GTA V – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
Each new entry in the Grand Theft Auto series has built upon the success of the last, but GTA V took this one step further. The campaign focuses on three protagonists, each of whom you can take control of. The world is more detailed and vast than ever before. There is so much to do in GTA V’s world and that’s just in single player.
GTA Online lets players explore the open world with friends, taking on missions, earning gear, and generally wreaking havoc. You can engage in matches or just wander around. GTA V excels in everything it does. The story is the best it’s ever been and is incredibly well-paced. The online builds upon the foundation laid by GTA IV, and
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
Oblivion was a fantastic RPG but Skyrim improved upon it in every way. The world was absolutely stunning, the combat was more refined and easier to use. You were no longer locked to a class, instead your playstyle determines what you excel at. This also means you can master every class, becoming proficient at magic and stealth, archery and heavy weaponry.
The world of Skyrim is simply massive. You can wander for hours, stumbling upon dungeons, the ruins of ancient towers, bustling cities, and the hallowed halls of the Dwemer. The sense of scale and adventure permeates every second of Skyrim. The main story may not be the best in the series but the world is built around the player making their own stories simply by existing in it.
Borderlands 2 – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
The first Borderlands was a hit with its colorful art, whacky sense of humor and Diablo-esque approach to first-person RPGs. There were plenty of enemies to gun down and even more guns to pick up. Borderlands 2 takes all of that and adds even more variety. No longer is the world of Pandora just brown and grey. New vibrant areas add a real sense of adventure and a larger focus on combat means that each gun feels truly distinct.
The story is also much improved, even featuring some moments that dripped with emotion. Overall, Borderlands 2 is just a more well-rounded experience. It realizes the strengths and weaknesses of the first title and builds on them in a myriad of smart ways.
Saints Row the Third – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
For its first two entries, Saints Row was little more than a goofy GTA clone. Saints Row the Third changed this. The levels of absurdity were ratcheted way up. Missions were thrilling and diverse and dressing up your character in bizarre clothing never got old. Neither did the crotch punch button. Walking down the street in an open world game has never been more fun when you can instantly punch someone in the groin or slam them into the concrete with an over the top wrestling move.
The mechanics were also much smoother, featuring some great third-person combat and driving that made it fun to explore the city. But perhaps the best addition was the inclusion of the dildo bat. The pure idiocy of this weapon made it very clear what kind of game Saints Row the Third was trying to be.
Uncharted 2 – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
Nathan Drake’s second outing is still his best. Instead of confining the dashing adventurer to an island it led players on a world-spanning adventure. Mowing down waves of enemy soldiers was satisfying and a great way to break up the monotony between puzzles.
The real star of the show, though, were the set pieces. Each one is meticulously crafted, tasking the player with leaping and swinging through explosions and crumbling buildings. They are still beautiful to behold, especially the excellent train sequence that has Nate fighting off enemies as the locomotive barrels off the tracks.
God of War 3 – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
The end of Kratos’ story is also one of the best chapters. The game takes full advantage of the PS3, realizing the dying world of ancient Greece like never before. Watching Kratos carve his way through the remaining gods of Olympus is equal parts brutal and beautiful. Every new area finds a new way to add visual flair to the world of ruin that the Ghost of Sparta has created.
The bosses are also some of the best the series has to offer. Fighting gods adds an extra weight to proceedings as you bring down these supposedly immortal beings. The combat isn’t much different than in the first two games but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Hacking and slashing at creatures ripped straight out of mythology still feels as good as it did when the series started in 2005. God of War 3 is the perfect realization of the series and a fantastic culmination to the original trilogy.
Resident Evil 7
After several less than stellar games, Resident Evil 7 emerged to return the series to greatness. The switch to a first-person perspective and a more contained setting helped reestablish the tone that made the first game so terrifying. Wandering around the various parts of the Baker’s estate, solving puzzles and trying not to die, is a horrifying experience that is brilliantly paced to maximize fear.
The series was moving in a direction that favored action over fear, and while RE 7 does have its fair share of action, you always feel like the odds are stacked against you. The Resident Evil series is finally scary again and survival is more important than ever. RE 7 has returned the series to the genre it helped create.
Assassin’s Creed 2 – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
Assassin’s Creed has a well-established structure these days but it was Assassin’s Creed 2 that put that structure in place. Combat was made easier, the cities more detailed and fleshed out, and the main character much more charming.
It also had double the murder with the addition of dual hidden blades and a full arsenal of tools that made it much easier to bring down your targets. The story was a fun romp through renaissance Italy, featuring characters like Leonardo Divinci. Featuring two fully realized cities and plenty to do in each, Assassin’s Creed 2 was a major step in realizing the potential of the series.
Mortal Kombat x
Mortal Kombat finally returned in 2011 and rebooted the series in bloody fashion. But Mortal Kombat x is the game that showed the world what a modern Mortal Kombat can be. A mix of classic and new characters breathed new life into the classic tale of the warriors of Earth Realm fighting to save their world. The combat is also much more dynamic, featuring environments that could be interacted with and plenty of bloody moves that shocked and surprised.
Seeing fan favorites like Scorpion, Sub Zero, Kano and Johnny Cage squaring off against newcomers like Cassie Cage is incredibly fun and leads to fun matchups with characters that have incredibly diverse move sets.
