Some people play games to relax, others to master the skills involved, and some play them for the stories games can tell. 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.
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 July 30, 2022 by James Kennedy: The last couple of additions to this ever-expanding list of lore featured some more action-focused shooting titles, so we thought it would make sense to highlight a few more RPGs. The genre is, of course, known for providing extremely dense stories, absolutely brimming with lore. We are going to look at some of the most beloved examples of that. The lore gods demand it!
17 Kingdom Hearts
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.
16 Ogre Battle
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.
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.
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 dependably 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!
14 Resident Evil
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 hidden 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.
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.
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.
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 towards the massive amount of lore that underpins this series.
Information from item descriptions and quest logs ar waiting to be found by players who can then begin weaving this information into their understanding of the game world. So if you want something full of action and detailed lore, Destiny might be the franchise for you.
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.
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.
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.
9 The Legend of Zelda
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’s a well-known fact that Bethesda makes amazing open-world games with more worldbuilding 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.
7 Five Nights at Freddy’s
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.
And with the latest release, Security Breach, offering new gameplay and a new perspective on many familiar characters, it’s safe to say that the detailed lore of the FNAF games is only going to get more complex and interesting from here.
Nothing compares to the sheer amount of content created by Bethesda in its most well-known series of all: The Elder Scrolls. 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.
Created by Yoko Taro as a spin-off from the Drakengard series, Nier started life as Drakengard 3, only to end up becoming a series of its own with hugely complex lore that requires players to investigate the world thoroughly in order to understand it.
Not only will you need to investigate the world the Nier games take place in, however, but you’ll also need to replay them multiple times to ensure you find every ending available to you. Some of these endings will be false starts or jokes, while others will be the key to unlocking the truth about certain events and factions within the series.
4 Mass Effect
Second only to Bethesda when it comes to world-building on an immense scale, BioWare is well known for delivering amazing and emotional stories in their games, and Mass Effect is a prime example of that ability. If you want an expansive universe of aliens with cleverly thought out and interwoven histories, then this is the series for you.
From the very first game in the series, Mass Effect included a codex filled with entries about the various alien races you encounter in the game, as well as historical events in the universe. And if you somehow exhaust that and need more stories to satisfy your interest, there are multiple comics (totaling over 800 pages) available to flesh out your understanding of the Mass Effect universe.
3 The Witcher
When a game is based on an expansive series of fantasy novels, it’s a safe bet that there is plenty of information and endless stories it can tell. But the question is, “Can the developers use all that material?” Fortunately for fans of The Witcher, the answer is a resounding yes. CD Projekt Red’s video game adaptation offers a wealth of dark fantasy stories and magical mysteries for players to enjoy.
In particular, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a seemingly endless number of notes, journals, and side quests that all teach the player something about the world of The Witcher and the foreboding events transpiring within. So if you’re after a series with dark and gritty lore that is full of monsters and fantastical powers, The Witcher is perfect for you.
2 Dragon Age
Dragon Age is BioWare’s high fantasy series and arguably the most developed world they have ever created. With three main games (and a fourth in development), the world of Thedas offers gamers who love high fantasy an opportunity to immerse themselves in a rich tapestry of deep and organic lore.
With everything from historical texts to in-game documentation on the kinds of dragons you can encounter, Dragon Age really is perfect for players who love fantasy and getting lost in the intricacies of how fantasy worlds work.
1 Dark Souls
Dark Souls is not a game for the faint-hearted thanks to its challenging difficulty, but if you’re able to best its gameplay, then you will have the opportunity to try and decipher some of its lore. The series offers players little in the way of exposition, but that doesn’t mean the lore isn’t there. It just demands that you meet it on its terms. The Dark Souls lore can be discovered by observing its meticulously crafted world, which is littered with the scars of the past. You will also glean a number of details from the people you meet during your travels. And then, of course, there are the items.
A great deal of thought was put into the description of the various items you will encounter during your quest. This means that there are endless bits of lore that you could easily miss just by not picking up certain items in the game. Fortunately, the Dark Souls fanbase is incredibly active and has done an amazing job of deciphering and documenting the lore of the games. So even if the idea of playing games as hard as these puts you off, you can still learn the secrets of this intricate fantasy world.NEXT: Hollow Knight: The Saddest Lore Details You Missed