The big blockbusters in gaming, like movies, are often conceived with sequels in mind. Just as we know there are going to be three more Star Wars films, two more Hunger Games and another Hobbit, there will be more Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed games. Indeed, Ubisoft once said that it wouldn’t even start making a game if it couldn’t make a franchise out of it.
While fans unsurprisingly get excited about another game in their favourite series, some eSports players may approach a new game with a sense of unease. A sequel can make or break an eSports community - do fans move on to the new game or stick with the tried and tested? If you stick with what you know, there is a risk that the community will leave you behind but if you go then you’ve got to adjust to the new and the occasionally inferior. Here are some of the good and some of the bad sequels that have appeared on the eSports scene over the years.
The Best FPS sequels in eSports
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4
Seven years on from its original release, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare remains Infinity Ward’s magnum opus. It wasn’t always rosy in the Call of Duty camp though. Call of Duty 3, Treyarch’s first offering fell considerably short of the mark as ill-conceived maps coupled with incompatible game modes resulted in a less than compelling shooter that never took off. Call of Duty 4 moved on from World War 2 and the quality improved. It was a modern shooter with well-planned maps and enough extras to keep audiences engaged.
Sales soared and thousands of players immediately got a taste of eSports competition. Call of Duty had arrived on the scene on both console and PC. Admittedly, Call of Duty 3 wasn’t a hard act to follow but Modern Warfare certainly deserves its place at the top of this list as it’s arguably the best FPS sequel ever.
Halo: Combat Evolved was a great game. It was the title that really made the Xbox for fans of first-person shooters. Halo 2 was even better. The addition of Xbox Live support, which admittedly didn’t exist at the time of Halo: CE, changed the landscape of the Halo franchise and console eSports. Suddenly people were able to compete online against their friends and foes and tournaments sprang up all over the world. A well-structured ranking system also meant that players would work hard to boost their individual rank while the addition of button combos also added a further learning curve to an already multi-faceted title. It was the perfect combination for competitive gaming success. Console eSports had truly arrived.
Team Fortress 2
As with many successful PC titles, Team Fortress started life as a modification of an existing game; in this case, it was Quake. Team Fortress Classic was a good game in its own right but Team Fortress 2 changed things completely with the new cartoon-style visuals complimenting the wild and crazy shooting action. Valve had produced a compelling concoction that was not only a joy to play but fun to watch. TF2 attracted widespread interest from the eSports scene, resulting in one of the most dedicated communities in the whole of gaming. TF2 was a perfect example of how evolution can work. A truly great sequel.
The worst FPS sequels in eSports
Gears of War 2
Epic’s sequel to Gears of War was a bit of a stinker. New features completely changed all that was holy about the Gears of War franchise. Smoke grenades that now stunned the player, ranged weapons that were far too powerful and massive, unmanageable maps. The once fluid, simplistic, fast paced shooter had become a snooze fest of angled ranged assaults. Gears of War 2 was a totally different game and it saw many of the game’s hardcore players go flooding back to the original. Gears of War 3 also did little to capture the Gears of War magic; the small maps, slick movement and no frills gameplay had gone.
Halo 3, while arguably not as good as its predecessor, wasn’t a mile off the pace but Halo Reach was a big disappointment. Call of Duty-esque features that really felt like they didn’t belong were added to the game and it felt like the developers didn’t know how to move the series forwards after the original trilogy. The addition of sprint and bloom became a thorn in the side of thousands of fans around the world and after months of pleading, options to turn both off for competitive multiplayer was added. By then, the damage was done. The Halo series had already begun to lose a lot of its diehards on the eSports scene. A real travesty for the series that started the competitive console revolution.
Rainbow Six: Lockdown
Following on from the success of Rainbow Six 3 and Black Arrow, Ubisoft made significant changes to its tactical shooter hit, resulting in quicker and more arcade-like gameplay. While no one would make a case for either of the game’s predecessors being perfect, they ultimately worked. Rainbow Six 3 was all about being steady. All about making the right moves at the right time. Finding the right angles to hold down an area. In many ways, it was the perfect tactical team shooter, lending itself well to nail biting eSports action. Lockdown’s move to fast and frantic game play simply did not work. If it wasn’t for the name, you wouldn’t have even realised the two games were from the same series. Not surprisingly, the game’s appeal didn’t last particularly long and fans were soon spotted going back to Black Arrow.