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2017’s Best DLC

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Most of us have moved on from 2017, ready to embrace a whole new year of gaming, but January and February are traditionally quiet months. Maybe you’re chipping away on Monster Hunter World until Far Cry 5 releases, or are enjoying your time with Celeste. For anyone who isn’t interested in any of those games, why not give some of 2017’s best DLC a go? Get a little bit more out of some of your favorite experiences of the past few years, before 2018’s heavy hitters release.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Let’s start with the obvious choice. Uncharted 4 was undoubtedly one of the best games of 2016 and my personal game of year. Uncharted: Lost Legacy was originally announced as Uncharted 4 DLC, but eventually transitioned into being a fully-fledged Naughty Dog title. It doesn’t improve upon or adjust Uncharted 4’s gameplay, nor does it match the previous games scope or resonance. What do you expect with only a year or so of development and a fraction of the budget? To be frank, not much needed changing in my opinion anyway. What it does add however is a new set of protagonists. Chloe Fraser takes on the pressure of being the first Uncharted protagonist since Nathan Drake, and Nadine Ross is her partner. Lost Legacy’s story doesn’t have the same level of emotional impact as the series previous entry did, but in a mere 7 hours Lost Legacy’s leading ladies achieved an arguably better dynamic than Drake and any of his cohorts have. Which isn’t bad for a game that was once DLC.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Dishonored never really clicked for me as a series. I think it has an interesting premise, but unforgiving gameplay, hard to grasp plot lines, and almost too much freedom kept me from falling in love. Death of the outsider does away with many of the problems I had with the series. It removes the need to track down magical McGuffins in order to upgrade your powers and the consumable elixirs needed to use said powers. This gives the player much more freedom to experiment with their abilities naturally. The shorter, more focused campaign is an improvement rather than a blemish. It allows for a less convoluted and easier to digest narrative, which I enjoyed far more than those of the previous two Dishonored titles. Some might call it a lengthy expansion to Dishonored 2, while others would argue it is its own standalone experience. I fall somewhere in between these two view points and place it in the same category as Uncharted: Lost Legacy. So it makes the list, and with Dishonored 2’s poor sales numbers, it may be the closest we get to Dishonored 3.

Ghost Recon: WildlandsPredator DLC

DLC doesn’t always have to be in the form of a sizable expansion. Sometimes it’s the small things that can make an average game great. I sunk 30 to 40 hours into Ghost Recon: Wildlands early last year. It’s a good game for sure, but repetitive missions, clunky controls and a jar head focused story stop it from being anything more. That should have been the end of it, but whether it be Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six: Siege, Ubisoft has done a marvelous job at after launch support for its titles. Speaking directly to Wildlands, numerous story and online expansions have been released. For players like myself who enjoyed the base game but felt no need to go back, Ubisoft has released a free piece of DLC called The Predator expansion. After downloading the most recent update for the game, a new mission will pop up on your map. You’ll have to hunt down the infamous 80’s icon, The Predator. It’s only a single mission, but it’s implemented perfectly. From the predators design and combat skill set, to the tell-tale environmental signs of the alien’s presence, to the soundtrack of the original Predator film overlaying the whole experience. It’s the perfect piece of content to bring lapsed players back to your game and so makes its way on to this list.

HitmanGame of the Year Edition

It’s not uncommon to see a Game of the Year Edition 12 months or so after a games release. Developers/ Publishers sell the base game and all of its DLC content in one neat package, with the hope of reinvigorating sales and visibility around a game. Well you can’t get a better deal than Hitman: Game of the Year Edition. The base game in itself is a marvelous experience and one of my personal favorites from 2016. There are sprawling maps with environmental nuances and assassination opportunities around every corner. Hitman is arguably one of the best stealth experiences on modern consoles. The Game of the Year Edition sadly doesn’t include any new locations to explore, but it does add an entirely new campaign, two thirds the size of the base game. The Patient Zero story line adds new weapons, new targets and re-purposes each map in order to feel unique. Unlike many other Game of the Year Editions, if you already own the base game you can upgrade for only a small fee.

Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds

We’ve looked at small add-ons, Game of the Year editions, and DLC turned into fully fledged standalone experiences, but let’s now look at the most common form of DLC. The Frozen Wilds is a traditional expansion to what many believe was a 2017 game of the year contender. It adds a new location connected to the base games map, a new story line and new content. Nearly 10 months after leaving Aloy behind, I headed north. I searched for the Banuk tribe and then began investigating the strange machine activity in the area. I’d leveled my character to the max, unlocked every item and explored every nook and cranny on the map, but now there were brand new enemies to challenge me, new locations to visit and weapons and armors to procure. I sunk around 35 hours into Horizon: Zero Dawn when it released, but soon after I found myself craving more of Horizon’s addictive gameplay. The Frozen Wilds, which released in November, provides exactly what players want from all DLC, more.

There you have it. Why go out and buy a new game when there is so much content being added to the games you already own and adore. Sure there were plenty of fantastic games released in 2017, but don’t forget the extra content that many developers put a lot of effort and love into.

Feature Writer/ Reviewer for Goombastomp and founder of Quiet Stories For more info on upcoming books, podcasts, articles and video games follow me @OurQuietStories on Twitter. On a more personal note i'm a beard fanatic, calamari connoisseur and professional fat guy.

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‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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Games

‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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