Game Franchises With The Best Lore

Some people play games to relax, others to hone their skills, and some people show up primarily for the stories. But no matter why you play games, it’s easy to get invested in the worlds of the games we love. Perhaps the main storyline left questions unanswered, or maybe you just found a world that utterly entrances you.

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But regardless of why, we all know that feeling of wanting to dive further into the universes of our most beloved games. In fact, there are entire communities online dedicated to digging around in games and teasing out little details. If you’re looking for a new universe to immerse yourself in, then these gaming franchises are a good place to start.

Updated December 22, 2023 by James Kennedy: Well, we’re coming to the close of another great year filled with great games. However, as we reflected on 2023, we couldn’t help but notice that there were some pretty excellent games thick with lore that had yet to be mentioned on this list. So, we’re adding one of them to this list, as well as another fantastic series that has long gone dormant.

25 Alan Wake Series

Alan Wake 2, An image of Alan transposed over Saga

Alan Wake was a solo affair for a straight decade. Then, in 2019, Control was released. While at first Control seemed to be its own thing, fans slowly started sniffing out the connections, and before long we all realized that the Federal Bureau of Control, and its Objects of Power, existed within the same universe as Alan Wake.

And just like that, what was once a creepy, Stephen King-inspired horror title expanded to include a rich world filled with mysteries, oddities, and paranormal activities. Heavily inspired by SCP fan-fiction, and David Lynch films, the world of Alan Wake is an incredibly bizarre home for rich lore and fascinating storytelling. With Alan Wake 2, the world has once again grown. Needless to say, we look forward to seeing where the story of this franchise goes next!

24 Legacy Of Kain Franchise

Kain from Legacy of Kain

In the first game in the Legacy of Kain series, Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen, we followed the titular Kain as he was turned into a vampire, and then gradually accumulated power. While Blood Omen features two endings—including one where Kain acts as a redemptor of the world—it would be the “bad ending” which would serve to set the scene for the game’s sequels.

From here, we get multiple games that feature elder gods with dubious intentions, a post-apocalyptic world of vampires, and an ever-twisting timeline. The Soul Reaver games allow us to see Kain from the perspective of Raziel – one of Kain’s subordinates whom Kain betrayed. The games go in a number of unpredictable directions. The world of Nosgoth is thick with lore, it is just a shame that we haven’t been given a new game in the franchise in well over a decade.

23 Mega Man Series

Dr. Wily Looking Over The Earth With A Evil Smile

Sure, we understand why you may think that Mega Man is an odd choice for a lore list. The first seven games barely have a story after all. However, with each new franchise, things got more and more interesting. What started off as Mega Man (or Rock in Japan) hunting down robots that have been corrupted by the sinister Dr. Wily, would transition to robots advancing, having obtained free will. As the series continues, there are civil wars, the robots are subjugated, and, with the Legends series, we see that eventually human life itself is wiped out. Replicants, which we all designed based on Mega Man X, become the new humans.

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There is more to this, too. Zero, one of the heroes from the Mega Man X series, has direct ties to Dr. Wily. Who, himself, may or may not still be influencing events. There is even some indication that his consciousness was present in one of the Mavericks. Though none of this is confirmed. Oh, and the original Mega Man? His fate is a mystery. These elements have made the Mega Man series one that, over time, has grown quite a bit of interesting lore.

22 Castlevania

Richter Belmont

Woah! Hold your horses. Castlevania? The game where you spend all your time walking to the right and whipping things? Yes! That Castlevania. While the series started off simple enough, being about a family of vampire hunters who kill Dracula once every hundred years, as the franchise grew, so did the surrounding lore. The roster of heroes began to grow, including Dracula’s own kin. We learned about the Belmont’s lineage.

We witnessed the (tragic) origin of the Belmont’s signature whip. And we even saw heroes live long enough to become the villain, and villains long enough to become the hero. How many franchises feature a thirty-game-long redemption arc? Castlevania even managed to work Bram Stoker’s lore into the mix. That’s right, the literary masterpiece is, technically, part of Castlevania’s lore. Castlevania is (kinda) part of the literary canon, people!

