Gaming has certainly seen its share of awful game sequels, especially in modern times, that are flat out inferior to its predecessors. In this article we will take a look at some of the best examples of terrible game sequels and explain why they are so downgraded.
Note that not every single game here is terrible in its own right, but in comparison to their predecessors they are nothing. Also, we will only focus on major releases within a franchise, not spinoffs. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.
We don’t consider Rainbow Six: Vegas (2006) to be a terrible game on its own merit: it certainly has some effort put into it, albeit far less than the first three Rainbow Six games. And its multiplayer, especially the PvP, is actually pretty good with well designed levels.
But it’s a rather generic “Hero saves the world” shooter, a casual-tactical shooter so to speak, whereas the first three Rainbow Six games are the ultimate hardcore realistic CQB tactical shooters. In the first three Rainbow Six games, you have a roster of operatives that you manage, assigning them to any of your 3-4 teams on each mission. You play as any of these operatives and can switch between them at any time. Their deaths are permanent. They have different stats, class specializations. Level design is absolutely brilliant, extremely complex and intimidating especially in Rogue Spear and Raven Shield. You cannot save on missions. The latter is also one of the most mechanically advanced tactical shooters in existence, somewhat comparable to the Arma series in this regard but faster and more efficient to play than the slow, clunky Arma.
Rainbow Six: Vegas has none of that. In Vegas you play as Logan Keller and command two other operatives in a traditional cover shooter format where you give your squad mates basic commands, not unlike Mass Effect. And the three of you save the world in a more traditionally laid out cliche video game campaign. It’s basically the difference between simulation and Hollywood. It is a massive downgrade in just about every way including modding, especially when you compare it to modded Rainbow Six 3 today.
The only things it has that the classics don’t are rappelling and the snake cam to look under doors, though a Rainbow Six 3 mod restores the snake cam and gives it additional functionality, and rappelling is level design dependent.
Then we have Rainbow Six: Siege. As a Rainbow Six sequel it’s insulting. Being a PvP hero shooter catering to a young teenage audience, featuring only tiny maps and focusing exclusively on attack and defend style gameplay, it’s the polar opposite of what Rainbow Six used to be. The first three Rainbow Six games are CQB pseudo-simulators while Siege is an oversimplified PvP hero shooter.
Just look at the damn art on its website, that is not at all consistent with the serious classic games that deserve to wear the Tom Clancy badge. Of course the websites for the original games are down, but their intro videos set the tone correctly (see Rogue Spear, Raven Shield). With Siege, you’re a slave to the original game’s lack of content which was especially pathetic at launch.
Here we have another game that isn’t terrible on its own, but it’s just lesser. Undeniably so. Unreal Tournament III (2007) is the same type of game as the other Unreal Tournament games, only reduced. While it does have about 61 maps, that is less than half of what its immediate predecessor, Unreal Tournament 2004 has. And the other Unreal Tournament games have more varied map design.
From the beginning, Unreal Tournament made it clear that it was more than just an arena shooter, not only due to its modding but due to its Assault game mode which is not your traditional arena PvP experience. Unreal Tournament 2004 took this point further by also including Onslaught, a large scale combined arms strategic game mode. Unreal Tournament III omits both of those (and plenty more) and puts nothing back.
As a result, it was neglected and never received the same mod support as the other Unreal Tournament games. There was never any reason to play Unreal Tournament III. On a related note, we considered putting Unreal II: The Awakening on this list, as it was a massive downgrade in virtually every way compared to Unreal, but ultimately it isn’t as bad of a sequel as everything else in this article, so we excluded it.
We are of course referring to the 2008 Turok game. Like many other games on this list, fans refuse to acknowledge its existence and with good reason. Turok is an FPS franchise that began in the 1990s and its defining attributes were some of the most brilliant level design and weapon design in FPS history, excellent enemy diversity, amazing secrets on every level, platforming in an FPS game, and providing a real challenge to players.
Turok 2008 is none of that. The late 2000s was full of extremely dumbed down, casualized games in virtually every genre, and Turok 2008 is no exception. The brilliant level design? Gone. The distinct weapons? Gone. The immense enemy variety? Gone. Quality platforming in an FPS game? Gone. Any sort of challenge? Gone. The game offers nothing, it is a generic space marine shooter with absolutely no soul whatsoever. It amounts to nothing and fails in every area.
Here we have another disaster of a sequel from 2008. Battlefield: Bad Company was liked by console gamers, but it was pathetically dumbed down. Reduced multiplayer server size due to consoles (only 24 players), it shipped with only one multiplayer mode which was like Attack & Defend, very low amount of content compared to its PC predecessors, no fixed wing aircraft.
