As the saying goes: if the destination is unclear — change the course of action. Though, while I’m not entirely sure who said that and under what context — it definitely feels like a rather fitting quote for this list. It seems as though video games have dabbled in different genres in the past, only to then switch category completely and go on to succeed like never before. Of course, that can be a risky move in the gaming industry, and can often destroy the franchise entirely. Sometimes, however, it can resurface a sinking ship and give it a second life.
When the end-goal is unclear and destined to succumb to the pressures of acquiring perfection — switch lanes and put a new take on it. That’s pretty much how these five franchises managed to establish a new domain without having to dissolve the concept. Without the dramatic change of course after the first entry, these timelines never would’ve gone on to publish record-breaking sales in later instalments. So, you know — clearly, some risks are worth taking. But we’ll let you be the judge on that one.
5. The Lord of the Rings
Take a look at Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on PlayStation 2, and you’ll quickly notice the watered-down action, Fable-like storytelling and glistening visuals. And, while that may all be rather magical and enchanting to the naked eye — it isn’t quite The Lord of the Rings we all know and love from the hit movies.
Of course, the video game adaptation of the first movie was in no way a failed attempt at portraying the film. It’s just that, well — it’s wasn’t quite The Two Towers. Luckily for us, however, when developers changed hands after the first game, The Lord of the Rings was back on track with two fantastic sequels that stuck true to the big screen. EA swooped in and redeemed the first chapter, and the rest was en route to worldwide recognition.
4. Jak & Daxter
Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was a fantastic addition to the platforming universe with just as much to give as other PlayStation hits from the early noughties. However, with so many games on the market with similar influences, the first Jak entry sort of faded into the background shortly after release. But then, thankfully, Naughty Dog made the ultimate decision to change courses entirely.
By removing the childlike counterparts to the sequel and incorporating weapons, violence and the odd bit of profanity — Jak became a whole new franchise with an even more unpredictable future. Thankfully, the sudden switch in paths paid off in later instalments. Who’d have thought?
3. Saints Row
During the surge in Grand Theft Auto sales back in 2005, Volition struggled to find ground with their later released Saints Row, which was ultimately branded as a Rockstar clone. Sadly, even with the enormous amount of potential that brewed from the gangster-themed adventure, players just couldn’t shake the similarities from some of the earlier Grand Theft Auto segments.
However, after the developer decided to pull the plug on the urban jungle and replace it with ludicrous gameplay and otherworldly characters, the player base quickly found new reasons to venture back to Stillwater all over again. And, well — the rest is history. Saints Row found a name for itself after the third entry, and Volition never looked back.
2. Resident Evil
After three major chapters and a whole mound of spin-offs, it’s fair to say Capcom needed to change the course of their future in order to stay relevant to the shifting trends. After all, there really was only so many times Raccoon City and the T-Virus drama could be replayed before it became just another monotonous slog.
That’s why after Resident Evil 4 came out, new boundaries were explored and the zombie outbreak was finally put to rest — if only for a while. Capcom knew all too well how much revenue flooded into the series, and so, rather than close the books on the franchise entirely — they decided to simply reinvent it. Well played, guys. Well played.
1. Assassin’s Creed
Yes, we’ve covered this one a lot in the past — and for good reason, too. Rather than sticking to one solid plotline where the sequel is destined to be set in stone — Ubisoft leave next to no breadcrumbs for Assassin’s Creed. Instead, they simply resort to winging it with every annual addition in the hope no player notices. Though, the biggest change that happened in the Assassin’s Creed world was the transformation between Syndicate and Origins.
It was there that the assassin and templar order was left at the door, and a whole new direction was put in place for the future. Bite-sized stealth segments spiralled into open-world quest chains, and everything that happened pre-Syndicate was left out in the wind — becoming a fragment of everybody’s distant imaginations. Smart move? That’s your call. We can’t fault their high ambitions, though.