21 Persona

L-R: Makoto, Kotone, Tatsuya, Boy With Earring, Ren, Maya, Yu

My how far the Persona series has come. It used to be a Shin Megami Tensei spin-off. Now, it feels more like the centerpiece of Atlus’ RPG franchise. One of the primary distinctions between the two franchises is how interconnected each Persona game is. For starters, all the Persona games are set within the same world. The (underappreciated) first three games in the series had playable characters cross over. But other elements, such as the Velvet Room and Igor, (and to a lesser extent, Philemon) run throughout nearly every game. We have also seen entire Persona casts interact with each other in a number of side games.

So, each story has built on the lore. The end result is a fascinating version of the world that intersects with a shadowy version of itself. One where our emotions, and our identities, manifest themselves as creatures and entities. The characters in the Persona games must confront these elements of their being. Famously, Persona is heavily rooted in Jungian psychology. This has all led to a fascinating alternate version of our world that has maintained continuity across all six mainline games (yes, SIX) as well as the various off-shoot titles.

The most recent title to release in the Persona franchise is Persona 5 Tactica, which adds a whole new wrinkle to the already pretty elaborate Persona lore.

20 Baldur’s Gate

Baldur's Gate Bohdi sitting on a ledge looking at the viewer
via.Pinterest

Is this cheating? Is it cheating to add a game franchise set in a world that has had literally hundreds of books written in it? Yeah, probably. But here’s the thing; even if you’ve never read a Forgotten Realms book, based solely on the games alone, the lore in Baldur’s Gate is fascinating. The world of Toril is lively and filled with memorable characters. There is a palpable sense of history here.

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However, Toril, as seen in Baldur’s Gate, is also a treacherous world where damn near every other character has machinations of some sort. But political intrigue is far from being the player’s only obstacle! Dark, twisted gods are always involved in some way, shape, or form. The plots of the first two Baldur’s Gate games entwine elegantly. While Baldur’s Gate 3 is set over a hundred years after the second game, there are a number of returning characters who play a pivotal role in the most recent entry.

19 Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts extended cast - Mickey, Riku, Sora, Kairi, Donald and Goofy

Is the lore labyrinthine in the world of Kingdom Hearts? Absolutely. Not even the most ardent Kingdom Hearts apologist is going to argue that the series isn’t a bit convoluted. But even if it can be a touch messy, there is a reason why this series has such an incredibly devoted fanbase. There are twists, turns, and a whole host of characters with complicated motivations.

Kingdom Hearts isn’t bashful about diving into the thick of it headfirst. Every entry makes the series slightly more unwieldy. But if you are a lore hound who loves jumping into the weeds with some truly multifaceted world-building, then there are few series that can offer you a more enthralling world than Kingdom Hearts.

18 Silent Hill

SilentHill2

What likely stands out about Silent Hill first and foremost is the atmosphere. The trademark fog, and impossibly grungy settings, are a big part of the appeal of the series. While the first game takes a lot of inspiration from the film Jacob’s Ladder, and casts doubt on the veracity of what the player is experiencing, it certainly had plenty of lore.

The core plot revolves around a satanic cult, which would be an element that would be revisited throughout the series. Silent Hill itself is a setting shrouded in mystery, and seems to manifest guilt and trauma. But what makes it all so enticing is how the series resists tacking down certain elements of its story. Instead, it frequently embraces ambiguity. Which makes it a ton of fun to discuss. It’s murky, spooky, introspective goodness.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Official art showing Raiden and Snake

You could just follow the incredible career of Revolver Ocelot and you would see that this lore goes places. So many places. This is a series that simultaneously delves into the horrors of war, and how humans become commoditized in global conflicts. The Metal Gear Solid series also has a strong emphasis on conspiratorial shadowy figures operating in the background.

