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2

Battlefront 2 Resurrection DLC Review

The first wave of DLC for Star Wars Battlefront 2 is now available, and as planned it's free for everyone who owns the game. 

In this installment of DLC, we get more single-player campaign missions and a new multiplayer map for ground and starfighter play.

Warning: Spoilers for the DLC are ahead, but they DO NOT spoil The Last Jedi. DICE clearly stated that there are no spoilers in the DLC, and having completed everything I can confirm

The campaign picks up around the events of The Force Awakens, which means we're far enough in the future for Iden to have gone grey. 

Right in the opening moments we see Iden's husband, Del, executed by Hask. We knew this was coming having completed the main campaign already. Iden and Del's daughter, who so many of us thought would be Rey given all the annoying hints, turns out to be nothing more than a random character with a nose stud. Super let down by the anticlimactic reveal.

The DLC missions are short, and very reminiscent of the main campaign. In fact, the missions themselves feel so familiar that I went back and realized that they are almost just reskinned missions of levels played in the main campaign.

The DLC itself is also very, very short, coming in at just over an hour of actual play. For being a free addition to the game, I suppose we can't complain too much.

What I disliked more than how short it was is the storytelling here. I was let down by how these missions didn't add anything to the actual story we left after the campaign. They didn't do anything with the child, what Luke was looking for, or anything. In fact, this was nothing more than Iden chasing after Hask with her daughter and friend. 

In the end, Iden dies awkwardly and Zay joins the resistance. It just didn't feel right because there was no resolution or real continuation of the story. 

We did learn (though I feel like we already knew this) that the First Order has been taking children and turning them into Stormtroopers. They have a huge fleet with a Juggernaut which just looks like a bigger equilateral triangle Star Destroyer. Perhaps there's more on this growing threat in The Last Jedi.

Rewards for completing the Resurrection Campaign missions were meh.

In all, disappointing campaign extension.

The multiplayer map, however, is pretty cool for Galactic Assault.  It's a sniper's paradise, which is right up my ally. I've really taken to headshots in Battlefront 2, and any chance I get to fight on a map where it's a promoted form of gameplay is fine by me.

I really like the atmosphere of red dust being kicked up by blaster shots and walker feet as the First Order progresses toward the Resistance base. As the Resistance, you feel almost helpless against all these walkers inevitably pushing you deeper and deeper into your hideout. 

I'll reserve high hopes for future DLC releases to resolve this lackluster addition to the game.

15

Value/Price Positioning for DLC is “Generally” Negative

Yesterday’s posts about DLC can really be further clarified by looking at value/price positioning. A few basic ones include:

  • Less for Less
  • Less for the Same
  • Less for More
  • The Same for Less
  • The Same for More
  • The Same for the Same
  • More for Less
  • More for the Same
  • More for More

Before we go further, I want to quote one of the comments from yesterday. This is from a long-time poster named Shutter, who I really appreciate being one of our regular readers.

As someone who makes/sells games, here’s my question: If you don’t want us to stop putting out DLC, would you rather have the base game priced at $100, or for us to go back to Xbox/PS2 graphics and fire half the studio? Because those are the options without doing DLC.

DLC and loot crates exist because the current base game pricepoint doesn’t keep dev studios solvent for the non-CoDs/GTAs of the world. Yes it’s meant to get your money, but so is selling the game in the first place.

And as a gamer I’ll say that DLC is good and lets me play what I want at a price closer to where I actually value it. There are plenty of games that I’d like to experience but I don’t want to 100% (Hi Assassin’s Creed). DLC lets me play the game for the 10-20 hours that I care about, but not have to subsidize the people who are sinking 100 hours into the game to find every collectible.

I’ll also add, I’m perfectly happy for people not to buy the DLC attached to games I work on, if people quit buying it, we’d quit making it. But for all the bitching about DLC, the reality is that there’s a solid chunk of people who want this stuff and will buy an incredible amount of it, and they’re subsidizing the base game dev for the rest of us.

I really like this comment because it opens up the discussion for these value propositions. I’m going to use these value/price points in a slightly different way than usual since these are typically used to compare an offering to the competition or the market. I’m going to use them to compare to their base games. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do well enough to illustrate my point.

