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I’m desperately hoping these games will get the sequels they deserve

Key Takeaways

  • Storytelling in games has been crucial since the early arcade days, creating immersive universes that spawn sequels, reboots, or spin-offs, often leading to deep emotional connections with players.
  • Despite the success of iconic game franchises, some beloved titles remain cliffhangers due to studio closures, shifting priorities, or poor sales, leaving fans longing for closure and potential sequels.
  • Games like Half-Life 2, Titanfall 2, and Shenmue left players on narrative cliffhangers, raising concerns about incomplete storylines and unique gameplay mechanics that may never be revisited due to industry changes and developer shifts.

Even in the early days of arcades, developers knew that you needed a strong story to go alongside the gameplay to make a successful game. We’ve since seen franchises go on to dozens of sequels and iterations that have carried the story forward, rebooted, or spun off into new directions. I love new IPs as much as the next person, but there’s something about finally getting a sequel to a game I loved that provides a special feeling of excitement.

I’ve been playing games for an embarrassingly long time and have felt the sting of finishing a game decades ago with no hope of a sequel ever materializing.

The sad reality is, though, that not all games end up getting sequels. Studios close down, or teams move on to other franchises with no signs of ever returning. This has resulted in far too many games leaving players on narrative cliffhangers or wishing that a cool or unique gameplay mechanic would be used again. I’ve been playing games for an embarrassingly long time and have felt the sting of finishing a game decades ago with no hope of a sequel ever materializing. These are the ones that still hurt to think about. I’ll try not to spoil everything, but be warned that I will detail some of the dangling story threads.


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1 Half-Life 2

Valve always stops at 2

What list of unresolved sequels could possibly start with anything but Half-Life 2? This is the gold standard gamers point to when bemoaning a promised sequel that never came to be. Both Half-Life titles were revolutionary for their times in terms of design and mechanics, but also storytelling. These were some of the first games to tell a compelling and rich story in a first-person shooter without cutscenes or taking control away from the player. The sequel expanded the scope and stakes to new heights, only for it to just… fizzle out.

Instead of a third game, Valve released two DLC episodes for Half-Life 2, which only left us on an even bigger cliffhanger. After that, there was not a peep from this franchise until 2022 when we got a spinoff VR game. While amazing, it still felt a little like a slap in the face for all of us waiting for the story to move forward, which this game didn’t do. Things only get worse when the lead writer, who has left Valve, released something called “Epistle 3,” which changes a few names but tells the story of what that game would’ve been.


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2 Titanfall 2

Prepare for disappointment

If you haven’t played Titanfall 2, you haven’t lived. This is, without exaggeration, one of the most creative and mechanically tight shooters ever created. The first game set up the universe, weapons, and parkour-like movement systems but lacked a single-player component. The sequel introduced a story but didn’t just phone it in, as some Call of Duty games have. There are stakes, villains, twists, and a growing relationship between your main pilot and their robot AI. Each level has something different going on to keep the pace fast but never repetitive. “Effect and Cause” in particular is one level that still impresses me to this day.

However, due to a combination of poor release timing and perhaps low interest based on the first game, Titanfall 2 didn’t end up selling as well as it should have. This pushed Respawn to change directions and make Apex Legends on the bones of Titanfall, only now as a battle royale without the story or giant robots. Besides nothing else offering that same mixture of tight gunplay, slick movement, and giant robot action, the story also left us wanting more. Is BT really gone? The decoded message from the post-credits scene suggests not, but we may never know for sure.


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3 Shenmue

Lan Di gets away

I’m fortunate in the sense that I never got invested in this series personally. If I had, I might put it at the top of the list out of spite, but I can still appreciate how much fans of Shenmue have suffered. The first two games came out at a good pace and got people invested in the plight of Ryo attempting to track down Lan Di after he murdered his father. After the second game, most people thought that was as much as we’d get. If the story had ended there, it might’ve still made my list. But it gets worse.

Eighteen years and one Kickstarter campaign later, Shenmue 3 picked up the story once again. The only problem is this wasn’t where the story was intended to end. Lan Di once again escaped, and Ryo’s quest looks farther from over than ever. With its poor sales and middling-at-best critical ratings, a fourth entry seems incredibly unlikely, and I doubt even the most hardcore fans are willing to wait another 18 years to see it happen.


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4 Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

Back to the future

As a massive fan of the original Sly trilogy, I will admit that Thieves in Time isn’t the strongest entry in the franchise. That said, I do appreciate the risks it took in changing up the formula and the creative ways it tried to add new systems and mechanics. The time travel framework is fun if you don’t get too hung up on the mechanics of changing the past and all that. Meeting and playing as a bunch of Sly’s ancestors with their own playstyles was a blast, though the twist of who the true villain was didn’t make much sense or feel very earned.

This game has two cliffhangers we need to see concluded. First, Penelope got away and would no doubt be plotting something, but the fate of Sly himself is what can’t be left where it is. If you get the true ending by collecting all the trophies, you see a scene where Sly wakes up stranded in Ancient Egypt. The sad reality is that this story has almost no chance of being picked up. Sucker Punch, the team that made the original trilogy, moved on to InFamous for three games and is now focused on Ghost of Tsushima. Odds are it won’t be going back to this franchise with how successful Ghost became. Sanzaru, who took up the mantle for Thieves in Time, has since been acquired by Meta, so it won’t be touching a PlayStation IP ever again. I guess Sly will just have to get used to living in the desert.


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5 The Conduit 2

I’m not making this up

If you’ve never heard of either Conduit game, I don’t blame you. These were some of the rare attempts at making hardcore shooters for the Wii. The first entry was a fairly standard sci-fi story about a man fighting back against an alien invasion. It was a short, not-all-that-impressive little shooter that was more of a novelty being on the Wii than anything else. Only a year later, it got a sequel that took things in a very… weird direction. The plot suddenly started incorporating Sumerian mythology and heavily referenced the Reptilian Conspiracy theory, which suggests that a group called the Annunaki were actually aliens that enslaved humans in the past.

If that was the note the game ended on, that would be crazy enough. The thing is, it somehow tops even that with an ending that, to this day, baffles anyone who sees or hears about it. When your main character finally reaches John Adams (yes, the former second President of the United States), who turns out to be a secret alien in Atlantis, a signal is sent out that calls another spaceship down. When it lands, who else but George Washington and Abraham Lincoln emerge and pledge to help your character defeat the aliens once and for all. If that’s not the ultimate cliffhanger, I don’t know what is.


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6 Eternal Darkness

Driving me crazy

Eternal Darkness has garnered a cult following in the years since its release on the GameCube and was even quite highly reviewed for the time. That said, a horror game on a Nintendo console at that time was fighting an uphill battle. When you add in just how ambitious this game was in terms of storytelling and horror systems, it almost felt destined to fail commercially. This is a game where the story doesn’t demand a sequel. In fact, it all wraps up rather neatly for such a large story told across so many time periods. The reason I, and many others, want a sequel is because of the infamous sanity effects.

While playing Eternal Darkness, your current character has three meters: health, magic, and sanity. The first two are common in games, but that third one is where Eternal Darkness stands out. When your sanity starts to get low, strange things happen. You might enter a room and be on the roof. You could be walking along and your character’s head simply falls off. But the best ones broke the fourth wall, such as your TV volume turning all the way down on its own, or the game telling you your save file was deleted when you try to save the game. These brought the fear out of the game in a way I’d never seen before and hardly have since. Unfortunately, Silicon Knights is no more, and even the spiritual successor the former team tried to kickstart failed miserably.

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