Spin-offs of any type of media tend to get a bad rap. In most cases, this disdain for what typically amount to shameless cash-ins is justified, as spin-offs often shameless piggyback off of a proven franchise and are creatively vacant. However, when it comes to video games, there is a surprising amount of opportunity for good spin-offs. Sure, we’ve seen some that we’d rather all forget (nobody’s clamoring for another Shadow The Hedgehog) but if the following side characters from popular gaming series were to get the spin-off treatment, they have the potential to be some of the finest yet seen.
10. Nightwing (Batman: Arkham Series)
Batman’s crime fighting ally Nightwing has sort of gotten his own spin-off in the popular Batman: Arkham series in the form of DLC chapters, but they’ve all been slight in comparison to the kinds of games that have been built around Batman in recent years. Although Warner Bros is already releasing a spin-off of sorts in the form of Batman: Arkham VR this October, a standalone Nightwing game could be just the thing to help freshen up this franchise, which is already starting to get a bit long in the tooth judging by last year’s Arkham Knight.
As fans of the superhero are well aware, Nightwing is like Robin if he were cool, which is fitting since Dick Grayson intentionally adopted the Nightwing mantle after he outgrew the Robin identity in the comics. He’s also quite a bit different than Batman in terms of his move set, as he is more acrobatic than the Dark Knight and fights primarily with his polymer Escrima sticks. It’s only a matter of time before the Arkham series starts branching out to more than just Batman stories and when it does, Nightwing should be the first in line to get his own game.
9. Tommy (The Last of Us)
When it comes to potential spin-offs of Naughty Dog’s 2013 masterpiece The Last of Us, the obvious choice would seem to be that game’s co-star Ellie, but seeing as how the eventual sequel will almost certainly prominently feature her (not to mention that she already got her own DLC chapter with The Last of Us: Left Behind), I’d argue that a spin-off starring Joel’s younger brother Tommy would be the way to go.
There is an entire 20 year gap between when the Cordyceps outbreak starts and when the main plot of The Last of Us begins, meaning that there is a wealth of story left to be told regarding what happened to Tommy and Joel during those two decades. The game could focus on Tommy’s time with the Fireflies, his falling out with his brother, and how he established the community we see at the dam in the original game. Honestly, I just want to see more of this interesting, depressing world and Tommy could be a good window into a part of it we haven’t yet seen.
8. Brucie Kibbutz (Grand Theft Auto IV)
Considering the sun has well and truly set on Grand Theft Auto IV and its colorful cast of characters, it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll ever see another game featuring Niko Bellic or anyone else from that world again … but one can dream, right? Although GTA V was a better game in almost every way, GTA IV definitely has its successor beat when it comes to characters, especially when we’re talking about the ridiculous steroid junkie known as Brucie Kibbutz. The best bro in gaming would be the perfect star for a more outrageous and zany GTA spin-off, but with the added wrinkle of Brucie’s sheer stupidity threatening to undo him at every turn. After all, why climb the ranks of the criminal empire when you can stumble your way through?
7. The Arbiter (Halo)
A lot of Halo fans were upset by the fact that you were forced to play through half of Halo 2 as some alien called the Arbiter, but in hindsight, he may have just been the best part about that game (besides the multiplayer, of course). As voiced by Keith David, the Arbiter was not only an enjoyable character to listen to, but also had an engaging character arc to go with his gravelly tones, to the point where he arguably outclassed Master Chief. The Arbiter’s journey from being a Covenant heretic to human sympathizer offered a new dimension to Halo’s alien races beyond just being cannon fodder (and it also doesn’t hurt that he’s basically the Chief’s BFF in Halo 3).
The Arbiter makes an appearance as an non-playable character in Halo 5: Guardians, but it would be even better if we got a whole game from his perspective. The Halo 5 subplot involving the civil war on the Arbiter’s home planet is arguably the most interesting part of that game’s story, so that would be a good jumping off point if 343 Industries were to go ahead with an Arbiter game in the future.
6. Vergil (Devil May Cry)
Although multiple Devil May Cry games allow you to play as Vergil, the evil-ish brother of franchise star Dante, it’s always as an alternate playable character in Dante’s story (the exception being the short DLC chapter for the 2013 reboot). It’s actually rather bewildering that Vergil hasn’t been given his own standalone game; for one thing, Capcom loves to do spin-offs of its franchises and you really couldn’t ask for a character with more spin-off potential than Vergil, as he’s arguably even more popular than Dante among Devil May Cry fans.
