The 10 Best Video Game Trilogies of all Time


The best things in life come in threes. Naturally, this includes video games. Whether it's because of the technological leap in between each subsequent installment and/or that it tells a complete tale with a satisfactory ending, these video game trilogies have found a way to immortalize themselves in the video game industry.

The first three Mass Effect games is an example of a trilogy done right.

Below, we've listed, what we believe, are the 10 best video game trilogies of all time.

Mass Effect

The original Mass Effect trilogy might not have stuck its ending, but it was otherwise perfect in every other way.

Anyone who disagrees that Mass Effect is the quintessential video game trilogy only because of its lackluster ending is free to replay the game again from the start with Mass Effect Legendary Edition.

True, the ending to Mass Effect 3 could've been handled better. In fact, it could've been drastically different if the original writer had been around. But, for all its supposed flaws, one has to admit that the original Mass Effect trilogy remains one of the best gaming experiences one could ever have.

You'd have to look at Mass Effect from the perspective of a casual gamer to really understand how amazing the trilogy is. The choice and consequence feature, for example, is still a mind-blowing concept. This is especially when you consider how even your smallest choices from the first game can still affect the third game.

The ripple effect of all your choices throughout the entire Mass Effect trilogy is something that a lot of games have never even bothered to try because of how difficult it is to pull off.

Simply put, the original Mass Effect trilogy was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of game. It's easily one of the best video game trilogies of all time.

Batman: Arkham

It will be a while before we see a Batman game that's as good as Rocksteady Studios' Batman: Arkham titles.

2009's Arkham Asylum proved that you could do a Batman game right. Sure, it borrowed a lot of elements from games that came before it, most notably the exploration and backtracking of Metroidvania games. However, it also introduced an original combat system that helped cement it as one of the best superhero video games.

The 2011 sequel, Arkham City, then upped the ante. It gave players an open world with numerous exploration possibilities as the Caped Crusader. More importantly, it gave casual gaming audiences a deeper insight into the relationship between Batman and his archnemesis, the Joker.

Admittedly, 2015's Arkham Knight stumbled upon its release. Technical issues and a couple of moments mar the overall gaming experience. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, the issues do very little to detract from the satisfying conclusion the trilogy offers for one of Batman's biggest regrets. At the same time, the story also paves the way for the next generation of the Batman Family to take over.

Max Payne

If ever Remedy or Rockstar wants to do a different game, they can always circle back and work on Max Payne 4.

Before Remedy Games gave the world Alan Wake and Control, it first made a name for itself with 2001's Max Payne.

The neo-noir third-person shooter introduced fans to the titular protagonist, Max Payne, a dark and vast criminal conspiracy. Even by today's standards, Max Payne's story remains one well worth remembering. So, you can only imagine just how groundbreaking it was back then. This is especially true for the sequel, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, which refined the gunplay and added better ragdoll physics for better immersion.

Even though it took 9 years for Max Payne 3 to release from Rockstar Games, it proved to be well worth the wait. The 2012 title was awarded multiple year-end accolades by several well-known video game publications.

Dark Souls

It's amazing how a cult following can create one of the best video game trilogies. Case in point, FromSoftware and Demon's Souls.

Before being remade for the PlayStation 5, Demon's Souls was an obscure title that was released in 20019. The game's brutal difficulty and cumbersome gameplay proved to be much too much for players at the time. However, there were a few who stayed and toughed it out. As a result, they found themselves rewarded by a unique action title with deep RPG mechanics.

Then, in 2011, FromSoftware released a successor in Dark Souls and that was pretty much all she wrote.

Dark Souls went on to spawn an entire genre of games. In fact, every marginally difficult title released since has been referred to as a "Souls-like". Even though many believe that Bloodborne remains FromSoftware's finest work yet, until FromSoftware can release two worthy sequels to the PlayStation-exclusive title, Dark Souls remains the best video game trilogy that they've made.

BioShock

BioShock's shocking twist near the end remains just as surprising today as it was more than a decade ago.

In terms of video game trilogies, most people tend to forget about BioShock. Unlike others, the stories of all three games aren't linked explicitly. Rather, it's the different philosophical themes that each game explores that bind the entire trilogy.

With that said, 2K Games accomplished something that very few have with the BioShock franchise. The philosophical video game series managed to tackle some pretty heavy issues. This includes everything from American Exceptionalism to Capitalism and Collectivism, among others. But, the games didn't bore gamers with the detail. Instead, all three titles showed each of its immersive stories through their fast-paced and well-executed gameplay.

It'll be years before we see a BioShock 4 if it ever releases. In the meantime, you can keep yourself busy by playing one of the best video game trilogies of all time.

Metroid Prime

It's a shame that the 4th Metroid Prime game has been shelved indefinitely.

Up until 2002, all of Samus Aran's adventures were side-scrollers. Then, Metroid Prime came and proved that, sometimes, even a well-known and successful franchise could do with a literal change in perspective.

