The .hack series was a weird one. The game takes place in a MMORPG called The World. The World had a deep and interesting lore that wasn’t discussed much in game — usually only in passing conversation by one or two characters. Players could learn more about the game through posts on an in-game forum. Because the developers treated The World like an online game, the .hack series really felt like you were interacting with other people, even though you knew they were just characters in the game.
Unfortunately, for all that the series had going for it, .hack kind of died out, especially in the States. Now, if you want to play the entire English language series, you have to shell out over $500 just for the first four games. With all the re-releases we’ve been seeing lately, .hack is the perfect candidate for a re-release, or a flat-out remake.
There are several games in this series, each in their own subset of games: .hack//GAMES, .hack//G.U., and .hack//LINK. I will be focusing on .hack//GAMES, the first four.
First off, the original games were riddled with problems.
As much as I loved the series, I would be remiss to not mention its slew of issues. The camera was awful. It was hard to control and it was jumpy. The first game, INFECTION, had a playtime of roughly 25 hours, and most of that was grinding. Some of the plot could also be hard to follow if you haven’t watched the anime, .hack//SIGN, but not impossible.
But for every problem the original series had, it made up for in innovative gameplay, beautiful music, and amazing scenery (although the graphics are definitely dated now).
While I am focusing on the original series, .hack//G.U. fixed a lot of these problems.
G.U. kept what made the first games amazing, especially the environments and music, and fixed a lot of the other issues. There were only a few times when the camera was ever a problem in G.U. and it was usually during fights in small areas, which was very uncommon. The story was never hard to follow without seeing the previous anime, .hack//ROOTS. I never watched it and fully understood the story because the developers put in cutscenes to show what players may have missed. All you need to know is told to you in the first 30 mins of the game and then you’re on your way.
Finally, G.U. had a lot less grinding than the original games. There were enough quests and side-quests that players didn’t have to go to random areas and grind for hours just to beat the next area. If some of these fixes could be applied to the original games, they would definitely be a lot better.
The demand for new games is there
CyberConnect2 has acknowledged that fans are still calling for more .hack games just last year. Fans are still replying to a tweet from CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama, asking for a HD collection or a remake of the original series.
Famous characters have popped up in other franchises, and there was a Sword Art Online and .hack mobile crossover announced this year.
There’s so much potential for the series to expand into a MMORPG or, if the series remains a single-player RPG, to utilize the new VR capabilities sprouting up everywhere.
The .hack series deserves more. For all of the problems with the games, they were a unique and innovative experience that deserves revisiting. There are loyal fans waiting to support any new games that come out — and with the unfounded Sword Art Online hype still circling around, plenty of new potential fans that could be picked up. With the ridiculous price of owning all of the original games, a HD collection would help players out immensely.