Black Friday is approaching fast, and that means a ludicrous amount of sales are about to be knocking on our doors. While many of us may be deciding which game(s) we would like to purchase, there is another question we now have to ask ourselves, do you buy the version with DLC? Or do we buy the base version and forgo the additional content? While everything must be considered on a case by case basis, there is at least a system of considerations.
What Does It Add?
Easily the most important questions but also the most varied. DLC encompasses a wide spectrum of different types of content, subsequently affecting each game differently. Let’s take, for example, Bloodborne, which consists of one large area that is removed from the main game. It offers both an expanded story that adds to the base game, as well as introducing new weapons (one being the Beastclaver, my favorite) that create new play styles that, in turn, also affect the base game. In this scenario, you mostly have one significant expansion that adds to the game but also directly affects the existing game.
Some games opt to create slighter larger distinctions with their expansion like content. In the case of Horizon Zero Dawn, The Frozen Wilds DLC creates a whole new expansion scale area. However, unlike Bloodborne, where the space is separate but directly feeds back into the base game, The Frozen Wilds goes a step further by introducing a new set of currency and purchasable items unique to the DLC. This creates a new progression system where the time spent outside the DLC has little value to that of inside the DLC.
Other games don’t attempt to segregate their content from the base game; instead, they opt to incorporate it at all levels. Fighting games exemplify this type of DLC; content such as characters is available to be played in the same content as all the other characters. They can still be played online, in arcade mode, and all the various other modes that exist in the game.
Each type of DLC and all of the many in-between all provide more content in different ways, and because they are provided in different ways, their value shifts accordingly.
How Does It Fit?
Adding content is one thing, but how it fits affects the value of the DLC. Shadow of Mordor’s DLC may not have been the best DLC offered in a game, but it offers a highly segregated experience and serves as a perfect example. For those unaware, the Bright Lord DLC has you playing as only Celebrimbor (opposed to Talion the Ranger). The story, environment, and gameplay are all set in the past of the main storyline, not affecting the base game in the slightest. Nothing of what you do in the DLC changes anything in the base game’s content. Because of this, it also shifts the value of that DLC. If you were looking to expand the original game’s content, you simply wouldn’t find it here. If you wanted to have another Shadow of Mordor experience well after the game, then perhaps the DLC is something worth investing in.
Titles like Dark Souls who interweave their DLC into their base game, even if the area is segregated from the rest, affects the value of the additional content differently than those who don’t. For myself, playing Dark Souls’ DLC content is worth playing in the frame of starting a new game. It adds a more natural feel to the content, that it should be conquered when it appears, and furthers the story differently at that unique point. Unfortunately, this has the added drawback of if the base game is simply unenjoyable to play through again, well then neither is the DLC. Not all may feel exactly as I do regarding this, but it is another consideration that needs to be made. If the additional content is added in the middle of a game, how does that change the value for the player? Does it lose value because it’s intended to be played mid-game? Or does it gain value if it is your first playthrough?
For games that the DLC adds value throughout the game, especially without devaluing other aspects (like new characters in a fighting game). The answer is almost always a yes in that is adds value to the game.
Which Do You Buy?
These examples are hardly all of the available types of DLC for games these days and are ones that are purely based on DLC that add actual content (also assuming the DLC is actually good), not just costumes or other fluff pieces. Even with that said, the question remains the same, is it worth buying the version of the game that includes all the DLC? And the answer is, it depends.
For me, if it’s a fighting game adding new characters, its nearly always worth purchasing the version that has all the content. A game that I feel would benefit from the additional content; maybe I would purchase as well. But for the most part, unless it’s a fighting game or a game that I already know I will love, it’s usually not worth purchasing the complete edition for me.
For you, the reader, this is most likely different. Perhaps the next time you find yourself debating over which version to purchase, this little set of considerations might sway your decisions making or perhaps not.