It's incredibly hard to be a developer of a financially successful video game franchise. When a studio creates its debut game, it's off the spotlight. But when it becomes a hit, the gaming society becomes the most merciless judge of all. However, some developers manage to keep the bar high and keep publishing sequels that are as good as originals or even better than them. Let's take a look at 6 great AAA franchises that survived over the last 7 years and justified the risks.
1. Resident Evil. The Revival of Horror
Resident Evil has changed a lot over the years. However, it remains a very successful horror franchise. Starting with Resident Evil 5, Capcom made a step away from its horror roots and became the best selling installment in the entire series, with over 7.5 million digital and physical copies sold. Resident Evil 6 is the second best-selling installment in the series. Although it introduced loads of fresh content, including new characters, brighter action elements, and impressive gunfights, fans consider it the weakest chapter. Its current score on Metacritic is 67.
After that, in February 2014, the franchise's executive producer Jun Takeuchi suggested returning to immersive horror routes. That idea, in combination with inspiration from The Evil Dead and VR technologies, gave birth to Resident Evil 7. Next, Capcom presented masterful remakes of RE2 and RE3. The upcoming RE8 is still a rumor, but it will presumably retain a 1st-person perspective.
2. God of War. The Brightest Finish
God of War has been one of the most popular PlayStation's exclusives for years. The game is memorable for its antihero Kratos, a roster of bellicose gods and demigods inspired by ancient Greek mythology, and impressive hack-and-slash combat system. However, the combination failed to work out in 2013's God of War: Ascension.
Eventually, the series returned to the hands of its lead animator and director Cory Barlog. The developer drew inspiration from the scripts of the canceled Star Wars TV show. The script impressed him with a sympathetic image of the Emperor. It gave Barlog an idea to make Kratos meet his son and reveal his human-soul traits. As a result, the 2018's God of War became a mature tale that highlights the value of showing character transformations over time.
3. The Legend of Zelda. Welcome to Open-World
The Legend of Zelda has been one of the most profitable and progressive Nintendo's franchises. The series has been on top of the genre for 25 years already, and its latest installment, Breath of The Wild, proves that there's still space for impressive improvements. This Nintendo Switch exclusive transformed the classic Zelda dramatically. The game's semi-linear progression style was replaced with a pure open-world universe and the unprecedented level of freedom.
The game has been the first release since 2011's Skyward Sword for Wii. It managed to combine firm dungeon puzzles and creative boss fights with total freedom of movement. The title instantly got into the list of generation's best games, and Nintendo announced that the next Zelda would continue the Breath of The Wild story.
4. Assassin's Creed. History is Rewritable
Assassin's Creed is probably the best open-world stealth franchise with immersive vertical gameplay and a unique storyline that compounds quasi-historical events with scenes that happen in the modern fictional reality. The concept appeared to be so successful that Ubisoft was releasing a new game each year from 2009 to 2015. However, the breaking point came on the 7th year, when Assassin's Creed Unity was released. The company tried to revive the series with Syndicate, but it showed that the time stop exploiting the franchise has come.
As a result, Ubisoft presented Assassin's Creed Origins. The game impressed us with a brand new skill-based combat system, better parkour, and an immersive RPG universe with a vast world for exploration. The team reworked the AI and made the progression system fluent enough to let us have personalized experiences. Origins doubled sales of the previous chapter. However, the next game, Odyssey, surpassed the new record! This year, Ubisoft promises to launch a nordic Assassin's Creed Ragnarok with a bunch of new features.
5. Pokemon. New Millenium – New Heights
Pokemon has been a handheld-exclusive game series for 20 years. However, the slow growth of the franchise is actually explained by a unique approach to improvements. With the release of hybrid console Switch in 2017, Game Freak decided to finally reinvent the game. Using the more powerful hardware, the team developed Sword and Shield, which led to Wild Area that revived series' classic features, such as co-op battles, and controllable camera position. Both titles opened the new page in the 20-year static history of the franchise.
6. The Witcher. Game of The Year Mutation
The Witcher's worldwide popularity grew from a niche fantasy book series and a 2007 Polish RPG. The first chapter was sold 1 million times, the second – 1.7 million, which wasn't a huge financial success. The 3rd chapter has changed everything. It introduced an incredibly deep and balanced universe with an immense open-world and reinvented combat. The game revolutionized the entire RPG genre, setting the quality bar for exploration and story-writing to a hardly attainable height.
Some installments on our list are the last in the line, which is quite sad. Hopefully, developers will keep producing something as big, soulful, catchy, and memorable. The highest expectations are for the upcoming CD Project Red's Cyberpunk 2077. The developer has set an incredibly high bar with The Witcher 3, so their mission is tough. Until then, we recommend you to play at least one game from the list if you haven't yet. And feel free to comment below and share the story with other avid gamers.