New Game+ – Games That Managed an Unexpectedly Great Sequel

New Game+ – Games That Managed an Unexpectedly Great Sequel

With a leap of faith, some video game sequels defy expectations and manage to surpass their predecessors. In gaming, a strong follow-up is a rare gem, reinvigorating players with fresh gameplay mechanics and enriched storytelling. Join us as we explore New Game+, where titles like a phoenix rise from the ashes of doubt to deliver an unforgettable gaming experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sequels Can Surpass Expectations: Sometimes sequels manage to exceed the success and quality of the original game, surprising both fans and critics.
  • Evolution of Gameplay: Game developers often use sequels to refine gameplay mechanics, introduce new features, and enhance the overall experience for players.
  • Nostalgia with a Twist: Successful sequels can tap into players’ nostalgia for the original game while offering a fresh take on the story, characters, and gameplay.

The Concept of New Game+

Defining New Game+

Before we look into the world of sequels, let’s first understand what exactly New Game+ means in gaming. New Game+ is a feature in video games that allows players to start a new game after finishing it, but with some advantages or changes that make the game more challenging or interesting. It could mean carrying over items, experience, or abilities from the previous playthrough, or unlocking new content that was not available before.

Origins and Evolution

For many gamers, the appeal of New Game+ lies in the opportunity to experience a beloved game in a fresh and exciting way. The concept has its origins in older console games, where replayability was necessary due to the limitations of technology at the time. As gaming evolved and became more complex, so did the New Game+ feature, offering players a chance to probe deeper into the game’s world and mechanics.

Any game that offers a New Game+ mode gives players the chance to explore different strategies, unlock hidden secrets, and truly master the game’s mechanics. This feature has become a staple in various genres, from action RPGs to platformers, providing an added layer of depth that keeps players coming back for more.

This feature has the power to extend the lifespan of a game and keep players engaged long after the initial playthrough, making it a valuable addition to any title wishing to stand out in a crowded gaming market.

Unexpected Success Stories

Dark Souls II: From Ashes to Glory

It is no secret that the Souls series, created by FromSoftware, is known for its punishing difficulty and intricate world-building. When Dark Souls II was announced, many fans were apprehensive about whether it could live up to the high standards set by its predecessor. However, the game exceeded expectations by offering a fresh challenge while still staying true to the essence of the series.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – A Leap Forward

For The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, developed by CD Projekt Red, the first installment had already been a success, but the second game took the franchise to new heights. With an engaging story, improved graphics, and more refined gameplay mechanics, the game captured the attention of both critics and players alike. Plus, the branching narrative added a layer of complexity that few games of its time could match.

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Sequels That Surpassed Expectations

God of War (2018): A Soft Reboot Done Right

After years of Kratos’ relentless rage-filled adventures in ancient Greece, God of War (2018) surprised and impressed fans with a fresh take on the iconic character. The game shifted from Greek to Norse mythology, introducing Kratos as a father figure on a journey with his son, Atreus. The emotional depth of their bond added a new layer to the game, making it more than just a hack-and-slash experience.

Spider-Man (2018): Web-Slinging Redemption

An unexpected hit, Spider-Man (2018) swung into the gaming scene with style and finesse. Developed by Insomniac Games, this iteration of the friendly neighborhood superhero was widely praised for its engaging story, fluid web-swinging mechanics, and vibrant open-world New York City. The game managed to capture the essence of Spider-Man in a way that pleased both longtime fans and newcomers alike.

Understanding the importance of staying true to the character’s roots while also innovating gameplay mechanics, Insomniac Games crafted an experience that surpassed all expectations. With stunning visuals, a compelling story, and addictive gameplay, Spider-Man (2018) proved to be a shining example of how to do a superhero game right.

Franchise Revivals

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy: A Triumphant Return

To restore the nostalgia of fans, developers Vicarious Visions brought back the beloved Crash Bandicoot series with the “N. Sane Trilogy.” The remastered collection featured the first three games in the franchise, rebuilt from the ground up with stunning graphics and updated gameplay mechanics. Fans were thrilled to see their favorite marsupial spinning, jumping, and wumping in crisp HD.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy: Igniting Nostalgia

Franchise fans rejoiced when Spyro the Dragon made his grand return in the “Reignited Trilogy.” This collection beautifully remastered the original three Spyro games, allowing players to once again explore the magical realms with everyone’s favorite purple dragon. With gorgeous visuals and refined gameplay, the trilogy successfully reignited the nostalgia of longtime fans and introduced a new generation to Spyro’s enchanting world.

With the success of the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro revivals, it’s clear that there is a strong demand for classic franchises to make a comeback. These beloved characters and their timeless adventures continue to captivate audiences, proving that great games truly stand the test of time.

Indie Darlings

Unlike big-budget titles, indie games often have more flexibility to experiment and take creative risks, resulting in some truly exceptional sequels. Let’s explore how these indie darlings managed to surpass expectations with their sequels.

