Many of the best video games feature timeless gameplay that you can return to again and again. Unfortunately, the outdated graphics can ruin everything. Thankfully, remastered games have come along to solve this issue.
Whether you want to revisit an old favorite in HD or experience classic titles for the first time, let’s take a look at some of the best remastered video games you can pick up and play today.
A Note on Remaster Terminology
When discussing remastered video games, the terminology can get rather confusing. However, once you know what you’re looking for it’s actually quite simple.
A remaster refers to a graphically improved version of a game that still shares most of its core with the original release. While a remaster may fix glitches or add a bit of additional content, the focus is on touching up what already exists.
Conversely, a remake is a near-complete redesign of a game. This can include changes to the gameplay, physics, and similar. An example is the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Check out our list of best video game remakes for more examples.
Meanwhile, a port refers to taking a game from one platform and making it available on another. While this may involve small enhancements or graphical changes, ports are not usually remakes or remasters.
Finally, a reboot is a game that forgoes the existing story of a franchise and starts it over for a new generation. 2016’s Doom and 2013’s Tomb Raider are both good examples of reboots.
We’re focusing exclusively on remasters.
1. Grim Fandango Remastered
First released in 1998, Grim Fandango is a noir adventure story split up into four chapters, each taking place a year apart. Throughout the game, you’ll play as the main character—Manuel “Manny” Calavera—wandering around Grim Fandango’s classic city setting.
Grim Fandango has held up (and received acclaim) for so long. Whereas other adventure games grant you the same play styles and arcs, providing a load of meaningless quests, the point of Grim Fandango is to immerse you in both the characters and the universe.
There’s a dual layer to everything the game has to offer. It’s not enough to give players a puzzle if it doesn’t also further the plot. You don’t receive information using only cutscenes; instead, the game turns the noir dial to 11 and you get a Casablanca-inspired comic interplay with characters you’ve just met but already love.
Grim Fandango is one of the old PC games still worth playing, even if you’ve experienced it before.
2. Dark Souls Remastered
The original Dark Souls became a force in the gaming community. It did to the action genre what most would have considered impossible: create a quasi-open world action game with arcade-level difficulty.
You could even say Dark Souls awakened the sadistic trend of punishing and crushing the average player with its difficult bosses. What most don’t mention, however, is the beautifully dark environment and rugged terrain which perfectly compliment the gameplay.
That’s what catapulted the Dark Souls franchise from a frustrating action adventure to one of the most notable and recognized gaming franchises today. The love-hate relationship continues on with the remastered version of Dark Souls.
3. Burnout Paradise Remastered
Paradise is the last true game in the excellent Burnout racing series. What sets these games apart is their emphasis on dangerous driving and battling with your opponents. Driving on the wrong side of the road, near-missing traffic, and getting big air rewards you with boost. Smash your opponents into the wall to take them out and leave them in your dust.
Instead of the arcade level-based gameplay of previous games, Burnout Paradise features a full open world to explore. In between events, you can find collectibles, challenge the record time on each road, and even play online with others. The Remastered version brings improved graphics, better performance, and all the DLC from the original, including an extra Big Surf Island area and motorcycles.
If you like adrenaline-fueled action and find traditional racing games a bit boring, you’ll have a blast with Burnout Paradise Remastered.
4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The Legend of Zelda is a renowned series, and most of its games have stood the test of time. While Nintendo has remastered several games in the series, we think The Wind Waker HD stands as the best (see our guide to the Legend of Zelda series for information on the other games).
Its derivative cartoon art style had many fans worried before its initial release in 2003. Once you play it, though, you’ll love the unique art style. Link is more expressive than ever, and it’s fun to see longtime Zelda enemies remade in this form.
The Wind Waker HD makes these graphics even more impressive. It uses the Wii U GamePad for enhanced aiming and inventory management, plus makes some gameplay modifications for a streamlined experience. This all makes The Wind Waker HD a great first Zelda game if you’re new to the series.
The only drawback is that it’s on the dead Wii U, but if you have the system, you should definitely check it out.
