The Ratchet & Clank series has been around for nearly two decades and, in that time, has solidified itself in PlayStation hall of fame.
There have been many ups and downs along the way, as Insomniac Games has sometimes stepped away to let other developers handle the property.
That said, many PlayStation fans still have fond memories of playing standout entries like Going Commando and Up Your Arsenal.
With Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart launching on the PlayStation 5, we thought we’d cover the shooter’s history by listing all of the Ratchet & Clank games in order of release date.
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Ratchet & Clank
Release Date: November 4, 2002
Platforms: PS2, PS3, PS Vita
When Insomniac Games set out to make the first Ratchet & Clank, they had no idea the series would eventually become synonymous with the PlayStation brand. Launching for the PS2, the original introduced players to a lonely Lombax mechanic named Ratchet and his robot sidekick Clank.
The two embark on an intergalactic adventure to save the universe from a shady businessman looking to build his own personal haven at the cost of destroying other planets. Gameplay was a mix of 3D platforming, shooting, puzzle-solving, and even included some RPG mechanics.
At the time, there was simply nothing else like it. Despite some camera issues, Ratchet & Clank was well-received upon release, with critics praising its story, tone, and overall originality. It helped set the trajectory for the series going forward, and most impressively, still holds up in 2021.
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
Release Date: November 11, 2003
Platforms: PS2, PS3, PS Vita
In their follow-up to the first game, Insomniac addressed all of the feedback from fans and critics to create one of the best entries in the series. Going Commando was bigger and better than its predecessor in just about every way and benefited from a host of story and gameplay improvements.
For one, Ratchet’s personality was revised to make him more appealing to fans and sell the idea of him and Clank being this ragtag team of do-gooders. However, what really got players’ attention was the addition of racing challenges and advancements in the game’s combat system.
The story sees the dynamic duo momentarily separated after Ratchet is recruited to become a mercenary for Megacorp. Assigned to track down a thief who stole a biological experiment, Ratchet begins to question Megacorp’s intentions, eventually reuniting with Clank to expose the truth.
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
Release Date: November 2, 2004
Platforms: PS2, PS3, PS Vita
By this point, Insomniac Games was on a hot streak and showed no signs of slowing down. The third entry in the series took things even further than Going Commando by giving players more features than they knew what to do with.
This included a much larger and ambitious campaign that saw the duo battling a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Nefarious. New characters and planets were introduced. The story took on a much darker, grittier tone than previous games.
Most notably, Up Your Arsenal added a multiplayer component that saw teams competing across various modes such as Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch. Players were given a wider selection of upgradeable weapons and gadgets, as well as larger environments to allow for new ground and air vehicles.
Release Date: October 25, 2005
Platforms: PS2, PS3
Taking Up Your Arsenal’s dark tone even further, Ratchet: Deadlocked stands out in comparison to the original trilogy. For one, it plays less like an action-platformer and more like a survival shooter, as Ratchet finds himself kidnapped and forced to compete in a gladiator game show called the Dread Zone.
Clank is given less screen time in the single-player campaign, resulting in fewer platforming and puzzle sections. Instead, Deadlocked focuses on fast-paced arena combat using a smaller, but highly modifiable arsenal of weapons. Combat bots Merc and Green were introduced to aid Ratchet in battle; however, a second player could replace them and play as Clank.
While Deadlocked is praised for its visceral combat and weapon customization, it’s also criticized for lacking its predecessor’s spirit and vigor. It was becoming clear that Insomniac and/or Sony were growing tired of the original formula and wanted to take the franchise in a new direction, for better or worse.
Ratchet & Clank: Going Mobile
Release Date: November 2, 2005
Platforms: Mobile Phones
Enter the first Ratchet & Clank spin-off, Going Mobile, developed by Handheld Games for early mobile devices. While the game is by no means canon, Ratchet’s armor in the cover art suggests it takes place after Up Your Arsenal.
The story sees Ratchet and Clank accidentally triggering a bio-matter converter device, transporting them to an alternate dimension. It was a smart in-universe way to justify the game’s 2D perspective and does an excellent job separating itself from Insomniac’s 3D games.
Gameplay was a mix of light platforming and basic combat. Players were able to upgrade weapons and purchase new ones from an in-game shop. While its features were limited by mobile hardware at the time, Going Mobile managed to snag the award for “Best Action Game” at the Mobile Entertainment Awards in 2006.
