Trilogies have become a popular method of telling stories in entertainment and gaming has fully embraced the idea of the trilogy. A trilogy is a set of three different entries into one overall story arc that ends with the third installment. Other entries in the universe may occur before, during, or after the trilogy, but the main story is encompassed by the three installments.
We asked the VGU.TV staff what they thought was the best gaming trilogy of all time and here is what they had to say.
Editor in Chief
While trying to decide which trilogy I should advocate for in this roundtable I dismissed Mass Effect almost right off the bat. I love Mass Effect but I couldn’t stand the way that the trilogy ended and I thought “there have to be other trilogies that got everything right” so I planned on saying something else. However, I have recently begun a new playthrough of Mass Effect 3 and it has changed my line of thinking.
The Mass Effect series did a phenomenal job of creating a rich and interesting universe that you as the player became full invested in over the course of three games. The different alien species, the plethora of interesting characters, and the phenomenal storylines create an experience that has few equals in gaming.
As I replayed the Tuchanka missions of Mass Effect 3 I realized that the decisions I made in the earlier games truly changed the way the events played out in that storyarc and the great writing and storytelling that comprised the Genophage storyline shined even more brightly against the disappointment of the ending.
There have been trilogies that did a better job of completing resolving the main threat, however there has never been a trilogy (not that I have played anyway) that got me so invested in characters, that made my choices in the game matter so much, or that created such likable characters. Sure I like characters like Nathan Drake and Master Chief but tons of great supporting players like Mordin, Garrus, Joker, and more make Mass Effect an experience like no other.
Mass Effect 2 is my favorite game of all time and regardless of the ending, Mass Effect 3 did resonate on a very emotional level and provide some exceptional storytelling and character moments that make me believe it is the greatest gaming trilogy of all time.
Executive Editor- Xbox
I’d have to say the best game trilogy of all time was the .hack//G.U. series on the PlayStation 2. Before Mass Effect was even a twinkle in someone at Bioware’s eye, CyberConnect 2′s initial .hack// games were doing the carry-over save thing, but through four installments rather than three. .hack//G.U. took the foundation laid down in the first .hack// series, trimmed some of the fat, re-imagined some of the original concepts, and managed to be a great sequel and a great independent trilogy at the same time.
Set in a new version of The World, an immersive, globally-played MMO that had some mild issues (people’s consciousnesses getting trapped in the game, players falling into terminal comas… the usual), the efforts of the original .hack//’s heroes managed to clean up some nasty surprises left, somewhat unintentionally, by the game’s late developer. However, not everything is kosher in The World.
If the rampant player killing, player killer killing, and shady dealings in the game’s arena weren’t enough, something weird’s going on in The World. Visual errors and account-rending encounters are being reported, an ominous shadow of the previous version’s difficulties. As Haseo, a player killer killer (or PKK) on a one man quest to make those who screwed him over in his early days pay, you’re also running a solo investigation. Your target is Tri-Edge, a character whose appearance matches the legendary Kite, the hero who saved the original The World, and whose blows seem to lead to more permanent game absences than just character death.
Following leads and the mysterious marks left by Tri-Edge, Haseo eventually learns to trust other players again, forming a guild with some friendly newbie assistants, and falling in reluctantly with some more powerful figures in the game looking more deeply into what’s been happening. The three games show Haseo getting steadily stronger with the help of his friends and associates, far surpassing anything he could do on his own, and uncovering all sorts of mysteries and twists along the way.
The level of improvement over the original .hack// games is stunning, with a lot of the more monotonous side quests and minigames either streamlined or cut out entirely. The MMO-like atmosphere is portrayed fairly consistently, with all manner of minor NPC players reflecting your typical MMORPG player archetypes. You’ve got your scumbags, your power-levelers, your item farmers, and even your 1337-speakers, running through the various hub towns and offering wares to trade, some of which are unique weapons and armor for certain characters. The combat is also rather polished, feeling extremely fluid through all three games, and doing a great job of implementing Haseo’s eventual four-deep stack of weapon choices, which he can change on the fly. Even from the first volume, the game’s a testament to what the PS2 could handle, having been developed at the end of the system’s life cycle.
As for story, not only is the in-game content fairly deep, but the .hack// universe extends far beyond that of just G.U. With ties to the first set of games, the anime series surrounding both games and the time between them, several novels, some manga, and even an audio drama, .hack// is an example of multimedia storytelling only rivaled by game franchises such as Halo and Dead Space.
