The 10 Best DLC Packs on Vita - ArticleAdam Cartwright , posted on 25 January 2020 / 1,756 Views
Publishers selling additional content for their games has been a thing for a long time now, dating back to expansion packs on PC (i.e. a physical disc that could be played after the main title). The practice became more prevalent with the advent of digital distribution, allowing a cheap means of providing extra characters, levels, and missions. It’s taken time for that to roll out onto handhelds (although there were some early key examples on the PSP), but thanks to the Vita’s solid online infrastructure we’ve seen many pieces of downloadable content over the years, offering more hours of enjoyment for already brilliant titles.
In this article, I’m aiming to look at 10 of the best DLC packs on Vita – ones that offer a compelling additional experience for a reasonable price and so are well worth checking out. There were a whole load to sift through in writing this, so don’t be too disheartened if your favourite isn’t here, but do let me know in the comments what you think!
DARIUSBURST Chronicle Saviours – Publisher DLC Packs
Already acclaimed upon its release for its sea of content and tightly tuned SHMUP content (it was expanded from a PSP original that never hit western shores), DARIUSBURST made for an even more meaty offering with the addition of DLC packs based on classic scrolling shooter series, themed around developers and publishers such as Capcom, Cave, SEGA, and Taito.
Each one offers a trio of new ships, redesigned based on the Darius mechanics, alongside some new stages tailored specifically to them. It’s definitely more of the same, but as a homage to the genre it works stunningly well and provided a sea of new content to dig into. It’s just a shame they’re so expensive and not all included in the Limited Run Games physical release, meaning that if you imported from outside of North America you’re out of luck and will have to purchase the title digitally to get access.
Gravity Rush – Mission Packs
Vita’s flagship title during its initial year on the market offered plenty of gameplay in its base offering, but the addition of extra mission packs really helped solidify this as a must-have title. Following a young amnesiac girl named Kat, you explore the city of Hekseville as she slowly uncovers her gravity-shifting powers across a series of increasingly bizarre missions. The DLC offers even more to do in some particularly challenging collectathons, races, and Nevi fights.
Sold separately, the Maid, Military, and Spy packs are side-stories that slot nicely into the overall lore and see Kat undertaking specific challenges within Hekseville. They’re fairly extensive, offering an hour or so of playtime, and while not essential they provide plenty more to do in the title's beautiful open world. And isn’t that the point of good DLC - to expand on the great content that’s already there?
Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational – Course & Character Pack
At launch (along with WipEout), Hot Shots Golf seemed to be the title taking up everyone’s time, and for good reason – it’s a polished arcadey golf game that’s both accessible and addictive. For those looking for even more to invest in, though, the addition of the Course & Character Pack offered a brilliant selection of new content that was well worth checking out (it could all be purchased separately too).
Adding three new playable characters, including Kat from Gravity Rush above, as well as three new courses based on previous titles (Mar Cielo, Mt Sakura, and Northern Fox), there was plenty to do and see here and it was competitively priced to be a good impulse purchase for fans. Who wouldn’t enjoy hitting up the greens as Kat while learning the intricacies on some brilliant new courses?
Killzone Mercenary – Botzone
This might not be a popular pick, after all Botzone has been offered as part of the core offering for all of the mainline Killzone titles on consoles since the series first began. However, despite being offered as paid DLC on Vita, I still think it’s a fantastic addition that’s well worth your time, particularly on a handheld where an internet connection isn’t always guaranteed.
In essence, Botzone adds the ability to compete against computer-controlled characters when playing in Mercenary’s multiplayer mode. This is noteworthy for two reasons – the first is that it allows inexperienced players to get a few matches under their belts and develop a feel for the competitive mode, and the second is it extends the lifespan of the title well beyond the server shutdown date. While I’d likely be revisiting Killzone in a decade’s time thanks to its enjoyable single player mode, the thought that I can also play pseudo-online warzone matches at the same time makes it even more worthwhile.
Minecraft – Battle & Glide
Ever since becoming an indie phenomenon at the start of the decade, Minecraft has only ever grown and grown in popularity. This has led to an increase in DLC offerings, particularly so after the IP’s acquisition by Microsoft in 2014. This in turn has resulted in numerous different mash-up/skin packs, based on things like Dr. Who, Fallout and Star Wars, allowing you to kit out your world however you like. The most notable ones are the Battle, Glide, and Tumble packs, which drastically changed up the way the base game is played.
Battle turns the strategic survival gameplay on its head by throwing players into PvP arenas where they have to find weapons and fight to be the last one standing (not dissimilar to The Hunger Games); Tumble is based around destroying the blocks under other players, causing them to fall into the lava below; and Glide is a racing game, which is pretty far removed from the sandbox roots of Minecraft, but that’s what makes it such a great offering in terms of DLC.
Muramasa Rebirth – Genroku Legends
When the classic Wii side-scrolling 2D action game Muramasa came to Vita in 2013, few expected it to be quite the complete package it became by the end of 2014, thanks to four additional DLC packs (collectively known as Genroku Legends), which each added a new campaign and a playable character that really transformed the whole experience by virtue of their different fighting styles and moves.
