The video games industry is an amazing haven for variety. There are so many games and series in the world, that there is literally something for everyone. If each game series represented its own universe, then it is understandable how certain settings may feel familiar. But what if they were more than that? What if some of them were actually connected? Seemingly random elements in the worlds of games that led to fully realized connective tissue in their larger continuity occasionally occurs. Chances are you may have witnessed, but not realized them unless having the context of the other game.
If there is one thing that gamers love, it is finding new connecting points between some of their favourite franchises. Sometimes, it can be in the vein of a developer deciding to put an Easter egg that connects two of their franchises. In the other, both games may be logically linked either through a physical object or setting, a character, or through a similar tone or theme.
The junctions on the following list are frequently brought up in the main plot of one or two of the linked games. Cases in which particular games are mentioned ironically like the chalkboard theory breakdown of Alan Wake’s plot in the opening of Quantum Break would not count. This is because Alan Wake exists as a game/TV show in the world of Quantum Break. Now, let’s take a look at some examples that have relevant cohesion.
15 Grand Theft Auto And Manhunt
Rockstar is easily one of the most controversial developers in gaming. With that being said, they are also masters of creating connections to their games. There are numerous examples across all of their games suggesting a common, shared universe. In Grand Theft Auto V, as a recent example, Michael comments that his first successful score was on the outskirts of Carcer City, the location of the Manhunt games. In fact, Carcer City is mentioned in multiple Grand Theft Auto games, even citing the distance between Carcer and Liberty City in an in-game menu of Grand Theft Auto IV. In turn, Manhunt advertises “Sprunk,” the fictional soft drink of GTA, on the sides of vending machines in the game. Even the chain store, “Ryton Aide” from GTA: Vice City appears in Manhunt. This solidifies Rockstar’s world building: many of their games exist in a shared universe.
14 Mass Effect And Dragon Age
While these comparisons were originally derived from fans, there are a number of links to suggest that the Dragon Age universe in a part of Mass Effect’s. To begin, Mass Effect 2’s DLC, Kasumi: Stolen Memory, features a Dragon Age Ogre statue in a vault. Meanwhile, a Krogan head can be found mounted on the wall as a trophy in the palace of Orlais. Based on the size and shape of the moon seen in the Dragon Age games, players were able to pinpoint its location in the Mass Effect galaxy map, which is known as the planet Klendagon. This means that the Dragon Age games could have theoretically been set on Klendagon’s moon, Presrop. However, the description of Presrop in Mass Effect portrays a barren wasteland of a former civilization that suffered a calamity. As to whether or not we will ever see this calamity in Dragon Age remains to be seen.
13 Wolfenstein And DOOM
The connection point of id Software’s games lies with the hero of Wolfenstein 3D, B.J. Blazkowicz. It would seem that the protagonists of the first three DOOM games are part of the Blazkowicz family line. This fact was cemented with the Wolfenstein RPG, in which Blazkowicz faced the ‘Harbinger of Doom’ and cut off its arms and one leg. In response, the demon said it would return to battle B.J.’s descendants. This ‘Harbinger’ is the same character as DOOM’s Cyberdemon with robotic arms and a leg to boot. It is important to note that this continuity also implies that id’s Commander Keen is actually Blazkowicz’s grandson. The more recent Wolfenstein: The New Order and 2016’s DOOM do not (as of yet) have any connective tissue to this universe and serve as alternate timelines.
12 Mirror’s Edge And Battlefield: Bad Company
Based on the fact that the Mirror’s Edge and the Battlefield: Bad Company games are both produced by DICE, it is easy to understand that there exists a connection. Both games are set in a near-future version of the world. Events depicting a conflict between the nations of Serdaristan and Tasbikistan from Bad Company are mentioned in a news ticker within one of the elevators of Mirror’s Edge. Although it is likely to be an Easter egg, Battlefield: Bad Company characters feature in sound bites at specific points in Mirror’
s Edge: Catalyst. They discuss the main antagonist of the game and their never-ending search for gold. Despite Catalyst serving as a re-imagining of the original game, it is clear that DICE wished to maintain some level of continuity between the two franchises. Could this lead to an announcement of Bad Company 3? Only time will tell for certain.