The highlights of the Battlefield franchise are Battlefield 2 and Battlefield: 2142, two PC exclusive games that knew that their strengths were in multiplayer. Battlefield 2 on its own was cool, but mods like Project Reality were even cooler (this is what gave birth to Squad thus indirectly also Post Scriptum, Hell Let Loose, Vanguard: Normandy 1944, an entire subgenre). Battlefield 2142 offered the Titan game mode which was a brilliant, more strategic take on PvP gameplay, just what Battlefield needs. Not the mindless crapshoot that it became with Bad Company and remains to this day. Battlefield 2 and especially Battlefield 2142’s Titan maps showcase much better and more detailed level design than the Bad Companies as well.
Bad Company was the end of the good side of Battlefield, which has gone from being a PC exclusive moddable game with tons of content and of course the ability to host your dedicated servers, to console games with a tyrannical rent-a-server only program, much less content, overpriced DLC, dumbed down game modes and gameplay, so Bad Company doesn’t deserve any of its popularity but certainly deserves a spot on this list.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
Silent Hill: Homecoming, another 2008 game, was effectively the final nail in the coffin of this once great franchise. The video above sums it up quite well. Take Silent Hill 2’s wonderful story, remove its soul and creative genius and everything that makes it good, and shove it into a dumbed down rushed game, and that’s what Silent Hill: Homecoming is. That’s also what 2008’s Fallout 3 is if you replace Silent Hill 2 with Fallout 2, but we’ll get back to this desecrated franchise later.
It is no surprise that Dragon Age II makes our list, as it is quite notorious. It is a 50 hour RPG set exclusively within the walls of a small video game sized city. So you spend all 50 hours in just a few maps. It’s like being in prison, but it gets worse.
Dragon Age: Origins is a fairly typical western high fantasy game drawing influence from The Lord of the Rings and A Song of Ice and Fire primarily. It is not a masterpiece but it is an epic adventure at least. Dragon Age II however crudely introduces anime influence that is totally out of place, it doesn’t know what it wants to be, it further reduces role-playing and gameplay in every sense, and the gameplay is some of the worst ever designed. 45 minute boss battles? You got it! It is the button mashing equivalent for real-time with pause gameplay, no real tactics required, and so many of its combat encounters involve dealing with limitless enemy spawns who spawn in plain sight.
It is a notoriously rushed game and one of the most poorly put together mainstream RPGs of all time. Dragon Age: Origins didn’t set a high bar to begin with, but Dragon Age II is just a really bad joke.
Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight
Of all games featured in this article, this one definitely had the least amount of effort put into it. That’s because it was originally meant to be a multiplayer game exclusively for Asian markets, but then 6 months before release EA made it a full fledged sequel. It was destined to fail, it was an impossible project so EA is to blame, not the developers.
Needless to say, the game is a colossal failure. It is lacking tremendously by any qualitative standard, it’s very weak in content, it’s buggy, and it’s just the wrong kind of game. It forgets that the alien invasion occurs in the third game, the units are trash, the cutscenes suck, the list of things wrong with this game extends to all parts of it. It even has Twilight in the name, so it can’t be good.
EA has destroyed many game franchises over the years, perhaps more than any other publisher, and Command & Conquer is one of them and this was the game that did it.
Here comes another disastrous sequel from 2011, F.E.A.R. 3. The first F.E.A.R., and especially its first expansion, is one of the coolest shooters ever made. It makes violence an art better than almost any game in existence.
But then it became focused on consoles, which is a theme you’ll see throughout this article; every time a game franchise shifts focus from PC to consoles, it gets utterly ruined. Objectively dumbed down with nothing put back, inferior with no advantages, that’s F.E.A.R. 3 and many other games on this list.
F.E.A.R. is primarily known for its advanced AI, its physics and particles, its sound, its awesome combat encounters, its melee attacks, its weapons, its combat resembling that of The Matrix but even cooler, its moddability. Every single bit of that is greatly reduced in F.E.A.R. 3, although probably the most laughable part is its weak jumpscare horror.
What happens when you cross Resident Evil 5 with Call of Duty? You get Resident Evil 6. Another game suffering from identity crisis, Resident Evil 6 actually isn’t bad mechanically, but it’s quite bad everywhere else – level design, writing, pacing, art design.
