Ratchet & Clank is an action-platformer series with 20 years of history behind it. Throughout each game, players take control of the titular duo as they fight against conniving villains and monstrous creatures in space. With the franchise having received a new entry just under a year ago, fans might be tempted to relive the timeline from start to finish. That’s why this article will go over all Ratchet & Clank games in chronological order.
This article will only cover Ratchet & Clank games developed by Insomniac Games; movies and comics will not be considered.
The original Ratchet & Clank, released in 2002, details the first meeting between the two heroes. Ratchet, a member of the Lombax race, teams up with the robot, Clank, to save an alien planet from destruction. Along the way, they face characters that would become staples of the series - including Captain Qwark, supposed hero of the galaxy.
The remake of Ratchet & Clank features similar events, but they are retold by Qwark himself. This results in a story that contains numerous contradictions with the series’ timeline, including an early encounter with recurring villain Dr. Nefarious. Because of this, players should consider the 2002 Ratchet & Clank as the definitive version when looking back at the original story.
Following the original title, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando provides an adventure in a brand-new galaxy. The title features the two heroes being hired by Megacorp to save one of the company’s experiments, only to find a darker secret lurking behind the company. Going Commando offers a wider range of weapons and upgrades, along with plenty of side-challenges for players to experience.
This was a turning point for the series, with proceeding games beginning to focus more on combat and high-stakes action.
The third Ratchet & Clank game, Up Your Arsenal, would shape the series for years to come. Marking the first appearance of Dr. Nefarious, the game’s focus on combat increased tenfold - as did its focus on comedy. Major characters took on numerous roles, with some acting as both allies and enemies. Plenty of these characters also had great amounts of charm and wit. The robust story played well with Up Your Arsenal’s improved gameplay, making for one of the most beloved entries in the entire franchise.
Ratchet: Deadlocked is one of the more unique titles in the series. Ratchet spends most of his time away from Clank, as the two of them are kidnapped and forced to participate in deadly gladiator battles. At this point, the series became more of a ‘shooter’ than a ‘platformer’, with the players’ main objective being to eliminate enemies without being killed themselves. This was the last title to be developed by Insomniac Games until the Future series began just two years later.
A new era of the franchise started with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. With a new villain, a new galaxy, and upgraded graphics, Ratchet and Clank set out to discover the truth behind the disappearance of the Lombax race. The game moves back to the mixture of action and platforming featured in ‘Up Your Arsenal’ and adds a cinematic flair with unique cutscenes. The game features a few strange retcons and changes to the story of the original games, but the overall improvements still make Tools of Destruction worth playing for any major fan.
Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty continues the story of the previous game, with Ratchet going on a new adventure to find and rescue his robot companion. The game focuses more on the story, with a lack of extra gameplay options such as challenge mode. It’s one of the few games that lacks Clank’s presence almost entirely, but fans that want the full story will benefit greatly from checking this title out. Certain story elements and revelations make this title necessary for anyone playing the Ratchet & Clank games in order.
The final title in the Future trilogy, Ratchet & Clank: A Crack in Time lets players witness the two heroes reuniting in a battle against Dr. Nefarious. While Ratchet’s missions feature the usual action fans have come to expect from the series, Clank’s missions revolve more around puzzle-solving and time manipulation. The game also features open space exploration and plenty of extras, making for one of the most robust Ratchet & Clank experiences of all time.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One is more akin to a party game. The title features a four-player co-op with Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and Nefarious. The team needs to solve puzzles and battle enemies together, culminating in chaotic action sequences against powerful bosses. It’s not a very “Ratchet & Clank” game, but it’s a fun experience regardless.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault returns to the classic gameplay style of previous entries yet again. Players battle against marauders in tower defense scenarios in a bid to save the galaxy once more. It’s not very connected to other titles and features some very simplistic gameplay overall. However, Full Frontal Assault gives players a sense of familiarity while also feeling surprisingly unique.
Designed as an epilogue to the Future series, Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus follows the heroic duo after their victory against Dr. Nefarious. Players are faced with a villain seeking to release interdimensional creatures into the galaxy. The game features updated controls and a fair number of new weapons, while the story seeks to develop the characters after ‘A Crack in Time’. The ending of this title leads directly into the next entry in the series - despite being released nearly a decade prior.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is currently the last Ratchet & Clank game to be released. The game features the return of Dr. Nefarious in a new interdimensional adventure, with a counterpart to Ratchet - named Rivet - being prominently featured. While this game is the last in the series, it keeps references to an overall minimum. It’s a great title to finish off a binge of the Ratchet & Clank games in order, but it’s a great game to introduce someone new to the series.
The Ratchet & Clank series includes more focus on storytelling with each new entry. As such, the latest PS4 entry was designed as a great way for newcomers to experience Ratchet & Clank while also preparing them for the latest game, Rift Apart. Anyone looking to just have some quick fun with the gameplay and characters can focus on those two games, as they’re also designed without relying too heavily on the lore of previous entries.
If you want to experience full immersion with the story and characters, however, it’s recommended you play the games in this order:
Deadlocked, All 4 One, and Full Frontal Assault are relatively self-contained in comparison to these games. While the Future series contains a fair amount of retcons and changes to the rest of the franchise, it introduces important items and characters with prominent roles in Rift Apart. This makes for the most robust experience players will get while following Ratchet & Clank’s story - even if most of these games show their age.
The rapidly-increasing time between Ratchet & Clank games has led to a drought of the franchise throughout all of the PlayStation 4’s lifespan, barring the remake. It’s hard to say what will become of new entries to the series, but Rift Apart shows there’s still plenty of life left for Ratchet and Clank.
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