Written by Rick Warren / Gfn2112
Some video game series are great enough to expand past their mainline entries. The games that come usually offer a handful of new mechanics, a new storyline, and new settings that can make them stand apart from everything that came before. Not every spinoff turns out to be something special, but the five on this list meet that standard. Take a look!
5.) Killzone: Mercenary
Yep, you read that right! The first game in this Top 5 is the first Vita game to be in any of my Top 5s. The ill-fated portable died due to a few huge, noticeable problems, but while it was being supported there were some truly great exclusive games available. One of these exclusives was the Killzone spinoff, Mercenary. It delivered, offering a series of excellent singleplayer missions and a surprisingly strong multiplayer component. Best of all, it was one of the best-controlling games to ever be released on the platform. Mercenary made use of all the Vita’s controls (including the front touch pad) to deliver an experience that was on the level of a console shooter. Further, this spinoff is one of the best games in the series.
In the next spot, Battlefield’s memorable spinoff...
4.) Battlefield: Bad Company
Thanks to this game, I expected great things from Battlefield Hardline. I found some enjoyment in the campaign and multiplayer, but that game’s mediocrity shined when I looked back at Bad Company. It was a true Battlefield game, despite its spinoff nature. The multiplayer was deep, gorgeous (at the time), and genuinely fun. However, Bad Company featured something special, and something that defines it as one of the best games in the series: a campaign that worked. While the villain was bland, the colorful cast of characters in Bad Company, and some great level design, made it a truly special shooter. The sequel improved on the foundation created here, and to this day I’m hoping for a third entry.
In the third spot, the most ridiculous game on this list...
3.) Farcry 3: Blood Dragon
It’s hard to think of any spinoff that differs more from the rest of the series than this one. Honestly, it’s hard to even explain it to someone who hasn’t played it themselves. The setting is unforgettable due to the retro, cyberpunk design, and the small open world is filled with the titular Blood Dragons. The massive, bright dinosaurs would feel out of place in any other game, yet here they somehow felt normal. Fourth Wall breaks and easter eggs were spread throughout, which rewarded exploration. The silly cutscenes and dialogue fit even better, because this game knew exactly what it was trying to be. I can only describe Blood Dragon in one way: the most delightfully weird game I’ve ever played.
In spot #2, a great Telltale game that nobody expected...
2.) Tales From The Borderlands
When this game was first revealed, many people were confused or disinterested. Fans of the main series loved it primarily for its great loot-and-shoot gameplay, which wouldn’t be happening here, and those who weren’t fans of the series saw no reason to be interested. I was one of the few people on board from the start, and I’m glad I was. Though initial reviews for the series premiere were mixed, each episode began to gain more positive attention. Today, it’s a favorite among Telltale fans and Borderlands fans alike. The reason for this is quite simple: it felt like the series it was based off of. Even without the same gameplay, Telltale was able to take the Borderlands games’ other strengths and push them further than ever before. The art style looked great, the writing was hilarious, the opening intros to each episode were phenomenal, and best of all, the characters were awesome. Whether it was a new standout like Rhys or Fiona, or a returning character like Athena, Telltale gave the Borderlands universe a chance to expand to a whole new audience. I know many people who don’t play the main games but love "Tales", which makes this spinoff even more spectacular to me. I truly hope we get to see the characters again one day.
Finally, one of the best PS4 exclusives in 2017...
1.) Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
The Lost Legacy is a game that, in many ways, surpasses Uncharted 4. While it doesn’t have as many great characters, new setpieces, or the emotional impact A Thief’s End had, it offers the best gameplay and character development in the entire series. Every combat encounter in the game feels terrific to play, and the open world section in India is phenomenal. Further, it transforms Nadine Ross from a side villain to a likable sidekick, and it makes Chloe Frazer into a protagonist that I want to see more of. The relationship between the two is so good, and moments like the Elephant scene and Chloe’s decision to be a hero are unforgettable. It’s amazing to see such a genuine relationship form in such a short amount of time. The cameo is an unexpected appearance as well, and leads to plenty of fun moments in the final act. I’m thankful that this beautiful spinoff became more than the four-hour expansion it was supposed to be, as it’s one of my favorite games in the entire Uncharted series and something that I think everyone should play.
That’s all! Come back next week for a new list, and check the comments for some honorable mentions. While you're there, share your favorite!