The top 5 sequels that rewarded you for playing the original games

Gamers love a bit of continuity in their favorite franchises. It’s a chance to see their favorite characters make an appearance in the modern age, to see the consequences of their choices play out over time and, sometimes, an opportunity to pick up some sweet loot on the side for all the blood, sweat, and tears you shed in the past.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War recently announced that they’ll be joining the ranks of games that offer a bonus for playing an earlier title through their Nemesis Forge system. In Shadow of Mordor you had a chance to fight thousands of orcs, making a ton of enemies and a few cheeky friends along the way. Any orc that managed to rip you to shreds would continue to show up at inopportune moments as their strengths organically worked against your weaknesses. With the Nemesis Forge, you’ll now be able to take one of those enemies (and friends) along with you to Shadow of War, where they’ll continue to hunt you down, and you’ll be able to face off with a few familiar faces on the battlefield.

Of course, this got us thinking about franchises that offered similar loyalty bonuses in the past. Here's a roundup of the very best games that rewarded you for playing their predecessors. 

Mass Effect

It’s impossible to create a list about porting saves for bonus rewards without talking about Mass Effect as a franchise. This iconic story may not have invented the wheel but it did a lot to pioneer the concept of a world that evolves over multiple games, based entirely off player choice, and it’s clear that Bioware wanted to make sure that players had plenty of incentive to play all three games and transfer saves accordingly to get the full Mass Effect experience.

From day one, every choice you make is tracked, evaluated, and, depending on what platform you play on, can be imported into the next game in the series. The way these imports are handled is one of the key reasons Mass Effect made this list.

Not only do you get a chance to see your choices large and small carry through, but there are a number of rewards available depending on the strength of your character when you import your save.

If you transfer a character from the original Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2 you’ll lose all player progress, but be rewarded for your time based on how powerful that character was when he was fast-tracked to the med-bay at the beginning of Mass Effect 2. If you were level 1-49, you’ll net an extra 1000 experience and a stockpile of resources including an extra 20,000 credits. Level 50-59 will net you 2000 experience and an even bigger pile of resources. And a level 60 character will receive even more experience, and you guessed it, more credits and resources.

Each reward tier gives you a heck of a leg up on the Reapers, and should help you blast through the early levels of the game without breaking much of a sweat, although you’ll have more than earned it for completing the original Mass Effect.

As if that wasn’t enough, transferring a save from Mass Effect 2 to Mass Effect 3 reportedly sends over 1000 separate variables and choices, while also perfectly syncing your progress so that you can effectively pick up where you left off. If you capped out at level 30 in Mass Effect 2 you’ll be able to start at level 30 in Mass Effect 3, with an approximation of all your skill points on hand. This bonus alone is massive, and allows you to get a heck of a head start working towards the lofty new level cap compared to Mass Effect 2.

The way these saves are transferred allows players to dynamically change their character arc based off key plot points and how they want to play. A paragon character in the original Mass Effect could undergo a massive shift after the opening cinematic of Mass Effect 2, changing to a more jaded, darker character that’s done dealing with the council in any capacity. Or a character that laughed at the death of friends and enemies alike in Mass Effect 2 could reconsider their methods in the face of the greater Reaper threat in Mass Effect 3.

It’s entirely up to you, and the fact that BioWare built the trilogy to play out in just such a fashion is a marvel, and it's one of the bug reasons the Mass Effect trilogy has nearly unlimited replay value.           

The Witcher

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the kind of RPG that comes once in a generation, but the first two titles were both quality contenders for Game of the Year awards in their own right, especially if you enjoyed porting your saves from one game to the next.

CD Projekt Red built a franchise that allowed you to carry your saves from one title to the next, carrying over your Geralt, certain pieces of his gear, and several of his choices from one game to the next.

This in general rewarded players that searched out every mystery and side quest in the first game with bonuses that they could use in the opening acts of The Witcher 2, or that might come into play as the player navigates the complicated politics of Geralt’s world in both the later titles. This was particularly evident in the transfer from the original Witcher to The Witcher 2, because you could also carry across a small amount of gold, your favorite silver and steel swords, and the end-game armor into the first big acts.

These weapons and armor were far from overpowered, but gave players that took the time to seek them out another chance to enjoy them in the Witcher 2’s improved graphical environment before replacing them with the gear you acquire later in the game.

Unfortunately, The Witcher 3 focuses primarily on transferring progress rather than giving you a badass set of gear, but carrying over romances and a number of key plot decisions creates a nice dynamic that makes it feel like you’re still playing as your Geralt in the newest game in the series.

