You don’t always have to buy a brand new game to have something new to play. Here’s a look at new DLC content in the shape of Planet Zoo – Wetlands Animals, Expeditions: Rome – Death of Glory and the Lindsey Stirling Music Pack for Synth Riders.
Planet Zoo – Wetlands Animal Pack review (PC)
When Frontier released the Europe pack for Planet Zoo at the end of last year, they had covered all the continents and we assumed that we were due for a sequel announcement at some point. Imagine our surprise when the Wetlands Animal Pack was announced, and imagine our surprise when it turned out it’s one of our favorite expansions for the game thus far.
Most expansion packs for Planet Zoo feature a handful of animals, a selection of scenery items and a scenario for you to tackle, but ultimately it’s usually the animals that make the biggest impact on us. Wetlands, being an animal pack, features eight of them, and the selection includes a few real winners. A favorite? For us, that’d have to be the platypus, an animal rarely seen in real life so a huge star of any exhibit.
Another excellent new addition is the capybara, which are cuddly-looking crowd pleasers as well. The wild water buffalo is a big and powerful animal, and rounding out the collection are the Asian small-clawed otter, spectacled caiman, Nile lechwe, red-crowned crane and Danube crested newt. Some feel like variations on existing animals in the game, but that’s no surprise with a whopping 131 different species. When you consider that number, this is wonderfully varied pack, with animals that all have different needs and behaviors.
You can cater to these differences with a few new elements, which as you’d expect often have a water element to them. Your capybaras can enjoy a nice shower, while there are a number of ways to enrich your underwater environments as well. Unlike other packs you can’t really add cultural elements to your zoo habitats, but as these are animals from all over the world we can’t complain about that – the focus is on the animals here. The same is true for the new challenge scenario that’s included here, which tasks you with streamlining an animal sanctuary in the Brazilian wetlands.
Alongside the release of the Wetlands pack, Planet Zoo’s base game has also been updated, and the roaming educators are an especially nice touch, and we can’t imagine building another zoo without including them. It’s a modern touch, and it’s great to see audiences gather around them and enjoy their visit even more than they already were.
Expeditions: Rome – Death or Glory review (PC)
We reviewed Expeditions: Rome at the start of the year, when we enjoyed its genre-crossing take on ancient Rome, blending role playing with strategy and engaging narrative elements. Now, just a few months later, we’re getting the first DLC release for the game, dubbed Death or Glory.
This expansion focuses for a large part on one of the most popular aspects of ancient Rome when you judge that by pop culture: the gladiator. And while these are a lot of underling social aspects that tie into this, including living conditions and ‘ownership’ of these warriors, the focus here is on the spectacle and the fights. You’ll notice this when exploring the new gladiator class as well, which (like in the main game) has several subclasses and abilities for you to explore – and you’ll find that most of these relate to battle tactics. Some are better defensively, while others excel at weakening enemies, making them easier to take down.
The DLC also includes additional weapons and items, and introduced a new gameplay mode that lets you access gladiator battles right from the main menu – even though battles and items can also be found within the regular campaign mode, where they’re presented as side missions. Combat itself follows the turn-based structure of the base campaign, but gladiator combat also means you have to please the crowd. Never has “Are you not entertained?” been more appropriate in a game.
Death or Glory is a lovely new addition to fans of the base game and ancient Rome, though it’s a bit sparse on content compared to what the original release offered. The blend of empire building, rope playing and story development is mostly missing here, which makes this expansion a tad pricey for what it has to offer. You’ll enjoy it, but you might want to wait for a sale.
Synth Riders – Lindsey Stirling Music Pack review (Quest/PSVR)
It’s crazy to think that Synth Riders is almost four years old already, because Kluge Interactive keeps releasing new content for the game – which sets itself apart from more percussion and beat-centric rhythm games by emphasizing strings and melodies. Their latest pack focuses on Lindsey Stirling’s work, with five new tracks.
We’re not too proud to admit we weren’t familiar with Stirling’s work before, but she’s a very successful violinist and performer who applies her skills with the violin to a wide range of genres. And although this pack focuses on a single artist, that makes it one of the most diverse DLC packs released thus far, with tracks that range from synthwave to Celic sounds and Bollywood-infused melodies.
As with other packs for Synth Riders that have recently been released, the Lindsey Stirling pack also features a brand new “experience” – a song that is visually enhanced and doesn’t just rely on the default look and feel of the game. In this case, it’s been applied to Stirling’s song “Underground”, and if you look up her music video for the song you’ll get a pretty decent idea of what to expect when you put on your headset.
Part of us wishes that every track (including some of the existing catalogue) was playable this way, but building these is obviously a ton of work and we like that these packs are being released at an affordable price point. You may (like us) have not heard of Lindsey Stirling before, but be sure to check out the trailer for this pack and we imagine you’ll be grabbing this new pack as well – or at least a few tracks from it, as they can be purchased individually as well.