Sometimes the most enjoyable thing to do is to return to an existing favorite with brand new content. Here’s a look at new content for Jurassic World Evolution 2, The Elder Scrolls Online and Ragnarock.
Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Biosyn Expansion review (PC)
Jurassic World Evolution 2 launched late last year, but with the release of Jurassic World: Dominion in theaters it just became a whole lot more interesting. Not just because of an increased public interested in prehistoric monsters, but also because Frontier Developments has just launched a brand new DLC pack for the game, which ties into the new film in several ways. And as the film, it provides plenty of fan service for long time fans as well.
If you haven’t watched the film yet, then Biosyn can just be seen as the next mega-corporation looking to advance science and line their pockets through the dinosaur tech that in Ingen pioneered all those years ago. But where the film introduces us to a swarm of engineered locusts that were designed to control the world’s food supply, Biosyn’s function in this new expansion for Jurassic World Evolution is far less James Bond supervillain-like – they’re here to supply us with a handful of awesome new dinosaurs and a few new buildings, as well as a new story campaign.
Next to a few new skins for existing dinosaurs (a T-Rex with feathers!), the expansion also introduces us to brand new dinosaurs – most of which have major roles in Dominion. There’s the Therizinosaurus with its incredible claws, a fear-instilling dinosaur in the film even though it’s a plant-eater. You also have the incredible Quetzalcoatlus, a pterosaur that is larger than a small plane, and the red-feathered pyroraptor. The dimetrodon that was seen inside a cave in the film is also here, as are the dreadnoughtus and Giganotosaurus, which are variants of existing dinosaurs – probably meaning they look similar to the existing brachiosaurus and T-Rex.
They’re all excellent additions, especially for those who love the film franchise, but those who do have an even bigger element to get excited about. The new campaign content includes the characters Claire Dearing, Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler, all voiced by the original actors Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern. As with the earlier inclusion of Jeff Goldblum and B.D. Wong, it’s a real treat to fans, and it accounts for the higher asking price for this expansion as well – which excels through its production values.
The new campaign scenario borrows heavily from elements in the film as well, not just with dinosaurs and buildings but also with new mechanics. These include the ability to automatically herd dinosaurs back to their pen thanks to brain implants, which is a lot more convenient than having to tranq and transport them. It works great with the park management nature of the game, though this is less so of the scenarios in which you have to drive around with a jeep and stop rustlers. Ever since the first Jurassic World Evolution, driving has felt a little awkward, and these moments feel clunky rather than exciting, even though we can see they were going for that action movie tie-in feel.
The expansion also comes with a free update to the game and other additions, but although having a new park tour and a range of new objectives/missions to complete through contracts, the star attractions here are the cast members – both humans and dinosaurs. Longtime Jurassic fans won’t want to miss out.
The Elder Scrolls Online – High Isle review (PC)
It’s hard to imagine that The Elder Scrolls Online is over eight years old already, making it one of the most enduring MMOs out there. When you consider that it had kind of an awkward start back then, it’s great to see that Bethesda managed to turn this one around, and has been rather consistent in releasing high quality content for it. The latest major expansion is High Isle, and it’s a testament to how far they’ve come with it.
As someone who doesn’t play ESO regularly but only jumps in when there’s a major new chapter release, High Isle came with a bit of a learning curve – or need of a refresher course. Luckily, a new tutorial is included that got me right up to speed and doesn’t waste a lot of time throwing you into the action – though it helps if you have some general knowledge of the world and base campaign, which you should play first anyway. Doing so also mitigates the character level differences you’ll otherwise encounter, running into veteran players who are already maxed out. High Isle is nicely balanced in welcoming starting characters as well, but you’ll have fun if you’ve familiarized yourself with Tamriel before jumping in.
What’s also nice about The Elder Scrolls Online is that you can play it with a group or solo with some NPCs by your side, which is great for those who love regular offline/single player Elder Scrolls games. Bosses are certainly better to handle with a couple of veteran players by your side though, but that may just be my own lack of skill talking.
Having originally launched in 2014, ESO isn’t going to wow players with its visuals in 2022, but High Isle’s Medieval Europe-inspired are striking and great to look at. Narrative progression lacks the cinematic punch of games like The Last of Us and Red Dead Redemption 2, but having the NPC engage with you definitely makes the game feel like a proper RPG even when not playing with a group of human players. Campaign-wise, you’re looking at about 16 hours worth of content, which is excellent for an expansion, with more to come in the shape of a new “season”.
There’s no other conclusion here than that The Elder Scrolls Online is still going strong, even after eight years. And that’s probably a good thing, because there’s still no sign of The Elder Scrolls 6 arriving any time soon.
Ragnarock gets new Hellfest DLC
When it launched in the summer 2021, Ragnarock instantly felt like a breath of fresh air in a VR rhythm game environment where EDM, pop and synth-heavy music tend to dominate the market. Ragnarock goes hard within the rock genre, and the viking-themed setting and drums made it addictive even to those who generally don’t listen to rock or metal. Now, a big dose of DLC has launched, featuring 11 new tracks, all based around the French festival of Hellfest, which is going on as we’re writing this.
All 11 tracks are from different artists as well, so there’s a decent amount of diversity in the roster. The most well-known band on the tracklist for mainstream players is The Offspring, who are featured with their song “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid”. Other featured artists include Nightwish, Blind Guardian and Disconnected, but on top of the songs (which can be bought as a pack or individually) it’s also nice to be able to play in a festival environment this time around, as a Hellfest stage is included that looks and sounds great.
Having 11 new songs to play with (but solo and in online multiplayer) is the biggest draw here though, and it presents a serious addition to the tracklist when you realize none of the new artists were featured in the game before. Ragnarock is instantly more diverse because of it, because up until now it had a tracklist that often featured bands with three or more songs (or nine, in the case of GloryHammer). By comparison, this is an great sampler pack.