When a game is immediately beloved upon release, one thing constantly gets asked: when is the DLC dropping? In some cases, the DLC won’t exactly live up to the hype or is so much worse than the base game itself. On the other hand, there are DLCs out there that make the game they’re expanding upon so much more epic.
These expansions will take the story of the game and elevate it further. It generally adds new content, characters, weapons, locations, enemies, game mechanics, and so much more. These are the kinds of DLCs that take the games fans already love and make people love them even more.
Updated on October 19, 2023, by Dominic Allen: While DLC is not as prevalent as it once was, there’s still a bunch releasing for many of the biggest titles. Phantom Liberty was a huge DLC expansion for Cyberpunk 2077 that led many people to try out the game again after several years. DLC can implement fan feedback on criticism of the core game to improve the added content. That’s why the DLC can sometimes be even better than the main game.
20 The Callisto Protocol – Final Transmission
One DLC that’s massively improved from the base game is the Final Transmission add-on for The Callisto Protocol. Many criticisms were addressed, such as the overuse of ventilation shafts to load new areas and melee combat. Those vent shafts now have traps in them, keeping you on edge, and the game disincentives melee combat due to removing your melee weapon at one point.
Callisto is ten times more fun shooting your way through, so it’s good the game nudges you in that direction. The enemy count is also upped significantly, especially at one point near the end, which is just awesome to play. It’s unfortunate a sequel is unlikely, as it could have been a drastic improvement and a fantastic horror title.
19 Left 4 Dead 2 – Cold Stream
When you think about it, there’s not a lot of games that put together old content from a previous instalment into the current one. There are a few like Hitman, but the first big one for many was Left 4 Dead 2. While The Sacrifice DLC added No Mercy, which was a sweet bonus, the Cold Stream add-on included nearly every map from the original.
This includes the Death Toll, Dead Air, Blood Harvest, and Crash Course campaigns, essentially making Left 4 Dead 2 a 2-in-1 package. Plus, you also get the new campaign, Cold Stream, which is solid in its own right. This DLC sort of made the original game obsolete, as the added features make Left 4 Dead 2 the best way to play these old campaigns.
18 Cyberpunk 2077 – Phantom Liberty
The only expansion for Cyberpunk 2077 was Phantom Liberty, and it adds significantly to the title. While Phantom Liberty explicitly only includes one main area to the game world, that being Dogtown, it adds so much on top of that. You get a whole new gripping storyline with multiple endings, plus a new ending for the main game itself.
The new quests, gigs, and abilities that primarily focus on stealth gameplay are all well done. Some of the quests here are the best in the entire game. This DLC was simply important for Cyberpunk 2077 as a whole, resulting in many jumping back into the game after several years and seeing all the truckload of improvements that have been made.
17 Dishonored – Knife Of Dunwall And The Brigmore Witches
Dishonored is an incredible game where you can be a deadly assassin, or perhaps find less lethal ways of taking down your enemies. It had terrific, varied gameplay and a gripping storyline that concluded in a satisfying way.
After finishing Dishonored, it might be tempting to dive into the sequel, but you would be missing out if you did not try the Knife Of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches DLCs first. Both expansions enhance the worldbuilding of Dishonored and give you some fascinating characters to learn about, some of which will become big players in the later games in the series.
The Knife Of Dunwall has you playing as the very assassin that killed the Empress at the start of the main storyline: Daud. As Daud, you head off on a gripping redemption arc or a descent into darkness, depending on your choices. You’ll also gain exciting new powers and weaponry that Corvo could not access.
Daud’s story continues in The Brigmore Witches DLC as you encounter Delilah for the first time. She’s a powerful witch that will inevitably become the twisted antagonist of Dishonored 2. Both DLCs are a must-play, offering fascinating insight into the world of Dunwall, and more creative assassin challenges to enjoy.
16 Fallout 3 – Broken Steel
Fallout 3 has become a classic post-apocalyptic RPG, but its ending was a little disappointing. Although the noble sacrifice was emotional, it did feel a little silly, especially if you had Fawkes with you, who could easily save the day without dying of radiation and keeping you from a pointless death.
After the main game’s plot is finished, you are left wishing you could carry on your adventure. Broken Steel allows you to bypass that sacrificial moment of the main storyline’s ending and continue to aid the Brotherhood of Steel in their battle against the Enclave.
