The video game business, like the movie business, goes into a kind of hibernation in January and February. The big holiday season push has passed, and everyone takes a breather.
At the cinema, that usually means a rolling procession of bad movies dumped into the January/February graveyard. (I’m looking at you, “Jupiter Ascending.”) But in the video-game world, the first part of the year usually brings a wave of new add-ons, upgrades and downloadable content (DLC) for those big-budget console games that dropped in November and December.
You’ll also see reissues of older games ported to the new consoles and the occasional deluxe edition that puts all of the above onto one disc or download. It’s not a bad system, really. You get to revisit those games you really love and sink a few more hours into new stories and content.
‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’
“Dead Kings” If you’ve ever wanted to fight lethal enemies in the skull-strewn catacombs beneath Paris – and who hasn’t? – then “Dead Kings” is add-on adventure for you. Picking up where events of the main title left off, “Kings” takes our hero, Arno, into the necropolis beneath the city, where he battles a new faction called the Raiders.
Co-op missions are again supported, and progress in the DLC carries over for further adventuring in above-ground Paris. Hopefully, you’re not afraid of rats. Or bats. Or moving carpets of insects.
Shadow of Mordor’
“Lord of the Hunt” The first official expansion adventure for the excellent and expansive “Shadow of Mordor” game, “Lord of the Hunt” reunites the ranger Talion with the dwarf hunter Torvin, one of the most compelling characters from the main campaign.
The DLC package adds a new story and mission progression, but it essentially boils down to hunting new creatures and taking down the new Beastmaster Warchiefs – super-orcs who specialize in mounted combat. Also on hand is the Wretched Graug and its delightful, toxic bile vomit attack.
Various Based on the horror-in-space vibe of the first movie in the “Alien” franchise, “Isolation” puts a premium on mood, atmosphere and cat-and-mouse tension. The add-on packs work as variations on the theme, with each focusing on different aspects or elements of gameplay.
Each DLC pack also introduces a new playable character as the storyline backtracks to crises preceding events in the mother-ship game. The add-ons released so far – “Corporate Lockdown,” “Trauma,” “Safe Haven” and “Lost Contact” – add new enemies, objectives and game modes. Sometimes you need to be swift, sometimes you need to be sneaky, and sometimes you just need to run away.
‘Far Cry 4’
“Escape from Durgesh Prison” The first major DLC for the exotic shoot-em-up “Far Cry 4,” this add-on strips the first-person experience down to its core. You begin the challenge with no gear or weapons and must proceed to the extraction point – within half an hour – as bad men with big guns hunt you down.
You can pick up gear along the way, but the cruel designers have added another twist – permadeath. If you die in “Durgesh Prison,” you have to start again at the beginning. There’s no convenient re-spawning here, although you do get to keep the skills and gear you acquired before the reset.
New This Week: Four player-controlled Hunters square off against a fifth player-controlled Monster in the highly anticipated asymmetrical multi-player game “Evolve.”