Like a vacation, DLC content enhances gaming experience

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Author: Will Westwater

If my life was a video game—and sometimes I think it really is—different vacations would be the add-on packs to my main game. In this life-game hybrid of mine, the most recent add-on, or downloadable content (DLC), “Adventures in San Francisco,” would cover all of my spring break shenanigans—hot tubbing, reading comics and playing a ton of “Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition.”

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In the digital world, good DLC is like a vacation. This realization hit me while my player character was beaming up to an alien mothership in “Fallout 3″‘s “Mothership Zeta” DLC. I enjoyed the change of pace fighting aliens and exploring a spaceship rather than shooting raiders in the Capital Wasteland. I looked forward to bringing some of my shiny new alien weaponry back to the “Fallout 3” main game when I was done with my time in space.

Just like I flew to San Francisco to take a break from my school life, I warped to space to take a break from the Capital Wasteland.

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DLC is not a foreign concept to gamers today. It is often expected after a title gains popularity and is one way in which developers continue to tell stories without putting out a new game. These add-ons range from basic level cap raises and expanding another character’s story, to over-the-top graphic games like the neon- and laser-strewn landscape of “Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.”

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Like a vacation, good add-on content is:

Supplemental: DLC shouldn’t be required to play the game or be an integral part of the core game that you already paid for. “Red Dead Redemption” was solid on its own, and the “Undead Nightmare” DLC gave me a chance to shoot through hordes of the living dead as John Marston. Developer Rockstar went all in on this DLC to create a well-thought-out, cheesy zombie-movie-style piece that fans didn’t know they wanted.

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A break from the ordinary: killing zombies became a nice retreat from the already stellar norm, like getting room service or reading a book on the beach. The add-on content is different enough from the core game to give players a new experience, but familiar enough to pick up quickly. Elizabeth’s stealthy gameplay reinvigorated familiar settings and forced the player to think differently in “Bioshock Infinite”‘s “Burial at Sea Part 2” add-on. Good DLC should get you excited about the main game again. DLC that makes an impression will keep me coming back to the main game for another round.

Cheap: DLC usually is. This one is up for interpretation on vacations!

Great add-on content is plentiful in our actual lives and the digital world. I was fortunate enough to have a spring break filled with both. It refreshed my overall “Fallout 3” experience, and seeing family and friends in San Francisco eased me back into the grind of my own life.

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