Portal 2 – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
The original Portal was a pack in that garnered a lot of praise thanks to its brilliant take on puzzle solving and spatial awareness. Portal 2 knows exactly what it needs to be and crafts a lengthy campaign filled with clever humor, mind bending puzzles and new mechanics that force players to think outside the box.
While some worried that a full length portal game wouldn’t work, Valve proved them wrong and added in co-op just to give players even more to do in Portal’s sterile environments. Sequels should expand upon the ideas presented in the first game and Portal 2 knows this.
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 is by far the darkest entry in Shepard’s trilogy, but it’s also the game that finds a healthy balance between RPG elements and third-person shooting. The cover-based shooting was much tighter, making it more fun to sprint through levels, showering enemies with fire.
The story continued the effort to ready the galaxy for the incoming Reaper attack but it was much more clear that the world was on the brink of extinction. The structure of the game itself was much more contained, making it easier to explore the game’s various planets and experience the excellent character missions.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
Super Mario Galaxy 2 had the hard job of following up one of the best Mario games ever released. Not only did it deliver even more disorienting fun, it added new powers and mechanics that elevated the intergalactic platformer to even greater heights. The game mixed the 3D worlds of the first game with a more classic 2D design in some levels to offer up multiple versions of the classic Mario experience in one game.
Yoshi also made his return. He could eat different kinds of fruit to gain bizarre new abilities like running fast enough to sprint up walls, glow in the dark, or even float. These new abilities meant that the level design could be even more outlandish, offering up some of the most challenging and exhilarating Mario levels to date.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft can really take a beating. Rise of the Tomb Raider stuck with the same semi-open world structure as the first game, offering several open maps for players to explore and scavenge. You needed to procure new items in order to access new areas, which only adds to the sense of exploration.
Like the first game, it builds off the incredibly good action popularized by the Uncharted games and opens up more of the world. The story still isn’t the series’ strongest part but the world is so beautiful to behold and easy to lose yourself in that just exploring is enough to keep you going.
Batman Arkham City
While Arkham Asylum proved that a good Batman game was possible, Arkham City refined the formula and gave players a bigger sandbox to explore. The combat is deeper and more intricate, which mirrors the evolution of the world and the stories that take place within it.
Tensions were higher, locales were more diverse, and using Batman’s various gadgets across the city opened Gotham in new ways.
Arkham City still allows you to feel like Batman but manages to put a lot more into the experience, fleshing out the world beyond Arkham Asylum and actually allowing players to explore some of Gotham, even if it is rundown and taken over by the criminal underworld.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
Hideo Kojima’s last Metal Gear game is also one of the best the series has to offer. Gone are the days of linear levels designed to funnel players through a convoluted narrative. The Phantom Pain features two massive open worlds that are designed to treat players to insane situations and a healthy dose of a convoluted narrative.
Sneaking around and dispatching enemies is easier than ever and the enormous size of the maps means you don’t have to head straight for the objective. You can instead spend your time honing your skills, building up mother base or just exploring. It’s a culmination of what made the series great while also fully realizing its potential at long last.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The first two Witcher games were rather linear affairs. There were side quests to undertake and areas to explore but they were more closed experiences. The Witcher 3 threw all of that out the window, instead creating one of the largest and most densely populated open worlds ever seen in a video game.
Each side quest or cave has a unique story to get lost in and the difficulty of the combat means you’ll be mastering it for hours. Just hopping on your horse and riding out into the world can lead you to wondrous discoveries.
Pokemon Sun and Moon – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
Pokemon Sun and Moon not only refined the new 3D graphics introduced by Pokemon X and Y, but changes up the series’ classic formula just enough for the games to feel like departures. The islands of Alola also feel completely different from any other region featured in the series. The culture and ways in which people interact with their Pokemon adds a new atmosphere to proceedings.
The new creatures are also fantastic, fitting the aesthetic of the region and offering up unique types and strategies. They are more fully features games, with a better narrative and world than Pokemon has had in years. If the series keeps this up going forward it’s in good shape.
Dark Souls III
The climatic finale to the Dark Souls trilogy needed to do one thing: refine the gameplay of the first two games and give players a beautiful world to hack, slash and roll their way through. It delivered on all fronts, perfectly portraying a dying world overrun with demons. Traps still poked out of every surface, threatening to kill any player who didn’t pay attention to their surroundings.
The slow-paced, deliberate combat that has defined the series is better than ever, especially with the inclusion of more powerful moves that can detach an enemies head from their shoulders with ease.
Call of Duty 4 is important not only because of how it advanced the Call of Duty series and put players in a new era of warfare, but because of how it changed the landscape of first-person shooters. The frantic pace of the multiplayer coupled with the addictive leveling system made for a classic combination that is still mimicked today.
The story was also the best the series had featured up until that point. With great characters and plenty of set pieces that rivaled those found in a Michael bay movie, Modern Warfare catapulted the Call of Duty series to new heights.
Civ V – the best video game sequels of the past 10 years
After years away, Civilization returned with Civilization V, updating the series for a new generation of world conquerors. The graphical interface has been improved greatly, making it much easier to command troops and claim land. There are also new leaders to meet and plenty of new mechanics to learn.