We have encountered all kinds of DLC issues over the years. There have been overpriced add-ons, like Gal*Gun: Double Peace’s $89.99 Pheromone Z item. Developers have also tried to pass off ridiculous items, like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’s Horse Armor. And of course we’ve had multiple instances where the DLC was actually on the disc and publishers were essentially charging us a fee to unlock it. Now, we have a whole new epidemic. We have entered the period of lazy DLC.
What is lazy DLC, you may ask? Well, I like to think of it as a cousin of on-disc DLC. It is content that probably should have been included in the base game, since it’s clearly available in some shape during the game’s development. These are add-ons that didn’t take much effort for companies to include, but they did just enough to keep it separated so they could go ahead and charge people more for things that could have been there from the start, are variants on existing items, or perhaps could even be clones of characters already available. There have been quite a few instances as of late that have caused some hubbub in various game communities online.
We’ll start with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. Capcom is no stranger to DLC issues, what with being one of the on-disc DLC pioneers. The game is going to have extra characters and premium costumes to purchase. The first three were Black Panther, Monster Hunter, and Sigma. The thing is, all three of them play pretty major roles in the game, but as NPCs. Black Panther is especially important, since he’s the only hero to hold an Infinity Stone, the Time Stone, at the start of the game. Though, I suppose Sigma being one of the bosses is a big deal too. Yet despite their NPC appearances and rumors that suggest they were done months ahead of launch, all three of these characters were held back to be sold as add-ons and release on October 17, 2017, a month after the game’s launch. Somehow, it seems lazy to take important story characters and hold them back as DLC.
Fire Emblem Warriors is another game with a potential lazy DLC problem. This is one of Koei Tecmo’s Musou games, which means you expect tons of playable characters and plenty of beat’em up action. There are 25 in the base game. People can pay to add nine more. The thing is, four of those nine people are already in Fire Emblem Warriors. Navarre, Niles, Oboro, and Owain play parts in the story. We see them fight and act. Yet despite clearly being in a position where these four could have just already been in and the cast could have been even greater and included more characters people love, they were held back and popped into other packs. Combine that with broken-armor models and so-so costumes filling out these packs, and it can feel like Koei Tecmo got lazy.
But these are only two of many little instances that add up. Ghost Recon: Wildlands has received criticism for Narco Road and Fallen Ghosts. Both take place in existing areas of the game’s map, but in closed off segments. You have already upgraded characters. The weapons are reskinned. It feels like a quick cash grab and lazy. As do the Resident Evil 7 add-ons. (What? Capcom appearing twice on a list about lazy DLC? How crazy!) The Banned Footage Vol. 1 and 2 both contain minigames that, frankly, in earlier games would have been included bonuses. Like Nightmare, the survival horde game, feels rather insubstantial. And even the meat of the Banned Footage Volumes, feel rehashed due to their use of existing assets and mechanics. Ethan Must Die is a good example, what with the similar enemies and layout.
DLC isn't an inherently bad thing. There are some great add-ons out there that really feel worthwhile. But companies that hold content back or slap together small experiences that aren't well thought out should feel ashamed of their actions. We can tell when they are trying to sell us things that should have been included in the game at launch. Instead of being lazy and releasing extras that involved little effort, make things we would want to buy! It's better for you, as it gives you a better reputation and improves the overall quality of the game, and it makes our gaming experiences more enjoyable.