After recently deriding the purpose and value of Dishonoredís Dunwall City Trials DLC, I was excited to finally get my hands on the newest add-on offering from Arkane, the Knife of Dunwall. This extra set of missions focuses on the memorable assassin Daud and his band of mercenaries. It was a return to the gameplay and narrative style of the original title and was what everyone was waiting for when DLC was originally announced for Dishonored. However, after playing through it twice (one for high and low chaos) Iíve been thinking about where the real value of additional content lies.
For me, Dunwall City Trials was everything I hated about DLC: it didnít add anything to the experience, it fractured the gameplay, and it made me rethink my feelings about the original game. It was also only $5. I probably spent at least 15 hours playing the DLC, trying to get all of the trophies and stars. After all, that seemed to be the point of the challenged-based structure, to get the most points and complete all the special tasks. It was a frustrating experienced that did provide an incredible feeling of accomplishment once I was able to complete each objective or score total.
With the Knife of Dunwall, I couldnít wait to get started. This was the Dishonored I remembered and I quickly fell back in love with the game. Despite the two-part setup that leaves the story incomplete for the moment, the plot was interesting. It also built upon the gameplay by adding new weapons and tweaking some powers, and it made me want to go back and play through Corvoís adventure all over again. The $9.99 price point seemed fair even though I finished the entire DLC in about 6-7 hours. I felt better about making this purchase than I did Dunwall City Trials.
However, after finishing the Knife of Dunwall, it occurred to me that I basically just played through a glorified demo of Dishonored. Nothing was as complete as it was in the main game and it felt like I was only getting a small piece of the pie. The powers and weapons were moderately interesting, but aside from a few differences, everything was exactly like it was for Corvo. New features, like Favors, were fairly mundane and didnít really have much of an impact. The story (or at least the half that weíre given) was predictable and actually made Daud seem less interesting. And while I did replay the original game after completing this DLC, it seems a bit of a stretch to find that as true value for $10.
Itís unusual because as I look back, Dunwall City Trials probably gave me more for my money. It also makes me think about what the goal of DLC ultimately should be and how much that goal is worth. Is it worth more to get a small dose of the main gameplay features like Knife of Dunwall or perhaps Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon or a totally separate experience like Dunwall City Trials or Pigsyís Perfect 10 from Enslaved? Is it worth more to simply get more of the original title like the $4 mission add-ons for L.A. Noire or $2 songs for Rock Band? Itís an interesting conundrum, but I think it likely boils down to the individual making the purchase and how they feel about the content. Is it better to pay $5 for 15 hours of gameplay that makes you miserable, but leaves you oddly satisfied? Or is it worth more to spend $10 for 7 hours of enjoyable gameplay that leaves you hollow and longing for more? From a business perspective the answer is obvious, but as a consumer, Iím not sure where I stand on the subject at the moment. Itís definitely something Iím going to pay more attention to in the future.