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The Patriots are controlling things! Or maybe it is the La-li-lu-le-lo? Or maybe they are one and the same? And how do the philosophers fit into all of this? What, they are the protagonists from Metal Gear Solid 3? Wait, who is Cipher again? The lore of Metal Gear Solid can be, at times, absurdly convoluted, but that is half of the fun. Kojima’s fever dream is memorable for a reason.

16 Dead Space

Dead Space Necromorphs Isaac Clarke

At first blush, Dead Space seems like a cross between a classic zombie story and the first Alien film. But here’s the thing you probably weren’t expecting: space cultists! What adds a little spice to this angle is how the game’s Church Unitology resembles some prominent, real-world cults. This helps provide the Unitology movement with an eerie sense of familiarity.

Dead Space 2 does a great job of delving further into the whole Unitology movement. There is also a nice bit of cosmic horror thrown into the mix. That’s right, Dead Space does manage to work Eldritch God-like entities into the mix. Ultimately, this all helps to make for a horror game with a pretty substantial amount of lore.

The Dragonborn from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim next to a Word Wall.

It is hard to quantify the sheer amount of content created by Bethesda for its Elder Scrolls franchise. The fact that the team at Bethesda has written hundreds of actual in-game books for players to read, while they play practically any Elder Scrolls title, should tell you everything you need to know about the depth of the lore that surrounds this series.

Even Skyrim’s lore alone would be enough to place the series on this list — such is the depth of this franchise. With five installments in the main series, with each exploring different areas and aspects of the universe, there is seemingly no end to the content players have available to them. Every race has a deep history, even those you (almost) never see in the games, such as the Dwemer. So if you want something accessible, but containing vast amounts of lore, look no further than Bethesda’s most famous series.

14 Suikoden

The ensemble cast of Suikoden 3

This entry hurts. Because, as it stands, we will never see the conclusion to the story of the Suikoden series. What makes this legendary series so incredibly noteworthy is how intertwined all the titles are. Each entry is bound to the next, while still being a wholly unique scenario with a different cast of characters. However, familiar faces return. You will encounter the children of allies from previous games; you will see enemies from previous titles become dependable allies, and trusted companions play the role of the “villain”.

Jumping from game to game, you will often be treated to a unique perspective. This all leads to dozens of intertwining plots and stories that span hundreds of years. The fact that it is all so cohesive is an absolute marvel. There have been official encyclopedias released to track the lore of Konami’s classic RPG series for a reason. It is deep, it is interesting, and it absolutely belongs on this list!

While the Suikoden series has been on hold for quite some time now, Konami is set to re-release both of the first two games in 2024. Moreover, Eiyuden Chronicle is a new title being created by the original Suikoden developers, and it is set to be a spiritual successor of sorts to the legendary franchise.

13 Resident Evil

artwork for Resident Evil 6 Main Cast

Resident Evil is a perfect example of a series that has just gotten better lore with every entry. Is it all a little silly? Well, the antagonist is a part-time genius scientist, who was also masquerading as a police officer, who became a super-human, dresses like a character from the Matrix, and who it turns out had a (before unseen) son who was ALSO born with superpowers. So yeah, it gets a little silly. But delightfully silly!

Along the way, the series has explored the origins of Umbrella’s research, which leads back to biological werewolves and vampires. The cast of characters have all gone on to be involved in a dozen different, yet interconnected, conflicts. There is just so much going on, and so much to track, and it is all a ton of fun.

12 Ogre Battle

Ogre Battle: March Of The Black Queen official art

The Ogre Battle series is absolutely filled with a deep history. While the first title, March Of The Black Queen, has a somewhat conventional narrative about overthrowing a tyrant, the excellent follow-up, Tactics Ogre, does an excellent job fleshing the world out. The conflicts in each game take place in the same world, but on different continents. You will see returning characters, and many of them have hidden agendas. The titular ogres are a demonic force that is always lurking below the surface, but the largest threat in the Ogre Battle series is the machinations of man.