11 Portal And Half-Life
Portal’s subtle references of Aperture Science’s rivalry with Black Mesa were not lost on Half-Life fans. Both games were developed and published by Valve and, though neither series has seen an entry since 2011, both are still considered in high regard. In 2007’s Half-Life 2: Episode 2, there is a ship mentioned called the ‘Borealis’ which would be the destination of Gorden and Alyx in the following game. It was said that the ship mysteriously disappeared from Aperture Science. Jumping ahead to 2011’s Portal 2, players could find a massive space reserved for a ship along with a life raft for the ‘Borealis.’ Though different in tone, it is clear that both game series represent part of the larger Half-Life storied universe that has left fans eager for a resolution for a decade now.
10 SSX And Burnout
The connection between these two franchises is not in gameplay, character models, or even setting. It is done through a connecting point of a radio commentator. In SSX 3, the local radio station of Big Mountain is called Radio Big. Radio Big’s commentator, DJ Atomika serves as the voice heard in the game as you shred down the epic mountain passes. Thus, it was a surprise to discover that DJ Atomika transferred stations between games, series, and genres in order to be a part of Burnout: Paradise. Brilliantly, in Paradise, Atomika even mentions the status of Big Mountain’s snow level for the upcoming season. Apart from this nod, Burnout and SSX have as much in common as you would expect from a racing and snowboarding game, respectively.
9 ICO And Shadow Of The Colossus
The connection between ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are heavily implied in the art and worlds. ICO was released first and is about a boy with horns who helps a girl, Yorda, to escape from her wicked mother in a fantasy world. Shadow of the Colossus, though considered a spiritual successor to ICO, is also an indirect prequel to the first game. It features a boy named Wander who is desperate to bring Mono back to life, but does so at a terrible cost to his own. Creator, Fumito Ueda, even stated that both games share a world. It is easy and understandable to see why: numerous parallels include the shadow creatures and protagonists with black horns. Even with this connection point established by the creator, it is important to note that these commonalities do not inhibit a player’s ability to enjoy each game as a standalone experience.
8 Hitman And Kane & Lynch
The two biggest game series from IO Interactive are, in fact, strongly connected. In Hitman: Blood Money, there is a newspaper clipping describing some events of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, the first game. This connection is expanded in Hitman: Absolution in which Kane can be found waiting for his partner in a bar. Lynch can be found at a gun range in the same game. Though not a very stealthy approach, you have the option to kill both characters when you see them. Finally, in a prison level, Kane can be heard reciting a letter written to his daughter while he’s on death row. Given that Absolution was released after the second Kane & Lynch game, it is reasonable to assume that this served as a way to close out the franchise for good.
7 Firewatch And Gone Home
It is very evident that the developers of both Firewatch and Gone Home have a great deal of respect for one another. In Gone Home, the protagonist’s father is Terrence L. Greenbriar, the troubled writer of a book called The Accidental Savior. The novel’s cover was distinct in its picture of former President Kennedy within the scope of a sniper rifle. This book can be found in one of the supply caches in Firewatch. Likewise, Gone Home’s console release featured a subtle nod to Firewatch. In the house, players can find a matchbox from the Overlook Restaurant with an image of an orange skyline in the vein of the other game. This is a wonderful representation of the camaraderie that can occur between smaller developers. It also serves as a unique connection point between two highly regarded experiences.