Metroid Prime took the then-proven Metroid formula and switched things up by turning the game into a first-person shooter. Of course, the sci-fi enemies and clever environment puzzles remained. But, thanks to this change, as well as the clever controls and level design, Metroid Prime was able to satisfy longtime fans of the series while also opening the Metroid games up to a new audience.

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The fact that the Metroid Prime trilogy remains the best-reviewed Metroid games cements them as one of the best video game trilogies of all time.

Assassin's Creed: Ezio

With the way things are going, we might never see Ubisoft bring back the series how it was back in the early 2010s.

In 2021, the Assassin's Creed series has seen over a dozen installments. However, Ezio Auditore da Firenze's trilogy remains the benchmark to which every other Assassin's Creed game will forever be compared with.

From the very moment that you play the 2009 classic up until Ezio's tale ends in 2011's Revelations, Ezio's trilogy delivers an expansive and living world where you're just not doing things for the sake of getting rid of that marker on your map.

Everything you did throughout Ezio's trilogy of Assassin's Creed games felt like it had a purpose. You didn't just go to Florence, Forli, Venice, Rome, and even Constantinople and Cappadocia for the sake of it. You went there to track down the Templars. Along the way, you also went toe to toe with historical figures like Pope Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia, among others.

Even though Ezio's narrative arc is what really sells his Assassin's Creed games, it's also the action/stealth gameplay that arguably peaked here that keeps things so interesting.

Ultimately, what we're saying is that Ezio's journey is one that you'll likely never forget anytime soon.

Halo

We wouldn't have blamed Microsoft had they ended the entire series with Halo 3.

Before Halo came, first-person shooters were exclusively a PC thing. Games such as Half-Life, Doom, Quake, and Deus Ex, among others, were best enjoyed on the PC if not exclusive to the platform. But, then, Microsoft launched the original Xbox and Halo along with it, which forever changed the gaming landscape.

From its tight controls to its sandbox combat, as well as an overarching sci-fi storyline, the original 2001 title will forever go down in history as the one that changed it all.

After seeing the success of the first Halo game, Microsoft doubled down with Halo 2, which introduced an online matchmaking system that continues to influence the shooters of today. Then, Halo 3 gave Master Chief an unforgettable campaign with an epic ending that has not been matched by any Halo game released since.

Make no mistake. Halo 4 and Halo 5 are great games. So are the other Halo games that released after Halo 3. However, the original Halo trilogy is what makes The Master Chief Collection such a good value. The rest are just filler.

Mortal Kombat

It took more than two decades for a new Mortal Kombat trilogy to even come close to the first three Mortal Kombat games.

The Mortal Kombat series of games is one of the most controversial titles of all time. This is thanks largely to the efforts of the original Mortal Kombat trilogy. The first three games were groundbreaking back in the 90s. The 1992 classic, in particular, used digitized versions of real-life actors and featured such gore and violence that it literally led to the creation of the ESRB rating system that we know of today.

Unfazed, Midway would double down on everything that they did with the first Mortal Kombat with Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat III.

For all of the debates and squabbles that the original Mortal Kombat trilogy generated though, it also had substance. The unforgettable characters and fun gameplay, as well as its unique visual style, made the games much more than just the gorefest that many critics said it was.

Perhaps this is why after a string of failed releases throughout the 2000s, NetherRealm ended up rebooting the entire franchise with 2011's Mortal Kombat 9.

Speaking of, NetherRealm's efforts are just as noteworthy for bringing the Mortal Kombat franchise back on the proverbial map. In fact, one could argue that they are the reason why the Mortal Kombat movie even came to fruition, in the first place. But, for all the good that they did, there is a reason why their games are essentially a retelling of the original Mortal Kombat trilogy.

Resident Evil

Here's to hoping that Capcom remakes the first Resident Evil (again).

Not counting the spin-offs, there have been eight Resident Evil games so far. This includes Resident Evil Village, which, according to rumors, is part of its very own trilogy. But, even if we were to consider that and the fact that Resident Evil 4 was part of yet another trilogy, very few video game trilogies throughout the industry can hold a candle to the first three Resident Evil games.

True. The tank controls and fixed camera angles haven't aged well. Those are things that the remakes for Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 were right to fix. However, the puzzle-solving, focus on the survival aspect, as well as the level design, remains unmatched by any other Resident Evil game. This is largely why many refer to the 90s Resident Evil games as the progenitors of the survival horror genre.

What makes these titles one of the best video game trilogies is how each one built off of what the other started.

The 1996 classic blew away gamers with its relatively small but eerie setting that was the Spencer Mansion. Then, just 2 years later, Resident Evil 2 came and gave players a bigger area to explore with the entirety of Raccoon City and added multiple playable scenarios that helped encouraged gamers to play through the games more than once.

Even though Resident Evil 3 was not as well-received at the time, it remains iconic. It also introduced arguably the scariest Resident Evil villain of all time in Nemesis.

Regardless of whether you're revisiting the original Resident Evil trilogy through its remakes or as they were when they were first released, it's a nerve-wracking scare-fest that's well worth taking many times over

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is based in the Philippines. He is a lifelong gamer and a PC hardware enthusiast. He builds and repairs laptops and computers for friends and family in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.