Companies are always trying to make existing games compelling and interesting. After all, they want people to keep buying and playing their games. Relying on references to other beloved and classic series is a fantastic way to do so. Especially if such events are limited in some way. But, can too much of this become overbearing? Are crossovers a cop-out? Or do they genuinely improve the quality of life for players? I think goofy crossovers can work, but only if doled out occasionally, handled well, and companies are willing to steer into the skid when things get too silly.
Dead by Daylight is a good example of a somewhat goofy crossover that is handled well, works well, and happens to be handled quite well. Each Halloween, different horror icons have appeared in the game. So far, Halloween’s Michael Myers, A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface have made appearances. Considering this is a multiplayer horror game where one person is a killer and the others are survivors trying to, well, survive, it makes sense for iconic horror monsters to pop in and go after folks. It’s only slightly goofy, but mostly awesome.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is an instance where the crossover doesn’t make as much sense. The Predator, from the movie and comic series, showed up in that series. The Ghost Recon series is mostly grounded in reality, but Wildlands does have that forested and wild setting that many of the Predator installments inhabit. But it doesn’t have to make sense. In this case, the goofiness and rewards are enough to justify things. Getting heat vision and a predator mask is great. And, since this is a game about outwitting and hunting down foes, getting to do that with the ultimate hunter works.
Sometimes, goofiness just fits so well. Injustice 2 is one of the king of crossovers. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hellboy, Raiden, and Sub-Zero all appear in this game where DC Comics heroes and villains all show up to rumble. All of these other characters who appear have also shown up in comics. It only makes sense for them to be in this same universe, even if they aren’t related to DC Comics. It may be a little goofy to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fighting Sub-Zero or Hellboy, but it still works because we know comics are so flexible.
And then, there is Final Fantasy XV. I saved this one for last, because it gets so weird. There are multiple crossovers here. The one that isn’t as odd is an Assassin’s Creed: Origins update connected to an in-game Assassin’s Festival. Which is okay. That’s a fantasy series with historical elements. It happens here in Final Fantasy XV in a separate area, so everything is optional. It’s a side story. On the other hand, the Cup Noodle collaboration is just plain crazy. There are Cup Noodle ads. There is a hat. There is a quest. It is in there to eat. But it’s like, even though this is completely insane, the fact that Square Enix rolls with it and integrates it into the characters’ everyday lives makes it somehow acceptable.
There are times when crossovers don’t work with games. Sometimes, things just feel disingenuous. But more often than not, these opportunities enhance the experience. Even if they are goofy, they can be so good. Final Fantasy XV, Injustice 2, Dead by Daylight, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands are all titles that benefit from such events. Getting to see these extra characters makes things feel fresh and fun again.