The Best Expansions of 2016
Ready for some more?
2016 not only treated us to plenty of great games, but there was no shortage of compelling expansions. Great add-ons bring us back to the games we love and not only provide new areas to explore, but also fresh ways to play. Here are some of our favorites from 2016.
An expansion to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appears in our list for a second straight year, as CD Projekt Red followed up last year's excellent Hearts of Stone expansion with another hit. The RPG's Blood and Wine expansion landed in May, transporting players to the vibrant and colorful world of Touissant. Quests and activities abounded, while new features like a mutations system gave players the ability to add passive bonuses and other skill effects, mixing up the game and adding a new flavor to its combat. With The Witcher 3 being the final Witcher game to star Geralt, and Blood and Wine its last expansion, we may have seen the last of the monster hunter. It's comforting to know that he went out on a high note.
Moving on, Blizzard's genre-defining MMO, World of Warcraft, welcomed its sixth expansion in August. Legion was praised by GameSpot and others for its story that had genuine stakes and consequences. "With Legion, it's hard to remember when WoW's narrative and questing were ever this strong before," GameSpot reviewer Don Saas said his his critique. The new Demon Hunter class (which starts at level 98) shakes things up by being more action-oriented than other classes, while the new zones are some of the most expansive and diverse ever seen in the game. Blizzard proves all over again with Legion that it knows how to bring players back with an epic expansion.
Dying Light's The Following add-on landed in February, evolving the game's core formula with new mechanics and features, the standout one being the dirt buggy. Running around on foot is fine, but being able cover more ground in a car dials up the moment-to-moment excitement significantly. Whereas the base game is focused on parkour-ready environments (that wouldn't work so well in a vehicle...), The Following takes players outside of Harran into a new, vehicle-friendly world. Over time, you will amass new upgrades for your buggy, including the likes of flamethrowers and deployable mines. The expansion overall is a beefy one, (we found it to be around 10 hours if you do everything), including the main story, side-missions, and even new skill-based challenges. We won't spoil it here, but the ending had a pretty cool story twist we didn't see coming.
It wasn't just console games that received great expansion content in 2016. Blizzard's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft had one of the best add-ons in 2016 in Whispers of the Old Gods. Released in May, Whispers of the Old Gods mixed things up with a series of new cards (134 in all!), including C'Thun, Y'Shaarj, Yogg-Saron, and N'Zoth from the Warcraft lore. The expansion also changed up the popular collectible card game's formula with its new Standard and Wild mode. In Standard Mode, you can play with a deck that pulls from a pool of cards released in the current and previous calendar year. Wild Mode, on the other hand, is the format where "anything can happen." In this mode, you can build a deck with cards from across Whispers of the Old Gods and all other expansions. This expansion felt fresh with its new features and and took steps to make the free-to-play game more accessible for newcomers.
Another shining example of expansion content this year came in the form of strategy game XCOM 2's Shen's Last Gift add-on. The the expansion lets you bring sentient robots called Sparks into battle. The robo-creatures have more health and firepower than a standard human soldier, and because they cannot take cover, you'll need to adjust your strategy. Like human characters, the Sparks also have two progression paths to move through, giving you a reason to stick with the characters over the long haul. While the new class, the game's sixth, is the centerpiece of the expansion, there is also an excellent new story mission to take on where you play as the engineer Lili Shen. Shen's Last Gift is a present you'll be happy to open.
What was your favorite piece of DLC this year? Let us know in the comments below!