Get It Now: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for Wii U
5. The Last of Us Remastered
The Last of Us stands as one of the most memorable titles on the PS3. A game as beautiful in gameplay as it is in story, The Last of Us was released to critical acclaim and has maintained its spot as a high point in gaming history.
Besides the obvious enhancements to in-game textures, The Last of Us Remastered also includes the major benefit of 60 FPS gameplay. This means smoother shooting, more immersive environments, and improved stealth. Oh, and there’s an all-new Photo Mode to capture all the pretty/gritty goodness of The Last of Us’s post-apocalyptic United States.
All around, this is a better-looking version of an already fantastic game. It’s one of the best PS4 exclusives whether you played the original or not.
Get It Now: The Last of Us Remastered for PS4
6. Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Whether you’re a longtime Halo fan or not, The Master Chief Collection stands as one of the top remastered games on its value alone. You get full remastered campaigns of the first four Halo games, including an HD remake of Halo 2. What’s more, the collection includes every multiplayer map from the original games.
Those who want to experience Master Chief’s story for the first time will have just as much fun as those reliving long nights playing Halo’s online multiplayer. At the time of writing, the game remains an Xbox One exclusive, though a PC release is on the way.
7. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
Skyrim Special Edition is the definitive version of one of Bethesda’s most popular RPGs. Released five years after the extremely successful original title, the Special Edition serves as a graphical update for both fans of and newcomers to Skyrim.
The allure here is largely to console players who didn’t play the game on the PS3 or Xbox 360. Due to mod support, many PC players had already enhanced Skyrim before the official remastered release. However, on PC, its technical updates are a big advantage. Skyrim Special Edition is a 64-bit game, meaning most in-game aspects—both official and modded—run better, faster, and with fewer glitches.
It’s unlikely that you haven’t played Skyrim by now, but if you’re looking to get into one of the most acclaimed RPGs ever, this is the way to do it. The game is also available for the Nintendo Switch, but due to that system’s reduced power, it’s not the Special Edition.
8. BioShock: The Collection
The original BioShock is a hallmark in video game storytelling. While its sequels never quite reached the same heights, they still create interesting worlds that you’ll enjoy exploring.
BioShock: The Collection packs all three titles into one package. With new textures, lighting, combat advancements, and additional commentary, it’s the best investment for anyone interested in playing or replaying the games. It also includes a museum of scrapped ideas from the first game, which is pretty interesting.
Make sure to avoid spoilers if this is your first time going through the worlds of Rapture and Columbia. Otherwise, would you kindly play these great games as soon as possible?
9. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
Alongside The Last of Us, Uncharted is one of the PlayStation’s flagship games. Each offers a thrilling action adventure shooter through all sorts of exotic locations. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection remasters the original three games with enhanced graphics, textures, and 60FPS gameplay.
Nathan Drake’s saga is about as close as you can get to “playing a movie” and still having a ton of fun with it. With memorable characters, stirring music, and great voice acting, this is an adventure you can’t miss. Once you complete these games, make sure to check out Uncharted 4 for the conclusion of the story.
Get It Now: Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection for PS4
10. Okami HD
Okami is a masterpiece, albeit a rather strange one. The hype makes more sense once you’ve played the game for yourself. It’s one of the oldest games on this list, and the fact that Okami has maintained enough of its popularity to warrant a remaster so many years later is impressive.
Okami certainly deserves the HD release. Its watercolor art style benefits from the impressive 4K upgrade, and thankfully little from the original was altered. This ensures an original experience, even if you never played the game when it was new.
Unfortunately, the game only runs at 30FPS. That said, its cinematic art is still stunning in HD. Don’t miss this one, especially if you’re a Zelda fan. Okami features a similar gameplay style.
Relive the Best Remastered Games Today
Some argue remasters like these are simply ways for companies to squeeze extra money out of a previous release. There’s some truth in that. However, the best remastered games can breathe new life into classic titles, especially for new audiences.
If any of the video game remasters listed above engender nostalgia, consider trying out their HD remakes. It’s never too late to relive and replay these remasters. If you’re looking for more games to play, check out our list of the best Nintendo Switch games.