The packs – Fishy Tales of the Nekomata (playing as Okoi, a claw-wielding cat-girl), A Cause to Daikon For (playing as Gonbe, a downtrodden farmer), A Spirited Seven Nights’ Haunting (playing as Arashimaru, a world-weary ninja), and Hell’s Where the Heart is (playing as Rajyaki, daughter of the ruler of hell) - were initially released separately but later became available in a bundle and all received incredibly positive feedback from critics and fans alike. All four packs combined amounted to a well-done DLC campaign that could have easily passed as a whole new game in its own right.
Ridge Racer – Gold and Silver Pass
Another pick that may well prove controversial, but hear me out. Ridge Racer was a launch title for Vita that contained very little content in its initial offering – just three tracks, a handful of cars, and a couple of modes. Unexpectedly, this earned it a critical beating at the hands of professional reviewers. But the lack of content was rectified in the months following launch, when the gold pass and silver pass DLCs released. Each contained three new tracks, a host of new cars, plus plenty of downloadable music, and essentially turned the game into a much more fleshed-out experience.
Now don’t get me wrong, Ridge Racer is still lacking in content even with these packs, not least because there’s no career mode (a massive omission). Thankfully, though, the base gameplay is enjoyable, and I personally like the game when the DLC is included. The tracks included in the packs are some of the better offerings from recent entries and there’s a tonne of extra free music and cars. It’s a prime example of DLC turning a poor game into an acceptable one.
Shovel Knight – Treasure Trove
Just like Muramasa, Shovel Knight is an example of a base game that's brilliant on its own, but a sea of DLC has turned it into a true classic. Originally a Kickstarter title that promised a handful of short additional campaigns, these grew massively in scope as time went by, leading to the developers eventually re-releasing the base game into its original version and a new pack (subtitled Treasure Trove) for those who wanted to access the entire package.
Each additional campaign allows you to play as one of the bosses from the base game. So for example Plague of Shadows focuses on Plague Knight and his quest to make the ultimate potion, while Specter of Torment focuses on Specter Knight, and so on. There’s even a final campaign releasing next year (King of Cards), showing just what a massive effort this is. The DLC is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy the throwback 2D gameplay of the original but fancy playing as a different, unique, and enjoyable new character.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization – Abyss of the Shrine Maiden
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment was an unexpected success on Vita, causing publisher Bandai-Namco to double down on the IP with multiple sequels. By far the most expansive of these was Hollow Realization. Building on all the core pseudo-MMO mechanics in a new story that starts at the beginning of Aincrad, it was expanded with the Abyss of the Shrine Maiden DLC packs, which offer a brand new quest for Kirito and friends to embark on.
Each of the three packs (offered collectively in a season pass) adds new areas and storylines, so Explorer of the Illusory Mists is based in the fiery Vulcanus Citadel, while Tuner of Causality is in the frozen Northazrod Tundra. In addition to these zones and storylines, new characters are added and the level cap is raised, making them essential purchases for anyone wanting to continue the journey.
WipEout 2048 – HD/Fury pack
As one of the standout titles of Vita’s launch, WipEout 2048 already racked up plenty of gaming hours for fans, but with the release of the HD/Fury pack things really kicked into overdrive. HD/Fury was originally a collection of races from the previous PSP WipEout entries - Pure and Pulse - that had been tweaked and expanded for the PS3. Basically all of that content then got ported over again to 2048 in DLC form, making 2048 an even meatier package.
This meant that not only could you go through all of the races, time trials, and zone modes again, but you also had access to cross-play multiplayer with those who owned the game on PS3 (although the servers have since been pulled down) – and it was all free for those who already owned HD/Fury on PS3. While the lack of a racebox addition was slightly disappointing (the ability to choose custom races), the HD/Fury pack was an otherwise fantastic DLC pack that delivered a hell of a lot of bang for your buck.
While none of the DLC packs here are revolutionary, save for perhaps those in Minecraft, every example listed is a well-crafted offering that valuably expands on the content that fans loved in the base game. To me that’s exactly what a good DLC pack should be – not a reinvention, but more of the same and just as polished as the base game.
There are many examples I’ve omitted here. Others that almost made the list included DLC released for both Damascus Gear titles, Escape Plan, Final Horizon, Hyperdevotion Noire, Silent Hill: Book of Memories, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. I also didn't feature titles that included plenty of DLC that was later included in an expanded release, such as Ragnarok Odyssey and Soul Sacrifice. There are also titles that received good DLC but in a somewhat predatory way, such as Persona 3: Dancing Moon Night and Persona 5: Dancing Star Night.
Still, if you’re looking for something extra to get a little more mileage out of a title you’re enjoying then there are definitely 10 great examples here; they demonstrate that the Vita is a shining example of how digital distribution can work wonders in the handheld market - a practice that thankfully seems to be continuing even further on the Nintendo Switch.