Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

The gaming industry is full of sequels, and while that’s not a bad thing, sometimes the story keeps on rolling without any time to sit down and explain what just happened or how we even got to this point in the first place. That being said, some games have taken the term sequel very lightly and flipped it around instead of opting to focus on the past rather than the future. This developer choice has brought us some of the best games in gaming history while confusing a ton of us as the next entry is marked with a sequential number rather than labeled as a prequel. Here are 15 of the best video game prequels that gave new life to the franchises they came from.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Best Video Game Prequels

Red Dead Redemption 2 cover art (database)
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Red Dead Redemption was released back in 2010, and it immediately left fans wanting more as Rockstar games managed to revitalize the old Western genre in video games. Years went on, Grand Theft Auto V started to dominate every console known to man, and Red Dead fans were left high and dry begging for more. Prayers were finally answered in 2018 when Rockstar Games dropped the next entry in the series, Red Dead Redemption 2, revealing it to be a prequel to the first game leaving many fans questioning if it was the right choice.

Turns out it was wrong to doubt Rockstar Games.

Set in the years leading up to the first title, players follow the story of Arthur Morgan: a lieutenant of the well-known Van der Linde gang. Players then embark on a long journey of pain, redemption, and betrayal with the events in this prequel leading directly to the beginning of the first game. Players get to experience John Marston’s character progression through Arthur’s eyes adding another layer of appreciation for the beloved protagonist from the first entry.

Outside of the story, RDR 2 was known for its incredible scope of its open world, insane detail in the graphics department, and gameplay mechanics that heavily focused on player choice. The world of RDR 2 is expansive: full of engaging content and memorable characters that you’ll find yourself occupied with for hours.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is arguably Rockstar’s greatest work and one of the greatest prequels to date.

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening

Best Video Game Prequels

dmc 3 cover art, fanatical
Image Source: Fanatical

The first Devil May Cry changed the action-adventure genre with the introduction of Dante: a demon hunter wielding a giant sword who’s on a lifelong mission to vanquish demons. Devil May Cry 1 performed very well, and Capcom hoped to build off of that with a sequel. However, Devil May Cry 2 failed miserably leaving the series hanging on to dear life.

Not wanting to give up on the series, Capcom went back to the drawing board. Rather than going forward, they went back to the past and delivered Devil May 3: Dante’s Awakening.

Set before the events of the first game, Dante’s Awakening introduced us to a younger Dante who discovers his powers and explores his conflict with his brother Vergil. DMC 3 took everything that made the first entry great and dialed it up to 1000 with super stylish combat, unique weaponry for Dante to wield, and some banging music. While it was heavily criticized for its difficulty back when it was released in 2005 (back before Demon Souls), gamers experienced a revitalization in the series like no other as elements from DMC 3 have been brought forward to each new entry.

Kudos to Capcom for sticking with their guns and Dante.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Best Video Game Prequels

metal gear solid 3 snake eater, gamingbolt
Image Source: Gaming Bolt

Ask any gamer on the street if they’ve heard of Metal Gear Solid and an overwhelming majority of them will immediately refer to this game.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater serves as the starting point in the long-standing series with the events of this game setting up the future of the series. Taking place in an alternate version of the Cold War, players take the mantle of Naked Snake as he journeys to track down his former mentor in a wild adventure filled with military conspiracy splashed with James Bond vibes. Director Hideo Kojima has told some outlandish stories in previous entries, but Metal Gear Solid 3’s story showcased why he’s so revered in this industry.

While the first game introduced the “stealth-action” genre, Snake Eater refined it with new gameplay editions such as a camouflage system, a dash of survival elements to match the jungle setting, and a new hand-to-hand combat system. Not to mention, there were plenty of neat easter eggs that cleverly altered gameplay.

There’s a lot more to this title than can be explained, but this is Metal Gear Solid at its absolute finest.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Best Video Game Prequels

deus ex human revolution, square enix
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Arguably one of the most influential games of the PS3/Xbox 360 generation (giving inspiration to titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and even Watch Dogs), Deus Ex: Human Revolution redefined what it meant to blend first-person and role-playing elements into one huge package.

