Downloading a Vacation

I don’t often buy and/or play extra downloaded content for games. Basically, I’m cheap. I don’t want to pay any more than I already have. More usually it’s a matter of having spent upward of 150 hours exploring the world and being done. I want to move on to the next game. I also have this stubborn (and cheap) belief that if the content is important to the original story, it should have been included. For free.

Every now and then, though, I do want to go back, and that’s when I want more than a supplemental slice of history, or a story I do not care about. I want content. A new zone to explore. Side missions. I want to reenter the world with new purpose, or with the feeling that if I do not complete this last mission, my end will not remain as was.

I thinkthe most disappointing DLC I’ve ever purchased was Leliana’s Song for Dragon Age: Origins. Going into why I ultimately did not enjoy this DLC would be a blog post on its own. Suffice to say, the all too brief visit with Leliana’s past was a prime example of my issue with all things Dragon Age: once again, history was changed to suit the living, leaving fans scrambling to incorporate yet more inconsistencies into fractured canon.

One of the best I’ve ever played was the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3. Hours and hours of content, including a not-too-terrible mission, and lots and lots of time to simply do what fans wanted to do: fool around with the characters we loved. Many consider Citadel to be a love letter from BioWare to their fans—an acknowledgement of the fact we were out there, and that they were listening to us. Best of all, it was free.

I recently played two DLCs that I enjoyed very much. They both gave me more of what I loved within the framework of a new mission with consequences and plenty of extra territory to explore. In both cases, it was like taking a quick vacation to inside one of my favourite games.

The first was The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. Priced at around twenty-five bucks, Blood and Wine promised over thirty hours of playable content. That’s longer than I’ve spent on a whole game! Given this is the second and final supplemental adventure for The Witcher 3—and that I’m not really sure where they could take Geralt’s story next—I needed to play this DLC. And find somewhere to hang Hemmelfart.

hemmelfart1
That awful painting you stuck in your stash? Now you have somewhere to hang it.

It’s worth every penny and then maybe some. I played for well over fifty hours, hitting nearly every corner of the map and completing a good portion of the side quests. That fifty hours does include a little time spent in Skellige leveling up to start the DLC, which I shouldn’t have worried about, the very first quest in Toussaint bumps you up by two levels very quickly.

Without spoiling the story, the highlights of Blood and Wine for me were:

  • Master crafted armour sets. Yep, it’s another hunt for armour plans and it will take all of your coin and then some to upgrade every set (not that you need every set, but…). As I’m essentially a defensive player, I opted for the Ursine set for day to day wear. Equipping 3/6 pieces gives a nice boost to the Quen detonation, which I use a lot.
  • The map. Toussaint is gorgeous in a cotton candy kind of way. All the colours are bright and everyone is drunk. All the time. You also get a house to upgrade, and a garden! If there had been more quests related to building on to Corvo Bianco—such as actually producing wine and taking it to market—I might still be playing.
  • Getting these achievements side by side:

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  • The quest where Geralt poses for a portrait.
  • Watching higher vampires fight.
  • And this picture, with no context:

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At the end of it all, there are two epilogue quests that will leave a lump in your throat—even if you haven’t read all the books and don’t know all the characters that well. The storytelling is so well done—again—that even if you don’t really know Regis, by the end of the game, he’ll feel like an old friend. A very dear one at that. I’m not going to talk about the other epilogue quest, because it will probably differ according to the choices you made in The Wild Hunt. For me, it was a chapter of very Happily Ever After.

In the mood for another short game, I moved from the world of The Witcher back to the world of Assassin’s Creed and downloaded Freedom Cry. I wanted more Adéwalé. You get hints of his back story in Black Flag—enough to make you want a whole game. Freedom Cry is on the short side—eight hours that I stretched into about sixteen—but it’s a complete adventure that gave me the time and space to do the two things I loved best in Black Flag: attack and plunder ships and attack and plunder plantations.

Hanging out on top of a windmill, shooting berserk darts at guards.
Hanging out on top of a windmill, shooting berserk darts at guards.

I enjoyed getting to know Adéwalé better, but was ultimately frustrated by the fact this adventure is fairly short. I wanted to know more about him as Assassin and perhaps even play his escape from slavery. Still, as far as DLCs go, this was a good one with an extra, related slice of story delivered as promised and quite a few side missions to keep you occupied in between.

What’s up next? I just started playing Dishonored and I hear there are a couple of excellent add on adventures for it, plus a sequel coming out in just a few days. So far, I’m really enjoying it. It plays very much like Thief and Metro: Last Light—though I’m hoping my tendency toward chaos isn’t going to affect the end game in quite the same way as it did in the latter. Mostly, I’m enjoying a departure from the three worlds I’ve lived in almost exclusively over the past two years: Fallout, The Witcher and Assassin’s Creed. There are actually other games out there—I just like what I like and that tends to be games I can get lost in for months at a time. Pity there aren’t more months in a year, eh?

3 thoughts on “Downloading a Vacation

  1. romanowrites November 3, 2016 / 9:25 am

    I seriously need to get back to Geralt. I miss him. I started to play Dishonored about a year ago and lost interest after about thirty hours. The activities seemed repetitive to me and the quests got harder and harder with very little chance to level up, meaning your character was constantly on the verge but not quite strong enough, which was frustrating as hell and made me turn it off.

    • Kelly Jensen November 3, 2016 / 9:47 am

      The more I play Dishonored, the more I’m enjoying it. I like that the difficulty of the missions keeps increasing. Keeps things interesting. I’ve not had an issue with skill upgrades, either. In fact, I almost have too many too choose from. Different strokes, eh?

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