We’ve already covered video game series that started off good but went bad. Instead of rehashing those titles, this time, let’s look at currently ongoing series that are either making poor games or have gotten stuck in a creative rut. In some instances, the games might even be good, but they’re not doing enough to move the franchise forward. Here are six video game series that either need to shake things up in a major way, or call it quits.
1. Final Fantasy
Very few people would debate the quality of the first 10 Final Fantasy games. With surprisingly few exceptions, they’re well worth your time. And many — like numbers IV, VI, VII, IX, and X — are among the best role-playing games ever made. Asking a series for more excellent games than that would be downright selfish.
However, most fans would agree that the last really good installment was Final Fantasy X, which came out in 2001. Square Enix is still pumping them out, but 15 years is a long time to run on fumes. If Final Fantasy XV is a disappointment, then it’s probably time to lay the series to rest (or maybe just make a bunch of HD remakes of the fan favorites).
Oh, Pokémon. I like you. I really do! But has there ever been a series of games that has run for so long and changed so little? Sure, the games have collected some handy new features along the way, but so much of each installment remains exactly the same from year to year.
You always play as a kid who goes from town to town, collecting critters and challenging gym leaders. Longtime fans could probably play any new installment with their eyes closed. Isn’t it either time to add some spice to the recipe or take time off to come up with new ideas?
3. Gears of War
Gears of War is a series that innovated itself into a rut. The original game was groundbreaking in the world of shooters: It popularized the concept of the cover mechanic, which was a big win for the industry. Prior to that, no one seemed to realize that charging into a battle with no cover was a bad idea.
The sequel tightened up everything that felt loose about the first game, delivering a terrific, action-packed experience. After that, Gears of War 3 and Gear of War: Judgment — as good as they are — felt kind of stale. A couple of minor new gameplay ideas were introduced, but nothing groundbreaking. The games are fine, but “fine” is a pretty big drop from “groundbreaking.”
This year’s Gears of War installment for Xbox One came from a new development team and only succeeded at mediocrity. Critics liked it enough, but fan opinion did not view it as highly.
4. Assassin’s Creed
I get it. It’s hard for any publisher to release yearly installments of a series and maintain a high level of quality each time. But there’s one really great solution: Quit making so many games.
Assassin’s Creed Unity was such a buggy mess at launch that Ubisoft gave away a chunk of additional content as an apology. And although the series may have pioneered some really smart gameplay ideas, other games, like Batman Arkham City and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, have improved upon these ideas while Assassin’s Creed has remained stuck.
Ubisoft is at least taking a hint, having confirmed it will take a year off from Assassin’s Creed. Not quite an ax, but maybe a path to redemption.
5. The LEGO series
It was hilarious and fun in 2005 when the first licensed LEGO game rebuilt the Star Wars prequel trilogy using animated building blocks. But the series has chugged on, with installments based on Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings, Batman, Rock Band, Pirates of the Caribbean, Marvel Superheroes, and then Jurassic World. Ugh. It’s exhausting just listing them all. When will there be enough? We get it, LEGO, you have the rights to a lot of intellectual properties. Isn’t it time to take a break?
Here’s a series that started off great back in 2008. The original game was a side-scrolling platformer that involved jumping over obstacles and solving breezy puzzles to get from point A to point B. It also let players get creative by decorating their own area and whipping up their own levels to share online. Plus, Sackboy the hero was adorable.
The second game came with all kinds of innovations, particularly on the creative side of things. With enough time, creativity, and elbow grease, you could build just about any kind of level you wanted using the tools provided. It seemed like nothing was impossible.
But then along came the uninspired third installment, which failed to innovate in any major way. It’s time to change things up once more or send Sackboy packing.