Hyper Light Drifter: A Pixelated Masterpiece

One indie gem that delivered an outstanding sequel is Hyper Light Drifter. The original game was already a beloved pixel art action-adventure, but the sequel took everything to a whole new level. With enhanced gameplay mechanics, improved visuals, and an expanded world to explore, Hyper Light Drifter 2 captivated both fans of the original and newcomers alike.

Celeste: Climbing to New Heights


Another indie title that surprised gamers with its sequel is Celeste. Known for its challenging platforming gameplay and heartfelt story, Celeste’s sequel not only raised the bar in terms of difficulty and level design but also dove deeper into the protagonist’s personal journey. The game’s beautiful soundtrack and thought-provoking narrative made it a standout in the indie gaming scene.

Open-World Wonders

Horizon Zero Dawn: A New Era for Action RPGs

Keep your eyes peeled for Horizon Zero Dawn, a game that took the gaming world by storm with its unique blend of action and RPG elements. Developed by Guerilla Games, this open-world masterpiece follows the story of Aloy, a skilled hunter navigating a post-apocalyptic world ruled by robotic creatures. The game’s expansive world, breathtaking visuals, and engaging storyline set a new standard for action RPGs, captivating players with its immersive gameplay and rich lore.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Ancient Greece Reborn

For fans of historical open-world adventures, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey offers a captivating journey through Ancient Greece. Set during the Peloponnesian War, players step into the sandals of mercenaries Alexios or Kassandra, navigating a war-torn landscape filled with mythological creatures and historical figures. The game’s dynamic dialogue system, sprawling open world, and engaging narrative choices make it a standout entry in the long-running franchise.

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Greece: In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, players can explore vast landscapes, sail the Aegean Sea, and encounter iconic figures such as Socrates and Leonidas. With a greater emphasis on player choice and consequence, the game offers a fresh take on the series while showcasing the beauty and brutality of Ancient Greece.

Fighting Game Frenzy

Despite the competitive nature of the fighting game genre, some titles have managed to surprise fans with exceptional sequels that elevated the series to new heights. Two standout examples of this phenomenon are Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat 11, both of which received critical acclaim for their improvements and innovations.

Street Fighter V: A Champion’s Rise

On the heels of its predecessor Street Fighter IV, which revitalized the fighting game scene, Street Fighter V faced high expectations. However, the game stumbled at launch with limited content and technical issues. Over time, Capcom implemented numerous updates and additions, transforming Street Fighter V into a beloved title among competitive players and casual fans alike. With a robust roster of characters, refined gameplay mechanics, and a thriving esports community, Street Fighter V proved to be a champion’s rise from a rocky start.

Mortal Kombat 11: Fatality Frenzy

For Mortal Kombat 11, the iconic franchise known for its brutal combat and gruesome fatalities, the expectations for the sequel were sky-high. NetherRealm Studios delivered on all fronts, with stunning graphics, engaging gameplay mechanics, and a complex story mode that captivated players. The addition of customizable characters and brutalities added depth to the gameplay experience, making Mortal Kombat 11 a standout entry in the long-running series.

Understanding the importance of balancing nostalgia with innovation, NetherRealm Studios meticulously crafted Mortal Kombat 11 to cater to both longtime fans and newcomers to the franchise. With its focus on fluid combat and visceral finishing moves, Mortal Kombat 11 reaffirmed its status as a pillar of the fighting game genre.

Role-Playing Revolutions

Many games in the role-playing genre have managed to surprise players with their sequels, offering innovative gameplay mechanics and immersive worlds that captivate audiences worldwide. Two standout titles that have revolutionized the RPG landscape are ‘Divinity: Original Sin 2’ and ‘Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire’.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 – A Masterclass in RPG Design

One game that truly stands out in RPGs is ‘Divinity: Original Sin 2’. Developed by Larian Studios, this epic adventure takes players on a journey through a richly detailed fantasy world filled with intricate narratives and complex character interactions. The game’s innovative combat system, which allows for a high degree of player agency and strategic depth, sets a new standard for turn-based RPGs. With its engaging storylines and deep character customization options, ‘Divinity: Original Sin 2’ has rightfully earned its place as a modern classic in the genre.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – Sailing the High Seas

For fans of classic isometric RPGs, ‘Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire’ offers a unique experience set in a vibrant, seafaring world. In this sequel, players take to the high seas aboard their own customizable ship, exploring exotic islands and engaging in thrilling naval combat. The game expands upon its predecessor’s rich lore and intricate storytelling, with branching questlines and morally ambiguous choices that keep players on the edge of their seats.

Plus, ‘Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire’ introduces new companion relationships, dynamic weather systems, and enhanced AI, elevating the overall gameplay experience to new heights. Whether you’re a seasoned RPG enthusiast or a newcomer to the genre, this sequel is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Platforming Perfection

Now, let’s explore some platforming games that achieved greatness with their sequels. From classic-inspired adventures to visually stunning masterpieces, these titles showcase the best of the genre.