Set 25 years before the events of the original game, Human Revolution focuses on the growing tensions between the “haves and have nots” as technology and augmentation start to fracture the public. Players take the role of Adam Jensen, and while he wasn’t the most exciting of protagonists, his journey has you interact with many unique scenarios that shape the world around you. The gameplay perfectly blends the “play your way” concept as the time spent exploring rewarded eager beavers with completely different ways to complete missions or the tech needed to build Adam to their liking.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution delivered one of the best open world experiences to date, and while it was technically limited due to the technology back in 2011, it helped shape the future of open world gaming and gave new life to the Deus Ex series.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Best Video Game Prequels

Assassin's Creed Black Flag in game, Ubisoft
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Before you even question it, yes Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a prequel and, yes, it is one of the best entries in this very long franchise.

Black Flag puts players in charge of Edward Kenway: the grandfather of Connor from Assassin’s Creed 3. Through Edward Kenway and a series of unfortunate events, Edward becomes intertwined in the war between the Assassins and the Templars. That’s honestly about as far as the story goes as far as making sense, but what makes this game so highly regarded is that it took the naval combat from AC 3 and made it into a fully-fledged game letting players assume the role of a pirate/assassin hybrid. Travel the seas, fight enemy pirates and discover the treasure the open seas are hiding as you etch your name into the history of the Assassin Order.

Some would say Black Flag was the high point of the series as it launched right when the PS4 and Xbox One were launching showcasing the power of “next-gen”. Since then, the series has steered away from this direction, but the elements from this game would go on to inspire later entries although lesser degree. A multiplayer expansion was planned but has since turned into Skull & Bones.

Halo: Reach

Best Video Game Prequels

Halo Reach cover art (database)
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

With their time working on the Halo series coming to an end, as they hoped to forge their destiny elsewhere, Bungie put all their effort into making their final entry in the Halo series as legendary as possible. Rather than set their eyes on a sequel, they chose to go back in time and tell the story of the events before Halo: Combat Evolved.

Enter Halo: Reach.

While Halo: Reach has seen some criticism for its overall story and towards some of the characters, fans found peace in the fact that it covers the essence of how dark wars truly are. Unlike the previous entries where Master Chief is granted infinite plot armor, these Spartans were not granted the same luxury as the Chief as they fall one by one trying to turn the tide in the war against the Covenant. It’s all amplified by Bungie’s extraordinary effort in the technological side of the game and gameplay department.

What a way to sign off Bungie.

Metroid Prime

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

The 2D side-scrolling Metroid series saw some very high praise pointed at it since its inception in 1986 with Super Metroid being titled one of the best video games of all time. Nintendo looked to make the next entry for the Nintendo 64, but no concrete ideas came from the daunting task of upping the bar following the success of Super Metroid. That was until Nintendo producer, Shigeru Miyamoto, visited a small studio called Retro in Austin, Texas, and found himself impressed with the first-person shooter engine they were working on.

Enter Metroid Prime.

Set between the events of Metroid and Metroid 2: The Return of Samus, Metroid Prime marked a complete overhaul for the series as it moved from a 2D side scroller to a 3D “first-person adventure”. Critical reception was insanely high as critics pointed to how well the game looked, the atmosphere, and the heavy focus on exploration. It was knocked for focusing a bit too much on backtracking, but that wasn’t an overwhelming negative on what was a stellar reinvention of the series. Much like Super Metroid, Metroid Prime worked its way into the conversation of best games of all time as it excelled across the board.

Metroid Prime and the subsequent entries proved that a complete overhaul of a series, while dangerous, can be done successfully.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Image Source: PlayStation LifeStyle

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII took the Final Fantasy setting, injected it into Sony’s PlayStation Portable, and found success in the handheld device.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII is part of the metaseries known as “Compilation of Final Fantasy VII” which features titles set in the world of the great Final Fantasy VII. Focusing on Zack Fair, the game follows Sepiroth’s ascension to villain status, explores the friendship between Zach and Cloud Strife, and leads directly up to the events of the original Final Fantasy VII making this an essential piece of world-building that couldn’t be told during Final Fantasy VII.

On the other hand, this was on the PSP, and it really showcased the power the mighty handheld had. Combine that with the game being shorter compared to the other entries, and you had a title that would give you all the production value of a Final Fantasy game in the palm of your hands.

God of War: Chains of Olympus

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Two PSP titles? Yes, please bring back the PSP.

Like Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, God of War: Chains of Olympus took the mighty series, injected it into the PSP, and did so flawlessly. Chains of Olympus takes place before the events of the first God of War game and explores how the relationship between Kratos and the gods of Olympus strains beyond repair. It also set up the future of the series as key characters dropped a ton of ominous foreshadowing as they would be set to make their return in later entries to remind Kratos of his actions.

