A million years ago, the word “expansion” meant something different. Like, you played through your game. You beat the campaign. You beat the single-shot maps. You sat back and you said “whoa… what a great game” and then you decided whether to play through it again or not. You waited for the new issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly to show up in the mailbox and see what new games were on the horizon. You’d go to Babbage’s and see what was on the shelves.
Sometimes, however, between The Game and The Sequel To The Game, you’d get The Expansion.
Back then The Expansion meant “okay, we’ve taken the same engine we used to make the previous game and we’ve refined one or two of the features we couldn’t get to work right and, thus, didn’t include back then and we’ve made a dozen new single-shot maps and thrown together a new campaign that, arguably, isn’t as good as original one but, arguably, it stands on its own despite that and, anyway, you’ve beaten the original campaign three times. And, hey, there’s a new faction for you to play (or play against)!”
Heroes of Might and Magic II’s expansion “The Price Of Loyalty” is the one I’m thinking of here. Even if the ghosts *DID* break the game.
Today, The Expansion means “we shipped you 80% of the game… buy the expansion to get the other 20%!”
You pretty much *HAVE* to buy the “Season Pass” to get the game you thought you were buying when you plonked down the original $40 or $50 or $60. And it takes you half a year to get it! I’M LOOKING AT YOU, FALLOUT SERIES! (Not that I’m going to stay mad at the Fallout series, of course.)
Anyway, XCOM 2 recently had a 60% off of its expansion “War Of The Chosen” and I just wasn’t inclined to pay $40 for the expansion and while I was tempted by the occasional 50% off, I never pulled the trigger. It was that last 4 bucks that pushed me over the edge.
Holy cow. This expansion isn’t one of those Season Passes that gives you the game you should have gotten the first time. This is a game that takes the original engine, takes the original campaign, tweaks it, tweaks it again, then adds a whole bunch of new factions, a whole bunch of new enemies, a whole bunch of new tweaks to gameplay, and it’s, arguably, as good as the original one. On top of that, and this is the highest compliment I can give it, it makes Vanilla XCOM2 feel like the tutorial.
But, like those old-school expansions, it assumes familiarity with the vanilla version of the game so it can give you new toys to play with that you just won’t appreciate if you jump head first into the expansion.
I would wholeheartedly recommend XCOM 2 to anybody who enjoyed the original reboot of the game (2012’s Mindless Diversions game of the year! We were so young…) and you should *SERIOUSLY* play XCOM 2, vanilla, before you play the expansion. It’s just that good.
And then you can get the expansion and feel, just for a minute, like you would have felt back in 1996 when you bought The Price of Loyalty for Heroes II.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))