Virtually every AAA video game launches with a high-priced collector’s edition nowadays. Already, we know that Final Fantasy XV, Gears of War 4, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will all be launching this year with special editions featuring figurines, soundtracks, artbooks, or some other combination of goodies for gamers willing to plunk down the extra cash.
Of course, not all collector’s editions are created equal. Often, the bonuses that come with these games are much flimsier than initially advertised, or the included DLC ends up being underwhelming. But every now and then, publishers hit it out of the park and release something that perfectly fits a game’s style, something that any geek would be proud to display on his/her gaming shelf.
This is our list of the best video game collector’s editions ever made:
Alan Wake Limited Edition
2010 | Remedy Entertainment | X360
Sometimes collector’s editions don’t need tons of swag to be awesome. Some collector’s edition are great just because they fit so well with a game’s universe. Alan Wake is a criminally underrated psychological horror game about a writer trying to find his missing wife amidst his latest novel coming to life. It’s unique, it’s engaging, and sadly sales never really took off as well as other Microsoft franchises.
The bonus disc and downloadable content aren’t anything that special in the limited edition, but what gets this game on the list is the inclusion of a lengthy book written by Alan Wake. Plus, the packaging makes it look much more like a book than a video game. It’s a small collector’s edition, but one of the coolest to have sitting on your shelf.
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Collector’s Edition
2011 | Snowblind Studios | X360, PS3
The Lord of the Rings: The War in the North collector’s edition is just one of those things where you have to admire the sheer audacity and ridiculousness of it. This version of the game comes with a full-size quiver for arrows. Whether or not you could actually use it for archery I’m not sure, but it’s made out of surprisingly sturdy leather, and inside there’s even a sizable cloth map of Middle Earth.
War in the North may be largely forgotten now, especially compared to the far superior Shadow of Mordor, but until a more impressive Lord of the Rings collector’s edition comes along, this is the one to rule them all.
Catherine “Love Is Over” Deluxe Edition
2011 | Atlus | X360, PS3
The collector’s edition of Catherine is another great example of a publisher using a game’s setting to craft a perfectly suitable special edition. Atlus deserves a ton of credit for not just making an interesting game about commitment and infidelity in adult relationships, but somehow also crafting a great collector’s edition about the game and its themes.
In addition to the standard artbook and soundtrack, the “Love Is Over” edition includes a pillowcase featuring the titular antagonist Catherine, the heart container shirt she wears during the game, and the polka-dotted boxer shorts Vincent wears in his nightmares. And while you can initially fault this version of the game for coming in a chintzy cardboard box, it’s actually pretty forgivable when you realize that it’s actually a pizza box from the Stray Sheep bar where a good chunk of the game takes place. It’s hard to expect much more fan service than that.
2002 | Capcom | Xbox
Steel Battalion isn’t strictly a collector’s edition. It was actually the only version of the game ever made. If you wanted to play this mech simulator when it was released for the original Xbox, you had to drop $200 on its massive controller made up of more than three dozen buttons, two joysticks, and three foot pedals. The game simply didn’t work with any other input method.
The package itself felt like a training simulator from another dimension where giant mechs are party of everyday life, coming in a massive battle-worn box with a lengthy Vertical Tank Operations Manual included inside. Buying Steel Battalion was more like a commitment to learn how to actually pilot a mech than a video game to play in your spare time. There will likely never again be another release like Steel Battalion, making it a must-own for mech fans and collectors alike.
Gears of War 3 Epic Edition
2011 | Epic Games | X360
Gears of War 3 was meant to be the conclusion of the series in 2011, so Microsoft and Epic went all out for this collector’s edition. The included Marcus Fenix statue is only PVC, but it’s surprisingly detailed and impressive looking on any shelf. It’s still probably the best statue or figure of the character you can get.
But then there’s just so much other cool stuff from the Gears universe in the box, including a COG flag, Fenix family mementos (like letters from Marcus), and a heavy metal Octus Service Medal. The medal is solid and really feels like something COG soldiers would get for defending Sera. It’s almost like a real award for playing through all the Gears games.