6 Assassin’s Creed And Watch Dogs
In Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Abstergo Entertainment’s Olivier Garneau is introduced as your boss in the present-day sections. After several interactions, Garneau announces his departure for a business trip to Chicago. In Watch Dogs, protagonist Aiden Peirce is given a mission titled ‘Requiestcat In Pace,’ which is Latin for ‘rest in peace.’ This phrase was frequently used in some of the earlier Assassin’s Creed games. In the mission, your goal is to assassinate Garneau while on the way to a shareholder’s meeting. Once deceased, he is positively identified by name and as the head of Abstergo Entertainment. In addition to this, there is even an email thread from Blume, the company responsible for ctOS in Watch Dogs, at Abstergo Entertainment. The message is an ad for Blume’s security services.
5 Wing Commander And Ultima
Another curious blend of fantasy and sci-fi game franchises crossing over comes from Origin Systems’ Ultima and Wing Commander. This is a fairly obscure nod as it relates a discovery of a spaceship in Ultima VII: The Black Gate. Specifically, the ship is a Kilrathi Bloodfang Starfighter. Players who double click the ship will be treated to the “Kilrathi Theme” from Wing Commander II’s soundtrack. Even farmer Mack, an NPC, describes an encounter with a cat-like being that emerged from the ship. To add insult to injury, Mack claims to have killed and eaten the ship’s occupant.
Though there is connective tissue, the Ultima games also reference other aspects of popular culture including a community inhabited by the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As such, the connection between these games is not as strong as others found on this list.
4 Lode Runner And Bomberman
Bomberman’s premise is a simple one: place bombs to cause explosions and clear the path out of the subterranean factory he works at. The game is structured with levels to meet this objective and ends when he reaches the surface. Curiously, Bomberman’s human form is none other than Lode Runner. In order for this to make sense, it is important to note that Bomberman’s character model was first seen as an enemy sprite in the NES port of Lode Runner. With that being said, Bomberman got his own proper game a year later and then became Lode Runner at the end. By doing so, it served as a way to advertise the Lode Runner game and connect the two classic universes.
3 Final Fantasy X And Final Fantasy VII
There has been a long-debated theory in the Final Fantasy community about the connection between these two numbered entries. Typically, each new game offers a new world with common threads such as the Chocobos. For all intents and purposes though, theses stories are stand-alone. Final Fantasy VII was set in a world in which the Shin-Ra Electrical Power Company converts the planet’s life-force to power cities across the planet. Years later, Final Fantasy X and its sequel, X-2, appeared on the scene. Near the end of X-2, there is a cutscene in which a boy named Shinra outlines his research on a planet’s life-force. He even suggests it could be used to power cities, but would take generations to fully develop. This insinuates that Final Fantasy X and X-2 are distant prequels to Final Fantasy VII and have strong thematic ties.
2 Drakengard And NieR
The relationship between Drakengard and NieR is a fascinating example of offshoot storytelling. First, it is essential to understand that Yoko Taro’s Drakengard has several endings that each evolved and changed the story. A sequel to Drakengard, Drakengard 2, was produced as a follow-up to the original game’s first ending, but with another creative director. Years later, another sequel of the original was produced with Yoko Taro back at the helm. This particular sequel was not a follow-up to the second though. Instead, NieR continued from Drakengard’s fifth ending and was set in a decaying Earth over a thousand years following the first game. Despite this connection, NieR was created in a way that easily stood on its own, without requiring players to hunt down its predecessor. Recently, NieR: Automata was released as a follow-up to NieR.
1 The Witcher And Cyberpunk 2077
In the second half of the main narrative of The Witcher III: Wild Hunt, Geralt finally finds his ward, Ciri, where she recounts a story of traveling across worlds. In her travels, Ciri speaks of a world in which people “had metal in their heads, waged war from a distance…and there were no horses: everyone had their own flying ship instead.” This is a direct reference to CD Projekt Red’s upcoming (and barely seen) Cyberpunk 2077, which fits the description given by Ciri. Curiously, it makes sense that the two series would share continuity as there is magic in The Witcher that allows some characters to travel in between parallel worlds/realities. That being said, it will be a long wait until we get to see if Ciri will feature as a small cameo role in the upcoming Sci-Fi RPG.