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Expansion Packs, Which Work, Which Don't And Why.
After reading the reviews for the new Doom 3 expansion pack I am pretty interested in picking up a copy. It has been generally well received and it looks to carry the game on in a good enough fashion to warrent its purchase. This got me thinking however, exactly what makes a good expansion pack? I have personally never owned an expansion pack for any of my games. I've always believed they never quite match the original title in one or more key aspects such as graphics, sound, gameplay, ect.

What are your opinions on expansion packs, do many really extend the game and create a new experience? Or, as I had always assumed, are they a quick way to cash in on successful title. Also, which expansion packs are good that I might have missed for other popular titles?
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Depends. id software obviously heavily supervised RoE, making sure Nerve did it right. Previous titles have not been so tightly designed IMO.

Take the Quake DoE mission pack for example - how crappy looking and redundant were the "new" weapons? The new monsters weren't exactly in theme either. Compare this with the Scourge mission pack - pure quality in comparison. Yes SoA did it "right", but I think that was more to do with Hipnotic just generally being good at what they were doing, rather than id dictating exactly *how* they should do it.

Quake II's mission packs were a bit more consistent in quality, but both had slightly redundant weapons and the new monsters/bosses looked a little off as well.

Epic are just as bad - the Unreal "Return to Na Pali" missionpack was pretty pants IMO - totally redundant weapons that looked bugger all like the style of the Unreal weapons. Monsters were kind of shite too if I recall.

With Team Arena, id took it on themselves, and I guess it did what it was supposed to. It wasn't amazing, but it was consistent with Quake 3. 
Only For FPS? 
Does this thread only concern FPS? All of Blizzards expansion packs for their games have all been worth getting, with a ton more items, more levels, more SP, etc. Playing without them in multiplayer is pretty rare, as almost everyone seems to play the expansion packs, with their added balance and more stuff.

Expansion packs for FPS games never really seem to become defacto standard online, and players rely on mods and homedevvers to deliver what they want. 
quake's armagon was the best mission pack ever!

as for the mp's in general, i love ALL of the id's packs. they add some new touches, from the weapons to atmosphere and innovative leveldesign. i even lof quake:doe. (yes kinn) also i've got number of expansions for the other games like age of mythology, carmageddon etc, they all rock hard :> 
Mission Packs ... 
... are awesome for new textures if nothing else. Q2-Reckoning's new textures just made me want to sing.

Expansion packs are a natural offset of the franchise system. As soon as a big studio produces a successful game, the publisher realizes people will probably want more, so the successful games get expanded as a distraction while they start the inevitable sequel. 
Good Expansion Packs 
Mysteries of the sith (dark forces 2 : jedi knight)
Doom 3 RoE
Diablo 2 addon (forget the name)
quake SoA

shit I thinks that it :) Doesn't say much good about addon packs then eh. Personally I agree with XL & lun on this, usually they just throw more the same into some sub-original game quality levels and watch the money roll in.

I never buy expansion packs unless I hear from people I trust that they are good (basicly the #tf lot eh)

..Apart from czg.

...And scampie. 
Blizzard does make some good X-Packs. Broodwar was amazing, D2 X-pack was ok too, though the "random" dungeons seemed like mirrors of each other. (You know, the ice dungeon levels.)

Frozen Throne was OK, the single player was very tedious IMO, unlike Warcraft 3's single player. The thing is, Warcraft 3's (and Frozen Throne's) story is almost the exact same thing as Starcraft's... Evil invader forces the separate peoples to unite and crush the evil invader. And there's always a good guy who turns evil. Kerrigan for example, and the demon hunter guy from Warcraft 3. Oh well.

Other expansions: AoK: The Conquerors. Pure awesome. Included my favorite race of the game: The Aztecs. Everything is improved in that game.

AoM: The Titans. What a shitty expansion pack. Included a completely broken race, the Atlanteans, which dominated ESO for months on end, and continue to do so today, despite several patches. They also fucked with the mechanics of the game, like you can build Settlements an age earlier, which threw everything off balance. And the Titans themselves are RIDICULOUSLY overpowered. If you have AoM, but not AoT, stick with AoM. The single player is not worth it, neither is multiplayer.

That's all I can think of. Maybe I'll get the Dawn of War xp... but I don't like the Imperial Guard. 
Expansion packs are really only good or worth-while if the original game was too short, or if they add something new or emphasize a different part of the gameplay. But the samething could be said about sequels, too. 
My Blab 
What Makes a Good MP:

- It matches or exceeds the original game in all areas especially environments and gameplay
- It feeds your hunger for more of a game that you liked
- Not expensive when bundled with original title (a procrastinator's dividend)

What Makes a Bad MP:

- When they just keep adding more weapons. Why not just remove original weapons and replace with new ones if developers feel they are better. Too many = cumbersome. I ignore many new weapons and stick with old favorites.
- When they boost the difficulty level of play beyond that which is reasonable for someone who honed thier skills playing through the original game
- They don't capture the experience that made the original game enjoyable enough to make a MP attractive.

Here's some good and bad MP's that I've played:


Quake SoA was great
Quake DoE was good
Quake 2 - MP1 and MP2 were as good as Q2
Quake 3 Team Arena - Was as good as Q3
Diablo 2 Lord of Destruction - Great
Half-Life Opposing Force and Blue Shift - As good as Half-Life


AvP2 Primal Hunt - It had no suspense, weak story and was tediously hard. Paled in comparison to the parent game
Medal of Honour MPs - More linear then the original game which was very linear and both were really hard. I ending up using cheats and feeling cheated. Otherwise, settings and missions were great but gameplay destroyed the fun of this series for me.

Games that Really Needed a MP (because I liked them and wanted more)

RtCW - A single player MP. How about BJ going after the Spear of Destiny and facing Hitler in Hell?