Would I rather have a base game priced at $100?

I usually have no problem paying ‘more for more’. That’s how I rationalize buying Apple products, BenQ monitors, TVs with the good Samsung panels, leather in my car, etc. I will pay more, but I expect more in return.

To me, this is what MMOs do in general. They cost more, but you (hopefully) get more. That’s why I’m okay with a subscription. As soon as that value/price position wavers, however, my subscription usually cancels.

For a single-player game, I’d pay $100 for a great game. Sure. My imagination starts to churn out all sorts of ideas like the next Elder Scrolls game or an even better Assassin’s Creed. I get lots of enjoyment out of those games and would likely pay $100 for the ones I knew would meet that ‘more for more’ value. If we pretend there’s no risk of a bad game, then Yes I would pay an additional $40 for a game with no DLC or mtx.

But since that risk exists, you’d be putting games into the same quadrant on the FCB matrix as an iPhone, and that radically alters my perspective. The purchase decision, for me, goes from almost-impulse to high-involvement. Do we want games in that category? This would make a fascinating blog post for another time.

I don’t like paying more for less.

This is where I always feel like the season pass is a scam. This is value/price trap where I always feel like the DLC never amounts to the value paid. The Destiny 2 DLC is mopped up in an hour or two. That was $20. That’s 1/3 the box price for the full game. Looking at it from that perspective, I just paid more for less. Reskins, pointless levels, and small maps. No thanks.

And to my point yesterday about DLC segmenting the community, the Destiny 2 DLC actually takes away features you paid for in the base game if you don’t also buy the DLC; That’s right, you can’t Prestige Raid, Nightfall, or do Trials without the DLC. They’re essentially locking you out of content you already bought. That, to me, is like ‘paying more for less’ to the nth degree or bottom line ‘more for the same’.

They want you to think it’s ‘More for Less’. They want you to think you’re getting more content for such a low price, but that’s a manipulation, not a correct way of evaluating the value/price position.

I Like DLC with a Positive or Neutral Position

As many pointed out — and I agreed — in yesterday’s comments, there are good value offerings in the DLC space. These tend to be more EXPANSIONS than DLC, though. They’ve just been categorized as DLC due to the nature of their release being digital these days. In many ways, I lump WoW expansions into this category. Comparing their value/price to themselves, the expansions are ‘more for the same’ or ‘same for the same’. If ‘same’ was good for you, then celebrate.

Elder Scrolls DLC tends to be be a great value. Baldur’s Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal was awesome value. I remember thinking the Mass Effect 2 DLC was good. Assassin’s Creed 2 DLC was really good — probably the best of the franchise with Black Flag having a good installment. The gems are there.

The Big “Generalized” Picture & Recent Trends are the Bad

This is where people like to jump in and say that I was generalizing yesterday. Yes, I was. Generally speaking, most DLC is hot garbage. Most DLC doesn’t fall into the positive quadrants. Most DLC falls into the negative areas. DLC is trending heavily toward a predatory practice — no, strike that, it’s already there. So when I say DLC is just as bad as loot boxes, I truly do believe it. They are both predatory by nature, rarely provide the value and positive emotion, and typically do not benefit the consumer.

35

DLC is Just as Bad as Loot Crates

Tonight's topic is a carry-over from the conversation had in our K&G community Discord. We noticed how Destiny is pushing hard on DLC lately after only being out on PC for such a short time, and that spurred us into bemoaning games that launch DLC so quickly and frequently after a game comes out.

It was fairly unanimous that DLC is just as bad as any loot crate system for how it impacts a game, its community, and the practices of a company.

We came up with these main points.

DLC Craps on the Base Game

It's always hard when you see a game release knowing the DLC is either already on the disc or completed. It makes you wonder why that content wasn't part of the game that you paid full price for already. 

Content is often chopped from the game when someone says, "This is good enough to sell as companion content." A personal pet peeve of mine is the episodic content model where they chop up a full game into 4 or 5 smaller games and charge $20 per episode -- like we don't realize that means we're spending $100+ for a game.

