The emperor's new DLC
When used responsibly and approached in good faith, DLC can add a lot to a game, building on an already stellar experience until it feels just as worthwhile as the games it expands. But, at the other end of the spectrum, DLC can be all about the baubles, where you throw down cash for digital costumes alone. They don't actually affect the game in any measureable way, but seriously, doesn't Hitomi look fierce in that ninja getup? And while a few digital outfits here and there won't a money-suck make, some games take it too far. Way too far. "You could have put a down payment on a new car with the money you just spent on digital outfits" too far.
Recently I've fostered a morbid fascination with the shamelessness of DLC cosmetics, and the desire to find out just how much you can spend on imaginary clothes has been burning inside my heart like an overlarge pile of money. In my search for the game with the most expensive cosmetic DLC, I have made some fascinating and terrible discoveries, and here I present them to you. Horse armor's got nothing on these boudoirs.
Gears of War 3
Total cost: $45/30/43
I can already feel you giving me a weird look, readers, and it's true that you can't dress Dom up as Princess Peach or buy Marcus a festive Christmas hat. But there is a cosmetic feature you can shell out way too much money for in Gears of War 3 to show off your creative fashion sense: weapon skins. The comprehensive Weapon Skin Launch Collection pack comes with 22 different skins to make any weapon in the multiplayer look like a blood-soaked mess or a psychedelic hippie dream, or something with a few extra volts.
You're going to pay a shocking price for that sweet weapon wardrobe though, because the Launch Collection costs more than the actual game regardless of what region you're in. And don't go thinking you'll save some cash by buying separately: grabbing the four weapon-specific packs will run you $60 (40/57), and going through the Xbox Marketplace buying each skin individually is an assault on sanity that no living being should have to face.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition
Total cost: $62/53/64
Dynasty Warriors is all about being big and brassy, whether in combat or the cost of its warriors' wear. However, one region gets a better deal: though the US PlayStation Store boasts three costume packs totaling up to $62 worth of virtual outfits, the PAL region only gets the DW8XLCE - DW7 Original Costume Pack Sets 1 and 2 (really rolls off the tongue), and the four DW8XLCE - Original Costume Packs separately, which adds up to a slightly higher price tag. Not sure who made that call, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was whoever decided only Americans would ever buy a $10 wallpaper pack, too.
Granted, the price tag at least gets you a decent amount of digital cloth, since you can snag a full 207 different costumes across armies no matter where you live. That's 30 per costume, or 26p / 0,31. That's way cheaper than the cost of real clothes, so that kind of makes it worth it, right?
Hatsune Miku Project Diva F 2nd
Total cost: $78/50/70
It's not exactly shocking to see Hatsune Miku on this list, as much of what the Vocaloid diva does while you're playing the game is dance in the background and look cute. Why not throw in some adorable costumes to make her job easier? Surprisingly, Hatsune Miku Project Diva F didn't do much of that, offering only six DLC costumes for fashion-hungry players to purchase. Diva F 2nd makes up for that obvious error in judgment, with $78 worth of costume content to Diva F's $6.00. Quite the wardrobe upgrade.
All told, that nets you 45 different outfits in the Costume Club pack, which will run you a cool $70 from the get-go. But oddly enough, that isn't a complete collection of all the game's costumes, so you have to purchase the Extra Characters Extended Pack and the Americana module by themselves to get the full set. Hopefully that extra $8 doesn't break the bank.
Rumble Roses XX
Total cost: $90/58.50/85.50
In an effort to prove that it's more than a cheesecake game that also has some wrestling in it (or maybe reinforce the idea?), Rumble Roses XX beefed up its costume closet with an extra 90 outfits between 15 of the fighters to add on an extra dress up element. Which, of course, you have to pay for. Dearly. For the same price as your very own espresso machine or a luxury crab fan, you can purchase every Rumble Roses XX for a cool $1 per.
That might still sound reasonable to some super fans, but keep in mind that many of those costumes are just basic recolors, like the egregious example shown above. Plus, any outfit with SS attached to the title (a full 36 of the 90) isn't new, but a version of that character's outfit that can be worn by any of the other girls. Seems like a rip-off, but if you subscribe to the Archer school of fashion, it might be worth the money.
Total cost: $142/109/135
Poor Evolve. After a strong showing leading up to the game's release and plenty of kind words on launch day, its player count has since dwindled significantly after only a few months. While its dogpile-style gameplay might be a factor there, it's hard to ignore how DLC played a part, with a lot of content being walled off until players coughed up the cash for new monsters and hunters. One of the most egregious examples is Evolve's hunter and monster skin sets. They're separate from any other packs, so you really are just buying skins, and you're set to spend three times the cost of the game itself if you want to poach them all.
Individual skins have at least been grouped together into sets based on theme, so for instance, any pack labeled 'Medic' will work for any base-game Medic character you want to want toting a cooler-looking weapon. Unfortunately, that means each set offers only one costume per character, and oddly, they don't work for any DLC comrades or beasts you want to bring online. So if you only intend to play as Lennox or don the flesh of the Behemoth, save your money. These grounds are fallow.
Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2
Total cost: $162/124/161
In a bid to get DLC-happy fans interested in the second Xillia game, Namco made sure all the downloadable costumes for Xillia 1 would also be accessible in Xillia 2, and vice versa. In the US, the combined price tag for both Xillia costume sets will push you into shop-a-holic territory, with $160 worth of outfits available between the two. But in the UK and the rest of Europe, the first Xillia only has a single costume pack to its name, so the combined price is even more somehow?
That gets even more confusing when you get into a discussion of packs: in the US you have to buy each outfit individually, and while there are packs available in the UK and Europe, you'll still have to buy the majority individually if you want the full set. Wherever you live, that should give you plenty of time to consider your life choices as you go. Of course, if the announcement of $110 worth of launch day DLC costumes for Tales of Zestria is anything to go by, Namco is betting you won't.
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round
Total cost: $279/222/90
Talk about sticker shock. When fans first learned that Last Round would feature two launch day costume packs coming in at $93 (74/90) a piece, the idea wasn't exactly met with enthusiasm, and that was before a third pack was announced in the months that followed. But, while fan reaction can be summed up in a narrow-eyed stare, the Last Round costume situation actually could be worse. No, really. Total up the individual cost of the costumes in just one of those packs, and the resulting price tag lands in the $750 range.
That isn't to say that any of these bundles are a good deal (those $93 real dollars will get you as little as 78 costumes if you look at Season Pass 1), just that it's collectively cheaper to buy them than compile every costume piecemeal. If you're really into DoA, you might benefit from the Ultimate Content Set, which features all 237 DLC costumes available for DoA 5 pre-Last Round. But the two season passes, which feature significantly fewer outfits and mock you with one exclusive costume each, seem tantamount to highway robbery. Plus, if you really like DoA you've probably already bought most of those old costumes, in which case I am so, so sorry.
Total cost: $470+/350+/367+
This is where things start getting hard to parse, as games replete with costume options throw out mini-packs and individual outfits in lieu of all-encompassing bundles, so its hard to tell whether you really got everything. Case in point is LittlebigPlanet 3, which combines the offerings of every LBP into its inventory and organizes them about as neatly as a tornado. There are thankfully comprehensive packs for different franchises, so you can at least be assured you're getting every BioShock Infinite or Muppets costume if you buy the associated pack. But if you desperately want every single outfit available, get ready to pay $470 for the packs alone, plus extra for any individuals that slip through the cracks.
Credit where credit is due, this setup at least gives you options if you only want one or two costumes, so you don't have to buy the entire Frozen collection just to get that adorable moose ensemble. But the absence of bundles for each LBP game makes gathering them all a rough job for any collector, especially when it gets into those individual items. If you're seriously planning on taking the plunge, at least let someone know your plans. At some point you might need a rescue party.
Total cost: $950/609/858
IdolM@ster 2, a "raising sim" where you raise up teen idols to become superstars, is notoriously difficult to navigate outside its country of origin, and you'll have to scramble through quite a few technical loopholes to be able to download its DLC idol outfits on anything but a Japanese system. But it can be done, and many who get that far go the distance when it comes to collecting DLC costumes, to the tune of almost a grand.
Costumes aren't the only thing you can download from IdolM@ster's DLC collection, or even the most ridiculous - you can also pay real money to download emails from the idols, because the developers are clearly screwing with people at this point. But the vast majority of what's available are costumes of different types, from cutesy to "luxury", and they just keep stacking up. In a way, the fact that it's so hard for many to get ahold of these outfits is a blessing in disguise: it makes it that much harder for you to do this to yourself. A built-in intervention, in a way.
League of Legends
Total cost: $3195/2324/2577
Between the 126 champions it has on the roster, League has tossed out over 500 different skins at different price points, so just tallying them is a behemoth task. Thankfully reddit user Perezthe1st crunched the numbers and got a result that will make any collector queasy: buying every League skin at full price will run you upwards of $3000.
Now, there's a case to be made that no one will actually drop that much cash on character attire. But keep in mind that this is LOL, where players are known to spend thousands of dollars on extra swag and some players can count the skins they don't own on one hand. It may not be common, but Riot put those skins out there, and now the temptation is real. Someone, somewhere has them all.
Total cost: $3315/2127/2992
"I didn't choose the train life," murmurs a diehard Train Simulator fan as they buy ten new locomotive skins, a tear sliding down their cheek, heavy with the weight of their eternal burden. That's how I imagine it would go anyway, because I know I'd be holding back tears if I committed to buying every DLC for Train Simulator, or even just the train skins. Of the $5322.55 worth of downloadable content that Train Simulator is hauling, a gut-wrenching $3315.17 is exclusively for what I can best sum up as "train clothes" for your fleet of iron horses.
Part of the reason the price is so high is because you have to pay out the nose for each individual pack, which contain about two skins each and cost an average of $20. With nearly 200 packs on the market right now and more constantly on the way - like a surging river of DLC that will crush our feeble mortal bodies beneath its mighty swell - the price is set to keep climbing into perpetuity. And according to developers themselves? Someone out there probably owns every single skin. The train life chose them.