Downloadable content sometimes gets a bad rap among gamers who claim that developers withhold content from the base game just to squeeze money out of players. This has been true on a few occasions, but developers will often create content that truly expands upon the base game and even improves it. If you've played any of these base games and haven't tried the following DLCs, consider revisiting an old favorite.
For the purposes of this list I've disqualified any free updates and any expansions for live games, so don't expect to find No Man's Sky or Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers here.
10. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
It's rare that an expansion will actually come packed with this much, well, stuff. Undead Nightmare comes with an entirely new horror-themed campaign as well as two new multiplayer modes that are just fun as Hell. In addition, the DLC overhauls parts of the open world, retooling them to naturally fit into a horror game. Rockstar actually started the project as a standalone game but realized during early development that it would fit right in to the American Wild West. Join John Marston as he traverses the zombie-riddled wasteland to find a cure for his infected wife and daughter, liberates towns and tackles plenty of new quests along the way.
9. Mass Effect 3: Citadel
Mass Effect 3 was released to general critical acclaim but widespread disappointment among fans concerning the ending. The ending was so universally reviled, in fact, that Bioware released a How I Met Your Mother-esque alternate ending after the fact as part of the The Citadel DLC pack. Alongside a good chunk of quests, new squad mates, new locations and new gear came unique cinematics and endings for each specific companion, playing out the end of the story with anyone you might have romanced during the trilogy. The Citadel pits all the beloved characters from the trilogy together for Avengers: Endgame levels of fan service and somehow, it just works. Although fans wish this DLC pack hadn't needed to exist in the first place, finding true closure in a seven-year saga is worth the price of admission.
8. The Last of Us: Left Behind
The Last of Us has earned a place on the list of all-time greats, capturing the hearts of fans and critics alike. Left Behind is a beautiful short story that serves as both a prequel to the events of the game and an extension of the story, letting the player control Ellie years before she meets Joel. The present day story has Ellie searching a shopping mall that is predictably infested with clickers for medicine. In Left Behind, Ellie's friend Riley has joined the Fireflies, a revolutionary militia group. She and Ellie explore an abandoned mall and Riley explains that she has to leave Ellie to pursue her true destiny with the Fireflies. The gameplay is identical to the base game, but the backstory for Ellie presented in Left Behind is essential for players that want to know who she really is.
7. Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion
Splatoon 2 comes with a pretty fun story mode that serves more to teach players how to play the multiplayer portion than to act as an actual challenge. The single-player DLC, Octo Expansion, however, brings a new hero to an entirely never before seen, darker world below the blood-drenched streets of Inkopolis. An amnesiac Octoling, Agent 8, awakens on an abandoned metro train alongside the familiar Captain Cuttlefish. In a scene out of Snowpiercer, a call comes in for the two of them from a dark game master watching remotely. He claims that the only way off this infinite nightmare train is to complete the challenges he's laid out and retrieve the four "thangs" to reach The Promised Land. Directed at gunpoint by a Russian Hitman-esque sea cucumber, C.Q. Cumber, you'll undertake ultra hard challenges filled out by a nightmarish race for freedom with an actual ticking bomb attached to your back. It's very out of left field for Nintendo to get this dark but certainly not unwelcome.
6. Fallout New Vegas: Lonesome Road
I genuinely could have chosen any of Fallout: New Vegas's four enormous expansions to be on this list, but I chose Lonesome Road as it struck an emotional chord with me. Obsidian Entertainment was unable to finish the story of Fallout: New Vegas in time to release it as part of the base game, so this 8-hour epilogue serves as the true ending to the Courier's story. It is in this DLC that the Courier will face Ulysses, the original Courier Six, and faces the consequences of what they thought was a simple delivery. Accompanied by the nonspeaking eyebot ED-E, who is somehow one of the most charismatic companions in any RPG, the Courier will travel to the depths of the Divide to face both the monologuing Ulysses and their own past. A dangerous philosophical question is posed in Lonesome Road: are we responsible for the unintended consequences of our actions? If not, where do we draw the line, and on whose authority? While I implore you to also explore the other expansions (Old World Blues, Honest Hearts and Dead Money), Lonesome Road is the essential closure that brings the courier's story full circle.
5. Fallout 4: Far Harbor
Fans of the Fallout series had more than a few complaints when Fallout 4 dropped in 2015, and some were warranted, some not. Chief among these complaints was that Fallout 4 had strayed too far from its RPG roots towards entirely becoming an open world shooter. The removal of skill checks, weak consequences of faction choices the lack of classic Fallout humor were just a few reasons that fans felt let down, and Bethesda Game Studios listened. Far Harbor is an enormous expansion that is of higher quality than the entire base game, bringing the Sole Survivor to the remains of Far Harbor.. The capital-F Fog has rolled onto the island, and the few settlements are the only place survivors are safe from the dozens of new nautical and water-based creatures. An well-written story with branching quest lines for idealistically opposed factions akin to Fallout: New Vegas takes the player through over 20 hours of new content and hilarious side quests. Skill checks in dialogue and actions are back as well, so high intelligence and high perception characters aren't going to experience quests the same way. Even if you were somewhat disappointed with Fallout 4, you owe it to yourself to try Far Harbor. It is far and away the best Fallout content Bethesda Game Studios has ever put out.
