Whenever a new installment of a well-known game series is announced, fans get excited to experience the same characters and gameplay but in a different setting and with a new story. They’ll expect a graphics upgrade and maybe a few new features, but for the most part, the game is often very similar to previous installments.
Gaming consoles, however, are getting stronger, and developers are following their artistic side to explore the newfound potential of this technology. This has encouraged some developers to be brave and shake up their most storied game series. Changing the way that players engage with beloved IPs in a series that has standardized a certain way of playing is still considered to be an audacious move – especially in this age of social media – but these developers are proving that when it’s done well, the fans will appreciate the leap in a new direction.
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Despite the sheer size of its fan base and many spin-offs within the franchise, the Pokémon mainline series has remained on handheld devices, until now. With the power of the hybrid Nintendo Switch console, developer Game Freak embraced its chance to make a bigger, more expansive Pokémon game.
Fans had been clamoring for years to get such a game, so to step into a new generation of gaming while also adhering to the old ways, Game Freak created a wild area within Pokémon Sword and Shield. To do this, however, they had to break tradition and not include the entire National Dex within the game. While this did irritate some fans, many of those who have played the new games have praised how it has advanced in this new direction, adding in many features in line with console-based open-world titles.
NetEnt is one of the most popular and storied iGaming developers in existence, noted for its consistently smooth and aesthetically pleasing titles. However, with the release of Starburst, they decided to ditch their apparent steps of progress within the slot game range, removing elements like bonus features and several pay lines. Given the line of slots that the new game was following, it came as quite the shock.
With Starburst, NetEnt opted to go back to an approach of simple and beautiful, powering up the graphics and pulling out all of the bonus features that had been featuring in their games prior. Once the ten-line slot with one simple Starburst Wild feature hit the virtual shelves, the fans loved it. In fact, it still sits in the “most popular” section of online casino platforms, which is almost certainly due to its still unique, simple-yet-entertaining gameplay.
God of War
The God of War series, which spanned three games, was well-known as being heavy on the action, and very much a hack-and-slash game that often followed a story of revenge in the setting of Greek mythology. With God of War, the fourth installment, the Sony Santa Monica decided to tear up the script, putting the protagonist, Kratos, in Norse mythology, this time as a father with his son as a sidekick following a much more spiritual journey.
Kratos’s trademark Blades of Chaos were replaced by a Leviathan Axe, the story focused on raising his son rather than a revenge trip as well as Kratos hiding his past, and a lot more open-world exploration and role-playing game elements were introduced. It is a tremendous game to experience, with the switch winning over the gaming audience and landing it multiple Game of the Year awards.
When developers announce that they’re taking a much-loved game series in a new direction, they’re often met with some backlash. But when this new direction is executed well, fans quickly come around to realize that it was a brave but brilliant move.