ZAP IT! Squirt gun 1987

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))

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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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7 thoughts on “Saturday!

  1. After a rather long layoff, I have returned to colluding with the Russians and playing World of Warships, which I enjoy both as a game and also scratching my inner history nerd with some marginally-realistic WW2-era naval warfare.

    Your point is well made on expansions. Having in the past played quite a bit of the Total War series, by the time they get to the final “expansions” you are practically playing a different game all together. Of course you can by the inevitable “collection” once all have been packaged as a “set”, but who has the money for such things…

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    • The best expansions, to my mind, are the single ones. If there’s a baker’s dozen of expansions, it feels like a rip-off. If there’s just one, it feels like the band came out for an encore.

      Diablo II: Lord of Destruction. Icewind Dale II: Heart of Winter.

      StarCraft: Brood War.

      Those all left me feeling like, holy cow, I can’t believe that they gave me *THIS* many hours in this little dinky box.

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  2. I actually have been playing War of the Chosen on and off for the past few weeks and it’s a ton of fun, although I haven’t played it lately because I got stuck on a thing 95% of the way into an incredibly tough and brutal fight where it keeps crashing now matter which save I reload the battle from. Eventually, though, I’ll just redo the damn thing and get on with it.

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  3. Playing Pillars of Eternity 2… never having played PoE 1.

    Usually these types of games bore me after the initial experience… the realtime walk-a-thon’s to find stuff to do plus the endless c-grade story/conversations plus uneven characters and skills that don’t seem to do what they say that do, eventually kinda remind me that I’m playing the wrong game.

    PoE2 I’m happy to say has kept my attention for 2 weekends… I suspect it is the pirate ship… and so far I haven’t even built my pirate ship into anything other than a watery quest taxi.

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  4. Picked up Divinity: Original Sin, which is one of the games I’d been putting off until I had a personal PC [1]. So far I haven’t really been able to give it the attention it deserves, but I think I will really end up liking it. It’s a nice change of pace from the last couple CRPGs I played in tone, because it’s very tongue and cheek. I knew I’d made a good choice when someone trying to get me to join their adventurers’ guild said it had been voted the best adventurers’ guild by Sidequest Monthly for three years running.

    [1] Pleonasm intentional: I had only a work laptop and an iPad for a couple years.

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