This weekend, people have been talking like crazy about Star Wars: Battlefront II – and for good reason. During the Star Wars Celebration, Electronic Arts introduced the forthcoming game and its many features, including a single player campaign, multiplayer that spans across all eras, and several other features that will keep players coming back for more. It looks to be an incredible improvement over the original game, which came out in 2015. (And it’s not the first time the publisher’s done that – last year, it produced both Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, nice returns to form for each franchise.)
Of course, some folks are judgmental until they get their hands on the final product, but Battlefront II is looking pretty sweet at this point, and we’ll be able to try it out soon enough when E3 rolls around. Plus, let’s be fair, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a sequel go above and beyond what the first game in a series had to offer.
Need more proof of that? Happy to oblige, as these five sequels managed to top the original efforts with ease, thanks to more key ingredients, better gameplay, and a lot of other factors that just made them hard to resist. Let’s dig in to the sequels that matter!
Street Fighter II (1991)
The original Street Fighter did a pretty good job solidifying the franchise for Capcom, but it didn’t quite start a fighting revolution because, well, it had a limited roster and move set. But then came 1991, and Street Fighter II pretty much changed everything. Featuring eight playable characters, all sorts of special moves, and gameplay that players could easily adapt to, it became an instant success – and the beginning of the explosive fighting genre as we know it today. Sure, it got a lot of sequels, including this summer’s forthcoming Ultra Street Fighter II for Nintendo Switch, but the original really did wonders for the arcade scene – and, for that matter, the SNES, which got a home release soon thereafter.
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Yes, Red Dead Redemption is actually a sequel, a follow-up to the sleeper hit Red Dead Revolver – and what a follow-up it is. Featuring an open-world environment akin to the Grand Theft Auto format – but in the Wild West – Red Dead Redemption paid off handsomely with beautiful visuals, entertaining gameplay and a variety of quests that kept you busy for hours on end. And even six years later, it’s unparalleled in quality, and attracting all sorts of players on both Xbox One and PlayStation Now. And that kind of momentum is perfect, as the next chapter in the series, Red Dead Redemption II, will be delivering justice later this year.
Portal 2 (2011)
Arguments could be made that either Team Fortress 2, Half-Life 2 or Left 4 Dead 2 is the best sequel that Valve ever produced – and they’re both epic pieces of work. But Portal 2 did a lot more with the original game’s formula than what either of those franchises accomplished. With a much wider setting – not to mention a whole lot more personality with GLaDOS, Wheatley and the irreplaceable Cave Johnson – Portal 2 wowed us at every turn. And its immaculate puzzle design and unique abilities didn’t do any harm either. The co-op mode is amazing as well. Plus, the ending is just too much fun for its own good. “SPAAAAAAACE!”
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (2000)
Following the triumphant Ocarina of Time, which was a monumental follow-up in its own right, Nintendo decided to “go dark” with its next Legend of Zelda game, Majora’s Mask. Featuring a menacing moon that was ready to crash down on the world at any given moment, Majora’s challenged you to overcome new dangers while utilizing new abilities with everyone’s favorite hero, Link. While some folks may suggest that this game is a bit too dark for its own good, there’s no denying its utmost quality with graphics, gameplay and unbelievable depth. And it’s made for a good release on other platforms besides the Nintendo 64 as well, including a bundle on the GameCube and the Nintendo 3DS. Long live the Mask!
Batman: Arkham City (2011)
The original Batman: Arkham Asylum showed that Rocksteady Games was a powerhouse team when it came to creating comic book gaming of the gold standard. But it further solidified its position with the debut of Batman: Arkham City, which expanded upon the original with an even bigger world to explore, filled with danger around every turn. For good measure, the storytelling kept up suit as well, introducing a new villain in Hugo Strange, a man hellbent on cleaning up crime his own way. Oh, and, of course, the Joker is back for more shenanigans. Arkham City not only pushed the envelope with design, but also Batman’s gameplay in general, and the raw, emotional scope of what we’ve come to expect from the Dark Knight. Bravo. You can check it out now as part of the Return To Arkham package for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
BONUS: Grand Theft Auto III (2001)
While the latest Grand Theft Auto games have really set an example of what to expect from Rockstar Games in this industry, it had to get its start somewhere – and that start came in 2001 with the release of the controversial Grand Theft Auto III. Rather than taking place in a top-down environment (like the previous games), this sequel introduced a stunning 3D open world, filled with all kinds of chaos, from police chases to the ideal opportunity of destroying gang cars with explosive R/C vehicles. And that’s just within the first couple of hours. GTA III continues to be a shining example of a sequel done right, and it paved the way for even bigger successes to come.