Shovel Knight: A Retro Revival

The retro-inspired platformer Shovel Knight took the gaming world by storm with its pixelated charm and challenging gameplay. When it came time for a sequel, Yacht Club Games didn’t just give fans more of the same – they delivered a masterful expansion of the original concept. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove added new campaigns, characters, and mechanics that elevated the game from homage to classic to a modern platforming masterpiece.

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps: A Beautiful Sequel

Beautifully crafted and emotionally resonant, Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a shining example of a sequel that surpasses its predecessor in every way. The stunning visuals, evocative score, and tight platforming mechanics come together to create a truly unforgettable experience. Players are drawn into Ori’s world, where they must navigate treacherous environments and face challenging foes in a quest to save the forest.

Wisps takes everything that made the original Ori and the Blind Forest great and amps it up to eleven. The addition of new abilities, improved combat mechanics, and a more expansive world to explore all contribute to making this sequel a standout in the platforming genre.

Horror Games That Delivered

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – A Fresh Start

Your heart races as you navigate through the eerie corridors of the Baker family plantation in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. Breaking away from the action-packed style of its predecessors, this installment opted for a more intimate, first-person survival horror experience. With the introduction of a new protagonist, Ethan Winters, players are immersed in a chilling narrative filled with suspense and terror.

Amnesia: Rebirth – Fear Reborn

To awaken your deepest fears, look no further than Amnesia: Rebirth. This sequel to the iconic Amnesia: The Dark Descent continues the tradition of delivering bone-chilling horror. Players are drawn into a harrowing tale of survival as they encounter horrific creatures and solve intricate puzzles in a haunting environment.

A captivating aspect of Amnesia: Rebirth is its emphasis on psychological horror, challenging players to confront their deepest fears and unravel the mysteries of the game’s narrative. The game’s atmospheric design and immersive storytelling make it a standout addition to the horror genre, earning praise from both fans and critics alike.

Sports Games That Scored

NBA 2K11: A Slam Dunk

Not all sports games hit the mark with every release, but NBA 2K11 managed to pull off a game-changing move with its installment. The game not only showcased improved graphics and gameplay but also introduced the Jordan Challenge, allowing players to relive Michael Jordan’s greatest moments in his career.

FIFA 14: A Beautiful Game

For sports fans and gamers alike, FIFA 14 was a pleasant surprise with its refined mechanics and realistic gameplay. The game captured the essence of the beautiful game of soccer, providing players with a more immersive experience on the field. With improved ball physics and player movements, FIFA 14 set a new standard for sports simulations.

For instance, the introduction of Pure Shot and Real Ball Physics in FIFA 14 revolutionized the way players interacted with the game, making each goal, pass, and shot more authentic than ever before.

Racing Games That Accelerated

Forza Horizon 4: An Open-World Racing Dream

All racing game enthusiasts were pleasantly surprised by the exceptional execution of Forza Horizon 4. The game seamlessly combines stunning graphics with an open-world environment, creating a dynamic and immersive racing experience. Unlike its predecessors, Horizon 4 introduced dynamic seasons that not only affect the aesthetics of the game but also impact gameplay, offering players a fresh challenge with each new season. The game’s attention to detail, diverse selection of cars, and engaging multiplayer mode have propelled it into the hearts of racing fans worldwide.

Dirt Rally 2.0: A Rallying Cry

That Dirt Rally 2.0 managed to outshine its predecessor is no small feat. The game offers a challenging and authentic rally racing experience that has been hailed as one of the best in the genre. With improved handling and physics, players are faced with a true test of skill as they navigate through varying terrains and weather conditions. The addition of the challenging FIA World Rallycross Championship adds an extra layer of excitement for players seeking high-intensity competition. Dirt Rally 2.0 has set a new standard for rally racing games, earning its place as a must-play for fans of the genre.

Games that manage to surprise players with an unexpectedly great sequel are a rare gem in the world of gaming. Whether it’s the breathtaking visuals of Forza Horizon 4 or the adrenaline-pumping rally experience of Dirt Rally 2.0, these games have redefined their respective genres and set a new benchmark for future racing titles to follow. Racing game enthusiasts can now look forward to even more thrilling and innovative experiences as developers continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of virtual racing.


Summing up, the phenomenon of a great sequel can often catch players by surprise, breathing new life into beloved games. From titles like “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” to “Assassin’s Creed II,” these sequels managed to surpass the expectations set by their predecessors, showcasing improved gameplay, richer narratives, and enhanced graphics. The success of these games serves as a testament to the creativity and dedication of game developers in the industry, who continue to push the boundaries of gaming experiences.

As players eagerly anticipate future installments and potential sequels to their favorite games, the bar has been set high for developers to deliver on the promise of an even greater gaming experience. With each new release, the possibilities for innovative storytelling and gameplay mechanics seem endless, keeping gamers on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next unexpected great sequel.