First, let's lay some guidelines. Only two, in fact. The franchise must have started on a current-gen console or on a PC during that era. Reboots aren't allowed (Prince of Persia or Medal of Honor) and franchises within franchises aren't allowed (Modern Warfare within Call of Duty). Then, to be considered a franchise, you obviously need more than a single game, so at least two different games.
Now, let's look at the best franchises of this generation. We'll start with a list, made off the top of my head, of all the worthwhile franchises born on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 or Wii. I'll try and include PC as much as possible, even if my expertise in the matter is kinda limited. I read A LOT on PC gaming over the years anyway, so I have a pretty good idea what were the best rated games and user-appreciated gems in the past 7 or 8 years.
In no particular order :
- InFamous & InFamous 2
- Portal, Portal : Still Alive & Portal 2
- Uncharted : Drake's Fortune, Among Thieves & Drake's Deception
- Demon's Souls + Dark Souls I & II
- DiRT 1, 2 & 3 & DiRT : Showdown
- Gears of War 1, 2 & 3
- Bioshock, Bioshock 2 & Bioshock : Infinite
- Batman : Arkham City & Batman : Arkham Asylum
- Mass Effect 1, 2 & 3
- Borderlands 1 & 2
- Skate 1, 2 & 3
- Rock Band 1, 2, 3 & Bands (Green Day & The Beatles) & Multiple spinoffs
- Dragon Age I & II
- Crysis 1, 2 & 3 & Crysis : Warhead
- Assassin's Creed I, II (including Brotherhood & Revelations) & III & Multiple spinoffs
- Resistance 1, 2 & 3 + portable versions
- The Witcher & The Witcher 2 : Assassins of Kings
I realized that it is a LOT harder to compare whole franchises than it is to compare single games. Why? For a lot of reasons :
- Franchises can evolve quickly, so games can have significant differences from one to another (Dragon Age II vs the first game).
- Some entries can be a lot better than others.
- The number of game varies (Can a franchise with two games like Borderlands 2 be "better" than a franchise with 7+ games like Assassin's Creed).
Anyway, after much debate within the One-man team (I actually started thinking about this a few weeks ago...), here are the results. From the fifth-best to the best.
5. Borderlands (2 games)
It's no secret for people who know me that I have a deep, deep love for the Borderlands universe. I absolutely loved the first game and the sequel, while a bit more "mainstream", was one of the most entertaining games of this generation.
4. Mass Effect (3 games)
Along with the Elder Scrolls & Fallout franchises, Mass Effect helped push the WRPG genre to new heights while basically owning the space/sci-fi fanbase. The compelling story and memorable characters make it a great, great experience.
3. Uncharted (3+1 games)
The closes thing to a Hollywood blockbuster the world of gaming has ever seen. Uncharted has insance production value and some of the most endearing characters ever created digitally.
1b. Portal (3 games)
1a. Bioshock (3 games)
I honestly can't say which franchise is better. I love both for different reasons. I love Portal for its outstanding gameplay, clever writing and world-class design. I love Bioshock for its extremely addictive atmoshpere, its philosophical implications and its storyline. So the debate isn't closed yet... And it has to be said that Bioshock : Infinite is right around the corner and looks poised to make a legitimate run at the "Best game of this generation" crown.