You play as multiple protagonists with some offering more of a weak survival horror focus that absolutely doesn’t live up to even the originals (i.e. Leon), while others focus on awful consolized laughably bad action war segments like a Call of Duty game. None of it is good and all of it is stupid, but thankfully Capcom realized it and has moved past this phase now for the series, returning to its roots and adopting new horror game standards pioneered by Frictional Games, on display in Resident Evil 7 and seemingly the upcoming Resident Evil 8.
Both of these two games, from 2011 and 2013 respectively, had to share this spot. The original Crysis was a classic PC game, featuring the sandbox style open ended gameplay that Crytek was known for from the original Far Cry but much improved, near-endless moddability, awesome single player and multiplayer with combined arms warfare (cars, APCs, tanks, boats, helicopters, VTOLs), exceptional physics, cutting edge mechanics that hold up wonderfully today.
Crysis 2 and 3 ruined everything. Instead of following in the footsteps of their great predecessor, Crytek instead decided to follow in the footsteps of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 because that is what was topping the sales charts. As a result, that sandbox gameplay got completely gutted especially in Crysis 2, in favor of linear dumbed down gameplay without the awesome physics, with a dumbed down nanosuit, with dumber AI, without the vehicles, with multiplayer that’s about 1/100 of Crysis multiplayer.
The real focus on both of those games was copying Call of Duty, especially the cutscene and cinematic soundtrack focus. Crysis 2 and 3 spoonfeed you most of the content like most mainstream “cinematic” games, whereas in Crysis you actually play the damn game. I don’t know about you, but I can’t play a cutscene nor can I play a soundtrack, so where’s the fun in that?
I consider the 2014 Thief game to be the worst sequel on this entire list easily. It is one of the finest examples of how you take a masterpiece classic game, strip away its soul and every mechanic that makes it great, without even changing the genre or putting any redeeming features into the game. This game deserves no respect whatsoever.
The first two Thief games are the most famous ones. Their level design is unprecedented, pure genius. The same goes for their atmosphere and their style, it’s just through the roof and off the walls awesome. For first person stealth games, their gameplay mechanics remain unrivaled, their sound effects are some of the best in gaming too, they are highly moddable, they are an experience like no other.
Thief 1 and 2 showcase some of the absolute most brilliant level design in all of gaming, from the secrets/hidden places being the stuff of dreams to the varied atmosphere as you’ll explore mansions, prisons, churches, dungeons and crypts, the attention to detail and atmospheric genius might as well be seeping through the walls.
That image sure says a lot. Those aren’t cherry picked, those are early levels from the two respective games, an apples to apples comparison. Where Thief 1-2 throw you into the fire with no hand holding, where you will spend lots of time casing the map you’re on and then spend hours exploring, Thief 2014 is the opposite. It holds your hand the entire time and limits you from getting off the beaten path.
Thief 1-2 had some of the most interactive environments of any game, comparable to those from Frictional Games or VR titles like Half-Life: Alyx. All of that is just totally removed from Thief 2014. Thief 1-2 let you climb any ledge in the environment, Thief 2014 only lets you climb a few scripted ones on every map. Thief 2014 contextualizes everything, even melee attacks and the famous rope arrows.
Every gamer should really study the contrast between the first two Thief games and the 2014 one. It’s a very worrying, accurate and applicable depiction of how gaming has outright declined today.
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Here we have another popular game that’s actually a huge downgrade, and actually somewhat of a reboot at that. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is the second Wolfenstein game under Bethesda’s banner, and it has the same bad trends as The New Order including being a bad console port.
Compared to the game it’s partially rebooting, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, it is a hollow clone featuring extremely dumbed down, consolized level design in comparison that just feel like slivers of actual maps with invisible walls everywhere, preventing you from going off of the straight line you must advance on, just like The New Order. Its weapon design is far less creative as is its enemy design which is also less varied, and the modding is also gone.
Unlike The New Order, it doesn’t bolster a fun story, so this game just offers nothing whatsoever. Inferior in every way that matters, even compared to Wolfenstein 2009.
Fallout 4 is already infamous, but it deserves to be buried deeper. Like virtually every other game on this list, it completely destroys what a great franchise once stood for.
Fallout: New Vegas and especially Fallout and Fallout 2 are excellent satires that really put their role-playing strength on display, with Fallout 2 still having the most role-playing we’ve ever seen. This role-playing comes in the form of not just being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want (which in itself is not an RPG trait), but your character build really defines your own unique experience in these games. We discussed it at length in that article about games with the most role-playing, so we don’t have to repeat ourselves here too much.
In Fallout 4, your character build only really matters for what weapons you can effectively use, and whether or not you can effectively lockpick or hack or use stealth. Of course the other Fallout games have all that and way more, and make far better use of these things. Most infamously is probably how Fallout 4 replaces Fallout’s insanely rich, diverse dialogue with a wheel limited to Yes, No, and Sarcastic Yes always.
What a joke, but of course it gets worse. This is supposed to be an RPG but you’re trapped in the idiotic protagonist’s shoes due to his/her voice acting and the game forcing a specific past on you. You’re encouraged to play its campaign with its terrible writing, unlike Skyrim which doesn’t encourage this even though its campaign isn’t as bad as Fallout 4’s. The story of Fallout 4 is devoid of the satire that makes Fallout Fallout, it is totally lacks the awesome character development seen in the real Fallout games, and its only role-playing comes from choosing which faction to join.
Fallout 4 also retcons classic Fallout lore even though Bethesda isn’t capable of half-decent writing or even close, and even though the first two Fallout games have some of the finest world building in gaming. From making the odd decision to transform the Brotherhood of Steel from a clandestine organization to an insanely mobilized world domination force, to erasing Myron from history even though he’s a hundred times the character Bethesda is capable of writing, Fallout 4 is insulting.
Star Wars: Battlefront
We are of course referring to EA’s Battlefront reboot in 2015. The above image is a clear breakdown of the content it offers versus Battlefront II from 2005. It really says it all. It’s a joke, it has less content than lots of free games. It absolutely doesn’t compare in any way, shape, or form to any half-decent multiplayer shooter.
The level design is some of the worst, most rushed I’ve ever seen in a game like this, making even modern Call of Duty multiplayer level design not look terrible in comparison. EA/DICE initially wanted their 2017 Battlefront II game to have an entry on this list with its lootbox focus, before that got nerfed due to outrage. It’s still a bad sequel, but nothing compared to this one.
I hope you like Prague, because in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided you will almost never leave the place. Forget about the fact that previous Deus Ex games, even Human Revolution, have you traveling across the globe. But of course there are more problems with this game than just that. You could arguably put Invisible War in this spot instead, but we went with Mankind Divided since it’s far more damaging to Deus Ex lore.
Mankind Divided follows in Human Revolution’s footsteps, including how both games totally abandon the dystopian retro Sci-Fi art style of Deus Ex in favor of more technologically advanced Sci-Fi despite being set decades before Deus Ex. This is careless, needless and a thematic mismatch. But these prequels are more damaging to lore and consistency than just that. Mankind Divided wants you to believe that people who can afford Sci-Fi mechanical augmentation that makes you superhuman are the class of people that are going to get oppressed and forced into ghettos. How is that believable? Because at the end of Human Revolution, some guy pushes a button that turns a huge amount of augmented people insane in an instant? Talk about cheap, uninspired Hollywood writing.
These prequels just make a poorly coordinated effort to tackle imaginary conflicts that can never exist in reality, unlike the first game which tackles very real, dire worldly issues in truly brilliant fashion as this video thoughtfully explains:
But of course it’s not just the writing that’s a mess. Gameplay is dumbed down too, with these prequels having less detailed and interactive environments (and of course less varied), less skills and character building, less enemy variety, far less dangerous AI, more linearity in place of the brilliant open-endedness and player agency offered by the first game. Mind you neither prequel is not bad on their own in this regard. The only thing Mankind Divided does better than the original is AI detection for stealth gameplay, since in the original if one enemy spots you then the rest automatically know where you are.
If you thought the aforementioned Dragon Age II was bad, then take a good look at this game. While you’re not trapped within the confines of a boring city the entire time, Andromeda is just a shining example of terrible writing and game design in general. You explore the Andromeda galaxy and alien species within it, which of course contains aliens that are essentially humans in costumes in typical Mass Effect fashion, with alien technology that’s not even really alien.
You visit an alien planet and prove that their religion is true over night. The first 30+ hours involves going to new planets and doing the same initial main quest every time. Pretty much every quest boils down to “Go to this objective marker then either hold E to interact with a piece of alien tech that’s not designed to appear alien, or kill everything there, or both and then return.” What a fantastic example of how far gaming has declined.
It also has absolutely terribly broken AI that’s helpless when it comes to using the map and not just getting exploited easily. Furthermore, I think it has the least role-playing I’ve ever seen in an RPG. Practically zero. BioWare and Bethesda should team up and write a book called, “How to ruin video game RPGs 101.”
Dawn of War III or StarCraft 3? The creators of the game might not know, but it’s closer to being the latter. Dawn of War III effectively killed this classic franchise because it tried to be something it’s not and didn’t do a very good job at it. Dawn of War players didn’t get Dawn of War, and the game can’t win over StarCraft 2 fans no matter how hard it tries.