The moral undertone of a Witcher’s purpose becomes a key plot point here, and the player’s choices when dealing with humans, monsters, and other non-threatening creatures comes into play as Geralt continues to encounter each faction and several key characters that will either save or condemn him based on his actions in the previous titles.

Assassin’s Creed

Although Assassin’s Creed isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, every fan out there knows that Ubisoft takes care of the players that hunt through every hidden corner of an Assassin’s Creed game. Usually these rewards come in a small pack of gear that’s unlocked at the beginning of the next game or other tidbits that can be found throughout your adventure.

These gear drops are persistent, and offer one of the few upsides to Ubisoft’s Uplay platform because of the way it tracks what specific tasks you’ve completed across every Ubisoft title, allowing you to get a bit of instant gratification out of a key achievement when you load into the next Assassin’s Creed title.

These rewards are anything from Altair’s robes from the first game, to Ezio’s Arabic sword from Assassin’s Creed Revelations, to the occasional bit of pirate loot or some other cosmetic bonus that serves as a tiny tip of the hat to anyone that’s finished the other games. 

Sometimes these rewards are extremely valuable for the early acts of the game, giving players a bonus to damage with some mid-tier level gear when you’re fighting enemies that are wearing rags at the time. Other times these items have almost zero effect on gameplay, but they’re fun to run around in and it’s a nice homage to the franchise’s roots.

Ratchet & Clank

Any Ratchet & Clank fan knows that they can expect to see plenty of Easter eggs, characters, and hijinks make an appearance in any new addition to the franchise, but this zany weapon-packing Lombax gets most of his cross-game bonuses via shady underground dealers that ship weapons of mass destruction across the galaxy for you to enjoy.

Ratchet gets any weapons he’s already purchased from previous companies for free, so if you have a save from another game, there’s consistently a chance to pick up some fan favorite weapons for zero cost and massively crank up the strength of your arsenal in a hot minute.

As a character that’s rolling into the universe on a fresh run (or who potentially lost an 8MB memory card back in the day) you can still get these weapons by purchasing them the old fashion way, but it’s always nice to be a returning customer cashing in the equivalent of a lifetime warranty for a gun that’s illegal because of how likely it is to make a planet uninhabitable.

The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)

A game that remembers every single one of your dirty mistakes, Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead is an interesting beast in the sense that every episode technically carries over your progress to the next, but it’s the fact that these choices continue to dramatically alter the storyline when you port your progress into Season 2 that gives it a spot on this list.

Telltale is well known for orchestrating large and detailed plots that make every decision matter, often with dramatic consequences, and as you continue to wade through the dead and dying from chapter to chapter. This game remembers all of your dirty laundry, and is willing to use it against you miles down the road.

Honorable Mention: Golden Sun

Golden Sun and Golden Sun: The Lost Age had a unique way to save and transfer progress that will always hold a special place in our hearts. For those not familiar with the titles, the first game follows four distinct characters on a quest to defeat another faction of characters as they attempt to re-light several alchemical lighthouses. At the end of Golden Sun, you’ll have gathered a massive pile of gear, levels, and a huge number of alchemical creatures called Djinn.

Fast forward to the next game and you shift gears to follow the enemy faction and take control of four of their characters. You’ll proceed as you would expect, attempting to thwart the first group of adventurers, but midway through the game you’ll meet up, resolve your differences, and join together in a dynamic eight-person team.

If you choose not to transfer your file, these characters will pretty much match up perfectly with your team, with a few Djinn, a spattering of eclectic level appropriate gear, etc. But if you choose to port over your previous progress, you’ll get a carbon copy of your original characters with all the appropriate gear, levels, and Djinn.

As you can imagine this is a bit of completionist’s dream come true, and like a lot of traditional RPGs there’s a heck of a lot of end game content that allows you to both challenge multiple secret bosses, find ridiculously powerful items, and of course max out the possible Djinn you can collect in the first game. Complete all that, and you can transfer several high level, extremely well equipped characters for the second half of Golden Sun: The Lost Age.

The only downside is that transferring these characters requires a direct cable connection to another system, which was only available if you owned a second GBA back in the day. The other method involves inputing one of three possible passwords to get things to transfer properly. The bronze version is short and sweet, but will only net you levels, Djinn, and story progress, while the silver is longer but allows you to also transfer the exact stats of your characters rather than just the levels.

The gold password, on the other hand, is a massive 260-character beast that requires a serious investment in time and careful input to properly perform, but will also transfer everything the other passwords do, with the added bonus of gold and every item your previous characters had in their inventory at the end of the first game.

Still, if you’re the type to make their characters worth transferring, it’s definitely worth spending the half an hour to input the code. The payoff is a chance to see all your blood, sweat, and toil pay off against the end game bosses in Golden Sun: The Lost Age.