaded the Mass Effect DLC and have never played it. I never had the desire to start a fourth character just so I could do one extra mission.

More recently, I downloaded The Pitt expansion for Fallout 3 and was completely uninspired. I was lucky enough to have a save file from my first play through from right before the last mission. So I get my level 20 character up to the new map marker in my fully decked out Power Armor, only to be told “Yeah, you can’t take any of your gear. All you can take is this gun or this knife, but not both. Your anal cavity only has room for one.” Ok, I added the anal cavity part, but it’s still the truth. So I do what any red blooded vault dweller would do in this situation, I ignore Snake Plissken and decide I am going to do what everyone says I can’t do. I walk in with full armor and combat shotgun raining pain. I have no problems killing all their gate guards, only to be stopped at a second gate and beat down in a cut scene. That’s right, the game can’t stop me so it cheats and just knocks me out in a cut scene. So moments later, I wake up in a slave pit with nothing but the slave rags they put me in and the small handgun I smuggled in my ass. I attempt to start trudging my way through this campaign to get to the story which I am told is full of some great moral choices and such, but I can’t do it…

I have been playing video games the better part of 27 years. I know all the cheap tricks. I know about invisible walls, random respawning enemies and the worst of the worst. The old “We can’t balance the game play or we’re having a problem making this challenging for the player, so we’re going to take away all your power ups and make you start all over again.” No sir. I do not approve. Taking away items/skills/power-ups, or Samus Disorder as I like to call it, should not be a part of any game, especially after the first fourth of the experience. Retconning a person’s character never achieves anything but frustrating the player, unless said character is completely removed from the reality of the gameworld. Prime example of the proper use of this is the Fallout 3 DLC “Operation Anchorage” where almost the entire story takes place in a simulation.

In a situation where you’re basically formatting a character, why bother even letting us use our old character? Why not just give us a new character to play. I would have been much more compelled if The Pitt was a stand alone game where I roll up a brand new level 15 character to play through the campaign. Grand Theft Auto did pretty much that with it’s new GTA4 DLC to great success. Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and GTA4 all benefit from having a rich world where you could just plug in a new character, tell a new story and it would still be compelling.

So, I know there are a lot of people that say “Well, you’re complaining a lot, but I bet you have no suggestions on making it better.” Well, that’s where you’re wrong slapnuts. Here’s my suggestion for Bioware and Mass Effect 2. Release the game and get as much content as you can on the release. After that, forget about adding anymore content to the main campaign. You’re done. Just call it a night. Now, start working on a couple stand alone expansion packs that focus on either side characters or completely new characters that bridge the story from Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 3. You can have that one for free Bioware, but if you want more, put me on the payroll.

So, in sort… here are my rules for good DLC content.

  1. Don’t use the original main character if the game locks after completion.
  2. Don’t Metroid us and take away everything away from our characters unless it serves a really good purpose.
  3. Don’t be afraid to use new characters if the game locks or if the main character dies.
  4. Do use DLC as a bridge between sequels.
  5. Do use the complex universe that you’ve created to it’s fullest
Just follow these simple rules developers and we’ll be cool.

4 Comments

  1. Posted July 17, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I looked into buying this domain, and found out some one already owned it (you), so I figured I check it out,
    Heh, as you can see by my name, we have something in common, lol. The odd part of it though, is that it seems we have mostly the same interest :-O, talk about weird.

    Well that’s all I really had to say, sorry this isn’t really a comment on your post, though it does look interesting (and I did read it). I personally also hate it when games or demos “lock up” after you complete them, ruins the whole game imo.


    c@rlewatkins

    • CarlNo Gravatar
      Posted July 18, 2009 at 1:41 am | Permalink | Reply

      Well, you missed it by like a day brother. I literally just bought up the domain like 2 days ago. I haven’t really even made this site public yet, still getting it all settled and setup. Thanks for checking it out and taking the time to post.

  2. Posted July 18, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink | Reply

    what do you mean you haven’t made it public??? You commented at Ashley Awesome…so like doesn’t the WHOLE FRICKING UNIVERSE now know about you?
    just askin.
    welcome to the blogosphere Carl.
    Karen :0)

    • CarlNo Gravatar
      Posted July 18, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      lol

      apparently that is the case.

      I mainly meant that I had announced it on my show or twitter yet. So it’s just kind of here with no open support or acknowledgement yet. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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