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters
Release Date: February 13, 2007
Platforms: PSP, PS2
Despite being made by a different developer, High Impact Games, Size Matters is considered canon, at least according to Insomniac. Initially released for the PlayStation Portable, the game presents a traditional Ratchet & Clank adventure, only on a smaller scale due to the PSP’s limited capabilities.
In it, Ratchet and Clank are seen vacationing on an alien planet where they witness a girl get abducted by mysterious robots. The duo set out to investigate the kidnapping and stumble upon a galactic conspiracy involving multiple worlds and a strange mythological race of alien robots called Technomites.
Size Matters is a lot goofier than previous games and is fondly remembered for its titular heroes’ uplifting depictions. Gameplay was very much inspired by Up Your Arsenal but featured simplified armor and weapon upgrades in addition to a new Shrink Ray gadget that allowed Ratchet and Clank to reach certain areas.
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
Release Date: October 23, 2007
Released just a year after the PS3, Future: Tools of Destruction saw Insomniac Games back at the helm for a new Future trilogy of games. The timing couldn’t have been any better, as Sony’s new hardware allowed them to make bigger, more detailed environments, as well as incorporate new gameplay mechanics using the PS3’s Six-axis tilt functionality.
The story follows Ratchet and Clank as they look deeper into their pasts and try to uncover the “Lombax Secret” that can help defeat Emperor Tachyon before he can destroy Ratchet, who we learn is the last remaining Lombax.
The game is remembered for its brilliant writing and numerous pop culture references, such as the rivalry between Sony and Microsoft. The addition of larger, more engaging levels was championed by fans, signaling Insomniac and Sony had a success on their hands.
Secret Agent Clank
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Platforms: PSP, PS2
High Impact Games was tapped to work on the next game, Secret Agent Clank, for the PSP. As its title suggests, the game shifts its focus from Ratchet to Clank as the robot embarks on a spy-themed adventure set within the in-universe fictional holo-vision series “Secret Agent Clank.”
The story sees Clank on a mission to prove Ratchet’s innocence after he’s framed for stealing an Eye of Infinity from the Boltaire Museum. Meanwhile, Ratchet is locked away in a Prison Planet, where he’s confronted by many of his former adversaries.
One of the main criticisms directed at Secret Agent Clank is how little it tries to incorporate Clank’s unique abilities. Instead, they decided to have the character simply inherit most of Ratchet’s move set. That said, we admire High Impact for trying to approach the franchise from a fresh perspective.
Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty
Release Date: August 21, 2008
Platforms: PS3, Blu-ray Disc
The second game in Insomniac’s Future trilogy, Quest for Booty, is a much shorter affair than previous outings and was primarily sold as a digital download title via the PlayStation Network on PS3. Set after the events of Tools of Destruction, the game sees Ratchet on a search and rescue mission for Clank after he’s taken by the Zoni.
His search eventually leads him to a gang of Space Pirates who hold the information he needs to save Clank. While the quality and writing were on par with earlier games, Quest for Booty was somewhat marred by its abysmal campaign length, clocking in around three hours.
However, some advantages came with the size cut. The game was able to maintain consistent, tight pacing that went over well with fans. Additionally, many of the weaker weapons from Tools of Destruction were removed, and Ratchet was assigned a new kinetic Omni Wrench that allowed him to move and manipulate objects.
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time
Release Date: October 27, 2009
Platforms: PS3, PS Now
Wrapping up the Future trilogy, A Crack In Time is considered the best entry in the series in terms of story quality. Taking place directly after Quest for Booty, it sees Ratchet much closer to finally rescuing Clank, who is now being held prisoner by Dr. Nefarious.
Working independently for most of the game, the duo eventually reunites to stop Dr. Nefarious from using the Great Clock to manipulate time and space. It was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy that expanded upon the duo’s relationship and personal history.
On the gameplay front, A Crack In Time benefited from a host of quality of life improvements, such as the freedom to use Ratchet’s ship whenever you want and expanded weapon customization. Clank was also given new time-based abilities that allowed for new puzzle designs and enemy encounters.
Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One
Release Date: October 18, 2011
The next entry in the series is All 4 One, a co-op-centric affair that sees Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious working together to bring down a new threat called the Ephemeris, a drone programmed to find and capture the most powerful beings in the universe.