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4. The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles
The Shivering Isles brought players to a massive new world, a land of madness under the rule of the Daedric Prince Sheogorath. The world is split into colorful, gorgeous Mania and the dark, demented hellscape of Dementia. The base game of Oblivion took place in Cyrodil, a bleak land of stone castles and muddied brown houses. This expansion took the unique RPG mechanics of the base game and brought them into a beautiful world that truly felt next-gen at the time. The main quest of Shivering Isles pits the Hero against innovative bosses, new enemies and two warring factions on either end of the Realm of Madness. If you require further tempting, you'll get to become a god. I know, right? This DLC pack provides about 40 hours of new content, and many Elder Scrolls fans will insist that if you haven't played The Shivering Isles, have you really played Oblivion at all?
3. Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea
Bioshock Infinite was a fantastic game, but the ending provided little closure, opting instead for a nontraditional ending that intentionally leaves open a lot of loose ends. Bioshock is a strange beast that went through a development cycle similar to the Dark Souls trilogy. Ken Levine and his studio Irrational Games created the first Bioshock game, but declined to work on the sequel, Bioshock 2. Publisher 2K Games wanted a quick turnaround time by setting the sequel in the same world, but Levine instead began working on the true sequel, Bioshock Infinite, which would take many, many years to produce. As such, though it is canon, Bioshock 2 is more of a spin-off than anything - the true Bioshock trilogy is Bioshock, then Bioshock: Infinite, and then Bioshock: Burial at Sea. This DLC pack serves as the final installment of the trilogy and pulls the entire thing together, closing the loose ends that Infinite intentionally left open. It's about eight hours long, nearly the full length of the previous games, and lets the player control both Elizabeth and Booker as they infiltrate Rapture in 1912 to rescue a young girl named Sally. If you have played Infinite but not yet played the DLC, you're only two-thirds of the way through the story. Get to it.
2. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
The presence of The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine this far up the list should be a surprise to no one who has played CD Projekt Red's expansive open-world RPG. This 20+ hour expansion brings Geralt to the faraway land of Toussaint, AKA fantasy France. Geralt is called to this land to hunt down a horrifying beast that has been terrorizing the people. Toussaint is honestly an entirely new world - new architecture, new weapon styles, new people with new accents, new clothing, new food - all modeled after medieval France. Plus, a beautiful vineyard becomes a new player home away from home. The city of Beauclair lives up its name, looking like something out of a Disney movie, and is full of secrets to discover, dialogue trees to navigate and people to meet. Personally, my favorite part of the DLC is that CD Projekt Red doubles down on the vivid coloring they used in the base game and aren't afraid to smother your eyes with bright blues, pinks, purples and greens. If you're not convinced yet, this DLC expansion actually won the Game Award for best RPG over four other full games in 2016. Yikes.
1. Prey: Mooncrash
There has been a lot of exciting, expansive and well-crafted downloadable content presented on this list. None of them are as unique or interesting as Prey: Mooncrash. This standalone DLC pack is completely disconnected from the base game, instead utilizing the story of Prey as a backdrop. In Mooncrash, a TranStar worker named Peter is locked in an unbreakable contract with KASMA Corp, and it's made clear he'll never make it back to earth and his family if he doesn't follow their precise instructions and investigate the radio silence at the moon base. The player, taking control of five unlockable TranStar employees, must build a loadout and traverse an ever-changing moonbase crawling with Typhon that changes every time you play. You'll rerun the simulations over and over to figure out how to get your five survivors off the moon, but it never gets boring or repetitive; enemies, items, switches, obstacles, doors and even locations change positions each time you play. You'll encounter dozens of new enemy variants as well as a few entirely new ones, and resources and ammo are scarce.
Mooncrash is hard to describe on paper, but it's best described as a rogue-lite first person shooter dungeon crawler in which you must make a perfect run, one after another, with each of the five available characters to escape. Each time you make a run you'll unlock credits that can be used to bolster your loadout, and balancing your inventory becomes just as much part of the game as fighting the Moon Shark. Every run has unique elements to it that create new circumstances in following runs too, so paying attention to and tracking changes is the only way to make it through this endless nightmare world. Prey: Mooncrash is definitively the most unique, interesting and challenging piece of DLC to date. You don't need to be a speedrunning fanatic to enjoy this - it's just fun.
A few honorable mentions so I don't wake up with a horse head in my bed: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - The Champions' Ballad, Bloodborne - The Old Hunters, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard, Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle - Donkey Kong Adventure, Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods and Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep.