Six MORE Video Game Franchises that Devolved Over Time: Part One

Updated: Feb 12

Mass Effect 3, FemShep
Mass Effect 3 - a somewhat controversial entry in the franchise

Welcome back everyone. In our previous article we asked you, our dear readers, to suggest other video game franchises that you felt had devolved or went downhill over time. The response was fantastic and we were inundated with excellent suggestions. So many suggestions in fact that we have created a two-part follow up article. And here it is 😊.

The following franchises are some of the most popular suggestions - based upon the feedback from the Exclusively Games website, and the various Facebook groups, sub Reddits and forums the article has been shared around.

Full disclosure - not all of the franchises suggested will appear in this article, for two reasons: Firstly, there were so many suggestions that they wouldn’t all fit without the article becoming way too long. Secondly, I have a policy of only writing about games and franchises that I have some personal experience with. Why? Because otherwise I would simply be re-stating what other people on the internet have said already, and you, dear reader, deserve better than that.

The remainder will likely be covered at a future date, either by myself once I have had some hands-on experience with those franchises, or possibly by one or more of Exclusively Games’ other talented writers. We will of course keep you all posted.

NB – most of the opinions stated in this article are not mine. I’m just the messenger, so don’t shoot me if you disagree with them.

With that out of the way, here are three of the “Six MORE Video Game Franchises that Devolved Over Time” - suggested by your good selves.

1. The Mass Effect Series

The Mass Effect games are some of the most popular sci-fi RPGs around, but their quality has not remained constant. There have been noticeable peaks and troughs as the franchise progressed, which we will investigate in turn below.

Mass Effect

Bioware’s epic third-person RPG saga started off strong with 2007’s Mass Effect. The graphics, soundscape, music, lore-craft and characterisation were all highly praised by gamers and critics alike. There were a few slight criticisms of course, specifically the unsightly texture pop in at the start of levels, the tedious and unskippable elevator rides and a combat system that was less than ideal.

Despite these minor flaws, it was widely regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi RPGs around. Mass Effect allowed for semi-open world exploration of many of its planets, usually facilitated by driving (and jumping) around in the Mako, a wheeled all-terrain Armoured Fighting Vehicle. This was generally well received, especially when combat was involved, be it against Geth Armatures or Thresher Maws. However, some felt the Mako’s handling characteristics were a little ‘floaty’, and that many of the explorable planets were formulaic and repetitive.

Mass Effect 1: Thresher Maw Fight

Video by Wuphon's Reach

Does the Mako remind anyone else of the ‘80s classic ‘Big Trak’ toy?

Mass Effect 2

2010 saw Mass Effect 2 hit the shelves. Critical reception was positive, with most commentators asserting that it was a superior game to its predecessor. Improvements noted included the absence of Mass Effect’s unsightly texture pop in, and that the combat system had been greatly improved. There were however a number of criticisms levelled at it.

The semi-open world exploration in the Mako had been removed completely, only to be replaced by the much criticised ‘scanning’ mini-game. RPG elements were simplified, as were weapon upgrades, which now affected the whole squad. Some saw this as welcome streamlining, whilst detractors felt it had been ‘dumbed down’ to make it more ‘console friendly’.

Some criticised its story, stating that beyond completing missions to recruit your team there was little story progression until the final suicide mission. NB – the lack of semi-open world Mako exploration was solved (somewhat) by the introduction of the Hammerhead vehicle in the highly praised Overlord DLC. Unfortunately, neither the Hammerhead or the semi-open world exploration would appear outside of the Overlord missions.

Some players felt the story was less impactful than the original as the stakes were lower. The game’s main antagonists - the humanoid Collectors, (servants of the Reapers), were described as a less interesting and less threatening opponent than their Reaper masters, one of which - Sovereign - had already been defeated in Mass Effect 1.

Mass Effect 2

Video by Official EA UK

Mass Effect 3

From a gameplay perspective, 2012’s Mass Effect 3 was arguably the high point of the trilogy. Combat and movement had been refined to a level that rivalled dedicated 3rd person cover shooters such as Gears of War. Visually it was the most advanced game in the series, and some would argue that its RPG elements and weapon customisation had struck the complexity ‘sweet spot’ between Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2.

Unfortunately, it suffered from a number of immersion wrecking glitches and bugs which pulled players ‘out of the moment.’ Sadly, these glitches were particularly noticeable during cutscenes - the sections of the game which are supposed to be the most emotive and immersive.

Mass Effect 3 Glitches

Video by GW3046

The quality of the writing and dialogue for much of the game was superb, as was the voice acting. These were artfully combined, and playing through Mass Effect 3 was an emotional roller coaster, which created genuine feelings of both anguish and joy.

Until THAT ending.

To say the ending of Mass Effect 3 was a controversial disappointment is an understatement. It was only partially corrected via the Extended Cut expansion which fleshed out the endings, but many fans still felt cheated and let down. Ending such an iconic franchise on such a low point left many gamers feeling bitterly disappointed.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Considering the Mass Effect 3 ending debacle, 2015 ‘s reveal of Mass Effect: Andromeda was met with both excitement and trepidation. Many players were excited to dive back in to the world of Mass Effect, but were worried that they may be let down once again. As it transpired, their concerns were well grounded.

Soon after it hit the shelves in 2017, Mass Effect: Andromeda was subject to a torrent of ridicule and criticism. The game playing public’s bones of contention were legion. These criticisms included a cast of characters that was bland and boring, and that the superb facial detail and whole-body animation of the original trilogy had been replaced with a soulless buggy mess, which was made worse by sub-par dialogue and voice acting.

Mass Effect Andromeda

Video by DeltaD36

The story and characterisation were criticised for being an uninspired re-hash of the original trilogies’. The main antagonists, the humanoid Kett, were far less awe inspiring than the Lovecraftian Reapers. The ‘searching different planets for information left behind by an extinct spacefaring civilisation’ story arc felt like a re-run of the trilogies’ Protheans.

Gameplay was praised however. Its maps were both larger and more open than in previous instalments, which allowed players to make full use of their character’s much enhanced mobility. However, for many gamers this wasn’t enough, and many consider Andromeda to be the series’ low point to date.

2. The Deus Ex Franch