10 Video Game Sequels That Let Fans Down In A Big Way –
More often than not, sequels are a reason to be excited. Though it’s easy to look at Hollywood pumping out superhero movie after superhero movie, the spectacle of Avengers: Infinity War proved that when done right, sequels can feel epic, sweeping everyone up in years worth of heroics coming together at last.
Gaming is no different. While new IPs Spider-Man and Celeste are decent also rans in the battle for Game Of The Year, both heavyweights (Red Dead Redemption 2 and God Of War) build on their predecessors. In fact, the majority of Game Of The Year winners do just that, with Breath Of The Wild, Dragon Age Inquisition, Skyrim and GTA V taking home the gong in recent years.
That’s because sequels have the ability to iron out kinks from the first offering. Spider-Man 2, for example, will probably feature fewer stealth crawls. However, sometimes sequels tinker too much. Either because of rushed deadlines, cut budgets or just misunderstanding what fans want, they drop brilliant elements from the first game.
Not all of the games listed here are necessarily bad, but they each lost a sense of charm that previous titles in the series provided.
10. Skins, Moves – Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Kicking the list off with one that is such an odd and seemingly illogical decision considering the first MUA was a resounding success. “More of the same” would’ve likely made fans happy, but instead, Ultimate Alliance 2 made everything objectively worse.
Firstly, in the original game, each character came with a set of four or five unlockable suits; in the sequel they only get a couple. It’s not a big deal in terms of how the game is played, but it can have a much bigger impact on a player’s experience. Second, we had less combat moves as character-specific grapples disappeared, as well as a much shallower pool of RPG features in terms of how you specced your hero out. Combined we had an immediate aesthetic downgrade that only extended to watered down gameplay mechanics, too.
A huge part of these superhero games is feeling like you actually are the heroes. In PS4’s Spider-Man for example, you get an endless array of suits. Just recently, two new Fantastic Four themed suits have added extra enjoyment to the game despite the suits coming with no additional content.
9. Tactical Combat Scenarios – Dark Souls II
Dark Souls is so known for its difficulty that its become shorthand for difficulty itself. In the past few years, for example, various players have labelled Cuphead, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon as ‘the Dark Souls of platforming’. While that may be going a little far with Crash and Spyro especially, it just reinforces that if you pick up Dark Souls, you should expect difficulty.
Dark Souls II was no different in that regard, so at least it got the main thing right. However, the tactical approach needed to conquer the first game was dropped for war of attrition-style battle systems and level layouts, making it difficult in a completely different and less rewarding way.
The difficulty in the first game was more to do with trial and error, or very careful improvisation, alongside the unforgiving nature with which mistakes were punished. You needed skill and an eye for tactical thought to figure out exactly how you were going to topple the big bads, let alone make it out the tutorial.
The second game felt more like you were constantly in horde mode, fighting off endless swarms of slashable enemies. It was still difficult, but not in the way fans had come to expect.
8. Exploration – Dragon Age II
Dragon Age II could make a decent claim at being the best game on this list. Its characterisation is as excellent as usual, its narrative is arguably the strongest of the trilogy and if Hawke is played to be likeable, they easily have the biggest personality of the all the protagonists.
Despite this, there is one criticism that continues to hound Dragon Age II whenever the trilogy is discussed: The map. After Origins took you to various kingdoms and gave you a (relatively) huge open world to explore, II forces you to spend the majority of your time in the city of Kirkwall. It’s a city that vibrates with life, but it’s a single city nonetheless.
Dragon Age is an epic saga with a fantasy setting; players expect a massive map. On a first playthrough, many found themselves wondering when they’d be able to explore the rest of the region, only to realise they’d never get to.
The worst part though is the heavy use of caves. Dungeon crawling is to be expected, but several of the routes were either tweaked slightly or just completely recycled. It was strangely and unnecessarily lazy in a game that got almost everything else right.
7. Creation Centre – FIFA 14
Creation Centre used to be a FIFA mainstay, with slight upgrades added to it year on year until it suddenly disappeared entirely in FIFA 14. At the time, EA argued that with a switch to a new engine, they could no longer support Creation Centre.
Even if players took them at their word, it’s hard to believe those technological limitations still exist today. In FIFA 19 you can see every bead of spittle from Harry Maguire’s angry yells; it’s hard to imagine they lack the budget for a once beloved game mode.
Creation Centre allowed you to make new players, teams, leagues and tournaments. In various versions you could customise kits and crests, either to make a team from a league not on the game or just build your Sunday league team’s kit and stick yourself upfront with Messi.
FIFA is making quite a habit of moves like this. Player-Manager Mode has gone, Career Mode has stagnated and The Journey won’t be coming back next year either. You can bet your bottom dollar that Ultimate Team will get some jazzy updates though; or just spend that dollar on FIFA points and hope for a Team Of The Week Neymar in your pack.
6. The Charming Aesthetic – Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within
Warrior Within was going toe to toe with the god awful Bomberman revival here, as they both suffered from a similar issue. Wanting to be their own, mid 00s version of badass, both games opted for a dark, nu metal approach that completely ruined the tone fans loved.
The Prince always had a sword but in Sands Of Time he was charming and witty. The dark and grungy corridors might have worked if the Prince himself played against it. The likes of Uncharted have explored dark caverns before, but Drake always kept things light with humour. The Prince here is mirthless, and the whole thing feels dreary and angsty.
