The Games that made us Love and Hate sequels in 2015
Ah sequels! Sequels make the world of gaming go 'round. As with every year, 2015 saw a glut of sequels released onto the gaming public. As with any sequel release, some were good; some were not so good; and some could go both ways depending on your feelings. Without further ado, let’s hop to it!
This list will be separated into three categories: Love, Hate, and Love/Hate.
Love and hugs!
Xenoblade Chronicles X
Xenoblade Chronicles was a Japan-exclusive Wii game that was brought stateside in 2010 with the successful Operation Rainfall, along with The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. Unfortunately, Xenoblade Chronicles was a Gamestop exclusive and quickly became elusive, and the price skyrocketed. Even now, a used copy of the game can go for $65 or more.
Thankfully, the stand-alone sequel Xenoblade Chronicles X has allowed Wii U players to get their JRPG on! Chronicles has received great reviews and has garnered praise for its visuals, scope, and scale of the world compared to the player. The game has received some criticism for its no-nonsense approach to combat and difficulty. This is a game that does not want to hold your hand. EVER. Players have appreciated the game allowing them to suss out the game’s depth without being told how. There’s plenty of JRPG action here for players to enjoy!
The Witcher 3
The Witcher series has garnered praise for its more mature approach to narrative and world building, delivering games aimed squarely at an older audience. The Witcher 3 is no exception. The game has some fantastic supporting characters. Some are so well-written; they even threaten to steal the spotlight from the main character Geralt. (I’m looking at you Bloody Baron.)
Besides great characters, the game features an interesting combat system. It may not be as in-depth as previous games, but it remains entertaining throughout, especially when Geralt performs a slick finishing move.
The world is gorgeous and full of eye-popping color to behold. Fantastic mythical creatures and wildlife such as griffins, cockatrices, and more litter the landscape for you to slay, claim trophies, and obtain bounties for eliminating.
The urgency portrayed in the narrative doesn’t always match up with the design, and the plot can swerve a bit too far into “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” (i.e. GTA) territory. Regardless, the game manages to remain entertaining, for what I have managed to play anyway. The game is filled to the brim with content, and a large world filled with locations to explore and monsters conquer.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
The development of MGS5 has been a tumultuous one to say the least. With rumors swirling of Konami’s employee treatment, Konami removing Hideo Kojima's name from the box and displays, and (worst and most petty) Konami banning Kojima from attending the recent The Game Awards to accept any awards for the game he developed. Konami is the worst and seemingly filled with petulant and petty executives who behave in a manner similar to schoolyard children.
Thankfully, the game seems to have emerged from this hell intact (mostly) and serves as a fine swansong for the long-running franchise, until Konami releases the inevitable cash-ins later or a damn pachinko machine…
The game is set in a huge open-world playground full of distractions for players. There’s a base you can manage and abduct enemy soldiers to staff. There are companions to find to assist you in missions. There’s also the story to play and see what happens to all your favorite characters. You know, if you play Metal Gear games for their story, because no one does that right? Despite Konami inserting microtransactions and the realization some story content was cut from the final release, the game managed to be a success and has continued to enthrall players months after release.
Just Cause 3
Just Cause 2 was a massive world full of government propaganda to destroy, military bases to capture, and a dictatorship to overthrow. All in a day’s work for a hard-working agent! The game was all about pulling off the most ridiculous stunts you could manage and blowing up everything in sight. You know, a playable dumb/awesome action movie!
Just Cause 3 has delivered more of the same with some tweaks and additions. Rico now has a FLIPPING WINGSUIT along with his magic grappling hook. The hook has some added functionality, and the way it interacts with various objects has been changed. It’s more of what you loved from Just Cause 2 with more content and improvements. What’s not to love?
Halo 5: Guardians
343 Industries is hard at work on their trilogy in the massively successful Halo franchise and Halo 4 was a solid entry with some issues. The Master Chief Collection has had some problems with the multiplayer not being functional for some players. Needless to say, there was some reason to be skeptical of Halo 5: Guardians before release. However, it seems 343 has managed to mostly pull this one off.
While some reviewers have cited the story as being weak, the rest of the game seems to be solid. The multiplayer has been claimed by some as being as return to the heyday of Halo 2’s landmark multiplayer. The vertical combat and emphasis on mobility shakes up the standard shooty-shooty bang-bang action of the Halo series. The additions of Warzone and Breakout are some great additions to the multiplayer. Competitive Arena adds a multiplayer component focused on twitch gaming reminiscent of the fantastic SWAT mode in prior games. While the game is not perfect and the lack of split-screen is a true shame, Halo 5 seems to be a solid entry in a long-running series that wasn’t afraid to shake things up and try new ideas.
Feel the Hate!
Lego Jurassic World
While Lego Dimensions seems to have been a solid way for LEGO to enter the ever-malicious “toys to life” genre, a bane to parents everywhere, Lego Jurassic World is another tired entry in the normal LEGO series. At this point, the main LEGO games are tired and extremely repetitive. On top of that, it’s an unnecessary licensed movie tie-in to boot.
Honestly, there’s not much more to say about this one. It’s another LEGO game that didn’t add much to the series or do much of anything really. It did add some annoying Compsognathus enemies that proved to be frustrating. This one should have never left the park.
