Gaming spinoffs aren’t always born out of the most noble of intentions. Often a game publisher is trying to find ways to further milk their cash cow franchise or engine. On numerous occasions we’ve been displeased to find our favorite franchise become a horrendous mobile puzzle or strategy game, doomed to haunt those who once held the franchise dear.

But sometimes we’re treated to the best kind of spinoff game, one that takes inspiration from its source material and builds upon it to iterate on an existing formula or create something entirely new within a game’s universe. These are the games fans cherish and often remark as the spinoffs just as great, if not better than the original game. Here are 5 of my favorite.

Forza Horizon series

I realize “Forza Horizon 4” just released and that it may be too early to judge where it stands in terms of all-time great racing games, but you can’t knock the impact the franchise has had on open-world racing games as a whole in recent years. Producing the Xbox One’s two highest rated console exclusives, the Horizon series of games spawned from “Forza Motorsport” back in 2012 and never drifted back.

Trading the concrete racetracks of the motorsport series for the open road of Colorado, France, Italy, Australia and more recently Great Britain, “Forza Horizon” has cemented itself as a racing juggernaut that has arguably grown more popular than the game it spun off from. With gorgeous cars and locations, a never-ending list of racing and activities to take part in and a highly creative community of fans behind it, the “Forza Horizon” series looks to rally it way to further notoriety.

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Fallout: New Vegas

Let’s get something out of the way right now; everyone is entitled to their own opinion about which “Fallout” game is the best, but if you’re answer isn’t “Fallout: New Vegas”, you’ve probably not played it.

It doesn’t have the graphical upgrades of “Fallout 4” or the stark historical backdrop of “Fallout 3”. In fact, it doesn’t even have a number in the title. It wasn’t even developed by Bethesda Game Studios. But a humble Obsidian entertainment did craft a marvelously written and well executed RPG that has near endless replay value. It’s so beloved, that a mod team has dedicated themselves to remaking the entire game in the most recent Fallout engine.

It deserves praise for pushing the lore and world-building of the “Fallout” universe forward while also being so damn fun to play!

Crash Team Racing

The “Crash Bandicoot” games were great. Funny, whimsical, and as the recent remaster proved, often times insanely frustrating to master. But my favorite “Crash Bandicoot” game and the one that still deserves a remaster and revisit more than any 90’s console darling I’ve played is “Crash Team Racing” (CTR).

Who would have thought that a young Naughty Dog, after mastering the 2.5 d platformer would craft a kart racer still worthy of praise nearly two decades later? While the kart selection and roster were somewhat simplistic, the tracks and handling style was simply superb and made even time trial events an addictive affair. Years later, I still look for my CTR fix, but alas, Activision has left me all but hopeless. Luckily, games like “Bears Can’t Drift!?” seek to temporarily mend the hole in my heart and soul as I await a true CTR sequel or remaster.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Okay okay, I’m not saying that “Uncharted 2” isn’t a masterpiece of gameplay, storytelling and set-pieces. What I am saying, is that “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” is gorgeous proof that the franchise can live on without Nathan Drake at the head.

Essentially taking the engine and gameplay innovations of “Uncharted 4” and throwing them at two of the series’ most badass characters in Chloe and Nadine, The Lost Legacy succeeds by simply being more “Uncharted”. It’s in-game locations are dangerous but beautiful, the puzzles are challenging but attainable and the story is simplistic yet satisfying.

As someone who was simply expecting a couple hours of story DLC for “Uncharted 4”, I’m glad the team at Naughty Dog seized the opportunity to create something all its own instead.


Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

While Gearbox Software was busy fudging up “Aliens: Colonial Marines”, their beloved first-person loot shooter franchise “Borderlands” was left out to dry. Or so we thought.

2K Australia had been working in tandem with a few team members of Gearbox to release an entirely new installment in the franchise, laughably known as “Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel”.

Taking place on Pandora’s moon and featuring a new but familiar cast of characters, the third installment in the franchise also carries a rewarding story for long time fans, as you play as one of the series’ notorious bosses as they work to aide and assist a Handsome(less) Jack to power.

The laughs, epic boss battles and addictive loot drops are all still here, but so are wacky new guns, play-style specific skill trees and that same dark humor that will leave your belly aching and anyone unfamiliar with the tone of the series, feeling slightly uncomfortable. It’s got charm replay-ability and it’s available on everything from your PS3 and Xbox 360 all the way up to them new-fangled machines of today.