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The best video game series revivals

Sometimes a game series has one bad game, and it causes the entire series to fall apart. Although there have been many great games in between, that one game does a bit of damage, and we lose a continuation in the series. 

Something great about gamers is that we forgive and open our hearts back up to the dead and dormant. No matter how disgraced a franchise is, we will let it back in and give it another shot. Let’s take a look at the best revivals of all time.

Devil May Cry 5

Devil May Cry 5 came out over a decade after the release of Devil May Cry 4, and the games seemed to be in limbo. Ninja Theory’s alternate-universe DmC: Devil May Cry was a formidable action title in its own right, but it failed to resonate with the series’ fans and was ultimately left with a cliffhanger.

Rather than rebooting from scratch, Capcom called upon veteran director Hideaki Itsuno to helm Devil May Cry 5, a direct sequel to Devil May Cry 4, that benefited tremendously from current-generation technology. It became one of the most prominent action games ever made with a story that leaves massive potential for a sixth game, and its impressive sales figures mean fans will almost certainly get one.

Nier: Automata

Nier: Automata review

For years, auteur game designer Yoko Taro was a cult favorite. Fans adore his games for their bizarre and philosophical stories despite their far less impressive combat and gameplay systems. The first Nier, a spinoff of the Drakengaard series, received further attention, though it was not a sales success and appeared to exist as a one-and-done offering.

But Taro was inventive enough to make a sequel set thousands of years in the future, and Square Enix was willing to publish the game. This time, Taro partnered with acclaimed action studio PlatinumGames to create a game that featured impressive hack-and-slash combat, shoot-‘em-up segments, and brilliant storytelling. Players, even in the mainstream, took notice.

Read our full Nier: Automata review

Resident Evil 7

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Resident Evil 6 was a game designed to please everyone and effectively pleased no one. Its multiple protagonists each sported a different gameplay style, ranging from Leon’s more traditional horror to Chris Redfield’s all-out action. But by casting such a wide net, it lost sight of the tense moments and genuine horror that defined the series and made it so popular in the first place.

Capcom learned its lesson for Resident Evil 7, ditching the blockbuster moments for a classic horror experience that still managed to innovate with a first-person perspective. New protagonist Ethan Winters is constantly tormented by a Louisiana mansion’s residents, and it takes some truly bizarre turns.

Read our full Resident Evil 7 review

Fire Emblem: Awakening

Prior to Super Smash Bros. Melee‘s launch on the GameCube in 2001, the Fire Emblem series was unknown to North American players. Melee‘s introduction of heroes Marth and Roy changed that, and Nintendo subsequently began releasing the games worldwide. By the time the DS game Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon released, it appeared the series was on its last legs, and its follow-up didn’t reach North America.

Things changed considerably when Fire Emblem: Awakening launched on 3DS. Its terrific production values, gameplay that catered to both veteran players and newcomers, and a new emphasis on relationships and characterization all made it a surprise hit. Since it launched, players got Fire Emblem: Fates, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and the massively successful mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes. Thanks, Awakening.

Read our full Fire Emblem: Awakening review

God of War (2018)

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The God of War series was never truly dead, but it was certainly lost. After God of War 3 seemingly concluded Kratos’ story, the series went back in time for the middling God of War: Ascension and didn’t seem to have any plan for the future. That was, of course, not true at all.

The 2018 God of War completely overhauled the entire franchise with a new emphasis on strategic melee combat, complete with a new Leviathan ax and several new abilities. Now in the land of Norse mythology and with a young son by his side, Kratos’ characterization changed considerably. The new Kratos moved away from the brute aggression of earlier God of War games to a mellower, still seething protagonist, making for a more grounded and emotional journey.

Read our full God of War review

Metal Gear Solid

Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series began with Japanese releases on the MSX2 computer, which established the game’s protagonist Solid Snake and villain Big Boss. However, the franchise remained relatively small, and inferior versions released in North America didn’t help matters. It would be eight years after Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake launched that we saw the series again.

