One of my most anticipated releases in 2019 is not a new game, but a DLC expansion to Hollow Knight. As a part of its Kickstarter stretch goals, the acclaimed bug-em-up Metroidvania’s developers planned to create a side adventure starring Hornet. To much surprise, Team Cherry revealed on Valentine’s Day that this DLC is instead being created as a brand new game. Thanks to Hollow Knight’s explosive success, a sequel became the best way to deliver on the team’s mountain of ideas to make Hornet’s adventure her own.
It reminds me a bit of Shovel Knight's playable character stretch goals. Yacht Club Games originally planned to design Plague Knight and the boys as substitute characters in the existing campaign but instead created fully fledged adventures with new playstyles, level designs, and stories. These expansions even became standalone purchases.
It's a prime example of Kickstarter design creep, but thankfully, one that paid off well. Even Nintendo is getting in on the action, in a sense. Breath of the Wild’s upcoming sequel exists largely because, according to Eiji Aonuma, the team had too many DLC ideas.
Previously, I had a personal philosophy that adding upon already great games with great DLC was a universally ideal practice (both being great is a requirement, cough cough). And yet, I’m even more excited for Silksong than I would be otherwise and I’m more curious about Breath of the Wild’s successor than I would be for another expansion pack. These developments compelled me to reflect on that philosophy... which reminded me of Raven's Choice in Gravity Rush 2, the one great DLC expansion in a great game I played that left me feeling underfed.
For a bit of context, Raven's Choice was a brief side story focusing on the titular Raven, who is Kat's strongest rival-slash-ally and thus this franchise's most likely candidate for a second playable character. I loved how it offered a deep dive into her past, more of Gravity Rush’s bizarre worldbuilding, and new moves with unique challenges to test them against. But I felt these ideas were more limited by their foundation than most DLC I've played.
Whereas Kat’s new Gravity Styles in GR2's base game drastically mixed up her playstyle, I felt like Raven’s new moves were mostly vanilla by comparison, as I never felt like I could do anything that Kat couldn't. The story packed so many answers with so many questions that I still wanted to know much more about her history, her current happenings, and what the heck is up with GR’s mythos. Heck, I would have expected a certain plot point to give her a new Gravity Style-like power if I didn't anticipate I was nearing the story's end.
Raven probably wouldn't have gotten a whole game to herself even if it was pitched in a board meeting. Gravity Rush 2 underperformed so much that its online servers didn’t even live for two years, and this story was still released as a free update. But I envy the alternate timeline where she got that sequel and the chance to spread her wings. I’m going to hand this off to the other staff members as I mourn Gravity Rush’s fate by eating Italian ice.