5 Early Franchise Video Games That Paved the Way for Modern Hits

If you like any of the video games on this list, make sure to check out their ancestors!

We often recommend products we like. If you buy anything via links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

Video game sequels don’t tend to work like movie sequels do. Especially for games that span console or PC hardware generations, you can’t always assume that the player has played the earlier games in the series.

This means that when a game hits big, players jump on to the latest, missing earlier entries. In some cases, games get better with each sequel, but in others, skipping earlier entries in the series can mean missing out on some real gems. Here are a few examples of those older gems.

1. Skyrim –> Morrowind

If you have gaming friends, you probably have at least one who claims that The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is superior. Superior is a matter of opinion, but I don’t think it’s tough to argue that that the two are very different.

Every element you’ll find in your journey across the titular Morrowind was carefully and deliberately crafted and placed. This gives the game a very different feel from the sprawling open worlds that followed, and it’s well worth experiencing for yourself.

Buy on PC
Buy on Xbox One

2. Doom –> Doom

To make two fantastic entries in the series—2016’s Doom and 2020’s Doom Eternal—id Software first had to make a lackluster sequel in Doom 3. While that game aped what was popular in shooters at the time, it had little to do with the first two games in the series.

Even now, Doom and Doom 2 hold up in a way that older shooters rarely due. You can find both games along with a smattering of extras in one package for a fairly cheap price.

Buy on PC
Buy on Xbox One

3. Modern Warfare –> Call of Duty

If you found yourself more drawn to Call of Duty: WWII’s setting than the modern military settings in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, you owe it to yourself to check out the earliest games in the series.

Both Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2 are set in World War II, and while they aren’t quite as carefully scripted as some of the newer games, they still have some of the elaborate action set-pieces the series is still known for today. You can buy both, along with an expansion to the first game all in one package.

Buy on PC

4. The Witcher 3 –> The Witcher

With each installment in the series, The Witcher games have seen a larger and larger audience. If you’re only getting on board with the latest entry in the series, it’s very well worth revisiting the earlier games in the series, especially the first.

While the storytelling isn’t quite as grand, the complex gameplay—where picking and choosing the right potions and oils can make all the difference—was introduced here.

Buy on PC/Mac

5. Final Fantasy XIV –> Final Fantasy V

Okay, none of the older Final Fantasy games share a whole lot in common with Square Enix’s MMO behemoth (pun intended), but if you had to pick the closest, it would be Final Fantasy V.

Why? The job system, which was introduced here. This lets you completely choose what character handles which roles in your party. This would later on become a Final Fantasy staple, at least within the Final Fantasy Tactics sub-series.

Even without the job system, this has everything that made the early entries in the series great. Plus, how can you resist a game with a character named Butz?

Buy on PC

More Retro Gaming Goodness

Not all of the games we’ve gathered here are especially old, but some definitely may appeal to your retro sensibilities. If you’ve already played the earlier games on this list but are still looking for some retro fun, what are you supposed to do?

There is a treasure trove of retro video games just waiting to be played, you just need to figure out how to play them. We’ve even already done the hard work for you. Just take a look at our guide to playing retro video games without the original consoles.

The Most Geeky Franchises

Download our free cheat sheet of geeky media franchises, the ones that started geek culture as we know it. You’ll learn where each franchise began, in what format, the high and low point of each franchise, and more! It’s a quick way to earn your geek cred if you want to get up to speed:
Previous Article

5 Must-Read Books for Gamers: Stories of Your Favorite Franchises

Next Article

The 10 Best Energy Drinks for Late Night Nerds

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!