With the advent of DLC, full-sized expansions have largely become a thing of the past. That’s a shame, because there have been some amazing expansion packs over the years. Some added more content, some added gameplay options, and some did both. No matter what they added, the common denominator is that they all made great games even better. It’s hard to narrow a list like this to eight entries, but these choices from our community are definitely the cream of a great crop.
Don’t see your favorite? Tell us what it is in the comments!
Age of Empires II: The Conquerors
First mentioned by: WolfThomas
When Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings launched in 1999, it was an immediate success. On August 24, 2000, it became an even bigger game with the release of The Conquerors expansion. Not only did the expansion add five new civilizations to play, it also packed in four new campaigns, three new gameplay modes, improved villager and siege weapon AI, and much more. It was a massive amount of content, and the balance patch that accompanied the expansion was so solid that Age of Empires II: The Conquerors was played heavily for years before the HD Edition was released in 2013.
Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction
First mentioned by: Glongpre
Not content with the massive popularity of Diablo II (or more likely because of it), Blizzard released the Lord of Destruction expansion in June of 2001. Not only did it add two character classes and a fifth act (plus a new boss, Baal), it massively expanded on the items available in the game. Alongside 33 new Runes came hundreds of new Horadric Cube recipes,Ethereal items, massive changes to Hirelings, and the addition of socketable jewels, just to name a few things. It even updated the maximum resolution to 800×600. It wasn’t without controversy, as changes to the harder difficulties resulted in complaints that Blizzard was forcing players to upgrade in order to get the gear they needed to play on those settings, but it still remains one of the best expansions of all time.
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind – Bloodmoon
First mentioned by: inu-kun
The second expansion to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Bloodmoon added not just a new city, but an entire new island: the cold northern land Solstheim, which is primarily home to the Nord peoples (and also the setting for Skyrim’s Dragonborn expansion). It added the ability to become a werewolf, a new guild for you to join, and jacked up the hardware requirements of the game by adding things like snowfall and larger environments. Best of all, Bloodmoon’s main quest was self-contained in the expansion, meaning you could play it almost any time, instead of having to wait until you finished the main game’s story.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 – Yuri’s Revenge
First mentioned by: EXos
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 was a great strategy game, and the Yuri’s Revenge expansion just built on that already solid foundation. The former head of the Soviet Psychic Corps, a man named Yuri, is attempting to take over the world using psychic dominators to control the minds of the world’s population. There are two new campaigns (Allied and Soviet), and the Allied campaign actually sends you to Seattle to rescue the CEO of the Massivesoft Corporation. Of course, the Soviet campaign ends with Yuri being eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, so it’s no slouch either. The expansion also adds a number of new units, special weapons, and new tech buildings.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War – Dark Crusade
First mentioned by: Neverhoodian
Dark Crusade took a game that was already awesome and made it even more so. It added two new playable races – the Tau Empire and the Necron – and it eschewed the linear campaigns of its parent game in favor of a meta-map that allowed players to choose how they progressed. Probably the coolest feature of Dark Crusade was its standalone nature. Not only could you play it without owning Dawn of War, but you could play all the factions from the base game and the Winter Assault expansion in single player modes, even if you didn’t own the games. Add in the fact that each faction was unique and not a re-skinned copy of another, and you get a really great expansion.
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
First mentioned by: valium
Warcraft III was a great game in its own right, which means that the expansion would have to be even better. The campaign picks up where the original game left off, adding almost as much content as the original game included – over two dozen missions across four campaigns. It also added two new units for each race, five neutral heroes, and to the delight of the playerbase, it brought back naval units on certain maps. It also adds more capability to the Warcraft III Map Editor. It was a great expansion pack for a game that was already extremely impressive.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
First mentioned by: Tuesday Night Fever
Although 2006’s Company of Heroes was extremely well-received, the Opposing Fronts expansion greatly improved on the base game. Not only did it add two new playable factions (the British 2nd Army and the German Panzer Elite), it also beefed up the single-player offerings, packing in two new campaigns, one from the British perspective, and one from the German. Most importantly, it added a new weather effects system that brought real-time weather and day to night transitions. Opposing Fronts is also a standalone expansion, meaning that it can be played without the original game, and owners of the expansion can play against those who have only the original game in multiplayer.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion – The Shivering Isles
First mentioned by: Adam Jensen
While The Shivering Isles makes almost no changes the gameplay of Oblivion, it adds a massive story that takes place – you guessed it – on The Shivering Isles. The player is tasked by the mad god Sheogorath with stopping the Daedric Prince of Order, Jyggalag, from destroying the Shivering Isles. The enemies you encounter are more fantastical than those in Cyrodiil, and the expansion adds new plants to harvest, new spells to learn, and a lot of new clothing items, some of which look pretty wild.