Unfortunately, this gem (well, trio of gems) from Namco Bandai was mostly overlooked outside of Japan. With a relatively limited print run, the games can be kind of hard to find these days, but if you enjoyed Asura’s Wrath or the Naruto fighting games, it might be worth your time and your dime to track down these gems from CyberConnect 2′s past.
In my opinion the best gaming trilogy is Fallout. Not necessarily Fallout 1, 2, and 3. But Fallout 1, 2, and New Vegas. The original Fallout is widely considered to be one of the greatest games of all time. Despite being a “pseudo-isometric” game, I fell in love with both the game and more importantly, the world. It was post-apocalyptic goodness that let you do anything in almost any way you could think. Not only that, it is one of those games that stands the test of time. Even as I write this I have Ron Perlman’s opening monologues playing as a testament to my love for those games. It introduced legendary characters such as the Master, Harold, Dogmeat, and “the Lou”. Characters that would pop-up again in its sequel.
Fallout 2 not only upped the ante, it went bigger and better. With the introduction of the Enclave, gaming had one of its new big bads. Its Easter eggs were truly remarkable as well. It was meta to the first game, poking fun at the Fallout dev team, and had Monty Python references which in my book scores a load of points. To this day the “Cafe of Broken Dreams” location remains one of my favorites of all time. Despite its many bugs, I still loved every moment of playing it.
Way before Fallout 3 was even in the works at Bethesda there was another Fallout 3 in the works. Codenamed “Van Buren”, it was Black Isle’s Fallout 3 in which you were a prisoner who was set to stop a mad scientist from committing genocide in the wasteland. Ultimately, “Van Buren” was cancelled, Black Isle Studios was shut down, and “Van Buren” became the game Fallout fans were clamoring for. That game, albeit a modified version, ultimately became 2010′s Fallout: New Vegas. I consider this a sequel to Fallout 2 mainly because it features some characters from Fallout 2, it was made by the remnants of Black Isle, and takes one of the main conflicts: the NCR/Legion war and makes it instrumental to the game’s ending. Add-in some great DLC that was classic-Fallout, and heck even music from the first game and you have a game that is truly underrated.
The best gaming trilogy is easily the Halo series. Nowadays, you can’t go into your local GameStop without having a whole conversation with the employee about how awesome Halo is. Starting in 2001, the then Bungie-owned Halo quickly gained momentum and had friends carrying TVs to their friend’s houses so they could play some Capture the Flag on one of the most well-known multiplayer maps in history, Blood Gulch. The thing that made Halo so popular and fun is that is was new. We had never seen anything like that on the console, and Bungie continued its success three years later with Halo 2. In its first 24 hours of sale, Halo 2 sold an astounding 2.4 million copies, and numbers don’t lie. Although being infamous for its extreme cliffhanger of an ending, fans continued to play the campaign over and over, and played the multiplayer, having racked up 710 million hours on Xbox Live.
Another three years later, the conclusion to the Halo epic was released and we ate Halo 3 up. Tying up the campaign in an amazing way, and giving us a multiplayer that we, yet again, loved to death. It’s simple fact that, there’s nothing better than nailing your friend in the head with a plasma grenade, and hearing them react over live.
Halo is probably the most influential series in gaming and it’s a blast to boot. Known for its awesome graphics and interactive gameplay, it’s continuing success proves that it’s the best trilogy to ever grace the Microsoft consoles. I’ve personally spent countless hours on the campaign and even more on the multiplayer. I would recommend the first three Halo games to anyone with any wanting to enjoy beautiful graphics and awesome multiplayer!
There are many great trilogies in video games, and when this roundtable was brought up, I had to sit down and think about it. After careful consideration, I knew there was only one clear choice: The Mass Effect trilogy.
No doubt James Pungello has covered most of this, so I’ll try to keep this brief without being too redundant. BioWare did an amazing job with Mass Effect, creating a gigantic world for players to explore. Everything is intricately detailed in the Codex. Histories of planets, people, races, wars, you name it, it’s there. Shepard’s journey through the galaxy is a massive achievement in games, in that all the choices you make as your character carry over throughout the series, and have consequences in later games. The idea was revolutionary, and I can’t imagine anyone doing it better.