Once it did come out though, devotees received one of the greatest video games ever made. Metal Gear Solid laid the framework for modern stealth games, but it was much more than a genre-defining masterpiece. Its political commentary and quirky characters like Otacon and Liquid Snake helped it to attract a fandom that is still just as rabid today — despite Konami later effectively killing the franchise once more.

Rainbow Six Siege

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Rainbow Six Siege’s mere existence is a miracle. The game was created after the failure of Ubisoft’s previous project, Rainbow 6: Patriots, an edgy political thriller that saw left-wing terrorists threatening America at home. Multiple delays and staff turnover eventually resulted in the game’s complete cancellation, but the series didn’t die with it.

In its place, Rainbow Six Siege was born. Ubisoft retooled the series into a competitive multiplayer game focused on teamwork and environmental destruction, and after a relatively slow launch, the game eventually became an e-sports staple. It’s so successful, in fact, that a full-fledged follow-up was avoided in favor of continuous content updates.

Read our full Rainbow Six Siege review

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

The XCOM series was suffering from a major identity crisis in the early 21st century. Over a decade since the last game and with multiple other projects canceled, 2K Games revealed what was then only known as XCOM, which was a first-person shooter rather than a strategy game. When it did release, it was renamed The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, turned into a third-person tactical shooter and was lambasted by critics.

Luckily, it wasn’t the only XCOM game in development. Firaxis created XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a love letter to classic turn-based strategy, and it was a home run. Incredibly difficult but accessible enough that most players could eventually master it, Enemy Unknown helped reignite interest in the genre. It was even a source of inspiration for Ubisoft and Nintendo’s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Who could have predicted that?

Read our full XCOM: Enemy Unknown review

Tomb Raider (2013)

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The Tomb Raider series began as one of the most influential action-adventure series ever, but the quality of the games began to dip at the turn of the century and its success was eventually eclipsed by Uncharted — a series that drew huge inspiration from Tomb Raider. Subsequent remakes and an attempted reboot failed to help it regain its former crown.

Developer Crystal Dynamics eventually went back to the drawing board and came full circle drawing heavy inspiration from Uncharted itself for 2013’s Tomb Raider. This iteration starred a more believable Lara Croft with less superhuman-like abilities and extricated from the sexualized physical appearance that eventually came to identify the character. With a mix of rock-climbing, puzzle-solving, and combat, it was more than capable of competing with Uncharted. Two even-better sequels and a feature film based on the 2013 game followed.

Read our full Tomb Raider review

Mega Man 11

Capcom hasn’t always been so kind to its Blue Bomber over the years. After two retro-style sequels on Wii, the Mega Man series went dark, and its absence even led to longtime producer Keiji Inafune leaving the company and creating his own spiritual successor: Mighty No. 9. It was a disaster and appeared to be significantly downgraded since its announcement.

Capcom was up to the task, however, with Mega Man 11. A no-nonsense sequel built in a modern engine for the first time, the game returned to the classic action-platforming the series was known for with a few extra tricks and tons of creative bosses to fight.

Fallout 3

War never changes, but Fallout certainly does. The original two games were traditional role-playing games and were followed by two spin-offs, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, but financial issues eventually led to the folding of developer Black Isle Studios.

The franchise could have died there, but Elder Scrolls creator Bethesda Game Studios took it upon itself to reinvent the franchise. Fallout 3 launched in 2008, turning the post-apocalyptic wasteland into a first-person role-playing game with shooter elements. It was a huge hit, and despite the failure of Fallout 76, the brand remains hugely popular today.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon

nintendo 3ds 2013

It’s rare for a Mario-adjacent game to have such a long gap between releases, but Luigi’s Mansion was the only game in its series for over a decade. Originally a GameCube launch title, the horror-action game made the spooky accessible for younger players, before Luigi was then left to tag along with his brother once again.

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon launched on 3DS in 2013, and it was even better. The game focused much more heavily on humor and the goofiness of the scaredy-cat Luigi becoming a ghost hunter, all with a great control scheme that made use of both screens. Luigi’s Mansion 3 released six years later for Nintendo Switch to similar acclaim.

Read our full Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon review

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