Players are Segmented by DLC

DLC can also really segment players. This used to be really bad in the FPS games that charged for maps. When you didn't have a "map pack expansion" you literally couldn't play on some servers. Same thing starts to happen with expansions. In Destiny 2, if you don't have an expansion you're probably never going to play with other people again.

DLC, when excessive, quickly creates a have and have not that extends far beyond the power creep games like Battlefront 2 offer with loot crates.

Excessive DLC Confuses Consumers

I know many times in the past I have looked around to figure out what DLC I need to do the main content, and what DLC is just extra fluff. Even tonight we were trying to figure out what certain DLC unlocked in AC and Destiny.

Why DLC is Worse than MMO Expansions

I've had the argument proposed that MMO expansions are no different than DLC. I disagree. MMO expansions tend to come much later after launch. DLC these days is coming 6 weeks later. 

MMO expansions typically bring A LOT more content than a DLC pack. World of Warcraft is probably the best example of how an expansion can even be an entirely new game that you'll play for 1-2 years. The expansions are reboots, meaning anyone can jump in at a new expansion and be the next best player.

The same can't be said for a map pack, new dungeon or region, and quests added in a game that came out less than two months ago.

DLC is a Price Gouge 

The season passes these days are going for $35-70 or something? That's crazy. Most are a complete rip off. Even the latest Destiny 2 DLC is lackluster for the $19.99 price tag. The maps are smaller than Titan, the enemies and guns are reskins, there's no point in level 5 more levels since all you get are bright engrams, and a Rift-like system right from D3.

Even Assassin's Creed DLC has historically not been worth the price of admission. I love AC. I got the Deluxe edition so I have the season pass. But I don't think it was economical at all. The DLC in the past AC was cleaned up in one sitting -- less than 2-3 hours tops.

I'm over DLC just as much as I'm over loot crates, and can't see why they aren't just as much or more than loot boxes or other mtx systems. I'd be happy to see them on a list of things we never have to see again in games.

2

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Jack the Ripper DLC Review

Jack the Ripper DLC

I was able to get a pretty good deal on the special edition of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate which means I get at least all of the first DLC and somne goodies at no (additional) cost. The first main DLC for Syndicate is Jack the Ripper, a look into the mystery surrounding one of London’s craziest and creepiest serial killer bad guys. For the purposes of this review, there will be spoilers.

A little backstory for you…

Jack the Ripper DLC takes place 20 years after the main storyline in Syndicate. Evie has been in India with Henry Green working with the local chapter of the Assassin Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Jacob stayed in London all these years to build up the brotherhood there with plenty of new Initiates. After the death of Starrick, Jacob liberated the Aslyum and took on an Initiate named Jack the Lad (can you guess who he becomes?). Jack’s mom was killed by Starrick’s Templars, and he was committed to the Aslyum and pretty much ‘jacked up’ by the people there. So of course it makes perfect sense to train him as an Assassin…

A few years later, Jacob and his initiates meet up with the Indian Brotherhood where they learn this new fighting tactic which involves filling people with ‘fear.’ It’s less gruesome — so less stab stab and more about street magic and scaring the crap out of people. Fear bombs, spikes to pin people to the ground, etc.

After Jacob and his initiates return, having just learned lots of Jack the Lad loses it and begins killing … just about everyone in the London Assassins. He takes over the Rooks and turns them, along with anyone else he can manipulate, into groups of baddies.

The Autumn of Terror

Here’s where we come in — right in the Autumn of Terror — when Jack has just killed a lot of women (who were Assassin Initiates, shhh) and Jacob has been trying to stop him. We learn a lot of this backstory I told you above as we go along, but it’s all really, really poorly developed. Jack’s goal is to spread fear through London — great that he has learned so many techniques on how to do it from the Indian Brotherhood. Jacob ultimately fails and is taken prisoner by Jack, but not before he is able to let Evie know that she has to come back to help rid the world of this monster they created before Inspector Abberline (who knew the twins from the main Syndicate story) is forced to arrest Evie on the grounds that everything is starting to point back to the Assassins (which, of course makes sense — it DOES!).

