These Five Video Game Series Need a New Direction
Video games are amazing. We’ve come to rely on them in tough times, even for our mental well-being. And AAA developers do an awesome job, creating massive gaming experiences that rival Hollywood movie blockbusters for their developmental scope and budgets. But let’s face it: there are some big gaming series that, as much as we love them, are becoming a bit stale and need to adopt some new ideas.
Their similar themes and familiar gameplay might be fun to revisit over and over — and we’d probably keep buying them no matter what — but they could use a refresh and maybe even a completely new direction. Let’s take a look at 5 video game franchises that badly need a reset.
Resident Evil is possibly the greatest horror franchise in video gaming history. And 2017’s Resident Evil 7: Biohazard was itself a nice reset for the series at the time, bringing a welcome new first-person point of view and taking us deep into the Bayou to live out a truly horrific nightmare we didn’t want to wake up from. But if we’re being honest, that was four years ago, which is a long time in gaming terms. Resident Evil Village, as great as it was (in fact it was one of the best games of 2021) didn’t really add much new to its predecessor’s basic gameplay ideas. It (very skillfully) melded aspects from previous titles into one package, for example taking the first-person POV from RE7 and the action gameplay of RE4. Look, Capcom could easily just keep releasing more Resident Evil titles that re-use these same elements, and we’d still love every minute of it. But it would be nice to see a fresh new approach for the next episode in this series.
As well-made and enjoyable as the Far Cry games are, Ubisoft is basically selling us the same game each time with small changes, and things are getting a bit old. In Far Cry 3 we had Vaas, the power-mad, insane villain with his great cinematic soliloquies that entertained us between bouts of open-world sandbox mayhem. It was great fun, but then we got Pagan Min and Joseph Seed in Far Cry 4 and 5 — two power-mad, insane villains who spoke soliloquies as we engaged in open-world sandbox mayhem (but in new locations). Now in Far Cry 6 … well, you get the idea. Look it’s no secret that Ubisoft games are formulaic but it doesn’t have to be this way. Far Cry can take a bold, new approach in its next title, change things up and — dare I say it — shock players (and I don’t mean with cheap “controversial” fake-political themes). Here’s hoping Ubisoft goes bold for the next Far Cry … but don’t hold your breath.
Speaking of Ubisoft, their other big franchise could also use a bit of a new direction. Assassin’s Creed made a pretty daring change in 2017 with Origins, making it more RPG-like and adding open-world exploration. It was a risky change that alienated old-school stealth gamers but it paid off, as the series gained many new fans. But since then, with Odyssey and Valhalla, Assassin’s Creed has fallen back on using the same pattern without much originality. AC Odyssey was, according to our review at the time, just “a palette swap of Origins,” with few new ideas. Valhalla was basically the same, with a new Northern European setting and cosmetic additions. Hell, even the DLCs followed a similar pattern. It’s pretty obvious why Ubisoft has adopted an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to Assassin’s Creed — it’s made them millions of dollars (or Euros, in this case). But for players, the experience is becoming repetitive and this series would really benefit from a shake-up.
Call of Duty
Call of Duty is an iconic gaming brand, but it’s clear that the well of new ideas for this franchise ran dry long ago. Like sports games, they have been on basically an annual cycle for a while now, with titles coming so fast and being so similar that players have stopped trying to keep up. To be fair, Treyarch and Activision are in a sticky spot here, as there are only so many ways to change up the experience. Call of Duty WWII tried to go back to “classic” themes and exploit players’ nostalgia, but it was basically an admission that they were out of options. And 2021’s Call of Duty Vanguard again played things safe, stuck to the same themes and failed to impress players hoping for a reason to buy yet another installment of a series they’d played so many times already. It’s hard to say what can be done here, but there’s no denying that it is becoming repetitive. While sales remain solid, Call of Duty needs to find a way to excite us or its player base might shrink.
Gearbox’s beloved looter shooter series stormed onto the scene like a shotgun to the face in 2009, bringing crazy co-op play, cheeky humor and so much sweet, sweet loot. We loved it, and the series has sold millions of units. But the concept is getting stale, with Gearbox’s vision for the series apparently being a threefold strategy of (1) more, (2) more and finally, (3) more. Borderlands 2 brought back the same themes and gameplay and jacked up the gonzo humor, and was well-received. And 2019’s Borderlands 3 was … another Borderlands game, and it was quite ok. Hey, shooting and looting and hooting never really stops being fun, but we’d like to see something new and fresh for the inevitable fourth Borderlands game, whenever it drops. While sales are still strong, even the franchise’s most die-hard fans admit that the humor is getting a bit outdated, and the gameplay could evolve a bit to keep them interested.
Well, there you have it. Those are 5 video game franchises that badly need a reset.
What do you think? Did we unfairly single out a series here? Did we forget one that you think needs to be refreshed?
Let us know in the comments below.