Players could take advantage of drop-in drop-out 4-player co-op, with each player assuming control of one of the four protagonists. Despite being categorized as a spin-off, All 4 One was the handy work none other than Insomniac Games.
Reviews were mixed at launch, with some admiring the addition of co-op while others took aim at Insomniac’s lazy implementation of the feature. However, the biggest problem with All 4 One was the terrible AI partners the game assigned to your party in single-player mode.
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Platforms: PS3, PS Vita
Arguably the lowest point in the series, Full Frontal Assault is a good example of Insomniac trying to fix what isn’t broken. No doubt fueled by a desire to branch out and do something different with franchise, Insomniac decided to incorporate tower defense mechanics into the next Ratchet & Clank.
And just like with All 4 One, players were not happy with the final results. They took shots at the tower defense system’s clumsy design, namely its unbalanced resource economy and limited map selection. While it featured three playable characters: Qwark, Ratchet, and Clank, only two could be selected at any given time.
The concept of having to defend and hold one position simply didn’t fall in line with the series’ core gameplay loop. As a result, Full Frontal Assault received mixed to negative reviews, marking the decline of Ratchet & Clank’s relevancy as other PlayStation exclusives, namely Uncharted, took center stage.
Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Platforms: PS3, PS Now
Serving as an epilogue to the Future trilogy, Into the Nexus was Insomniac’s latest attempt at appeasing fans by returning to the series’ roots. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite like they expected, and the game was ultimately panned by reviewers.
The biggest issue was its largely forgettable story, which sees Ratchet and Clank assigned to an escort mission that inevitably goes awry, releasing a dangerous race of interdimensional beings. Most of it revolves around Ratchet coming to grips with his actions in A Crack in Time.
The decision to set the game in the past was a big risk that ultimately did not pay off for Insomniac. One of Into the Nexus’ saving graces is the addition of new side-scrolling sections that see Clank manipulating gravity to complete his objectives.
Ratchet & Clank: Before the Nexus
Release Date: December 18, 2013
Platforms: iOS, Android
Looking to cash in on the hype surrounding Into the Nexus, Sony tapped Darkside Game Studios to create a mobile game tie-in. They came back with an endless runner modeled after the popular Temple Run series that was loosely based on the events in Insomniac’s game.
Before the Nexus sees players controlling Ratchet as he occupies one of three lanes, typically presented as grind rails. You would switch between lanes to dodge enemies and collect resources as well as occasionally shoot enemies.
Additionally, an in-game shop allowed players to purchase various ammo, weapons, gadgets, armor, and upgrades. The game came and went with little fanfare, mainly due to its confusing title, middling visuals, and repetitive gameplay.
Ratchet & Clank
Release Date: April 12, 2016
Going by the same name, 2016’s Ratchet & Clank for the PS4 serves as both a reboot and reimagining of the first game in the series with upgraded graphics and new dialogue. It’s based on the Ratchet & Clank movie, which sought to retell the events of the original game from 2002.
Told from the perspective of Captain Qwark, the story sees Ratchet and Clank meeting one another for the first time. Eventually, the duo team up with the Galactic Rangers and work together to stop Chairman Drek and Dr. Nefarious from destroying planets throughout the galaxy.
The game was well-received by critics and longtime fans, with many citing its perfect balance between combat, platforming, and puzzle sections. Insomniac Games referred to the reboot as a “new beginning” for the franchise, which by now had found and settled into its identity.
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Release Date: June 11, 2021
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is a continuation of the reboot’s updated graphical style and looks to be harnessing the increased horsepower of Sony’s PS5 console. As the first entry in the series in over four years, the game takes place in the present, where our titular heroes find themselves entangled in an interdimensional crisis.
A failed attempt at using the Dimensionator on Ratchet and Clank by Dr. Nefarious causes the portals connecting different worlds to go haywire and begin opening and closing at random. With their own world caught in the crossfire, Ratchet and Clank set off on a mission to save the worlds from collapsing into each other.
Rift Apart will retain many of the gameplay elements from previous entries while introducing new features, such as a currently unknown playable female Lombax. We can also expect a ton of new weapons and gadgets designed to show off Sony’s new DualSense controller. Lastly, the game will utilize the PS5’s SSD to achieve seamless transitions with no load screens.