Alongside allowing you to carry on exploring the wasteland post-game, you can now have a higher level cap of 30, new monsters to encounter, and exciting quests to complete, including getting to send the giant Liberty Prime out into combat once more.
XCOM 2’s War Of The Chosen DLC adds what feels like an entirely new game’s worth of content to enjoy. If you loved the turn-based, alien-blasting thrills of the main game, then this incredible DLC gives you a chance to really put your skill to the test. The DLC includes new factions to ally with, additional missions, and even new buffs and debuffs, but that is not all.
War Of The Chosen introduces a new set of enemies to face, known as The Chosen. They have been tasked with recapturing the Commander and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. The enemies are even more unforgiving and deadly to face off against.
This DLC does not play as a follow-up storyline, as it will instead be woven into your next playthrough of the base game. The Chosen could show up at any moment and really mess with your plans, which adds a lot of tension to your playthrough.
14 Outer Wilds – Echoes Of The Eye
Just when you thought you uncovered every mystery that the Outer Wilds had to offer, along comes Echoes Of The Eye with even more hidden details for you to search for. Although it naturally slips into the base game, and you can complete it at any time, it is recommended to try it after solving the central mystery of the Outer Wilds.
Echoes Of The Eye is best going into without any prior knowledge, so there will be no spoilers here. It is a standalone experience that offers plenty of exploration and puzzle-solving, just like the base game. Still, it manages to incorporate entirely new gameplay mechanics and a spooky shift in tone and theme.
Despite feeling so different, it intertwines with the base game and offers you a fascinating, unique insight into the key themes of the Outer Wilds. It is a memorable experience that will blow you away as much as the main story. Who said lightning couldn’t strike twice?
13 Animal Crossing: New Horizons – 2.0 Happy Home Paradise
The Animal Crossing series has been a staple for Nintendo’s platforms, but New Horizons brought a whole new audience and player base to the long-running series. The base game of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is already chock-full of amazing customization items, a cast of quirky anthropomorphic villagers, and plenty of activities to keep you busy for hundreds of hours.
Not content to rest on its laurels, Nintendo released the 2.0 update, which added new content to the base game, most notably, the Happy Home Paradise DLC. This DLC was a game-changer for New Horizons in that it provided a brand-new game experience and, in essence, a whole new game entirely. This DLC allows you to build the most creative and beautiful, if sometimes odd, houses for the cast of villagers you have come to know and love.
12 Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag – Freedom Cry
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is already an incredible and comprehensive open-world pirate game, even without the addition of the standalone DLC, Freedom Cry. Fortunately, Freedom Cry delivers one of the series’ most refined and top-notch narrative pieces while still providing the fun ship combat, exploration, and assassinations of Black Flag.
Freedom Cry stars one of Black Flag’s best characters, Adéwalé, who, after an unfortunate turn of events against the Templars, finds himself shipwrecked in the Caribbean. It’s now up to Adéwalé to track down these Templars while helping to rescue those in the Brotherhood of Assassins. Apart from the excellent story beats and gameplay scenarios, the beautiful Caribbean location of Saint Domingue makes this standalone DLC stand far above its counterparts.
11 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – The Fate Of Atlantis
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s The Fate of Atlantis DLC is arguably the best expansion pack in the entire series. This is the first time in the entire series that an Assassin’s Creed game allowed you to fully interact with the Isu species, which is one of the highlights of this DLC.
The Fate of Atlantis also made the world of this game so much bigger than it already was. It provided a different vibrance and atmosphere, tying up a couple of loose ends brought upon by the base game.
10 Bioshock 2 – Minerva’s Den
Bioshock 2 was a follow-up game in a series already loved by many. While many may not consider the second game better than the first one, a lot of people won’t argue if you bring Minerva’s Den into the discussion. This DLC made the base game so much better.
It was highly emotional, and the atmosphere was perfectly set from beginning to end. This expansion took what the base game had and brought it up to a greater height, much to the delight of fans.
9 GTA 4 – The Ballad Of Gay Tony
Some fans feel that the fourth GTA title is one of the best in the series, while others prefer San Andreas or GTA 5. But, without question, GTA 4 sure had one of the best DLCs. The Ballad of Gay Tony has everything people loved about the series. It reminded them of what Grand Theft Auto is supposed to be: a lot of chaotic entertainment with a very alive and beating human story.
