Expansions might not get the same kind of attention as brand new game releases, but for fans they’re probably the best thing that can happen besides a full sequel. We’re taking a look at four DLC expansions today, with new content for Empire of Sin, Tails of Iron, The Ascent and Titan Quest.
Empire of Sin – Make It Count
It’s been pretty much exactly a year since Empire of Sin was released by Paradox, and the mob-themed strategy game from Romero now has its first major expansion in “Make It Count” – which we saw as a reason to reinstall the game and see where it’s at after a year of extra development.
When we reviewed Empire of Sin, we commented on a distinct lack of polish in places, so that alone was a reason to go back to the game as it has received a number of updates in the past 12 months. From our time with the game this past week, it’s looking a lot better. A lot of the obvious bugs have been fixed, both visually and in the gameplay, making for a much smoother and more fun experience. It does showcase that, when you reach the later stages of the campaign, Empire of Sin can get repetitive though – so the new content in Make It Count was certainly welcome.
Make It Count adds a number of new things into the mix, including a new boss in Maxim Zelnick, who feels heavily inspired by Meyer Lansky – whose life was turned into a movie with Harvey Keitel in the past year as well. His special skill is to “Bolster the Ranks” in combat where he calls in extra guys mid-combat, but it feels like it’s there to make up for his own lack of standout strengths.
The ability to use loan sharks adds a new racket to the game, as well as a new gangster type – the fixer, which lets you use bribes to resolve combat scenarios but are quite powerful without having to resolve to bribery as well. Make It Count also features “20 new missions” according to the official text, but the bulk of these don’t amount to much more than simple objectives that follow the kind of progression through the game mechanics you’re already familiar with, so don’t go in expecting an exciting new narrative with surprising plot twists.
The new content on offer here is certainly welcome and also includes new weapons and building interiors, but in terms of adding anything game-changing it feels a little light for the asking price. The quality of life fixes that were added (for free) post-launch are more noteworthy in that sense, and we’d recommend going in and trying those out before grabbing the DLC.
Tails of Iron gets new DLC chapter (for free!)
Developed by Odd Bug Studio, Tails of Iron was extremely well received when published United Label launched the game back in September. With its striking 2D visuals and hard-but-fair combat, it was a unique take on the challenging action RPG subgenre with a likeable protagonist in Redgi, heir to the throne of a rat kingdom that is at war with rival frogs. Not content to lean on its standout visuals and setting, it also features well developed game mechanics and is certain to make a few “best indies of 2021” lists. It’s back just in time for the new year with additional content in the shape of extra DLC though – and in true holiday spirit, this Bloody Whispers expansion is completely free to those who already own the game.
Bloody Whiskers is set after the events of the base game, so Greenwart no longer poses a threat but the narrative picks up where we left off as Redgi is forced on a series of combat scenarios against a handful of new bosses. There is less exploration and adventuring to the new DLC chapter than there was in the base campaign, so you won’t be traveling to far reaches of the kingdom to see new sights, but the combat does tie in nicely to the story as you try to overcome these new foes in order to gain access to a locked room with mysterious contents…. reason enough for fans of the game to dive back in. And did we mention it’s free?
The Ascent – CyberSec Pack
One of our favorite Xbox titles this year is The Ascent, the gorgeously atmospheric isometric action-shooter from Neon Giant that was published by Curve Games. It received a brand new, budget-priced collection of DLC content dubbed the CyberSec Pack last week, and playing the game again to try it out reminded us why we liked the game so much in the first place.
Through post-launch patches, the game has gotten better over time, and the most recent patch added transmogrification as a feature – a fancy term for character customization in a cyberpunk setting where you visit a vendor/stylist to change your appearance. It’s a free update, but ties in well with the new CyberSec Pack, which adds more customization options – but these apply to the gameplay rather than your personal look.
Included are two new weapons – a grenade launcher for when you need a little crowd control and a burst rifle. You’ll also find four new pieces of armor, but for those who like explosives there’s a new tactical choice as well in the form of a cluster grenade. As we mostly played with rifles during our first playthrough, it’s been nice to experiment with the grenade launcher and cluster grenade a bit more this time.
Rounding out the pack are four new animated weapon skins and it left us wanting more story content instead, but then we remembered that this pack is extremely cheap. What’s also nice to know is that the developer will be expanding the core experience with a new game+ mode in the near future, and they’ll also enrich the campaign with additional voice over lines for side missions. If you haven’t played The Ascent yet, you can read our original review here.
Titan Quest – Eternal Embers
The original Titan Quest was released not long after Diablo 2 came out, in a wave of action RPGs that all followed more or less the same pattern and had a similar look and feel. It was before the genre went 3D and developers like Obsidian eventually returned to it and we referred it to the “classic style”. Titan Quest is still going strong though, and since its 10th anniversary release we’ve already seen two DLC campaigns added to the game – and a third one called Eternal Embers just arrived.
Eternal Embers takes place in the East to look into a demonic and mysterious threat, and it was designed with veteran players of the game in mind. The expansion is only played when the game is set at the Legendary difficulty level, so if you’re playing Titan Quest as a more casual pace all this time – just enjoying the story – then there’s definitely a bit of an entry barrier here.
The campaign, like Ragnarök and Atlantis before it, offers a sizeable new campaign that’s made up of 4 acts but also includes over a dozen optional side quests. Inspired by mythologies of the orient, expect dragons, powerful emperors and the powers of the elements to play a large role here. You’ll also encounter a large roster of new enemies, as Eternal Embers includes over 30 of them – more than you get in the average base game.
New content can also be found in the shape of new weapons, armor, potions and relic, but what’s perhaps most interesting for non-PC gamers is that the game now supports gamepads. Could Titan Quest be heading for a console debut next year? The requirement of playing at Legendary level might scare some people away from this expansion, but fans will embrace it and another stab at Titan Quest is exactly what I needed after wrapping up Diablo 2: Resurrected.