The best part is that Capcom has already clearly established Vergil’s playing style thanks to the character’s multiple series appearances, as the half human/half demon favors a more deliberate melee-focused fighting style as opposed to his brother’s penchant for firearms and swords. A standalone Vergil game could also delve into his perspective on the rivalry he shares with his sibling, as up to now, we’ve only really gotten Dante’s view. Unfortunately, Capcom hasn’t even officially revealed if they’re working on a new Devil May Cry game at all at this point, meaning that a potential Vergil game is still a long way off if we’re ever going to see one.
5. Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect)
The Mass Effect franchise features some of the most compelling characters in all of gaming, so it’s only right that at least one of them is highlighted as a potential spin-off candidate. While you could make the cast for at least half a dozen Mass Effect characters being worthy of their own game, many series fans would likely agree that Commander Shepard’s BFF Garrus Vakarian should be at the top of that list. Unlike every other Mass Effect game released to date, a Garrus-focused game wouldn’t need to be quite as ambitious in terms of scope, as the game could explore the turian’s time as a C-Sec agent.
While the game should contain the gameplay and conversation mechanics we’ve all come to associate with Mass Effect, the focus should be on investigations and law enforcement on the Citadel, with Garrus as the devil may care officer with a penchant for bucking authority at the center of it all.
4. Sully (Uncharted)
Victor “Goddamn” Sullivan is in many ways the heart of the Uncharted series, as Nathan Drake’s cigar-chomping mentor is often the voice of reason in the series’ more outlandish moments … and it certainly helps that he can crack wise with the best of them. Now that the series has wrapped up Drake’s story with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, the door is open for other Uncharted stories to be told.
Although many who finished Uncharted 4 are hoping that [SPOILER] Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher’s daughter Cassie will be the new face of the franchise (and count me among them), I also hope that the series explores Sully’s early adventures at some point. As revealed in Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Sully is largely the one who teaches Nate his adventuring skills, which means that Sully must have quite a few stories to tell about his life before he met Nate. But hey, why should Sully have all the fun? Uncharted also has another character who is crying out for their own game …
3. Chloe Frazer (Uncharted)
I’m probably cheating a bit by calling for two different Uncharted spin-offs on this list, but it’s not my fault that Naughty Dog populated their games with such interesting characters! An Uncharted game featuring a female protagonist would be a welcome sight and while we’ll probably get one starring Cassie Drake at some point, I’d argue that an Uncharted game starring Chloe Frazier would be just as good.
Chloe had a prominent role in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as an anti-hero of sorts who has to learn to stick her neck out for people other than herself, but personally, I’d kind of like to see an Uncharted game where the main character is even more of a jerk than Nathan Drake (if that’s even possible). As hinted at in Uncharted 4, Chloe is very much still all about that treasure hunting life, so there are surely all sorts of adventures waiting to be told about the raven haired beauty.
2. Princess Zelda (The Legend of Zelda)
You would think that after 18 games spread over a 30 year period, we would have seen at least one game in The Legend of Zelda series that features the titular princess as its lead protagonist, but whether it’s because of tradition or a fear of rocking the boat too much (probably a mixture of both), Nintendo has yet to release a Zelda game starring Princess Zelda.
Nintendo is currently hard at work on the admittedly incredible-looking Breath of the Wild, which is scheduled for release sometime in 2017, so we already know that the next Zelda game will again feature series protagonist Link in the lead role. Still, there’s no reason that Nintendo can’t devlop a Zelda-focused entry in the future; heck, it could even be a 3DS game if the company doesn’t want to stray from tradition in the console space. It would just be cool to not only run around Hyrule with Zelda and her magical abilities, but to turn the series’ tropes upside down and have Zelda rescue Link for a change.
1. Ciri – (The Witcher)
Although players spend the majority of their time with Geralt of Rivia in the RPG masterpiece The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the game is really all about Geralt’s ward and adopted daughter Ciri. True, there are a few story missions that allow you to take control of Ciri, but considering she’s more powerful than Geralt and just as interesting and complex (if not more so) she could easily be the star of her own game set in the Witcher universe. Depending on which ending you get in Wild Hunt, it’s possible for Ciri to either become a Witcher herself or the ruler of an entire kingdom. Either of these scenarios would make for a great game, but it would arguably be more fun to follow in Geralt’s footsteps and roam the land as a monster hunter for hire.
The game could even do a switcheroo with the series’ gender roles and have Ciri play the part of a “manizer,” sleeping around and breaking hearts while also being involved in a larger plot that takes her to familiar locations such as Novigrad and Skellige. It would simply be a shame if Ciri’s story ended with Wild Hunt and although developer CD Projekt Red has moved on from The Witcher series now, there’s no reason they can’t revisit it in the future, with a new protagonist at the helm.