Jordan Mechner, the original creator who had also worked on the predecessor Sands Of Time, summed up how most people felt. He claimed he “wasn’t a fan of the art direction, or the violence… story, characters, voice acting or visual style”, which is pretty much the entire game.
As well as the generic character and largely unwanted violence, several of the enemies were now half-naked ladies in metal thongs. Considering the game was always supposed to be open to children as well as adults, taking away the charm was utterly brainless.
5. The Quarians – Mass Effect: Andromeda
The Quarians are arguably the most interesting race in the series, and through Tali have one of the franchise’s poster girls in their roster. They’re mentioned in passing in Andromeda, but that’s quite simply not good enough. Many players expected their arc to be found in an early mission, because surely they weren’t going to get cut completely. Surely?!
It’s abundantly clear that they were being saved for DLC, which given the poor sales and BioWare focussing on Anthem (with Dragon Age 4 on the horizon), will now never materialise.
If Andromeda had been a huge success and the DLC released on time with an engaging story, this criticism might have been forgotten. With or without it though, the point stands that such a key part of the universe should never have been chopped off to charge extra for later.
Previous Mass Effect DLCs have dug into lesser explored side stories; they never paywalled plot. There’s a lot of nitpicking you can make about Andromeda, and whether it deserves the criticism it gets is a debate for another day. Leaving the Quarians out was a shameless cash grab to get people to buy the DLC, and it backfired spectacularly.
4. Tension-Filled Horror – Dead Space 3
With FIFA and Mass Effect: Andromeda (and to a lesser extent, Dragon Age II), there’s a clear pattern of EA getting involved in development and muddying up sequels as a result. Plodding along in those less than illustrious footsteps is Dead Space 3, the final and worst entry in the Dead Space series.
Whether Dead Space 3 is a good game is irrelevant here; it cut out the key part of what made Dead Space Dead Space. For what it’s worth, the clunky campaign wasn’t particularly worth it anyway.
The first two Dead Space games were built around suspense, jump scares and the creeping thought that you were being constantly stalked. The third entry is still ‘scary’ in that you’re battling monsters, but there’s no ‘fear’.
There’s no holding your breath along passageways, because the creatures just rush out and force you into an action shootout. They don’t hide anymore; they just run as you shoot them from behind cover.
The core fanbase saw right through it and didn’t want an action game. Players who might have enjoyed it didn’t want to pick up the third game in a trilogy they’d never played before on account of not liking horror games.
3. The Entire Reason You Played – Pac-Man 2
Pac-Man is one of the most recognizable protagonists of all time in gaming, but that’s nothing to do with his personality. He’s a yellow circle with a mouth who bobs around a maze collecting dots; that’s all there is to it. Like the paddle from Pong, he’s not really meant to have any sort of story or narrative. It’s just fun.
That makes Namco’s decision to make a sequel all the more bizarre. They could have gone with new mazes, different power ups, changed the ghost AI… all would have been acceptable upgrades. Instead, they gave Pac-Man a point and click adventure game. Yes, really.
You’d say they were trying to cash in on Pac Man’s name by adding him to a point and click that was supposed to be a new IP, but honestly, what is there to cash in on? Okay, his name is recognizable but he’s known for arcade style mazes, why would we root for him?
Everyone loves Red Dead but if the next one is a football game with John Marston in goal and Sadie Adler on the wing, who in their right mind would buy it? This is just plain weird.
2. Puzzles & Suspense – Resident Evil 6
Executive producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi compared himself and the fans to being two parents, each disagreeing on what’s best for their zombie-killing child. Obviously, you’re never going to have a game that pleases absolutely everyone, but when almost the entire fanbase disagrees with a sharp change of direction, it’s poor form to try and argue that they simply don’t get it.
It wasn’t even marketed as survival horror, instead Capcom claiming it as a dramatic horror. Considering Resident Evil pretty much invented the genre, that’s a big sign that things had changed. Most people saw right through this though, and it was referred to as a simple action shooter for the majority of its shelf life.
The puzzles that had hitherto been a huge part of gameplay were all but gone too, replaced by action set pieces. The wonky campaigns and awful cover mechanics meant that it was a poor game all round, but fans would have put up with a sub par offering from such a beloved franchise if it stayed true to its roots.
The problem was the tried to be something they weren’t, failed, then had the gall to suggest that they knew what was best, not the fans.
1. Difficulty, Weapons & Dante’s Design – Devil May Cry 2
While it’s been noted that Dark Souls is the go-to metaphor for difficulty, Devil May Cry is no cakewalk either. At least, other Devil May Crys aren’t; the second entry in the franchise clearly had the challenge twisted down, and there’s no clear explanation as to why.
As well as difficulty, the weapons became just slightly more powerful versions of themselves, rather than offering unique and varied ways to battle. Along with that, strategy went out the window in favour of a much less refined bludgeon and bullet sponge approach to boss battles.
Finally, Capcom made the same mistake as Ubisoft did with Warrior Within. Dante, like the Prince Of Persia, became so edgy you could cut yourself just by touching the controller. While not as happy-go-lucky as the Prince was, Dante definitely had a sense of suave charm. He was broody, but nowhere near to the gothic extent he went in DMC2, becoming almost a parody of himself.
With a much easier campaign, less versatile weapons and a near unrecognisable protagonist, DMC2 is the shining example of why you shouldn’t tinker with things the fans love in a a sequel.