Unfortunately, most of the story is really underdeveloped and sadly drags on with boring/mundane side missions. The memories themselves should have been way less convoluted and repetitive. I’m surprised to say that I think it should have actually been shorter. The story begged for closure, but never gave any.

Gameplay

The majority of the gameplay is from Evie’s perspective. She has aged quite a bit, now fights using these fear tactics rather than stealthy Assassin stuff. I really, really dislike this style of fighting — especially for Evie. The Assassins are so much cooler when they are about staying in the shadows and being undetected. The skills in fear fighting are all about making sure your enemy sees you and sees you taking down others. It’s this bizarre juxtaposition.

Periodically throughout the 10 Memories comprising the DLC you get to play as Jack the Ripper. Now here is where the fear style makes sense. He’s supposed to scare people. Playing as Jack is really well done because his sociopathic psychopathic tendencies are well-translated with effects. I thought Jack was very well done.

I felt like everything I did in the main story was ditched or tossed aside. All of my skills are gone and replaced with only a handful of passive upgrades to my fear-inducing items.

Setting up the Future?

Jack the Ripper DLC did a nice job of giving me more about the Frye Twins. I loved seeing them 20 years later with gray hair and wrinkles. I liked knowing what happened to them and how they went on to do things in different regions.

Could we have been given a taste of a future AC game here? Should we expect India? Perhaps during the Sikh Empire? Honestly, I just hope they do not ever, EVER, bring back this fear-inducing fight style. It’s just awful.

A Nice Try that Falls Flat

Overall, Jack the Ripper had tons of potential. Had these events not been 20 years later, this would have been a perfect set of side missions. Unfortunately, we were given a set of rushed (yet too long and boring) memories for an underdeveloped story, and gameplay was marred by a fighting style that conflicts with the core of what it means to be an Assassin.

Here’s where I’m torn. Is this worth $15? Yes. There’s plenty of content to justify the price, but the execution leaves much to be desired.

17

Should all MMOs have DLC?

Coming off of yesterday’s post about EverQuest 2 turning to a DLC model, I started to think about MMOs in general and whether or not the entire industry could actually benefit from an (ready for it?) ‘ideal’ DLC system.

Since a subscription seems to be taboo, what if the game simply cost the box price to get started. Then, instead of subscription, monthly or every other month (or honestly however often they can make it…) content updates were released that, in the total of a year, added up to what would normally be added to the game in an expansion.

The monthly content would be separate from regular maintenance patching that would improve the overall game. Balance changes, regular updates to existing content, etc., are all included in the base price. The DLC would be $15-$20 each.  There could even be an option to subscribe for $15/month and gain access to all DLC as long as you subscribe — such systems technically exist already.

Effectively, regular DLC is like a subscription except for the fact that players end up getting much, much more than a normal subscription would normally yield. It’s also optional.

A few problems…

  • DLC seems to inherently demand instancing which truncates the world and segregates players
  • Greatly depends on the dev team being capable of creating regular updates and publishing content
  • The psychology of players dropping $15 on a purchase vs. $15 in a subscription is a hurdle, and if the contnet were spaced then the psychology of dropping $30, $45, etc., at a time seems even worse despite being no more than a subscription

Pros…

  • Opportunity for devs to take in a regular cash
  • Optional for players to pick and choose what content appeals to them
  • Creates the opportunity for a lot of new content
  • Regular yearly expansions can still be released to raise the level cap for everyone and provide a one-time $60 increase with lots more content

This all relies on an ideal. The ideal being that the content is amazing and quality is high. Rushing content to collect cash ruins the entire plan. Since that’s where most of the ‘business’ side would rush it, I question whether such a system could ever work. But if we could actually see the MMO industry respect quality, respect GOOD gameplay/design then we could work within the ‘spirit’ of the subscription model.

Ideas? Thoughts? I’m curious to know how you’d react to buying an MMO at the regular box price and having it be a full MMO without a subscription or F2P cash shop, but have there be micro-expansions or DLC packs come out with new content (and rewards).  Would you be willing to buy one every 3 months for $45? Every month for $15?

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