Over the years, we've seen plenty of gaming franchises brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to a single, well-received title. It's important to note all franchises, even those including the best games ever, aren't immune to the ravages of time. Whether a great gaming franchise became stale or simply stopped being produced, these series drifted out of the public consciousness. But it's hard to keep recognizable titles down, and out of the shadows of once-renowned worlds like Hyrule and Outworld came glorious video games that brought their respective franchises back from the dead.
Breath of the Wild somehow managed to be a revelation in a series with a 30-year-history of awe-inspiring games. 2011's Mortal Kombat reboot was a well-deserved and long-overdue breath of life we could gleefully rip away with new, but recognizably gruesome fatalities.
Whatever the case, too many great video game series have wandered away from those who love them so dearly. Despite the games that still need a comeback, it's important to celebrate the titles that have already received that honor.
God of War was an epic series that ended with a prequel, as if Sony knew it would be a step back. In the 2018 reboot, God of War, Kratos takes a giant leap forward, abandons some of his previous (less mature) ideals, and attempts to connect with his child while channeling his monstrous anger. The new entry follows the warrior turned fallen Greek god as he starts a new life far to the north, and comes face-to-face with some of the most epic creatures of Norse mythology.
The single shot, over-the-shoulder camera upgrade revolutionized the series by showcasing a seamless world and story, along with a completely new form of combat that's just as brutal as ever.
Breath of the Wild is a triumph, with a Metacritic score of 97%. In 2017, fans were clamoring for a new entry in the beloved series since the last console installment, Skyward Sword, premiered six years before. Make no mistake, Skyward Sword was a great game, as were most of Breath of the Wild's predecessors, but the return to Hyrule on Nintendo Switch was a glorious experience.
The game's sense of freedom and beautiful world is rich without being too grandiose for its own good. Breath of the Wild might even unseat Ocarina of Time for the top spot in a series full of greats, and that's an impressive feat.
While there is a long history of Spider-Man games, only Spider-Man 2 manages to stand out as a revolutionary entry. 2018's Spider-Man, made by Insomniac Games, is a close visual parallel to the 2004 title. The highlight of the game, swinging through New York, is made even better when paired with a new combat system akin to Arkham. And that series is an apt comparison, as Arkham Asylum also marked the first narrative-focused game for a popular comic book character.
When id Software turned over the Wolfenstein series to MachineGames, something new was born. Wolfenstein: The New Order was released in 2011, and it needed to perform well seeing as its 2009 predecessor was a bit of a flop despite being the series's debut on a next-gen console and the first installment since 2001.
The New Order was truly a breath of fresh air, as it was the first entry in the series to tell a compelling story. Not only that, but gameplay was given a significant upgrade, which earned The New Order nominations for Best Shooter from a number of publications.