Star Wars Battlefront
Technically, Star Wars Battlefront is a reboot of the franchise that saw two successful entries fans continue to play to this day. Free Radical had developed the previous entries and was hard at work on the third. Unfortunately, the game was canceled, and Free Radical went into administration while seeking for investors for the company. Instead of the near-completed Battlefront 3 being finished, the game was scrapped, and development was started again at DICE Studios, known for the Battlefield series.
Star Wars Battlefront released on November of 2015. It’s clear the game needed more time in the incubator before hatching. The game released onto the public feeling unfinished and shallower then my daughter’s kiddie pool. The emphasis on multiplayer-only in an AAA title is fine if the lack of campaign is made up for with other content. Unfortunately, DICE didn’t get that memo and has delivered a lackluster experience in all regards. On top of a shallow $60 package, EA has been pushing a $50 season pass. You know, the price of a game itself. To add insult to injury, the DLC in the season pass is filled with content that has no excuse for not being included in the main game. Seriously EA? Characters, game modes, in-game items, and emotes are being held behind a pay-wall in a game with a severe dearth of content.
The Force is not strong with this one.
These are games that have not had a strong response one way or the other. Depending on whom you ask, the feelings on the following games are quite varied, thus, a love/hate relationship.
Before you go to the comments to tell me how wrong I am for including this here, hear me out. Fallout 3 was a major departure from the original Fallout games, and many concessions were made to translate the games into what Bethesda envisioned. The game was met with critical success and sold like crazy. The follow-up Fallout: New Vegas was more in line with the original games having a stronger emphasis on RPG elements, narrative, writing, and a more interesting world to explore. Unfortunately, the game was riddled with bugs at launch and suffered as a result.
Bethesda seemed content to ignore all of the strides Fallout: New Vegas made towards making a more interesting RPG experience and instead revert to Fallout 3’s missteps with some minor changes. Fallout 4 has the trademark “meh, it’s there” narrative with no investment from the writers or much payoff for players. The streamlined conversation system is a disappointment that can thankfully be rectified by mods. As with every Bethesda game, the major selling point of Fallout 4 is to drop players in a large world for them to roam and explore. The combat system remains largely unchanged with real-time combat ineffective at times and V.A.T.S. being the way to go. There is an addition of building settlements, but not much else has really changed since Fallout 3, for better or worse.
Since it is a Bethesda game, Fallout 4 shipped with a litany or bugs. Some are game-breaking; some are more innocuous and annoying. Destructoid’s Chris Carter sums it up quite nicely: “A lot of the franchise's signature problems have carried over directly into Fallout 4, but all of its charms have come along for the ride as well. It manages to do a whole lot right, but the story drags at times, and glitches...glitches never change.”
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The follow-up to Crystal Dynamic's 2013 reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, Rise of the Tomb Raider is a perfect game for the tired, "if you liked the first one, you'll like this one" trope. Really though, this descriptor fits the game perfectly. Rise of the Tomb Raider has made some minor changes and added some more content, but it feels like the same game.
One of the biggest changes in the game is the addition of open-worldish, hub-like areas overflowing with secrets and things to discover. Unlike 2013's Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider actually has tombs for player to explore too. Go figure! Aside from some minor additions of crafting, the hub areas, and more tombs, not much has changed since Tomb Raider. If you were one of those people who didn't care for Tomb Raider, then there's not much here to change your mind.
Come on Crystal Dynamics. Let's drop this silly "Laura is so serious and gritty RAWR" act and get back to Tomb Raider basics: dinosaurs!
Batman: Arkham Knight
Rocksteady has done what no other development team has managed to do: they made good, no, great, Batman games. While not as good as Arkham Asylum, City was a solid entry in the Arkham series. Arkham Knight is the send-off for Rocksteady’s series, and honestly, the Bat could have done with a better sendoff.
While the game itself seems to be good, player enjoyment seems to vary and many reviews reflect this difference of opinion. What lands this game in this category is the abysmal PC port. To say the port launched in an atrocious state is a complete understatement. The game launched in June in a near-broken state. The port was so awful, Warner Bros. actually pulled it from Steam shortly after release, and the game was added back to the digital storefront in a playable state four months after release. What made this situation even worse is Warner Bros. had shipped another poor PC port earlier this year with Mortal Kombat X. This is completely inexcusable for any game’s launch, especially for a major AAA title. Hopefully other developers take note from this PC port. Or not…
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Treyarch has shown they aren’t afraid to shake things up with the standard Call of Duty formula. Black Ops 3 is the most ambitious CoD title to date. The campaign has seen a major redesign and emphasis on different tactics from previous games. While the narrative is weak, the campaign has some strong points and memorable moments.
The multiplayer has seen some shaking up with new modes, and elements of free-running and parkour have been added. The zombie mode is bigger than ever before with an interesting and unique setting, Lovecraft noir? Count me in! Dead Ops Arcade has also returned and is also bigger than before.
The reason it’s in this category is that the PC port was deemed fit to ship in a state similar to the recent Batman: Arkham Knight. In other words, completely unacceptable (NSFW link). However, the game has seen furious patching since release and is in a more acceptable state at this point.
What pushes this into a “Love” for me is the addition of Ron Perlman and Jeff Goldblum as playable characters in the Zombies mode. Who doesn’t want some of that?!
There were more sequels released this year such as Rainbow Six Siege, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Blood Bowl II, Tales of Zestria, and Disgaea 5. However, the entries on this list were the ones that stood out to me the most. Of course you completely agree with everything with I said here, but on the off-chance you didn’t, sound off in the comments below.
Which sequels did you love, hate, or just feel “meh” about this year?