Tales of Symphonia Chronicles: Collector’s Edition
2013 | Namco Tales Studio | PS3
There is perhaps no game more beloved in Namco’s long-running Tales series than Tales of Symphonia. Namco went all-out for the 2013 release of the HD remakes of Symphonia and its sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. Aside from two outstanding ports, the collector’s edition includes the obligatory soundtrack and artbook found in most special editions, plus a full-length novel detailing everything that happened between the two games. To top it off, there are also four super cute Chibi Kyun Chara figures of characters from the games. All of this stuff somehow fits perfectly in a surprisingly small box featuring beautiful new art of the main characters.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Collector’s Edition
2011 | Naughty Dog| PS3
The collector’s edition for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception just tries to give you as much cool Nathan Drake stuff as possible. Inside a somewhat chintzy but still cool looking traveling chest, you’ll find a highly detailed Nathan Drake statue by Sideshow Collectibles, along with replicas of the buckle and necklace ring he wears throughout the game. This is the collectible to get for anyone who has ever dreamt of being Nathan Drake. A similar “Libertalia Collector’s Edition” was released with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End this year.
Fallout: New Vegas Collector’s Edition
2010 | Obsidian Entertainment | X360, PS3, PC
Fallout fans will always argue about whether Fallout 3 or New Vegas is the best Fallout game of the previous generation. While you can make a really good case for either game, it’s no contest which title has the better collector’s edition.
The New Vegas collector’s edition feels like it was transported straight out of the Fallout universe. Inside a beat up poker chip box that looks like it’s been through a nuclear war, you’ll find playing cards, poker chips from the major casinos in the game, and a replica of the platinum chip that causes so much trouble in the main storyline. A making of DVD and graphic novel depicting events taking place before the game are just icing on the cake.
Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition
2012 | Gearbox Software | X360, PS3, PC
No one could have predicted that Borderlands would become such a phenomenon when the original hit back in 2009. There was actually no special edition released for the original game, but Borderlands 2 got a collector’s edition heavy on fan service.
This is a collector’s edition for everyone who saw the loot boxes in the original and said, “I want one of these in my living room.” The Borderlands 2 Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition comes in an almost life-sized version of the iconic chests found throughout Pandora, and what’s inside is legendary gear in its own right. There’s a Marcus bobblehead and artbook, plus tons of stickers, postcards, and posters of characters and creatures in the game.
Originally retailing for $149.99, the Ultimate Loot Chest Limited Edition is one of the rare expensive collector’s editions worth every penny, and while many of these editions quickly drop in value, this one has actually retained its value quite well over the past four years.
Batman: Arkham Origins Collector’s Edition
2013 | Warner Bros. Games Montreal | X360, PS3
Arkham Origins has received a lot of hate over the years as the weakest entry in the Arkham series. No, it wasn’t developed by Rocksteady, and yes, it reuses a lot of the locations from the previous Arkham City game, but it’s by no means a bad game, and it actually has the best collector’s edition of any of the four Arkham games. Actually, it might be the greatest video game collector’s edition of all time.
First, you get just a ridiculous amount of stuff. There’s an artbook, a glow-in-the-dark map of Gotham City, a dossier containing information on the game’s villains, a Batman wanted poster, Batwing schematics, and a stencil for creating Anarchy logos. That alone would be enough for many collector’s editions, but then there’s also DLC for a first appearance Batman costume, a full-length documentary about Batman villains narrated by the late Christopher Lee, and an absolutely massive and detailed statute of the Joker in front in front of a bunch of televisions. Oh yeah, the televisions also light up when you put batteries in the statue. But to really put the whole package over the top, there’s also a secret compartment in the back of the statue that contains a Black Mask head that you can swap out on the Joker statue, playing up the game’s biggest twist. Warner Bros. didn’t mention a peep about that little feature prior to the game’s release. In terms of collector’s editions, it really doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Chris Freiberg is a freelance contributor.