The oversimplified, downgraded level design takes more after StarCraft 2 and DotA 2 than its predecessors. It has no character, no soul whatsoever, which is most unlike a proper Warhammer 40,000 game. It’s less epic, it has one less faction than the first two games (when comparing all games at launch) but they all play too similarly here, it is less tactical and more shallow in gameplay. It fails as Dawn of War, and it fails as a StarCraft 2 wannabe.
Before we let you go, let’s talk about one last point. Look at the release dates of all of these games featured in this list; the earliest is 2006, the latest is 2017. Notice how none are from the 1990s. Can you name one bad video game sequel from the 1990s? All the ones I can think of were either universal improvements or just every bit as good as the predecessor. What happened to that era of continuous improvement in gaming?
Bad Company somehow makes its way onto this list despite being a spinoff and not a sequel. 2142 is one of the worst entries into the series. One of the most hilarious claims you’ve made was how detailed BF2/2142 level design was, despite a gargantuan portion of the maps being empty space with little to no detail. Your username perfectly matches your comedic writing.
You are a terrible writer.
gotta get those hate clicks
Several franchise-identity killer games and “normal” franchise killer-grade games are missing. Where’s SC:DA and(especially) Conviction? Fallout 3? Invisible War(which already was dumbed down in terms of writing)? MGS5TPP? FEAR 2? Dead Space 3? Quake Champions? Assault Horizon? All the sequels to Jagged Alliance after 2? Houser-written unskippable cutscene Max Payne 3? D:OS2 with the dumbed down primitive changes to systems involving initiative, percentages and armor? Also, do you agree that CAPCOM are assholes for not even considering making expansions to RE2 and RE3? These games could have been far greater. Also, the graphics can be a little glitchy, reflections in… Read more »
We thought about choosing Fallout 3 and FEAR 2 and Invisible War, but ended up going with games within those franchises that are even worse. All solid picks though. Would Quake Champions be considered a spinoff?
Dead Space 1 was already a really weak game in my opinion, I didn’t play its sequels though. Divinity: Original Sin 2 isn’t flat out worse than the first game and does some things better but both are really weak also. There’s a lot to dislike Crapcom for historically.
Since you think Divinity: Original Sin 2 isn’t a great game, what do you think of Baldur’s Gate III so far? How good is it compared to the first two? How much role-playing does it have?
No one here has played it yet.
Also, more on Resident Evil. I too also hate the tandem protag thing they have done in several games on the franchise, with the possible exception of how it was done in RE0. It adds nothing of value to these games, in practice not even more mass appeal which I guess is the goal. However, you may find interesting that the game that is now called RE8 was actually made by the Revelations 2 team as “Revelations 3”, but apparently showed such promise(or so they say) that they changed it to be a main game in the series, taking the… Read more »
Shit. I am not lying, these just popped up in my head as I was gonna close the tab. Serious Sam 3, Blood 2 and Duke Nukem Forever were particularly terrible as well.
I guess Painkiller sequels don’t count? I hear they’re pretty bad, but the original devs had passed the IP on by that point. Also, I never played them.
Duke Nukem Forever is a good pick I’m sure, even though I never bothered playing it. Same for Blood 2, most people pretend it doesn’t exist. What’s with Monolith Productions and bad sequels?
Serious Sam 3 is definitely a downgrade, but not nearly on the same level as the others mentioned I think.
The game choices were solid, but the explanations behind them were not well thought out. Just as an example, Dawn of war 3, definitely a disappointment, missing faction, terrible multiplayer mode, and can’t seem to make up its mind about whether its Dow 1 or 2. That said there are some definite improvements, WAY more personality and Warhammer accuracy than before, WAY better campaign, the old ones had terrible boss fights and repetitive mission design. I think you definitely need to replay the old Dawn of wars, because all the factions play almost exactly the same, Dow 1 and 2.… Read more »
For Dawn of War 3 – you are correct that it is technically more accurate to the source material. Then again, with how lore works in Wharhammer 40K (you can choose your fluff) the advantage is not as solid as some may expect. Plus… it really doesn’t matter that much. For personality – I disagree. The over the top, colourful battles of Winter Assault or the wacky insane battles in Dark Crusade are real standouts. It perhaps is more full of personality than DOW1’s original campaign, but not nearly as fun to play. DOW1 and 2 aren’t perfect games, but… Read more »
Perfect Dark Zero should be on this list!