This title was developed by Ready at Dawn who is well known for the amount of work they put in keeping the PSP alive. Chains of Olympus cemented itself as one of the greatest titles the handheld ever had and a formidable entry in the God of War franchise.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Let’s just be honest; Borderlands 2 set the standard so absurdly high for any new Borderlands game. Rather than one up the ante with a direct sequel, Gearbox Studio decided to go back in time and chronicle the rise to villain status of Handsome Jack.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel does a fantastic job of doing exactly that as players discover Jack’s ascension to power that was already established in Borderlands 2. The game also introduced some new elements such as zero gravity sections and introduced the cryogenic element into the game breathing some form of fresh air into the series.

While overall reception on this game wasn’t the highest, the shining achievement is the Jack-focused story and his descent into madness.

Gears of War: Judgment

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Gears of War with no Marcus Fenix? Impossible!

Gears of War: Judgment was blasted for quite a few things, but what it did very well was the story building. Judgment focuses on cynical Damon Baird, the development of certain character relations, and a colorful planet Sera during the early stages of Emergence Day. Another highlight is the constant context given by members of Kilo Squad offering insight into the world around them before it all got snatched away by the hands of the Locust Horde.

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: Sith Lords

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

Knights of the Old Republic 2 saw Obsidian Entertainment take control of the sequel to the highly beloved first entry which was no easy task given the critical acclaim Knights of the Old Republic received.

The sequel is set five years after the events of the first game and 4000 years before Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. As the “Jedi Exile”, you set out on a journey to stop the Sith with your actions turning your Jedi to either the dark or the light side of the Force while also shaping the world around you directly impacting the Republic’s efforts to restore peace. No pressure!

What set this game apart from its predecessor was the exploration and implementation of an overall darker tone; whether it be your trek into the darkest corners of the galaxy or the overarching theme of how the galaxy is doomed to host an endless conflict between the Jedi and the Sith, KOTR II showed you how dark the far far away galaxy really is.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Image Source: Yoshi Fandom

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island takes a step back in time choosing to focus on how a baby Mario and baby Luigi end up on an island full of friendly dinosaurs. After baby Luigi is kidnapped, Yoshi and Baby Mario embark on an adventure to save Luigi from the clutches of the nefarious Bowser.

What helped this game shine was a multitude of gameplay changes designed around Yoshi. The friendly dinosaur could turn his foes into eggs and use them as ammunition, Yoshi could utilize different power-ups that shift the play style of the dinosaur and saw improvements to Yoshi’s traversal mechanics such as the flutter jump. The game also features a unique coloring book-type art style that makes every locale look unique and memorable.

Let’s not forget this helped elevate Yoshi to the cultural icon that the dinosaur is to this day and gave the world baby Mario who would be a focus for later titles.

Yakuza 0

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

After a fifth entry in the series and disappointing sales in the West, SEGA went back to the drawing board to figure out what would work best to take the series over the edge.

The answer? Yakuza 0.

Yakuza 0 takes the series back in time to the 1980’s focusing on the beginnings of protagonists Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima as they look to establish themselves in the world of organized crime. The game would constantly switch between both of the characters as you travel the streets of Kamurochō, Tokyo with a wide variety of activities to participate in and plenty of people to beat up in a well-developed combat system.

Overall, this is a great place to start if you’re interested in becoming a member of organized crime in the streets of Tokyo.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Best Video Game Prequels

Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels
Top 15 Best Video Game Prequels

For some reason, Batman: Arkham Origins has an overwhelmingly bad reputation, but that notion will be dispelled right here and now.

Much like the most recent theatrical release, The Batman, Arkham Origins focuses on a younger Batman in his second year of fighting crime. Much like the movie, the caped crusader is trying to establish himself as Gotham’s protector while contending with rampant corruption in the police department and major villains on the rise. Easy enough right?

What this game does well is that it explores the iconic relationship between the Joker and Batman while building up our hero to realize he can’t save the city on his own. It captures the essence of early Batman and sets the foundation for the future of the Arkham universe with some story reveals fans of the universe will enjoy. This title also gives star voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil a break allowing Roger Craig Smith and Troy Baker to give enjoyable performances. Also, Batman versus Deathstroke was an insanely well-done fight.

If you’re a fan of the newest big-screen adventure for the Bats, don’t miss the opportunity to embark on this adventure.

This list could’ve been much longer with so many great prequels hiding out there. Explore them all and experience that extra layer of closure and world-building the original titles didn’t give you. If there’s any we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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