The Ballad of Gay Tony gave you more weapons to play around with and more fun missions to do. Especially the explosive finale, which is straight out of the Fast & Furious movies and a great conclusion to the entire GTA 4 experience. So many things were added that made GTA 4 a game so much more worthwhile to play through.
8 The Last Of Us – Left Behind
Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us is widely revered as one of the best video games of all time. What really drove this sentiment home was the game’s incredible story and perfectly fleshed-out characters. When a DLC was announced that explored the backstory of one of the two main protagonists, the fans yelled in celebration.
Left Behind explores the backstory of Ellie and her relationship with a former companion who she, unfortunately, had to leave behind. On top of that, it also showed Ellie’s dedication toward saving Joel. It’s gut-punching and beautiful, which is exactly like the base game.
7 Civilization 5 – Brave New World
Civilization 5 is a game that’s widely regarded as what turn-based strategy games should be. The game was incredibly immersive and entertaining, with tons of historical figures. You can pour hundreds of hours into this game, and you still would not be sick of it.
With that in mind, when the game released an expansion pack called Brave New World, it gave you an abundance of things to explore further. On top of Civ’s replayability, this expansion only added to the game’s quality.
6 Mass Effect 3 – Citadel
Mass Effect 3 is a game that is close to perfection if it weren’t for its ultimate glaring flaw: the ending. The game was fantastic, and many of the characters and subplots had satisfying conclusions, but the main plot was the issue. Overall, however, Mass Effect 3’s characters and narrative were met positively, the art direction was stunning, and the combat was improved upon.
As a result of the pleas of gamers, BioWare released expansion packs that would explore the game’s ending, which did its job phenomenally. The best of these expansion packs is The Citadel. The Citadel DLC is often cited as a gorgeous love letter to the series, and the fans absolutely loved it.
5 Horizon Forbidden West – Burning Shores
While many may think of the Frozen Wilds DLC from Horizon Zero Dawn – which is just as fantastic and worth checking out – Burning Shores for Horizon Forbidden West culminates in one of the best and biggest battles of the entire series.
Not only does the Burning Shores expansion take Aloy to a new location, but it offers up new types of enemies, some excellent scenery to explore, new characters to meet and grow attached to, and a boss battle that will leave you in awe. It’s easily worth playing if you loved the game itself, and will add so much more to the experience, while setting up the future of the series.
4 Dark Souls – Artorias Of The Abyss
Dark Souls is one of the most popular modern video game series. Even those who haven’t played a single Dark Souls game have at least heard about it in some way. A vast majority of those who did play it will tell you that it is one of the best video games ever made.
If that wasn’t enough, FromSoftware doubled down on this and released one of the best DLCs of all time. The Artorias of the Abyss adds a tad bit of challenge to this already challenging game, and it also expands upon the game’s lore. Those who picked up on its narrative found an emotional and disheartening story worthy of this universe’s atmosphere.
Who doesn’t love the Elder Scrolls series? These games are some of the best open-world RPGs you will ever have the pleasure of playing. They’re often taken as inspirations by some of the RPGs we know and love today. The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion is a game that was praised endlessly and even vastly considered to be a title ahead of its time.
About a year later, Bethesda released Shivering Isles, an expansion pack, and it was welcomed by the gaming community with arms wide open. It made this game’s world so much bigger and allowed you to explore even more. It offers more enemies and bosses and gives you a chance to become much more powerful.
2 The Witcher 3 – Blood And Wine
The Witcher 3 is CD Projekt Red’s magnum opus so far. You’ll likely agree that the game was absolutely phenomenal from start to finish. Long-time fans of the series and newcomers alike managed to find absolute enjoyment in playing this game. The combat was brilliant, and the story was incredible.
Aside from the base game, you’re also treated with two expansion packs. One of them, arguably the better one, is Blood and Wine. This DLC brought you to a new location and introduced you to more characters, monsters, an awesome boss, and a fantastic story.
1 Bloodborne – The Old Hunters
Bloodborne is one of FromSoftware Games’ best works, and that’s a powerful statement considering the studio’s portfolio. Bloodborne is a game long-time Souls fans will be familiar with, but this title also forces them to adopt a new kind of gameplay.
Much to the fans’ delight, an expansion for the game called The Old Hunters was released a couple of months after, and it was beyond incredible. It made the game’s lore more comprehensive, gave you a plethora of new items, and included bosses who are some of the best in the series, if not of all time.
NEXT: Lengthy DLCs Worth Sinking The Hours Into