One-shot video games are now few and far between as sequels have become a staple of the gaming industry. Glancing at the biggest games coming out in 2023, most are new instalments in already established franchises. Easier to market to a dedicated fanbase, sequels portend sure commercial success. But they can also make or break an entire franchise.
All too often, follow-ups fail to recapture the magic of the original game. Some try to walk a fine line between their predecessor’s legacy and radical change that would upset their audiences, only to no avail. Others feel a little too cash-grabby, pushing publishers to release rushed products with barely any story or gameplay to capitalize on a series’ reputation.
Still, a handful of sequels stand out above the rest. Not only do these games live up to the standards set by their forerunners, but they even elevate the experience to take their franchise to new heights. So, let’s check out the few sequels that effectively beat the original.
Batman: Arkham City
The superhero genre has had ups and downs on consoles and PC. When Batman: Arkham Asylum came out in 2009, though, the Dark Knight had arguably had many more lows than highs in video games. Fans were reasonably expecting yet another poor attempt at bringing the Batman mythos to the gaming medium.
But they were left dumbfounded as this action-adventure sleeper hit turned out to be the most memorable comic book game to date. Bagging countless accolades, Arkham Asylum even held a Guinness World Record for its unprecedented critical acclaim as to superhero games. Rocksteady Studios hastily greenlighted a sequel, knowing far too well this second instalment would have pretty big shoes to fill.
Remarkably, Batman: Arkham City ended up even more of a stroke of genius. Critics were quick to label Arkham City the best licensed game ever. The introduction of an expansive open world was a game-changer, offering hundreds of hours of content for gamers to explore Gotham’s every nook and cranny. And the game’s ambitious scope and intricate environment made Arkham City stand every bit as tall as its award-winning predecessor.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
Nathan Drake returned with a splash with the second installation in the Uncharted series. However, the stakes were high for Sony and Naughty Dog. In 2007, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was marketed as a potential flagship series for the nascent PlayStation 3.
Drawing inspiration from movie serials like Indiana Jones, the game’s aesthetics and overall technical prowess had the looks of a genuine blockbuster summer hit. Top-notch production value aside, though, critics and fans castigated the entry’s short length while bugs and graphical issues hampered the immersion.
Developers listened, therefore, and delivered a second chapter that improved every aspect of its predecessor. A visual class act, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves featured stunning cinematic cutscenes and motion-capture action sequences straight out of a Hollywood film. Striking a perfect critical score among many media outlets, Uncharted 2 was equally successful commercially and outsold the first title by a large margin.
Red Dead Redemption II
Released in 2018, Red Dead Redemption II was a milestone in the gaming industry. While Red Dead Redemption was a visual and storytelling masterpiece, its direct sequel pulled off the extraordinary feat of being superior to the original in almost every imaginable way.
The plot’s bold and unpredictable twists weaved an emotionally gripping overall narrative, although the best stories lingered in the margins. Broader and more cohesive even than the first game, Red Dead Redemption II set the golden standard for lifelike open-world settings. And gamers happily roamed the map to hunt exhilarating missions and secret quests. The activities found in this interactive world also fed into the immersion, from impromptu melee brawls to nerve-racking poker games.
Incidentally, Red Dead Redemption II’s card minigames sparked renewed enthusiasm for casinos worldwide. For want of brick-and-mortar venues, gamblers in countries like Thailand increasingly turned to the internet to play classics like online poker or โป๊กเกอร์ออนไลน์ in the Thai language. Fast-forward to the present and top platforms offer several poker variations, from Texas Hold’Em to Pai Gow. Additionally, immersive live dealer sessions allow users to interact with fellow competitors. And the best websites cater to newcomers with countless handy tips and lofty bonuses.
Sequels are in fashion in the gaming industry. And while some sequels feel like empty shells only meant to cash in on an existing franchise, many expand on a series’ lore and characters masterfully.