The Best Expansions of 2016

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Eddie Makuch

Bring back the Whalers.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Avatar image for Pooya1881
Pooya1881

Blood and wine is like Witcher 3.5 or Witcher 3 : Aftermath!, it is exactly what an expansion should be, it adds a lot the original game and makes replaying the original even better.

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illegal_peanut

this is mostly Legion vs Blood and wine. And I don't even know why hearth stone is on here.

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Moondrake

While I certainly enjoyed getting the additional content, Shen's Last Gift, consisting of just one mission and one new class, hardly qualifies as an expansion. Alien Hunter actually added more content than Shen's Last Gift did, and it doesn't qualify as an expansion either. Enemy Within added so much and was such an outstanding expansion for Enemy Unknown that in comparison, even after several DLC releases, XCOM 2 doesn't feel complete yet... like it still needs something to make it really shine.

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BoboTheMighty

Blood and Wine is so far above others here, it's almost funny (Well actually, it is funny. :P). But seriously others expansions are also outstanding, great some of the old school is coming back.

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Mo60

Of course The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine expansion is superior than any expansion,without any question or doubt it will win the best expansion this year with ease.

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brain20035

I just can't stomache how GS is hanling GOTY this year...

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Tiwill44

I've played Don't Starve Together, does that count?

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martintule24

I tried to get into the Witcher but I didn't like the simple combat and the inventory was way too confusing. It didn't feel like fun more like chores. The controls were artful as well. Maybe I'll give it another try when drops down to 25 again.

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Renunciation

@martintule24: That's what I said a year ago. Spent about 30 hours trying to enjoy the game, gave up on it.

I gave it another try a few months ago, however --- and enjoyed it greatly. It's still not the most satisfying combat in the gaming world, but the intensity level does rise as you gain ability points and progress through the plot.

The inventory system isn't quite intuitive, but it's alright once you get the hang of it.

Definitely glad I gave it another try.

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martintule24

@Renunciation: I will try to get to it soon. I like how horizon zero dawn looks, so far what I've seen it seems well polished and not rushed like how I feel the Witcher feels. Guerrila games usually look awesome like Killzone 2 and 3.

Avatar image for bbq_R0ADK1LL
bbq_R0ADK1LL

Blood & Wine was amazing. The free patch that changed the inventory layout should probably be considered part of the expansion as well.

I replayed the base game on Death March with a few mods this year & finished up with both expansions. All other RPGs just don't quite feel the same after The Witcher 3. I feel like CD Projekt Red has really changed the standards I expect from games. They deserve all the accolades coming to them.

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Thanatos2k

Witcher 3 wins. Again.

Avatar image for jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

I prefer xcom and witcher 3 games, but it is easily, WoW Legion, just on the shear amount of accomplishments they have added to this best MMORPG expansion ever, only previous wow expansions come close. I have played a large variety MMORPGs since EQ pc, and have seen expansions come and go at a scale big and small and Legion pulls out all the stops.

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Thanatos2k

@jenovaschilld: I used to play WoW, and WoW really really sucks now.

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jenovaschilld

@Thanatos2k: Well me and my father all played baseball before the steroid era, and now baseball sucks...... but it is still going! and people still love it - regardless of my opinion.

And Thanatos, several million human souls still play WoW and are getting to play one of the best expansions ever, regardless of yours.

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Thanatos2k

@jenovaschilld: Mostly chinese.

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kachal

"Whereas the base game is focused on parkour-ready environments (that wouldn't work so well in a vehicle...)", the proof that the writer is either British, or loves cheap British puns that are plaguing the internet. Having no puns at all is way better than having these sorts of rubbish.

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Kyelo

Blood and Wine surely? It's better than most standalone games.

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bbq_R0ADK1LL

@kyelo: It won best RPG at the Game Awards.

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with_teeth26

no love for Arma 3 Apex makes me sad

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Gamer_4_Fun

Hell, I would even say Witcher 3 won the GOTY again with this expansion.

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StereoFlava

I think Blood and Wine was the best no question here.

IMO it can rival even some full games released this year...

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Chaz456

This just reminded me that the only expansions I really cared about (besides Witcher III) that came out this year were for Fallout 4, and those were just meh at best. Even Fallout 3 and NV expansions were alright nothing spectacular, yet both Oblivion and Skyrim had fantastic expansion packs. I hope for Fallout 5 they go the route they go with the ES games in that they focus on 1 to 2 epic expansion packs for the game instead of doing these little mediocre 5-6 expansion packs they always pump out for the Fallout games. But that's just my two cents.

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onionking108

@Chaz456: Exactly...I didn't care for half the expansions for Fallout 4. I feel like Oblivion's expansions added a ton of story content...I'd much rather have something like that than these little crafting/building add ons.