Deus Ex - Good thing that some talented modders made some satisfying expansions but an official one would have been very welcome for this great game.

Undying - Again, extend this good game

Wheel of Time - Ditto 
Unreal Return to NaPali - Okay but something about it wasn't as satisfying as Unreal. Combat Assault Rifle was pitifully weak. Level construction was good. Narrative intermissions helped propel story.

Diablo Hellfire - Hive and Crypt missions were pretty cool and the Monk charater was good 
..."Eternal Darkness" why so many hold Actura in such low esteem? 
I would like to add to the Good List Medieval: Total War's expansion called Viking Invasion. That will be all. 
don't forget shrak and malice! ;)
ok, the latter wasn't so bad though, considering the time - nice models and soundtrack, but crappy mapdesign... 
I'm Playing SoA Right Now 
It's not really encouraging me to keep it up. The level design is so-so, and pretty much anything new they added just doesn't fit or was done plain old poorly.

Then again, I've been spoiled by the quality of stuff from this community for years. 
Nice Blab.

Thanks for mentioning the Half-life expansion packs. I thought those really extended the original's story in a unique and creative way that no other packs have for any other games. Of course, I would have to take it all back if they had come out with one from a Headcrab's point-of-view :) 
I never played the Half-Life expansions, which is odd because I loved the original (most of it anyway). I think at the time, I was kinda taking a break from gaming, so I guess they just passed me by :( 
I would definately rate Opposing Force as the top expansion pack I've played, though my FPS experience is rather limited compared to most of you.

Creating an exppak presents its devs with a particular challenge - how to provide new content with an entertaining twist while also basically delivering more-of-the-same.
Scourge Of Armagon ( I just have to write the name out in full, I think it's that good ) made a pretty respectable attempt I felt, though the weps and, indeed Lun, the map design was a bit meh in places. Armagon rocked of course.
Opposing Force, however ( despite its inventory lacking any sort of Perforator ) hit the nail on the head. Many of the combat set pieces were exactly 'more-of-the-same' versions of those from Half-Life and it added convincingly to the story. All the more impressive because Gearbox weren't explicitly directed by Valvle - they were just given all of Laidlaw's notes and scribblings of the Black Mesa plot and a copy of Worldcraft then left to get on with it.
I'm Curious... 
If anyone has specific feedback on MOHAA:Breakthrough. IMO it was too hard, had some cool levels, but nothing really new to offer after spearhead and allied assault. 
I played it on EASY and found it to be way too frustrating near the end. I actually put godmode on and wrapped it up. I've played enough FPS games to feel capable of finishing a title on normal but after my experience with Spearhead, I felt it was better to play on Easy. Is it arrogence on the behalf of developers or am I just lame?

Aside from the frustrations later in the game, it offered nothing new but that is okay in my mind if the quality of the expansion is on par with the parent title. Breakthrough had well made levels, models and missions but put you on rails like the rest of the series. 
If you want to experience life as a Headcrab, play the Alien campaign in Aliens versus Preditor 2. It's not a Headcrab, but the baby alien is not far off. 
Those Other Q1 - Non-id Expacks 
Shrak - Good enemy models - very unimpressive level design. No real theme and an architectural and texturing mish-mash. Great end boss sequence.

Q-Zone - Should be called the Doh-Zone. Very ugly amaturish levels mish-mashier then Shrak. That squawky cube monster was annoying and made no sense.

Malice - Great models and it has cutscences. Neat gadgets. The sub and parachute are done well. The most poorly lit and baffling level design that I've ever encountered in something you pay for. I actually gave up on Malice part way through.

X-Men - I don't have it so I can offer no critique.

The ExPack That No One Has Mentioned and I Can Guess Why:

Juggernaut... For Quake 2

Scraggy ducks... 
Well, i worked on it, and i can tell you that all of the difficulty tuning was done by EA, not us (TKO.) They sort of took over the project after we hit alpha. There were several places in my levels that they sort of broke by making them too hard -- for example, when Klaus is picking the lock in Bizerte Canal, if a german tosses a grenade at Klaus, it's an automatic loss becuase the only two types of people in the game that CAN'T pick up and toss grenades back are: 1. players (like you,) and 2. NPCs in the middle of scripted animations (like Klaus!) :( 
That's a shame really. The entire MOHAA series was well designed and built but would have been a lot more fun if the player could chose a difficulty setting that allowed them to enjoy the game. The settings, details and artwork were really well done. It must be dissapointing to have your work taken over and finished by another group that does not share your vision.

I played on EASY and I remember the lock picking sequence. It was insane. I did that sequence soooo many times before getting it by luck and not skill. I tried to use cheats but cheats don't spare Klaus. Games should be fun, not work, and difficulty settings should be designed to make the game inclusive to those who want to play - not to insult players who are not as skilled as what the designer think in order to be considered capable of finishing on easy (I mean, am I really that bad?)

Thumbs down to EA for not appreciating the importance of inclusive difficulty settings. If I could find a setting I liked, I'd probably be buying thier new MOH title but I'm afraid it may be too hard for me as well. I found RtCW to be perfect for me on Normal by comparison. 
Scraggy... anyone who's had the benefit of your beta test demos knows, you are NOT a bad FPS player. 
Oh God 
Juggernaut... For Quake 2

I also thought Breakthrough was way too hard compared to the original MOHAA. I had to use cheats just to get through it. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't the level designers but "Management" who tweaked it that way. I'm also glad to hear that I'm not the only one who had these issues.

It actually made me "Not" buy pacific assault because if everything was getting progressivly harder in the series and made it more like work instead of a game to enjoy then I could spend my money elsewhere. So I bought a bottle of Patrone instead (no replay value there except for the next morning). 
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