2023 set an incredibly high bar for video game sequels

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It’s not an overstatements to opportunity that 2023 was 1 of nan champion years for video crippled sequels ever.

Simply looking astatine The Game Awards 2023’s Game of nan Year nominations, each of which are titles from preexisting series, proves that. It’s not conscionable that we received a batch of caller video crippled sequels successful 2023; that happens each year. No, what makes nan crippled sequels of 2023 guidelines retired is really galore of them impressively build upon what came before. From Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 to Baldur’s Gate 3, these follow-ups each looked astatine their predecessor, identified nan weaker aspects, and straight addressed those issues.

As caller IP struggled much than accustomed successful nan AAA abstraction this twelvemonth — pinch nan occurrence of Hi-Fi Rush and Starfield being counteracted by underperforming titles for illustration Immortals of Aveum and Forspoken — it’s a bully point that immoderate of nan top games of 2023 reestablished nan modular of what makes a awesome sequel.

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Respecting what came before

Marvel’s Spider-Man, Alan Wake, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Baldur’s Gate 2, Street Fighter V, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of nan Wild, Diablo 3, Dead Island, Pikmin 3, Forza Motorsport 7, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. All those games are great, immoderate moreover outstanding, successful their ain right, but their sequels that dropped this twelvemonth were moreover better.

For some, that came from refining what came before. For example, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor expanded nan number of abilities Cal Kestis had astatine his disposal, accrued nan size of nan planets players explored, and continued nan communicative commendably. Dead Island 2 and Forza Motorsport were likewise pleasing iterative sequels that afloat realized older ideas connected caller tech.

A screenshot from The Story So Far successful Marvel's Spider-Man 2.Sony Interactive Entertainment

Others, for illustration Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, almost straight addressed each symptom constituent of entries that came before. Its 2018 predecessor had anemic sidequests, frustrating sequences wherever players weren’t controlling Spider-Man, and a arguable narration to rule enforcement. Even its web-swinging, arsenic awesome arsenic it was, had limits. With Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, it felt for illustration Insomniac Games went down a checklist, solving each those issues 1 by one. The sequel’s sidequests are much engaging, non-Spider-Man sequences play better, it’s communicative is unequivocally pro-criminal reformation, and moreover web-swinging has been refined pinch nan loop-the-loop, corner-turning, and Web Wing abilities that make traversal moreover much satisfying.

Other sequels made moreover bolder changes. Diablo 4 returned to nan darker themes from earlier successful nan bid while embracing unrecorded work elements. Street Fighter 6 added modern power modes and a lengthy single-player communicative mode, ensuring it had a much acceptable magnitude of contented and approachable entreaty than Street Fighter V. Pikmin 4 reworked its strategy gameplay to make everything a spot little chaotic.

 Tears of nan Kingdom.Nintendo

Then there’s The Legend of Zelda: Tears of nan Kingdom. Nintendo recognized really players were breaking Breath of nan Wild by utilizing its systems to create weird shortcuts and crazy contraptions — and made that nan cardinal gameplay conceit of nan sequel. connected apical of nan best-in-class open-world design, nan Ultrahand and Fuse systems promote creativity, unfastened up moreover much possibilities for exploration and puzzle-solving, and moreover lick nan limb degradation problem from Breath of nan Wild. These are nan titles I want to animate nan adjacent procreation of video crippled sequels.

What comes next

Sometimes sequels tin beryllium much than incremental follow-ups; they tin redefine their respective series. Although not a nonstop sequel, I’ll reason that Super Mario Bros. Wonder built upon nan champion elements of nan 2D Mario titles that came earlier it. And while Digital Trends was cooler connected Final Fantasy XVI than most, I commend Square Enix for changing things up by having a darker communicative and much action-focused gameplay. More applicable to nan speech is Baldur’s Gate 3, a bequest sequel successful a niche genre made by a workplace that did not activity connected nan anterior games successful nan franchise. Despite each those pieces being stacked against it, it ended up being our Game of nan Year.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is nan benignant of sequel that modernizes a classical look for nan modern era. It retained nan halfway magic of its predecessors and didn’t moreover stray that acold successful position of gameplay. But it made tweaks to galore of those niche RPG elements, making them much understandable for wide audiences. It was nan uncommon crippled that could relationship for almost immoderate emergent action nan subordinate takes. The consequence was a Dungeon & Dragons RPG that went mainstream; it moreover sewage referenced successful South Park.

A characteristic launches an onslaught astatine an force complete a pit successful Baldur's Gate 3.Larian Studios

By doing that, Baldur’s Gate 3 and each nan different sequels we mentioned person group a precocious barroom for early sequels. Games that aren’t gathering that level of quality, for illustration Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, are being derided for it. Especially successful an era wherever improvement is getting progressively costly and taking longer than before, crippled developers can’t spend to person their sequels not beryllium notable improvements upon their predecessors successful immoderate definitive way.

The look for nan cleanable video crippled sequel mightiness person been perfected successful 2023, and we will proceed to get caller entries successful celebrated series. Some of 2024’s astir anticipated games — Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, and Senua’s Saga: Hellbalde II — are each sequels. After 2023, those titles must meet overmuch higher standards.

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