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The twisting and turning plot of Tactics Ogre is among the best in games, but what really earns the Ogre Battle series its place here on this list is what The Knight of Lodis did. In it, you follow a likable, courageous young hero. His journey is lined with tragedy, and greatly expands your understanding of the world. Especially its antagonists. And that is the beauty of the Ogre Battle games, each title seems to peel back another layer.

11 Destiny

Destiny 2 Cyrtarachne's Facade

Destiny might not be the game you think of first when it comes to lore. After all, multiplayer games often focus far more on gameplay and enjoyment than they do storytelling. But even just paying attention to the surface-level information given during the game’s quests will point you toward the massive amount of lore that underpins this series.

Information from item descriptions and quest logs is waiting to be found by players, who can then begin weaving this information into their understanding of Destiny’s world. So, if you want something full of action and detailed lore, Destiny might be the franchise for you.

10 Borderlands

Claptrap Borderlands 2 Official Game Screenshot Pose In Desert Wasteland Area

Borderlands is a game known for its ridiculous sense of humor and an even more ridiculous number of guns that come spewing out of every box and enemy. So, it’s understandable if it isn’t the first series that comes to mind when thinking about games with great lore.

But when you dig a little deeper into Borderlands, by reading quest logs and listening to the audio files, you can really start piecing together not only a clear narrative for the player characters but an entire universe with hundreds of individual stories to be explored. Consider it a bit of a Trojan Horse for deep lore.

9 The Legend of Zelda

Legend of Zelda Master Sword

The Legend of Zelda is a series well worth diving into if you like the idea of trying to wrap your head around multiple diverging timelines. With the first game having released all the way back in 1986 on the NES, there’s a truly massive amount of content for you to indulge in.

With the various iterations of the heroes of the Triforce and their conflicts to explore, along with Hyrule and the many other lands you visit in the games, you’ll be working for days trying to get your head around even the simplest version of the timelines.

It is worth noting that while many Zelda titles are difficult to link (heh) to each other coherently, Nintendo has released some more direct sequels. Excellent examples of this would be Majora’s Mask, A Link Between Worlds, and Tears Of The Kingdom; all of these titles are direct sequels.

8 Halo

Halo old and new

On the surface of it, Halo might just seem like another series of shooters only with a slightly better story than other games in the FPS genre. But if you dare to dig a little deeper, you’ll soon find that every single race and faction has a fleshed-out history told through a multitude of perspectives.

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Once you’ve gleaned everything you can from the games, you can move on to the wide array of books, comics, and films that the Halo universe has to offer those fans who want to know more about the universe. And if you don’t know where to start, then try playing the games in chronological order to give yourself a baseline to work from. You’ll be babbling about the seven Halo installations the Forerunners made in no time.

7 Fallout

fallout_4_bunker_hill_settlement_from_above

It’s a well-known fact that Bethesda makes amazing open-world games with more world building than any player could possibly encounter in a single playthrough. The Fallout franchise is a great example of this. With the groundwork being laid by Interplay Production’s Fallout and Fallout 2, Bethesda has been doing its part to expand the world.

While some fans may feel like they may have fumbled a few elements from the original titles (such as the Brotherhood Of Steel), they have still done a great job expanding upon the world. The best example of this is the individual stories of survival that you can encounter in the wasteland; these are often delivered by way of audiotapes and data logs left on computer terminals. There is just a ton of lore strewn about the world; all waiting to be discovered by you.

6 Five Nights at Freddy’s

A statue of Freddy posed with a mic

When the original Five Nights at Freddy’s was released all the way back in 2014, it’s fair to say that no one could have imagined what it would turn into in the years that followed. Not only did it spawn endless Let’s Play videos, but also legions of theorists examining every detail in every game to understand the characters and the world in which they exist.

Each new FNAF game has offered new gameplay mechanics and a new perspective on familiar characters. It’s safe to say that the detailed lore of the FNAF games is going to keep evolving and shifting. We look forward to seeing where it goes next!

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