Video games have become a new storytelling medium. Like any book, movie, or TV show, a video game needs to hook you in from the very beginning. Luckily, video games have more ways to grab your attention. Whether it’s a cinematic opening or an entertaining gameplay sequence, the game's introduction needs to grab your attention if you are to spend many hours playing.
The following entries on this list are here because they immediately suck the player into the world they have created. They knew how to initiate the tone and feel of the game. On top of that, these games happened to be astounding titles for their generation. Part of this can be attributed to the momentum gained in the opening minutes. Here are the 10 best video game introductions of all time!
The most anticipated feature of Skyrim back in 2011 was the inclusion of dragons. Bethesda knew the excitement for this, so they made sure the dragons have a huge impact in the beginning. Skyrim begins very subtly; you’re being carted off with other rebels to be executed by the Imperials. As your fellow passengers start to get executed one by one, it eventually becomes your turn.
As you are about to be beheaded, a dragon roar is heard in the distance. The anticipation instantly kicks in. You don’t have to wait long as the dragon shows up in seconds with all its glory. It lays waste to everyone around you, which begins an intense escape where you need to avoid the dragon and its fiery breath. This intro to Skyrim immediately lets you know that this is going to be an epic journey. Straight away, you’re ready to start exploring the large map and kill a dragon yourself.
9 Fallout 3
“War...war never changes.” Fallout 3 is a perfect example of how to set a tone for your game in the opening minutes. The intro captures the same dreary feeling you’ll get when you inevitably start exploring this wasteland of a map. It begins with a flickering light, which is then complemented by the retro tune "I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire" by The Ink Spots. After this, a haunting narration by Ron Perlman begins, giving you insight into humanity’s self-destructive nature which the game will continue to explore going forward.
8 Far Cry 3
The Far Cry series has been known for its charismatic villains. While the villain introductions for Far Cry 4 and 5 could make this list as well, there’s no denying that 2012’s Far Cry 3 takes the gold. This intro encapsulates everything going forward in Ubisoft’s third entry to the open-world series. You’re about to cause some over-the-top mayhem, but under the surface, there are dark themes of insanity and questions of morality.
The game opens with a fast-paced montage—going along to M.I.A’s jam "Paper Planes"—of protagonist Jason and his friends on vacation. Everything seems all fun and lighthearted until the camera pans out and you realize you’re watching this from Jason’s phone, with Vaas pulling it back towards him. Jason and his brother have been kidnapped by Vaas. You then get the first of many memorable monologues by the titular villain that sticks with you. He lets Jason, and, by extension, the player, the player, know that he is the one in charge. This is his game and you’re going to play by his rules.
7 Marvel's Spider-Man
For any superhero game, it has to focus on one goal; make you feel like a superhero. Within the first few minutes of Marvel’s Spider-Man, it’s clear that Insomniac was up to the task. The opening scene shows Peter waking up, only to find out that Kingpin is causing havoc. His apartment is dirty, and you see his rent is overdue. This is exactly what fans expect from a Spider-Man story, where he struggles to maintain his personal life over his hero life.
Once he puts on the suit, Peter Parker immediately jumps out the window and is web-slinging to Kingpin. Seconds later, you are given control of him to start swinging around Manhattan. In the first 5 minutes, you truly feel like Spider-Man and can’t wait for the adventure that awaits you.
6 NieR Automata
Video game tutorials can be quite annoying at times. Many players would rather just learn the controls as they go. Developer Platinum Games must’ve been very keen on this as NieR: Automata has the greatest tutorial level of any game this generation. NieR has many different playstyles, and just about all of them are presented in the game’s first 20 minutes. The first moment, you’re playing a stylized 3rd person hack and slash, and the next you’re playing a top-down shooter.
You’d think that would be it, but NieR is also a side-scrolling platformer. All of these genres mesh so well in the core game. The opening of this title lets you gain an understanding of what this game will offer. By the end, you’ve completed the tutorial. This becomes a rite of passage since the continuing hours of the game are quite challenging.
5 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
The Force Unleashed’s opening mission is an absolute power trip. This classic game takes place between the events of Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. Darth Vader is in his prime. What better way to show this raw power than to let players play as Darth Vader in the opening mission?
As the ambush on Kashyyk is occurring, you effortlessly throw around wookies like rag dolls with complete control of the Force. The Force Unleashed is a delight for Star Wars fans, and this opening mission immediately that apparent. It’s a mix of both cathartic gameplay and movie quality cinematics.
4 Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
The original Uncharted was a good game for the time it came out, but after three sequels, it is clear this first entry hasn’t aged well. For Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog wanted to go all out. The sequel is bigger and better in just about every way. This is evident from the game’s opening moments. Nathan Drake wakes up in a train car bloodied, bruised, and stabbed. To make matters worse, this train car happens to be dangling off of a cliff.
When the camera pans, you get a glimpse of the size and scope the sequel is trying to capture. What follows is a heart-pounding climbing sequence where Nathan is only inches away from death. Eventually, Nathan makes his way to safety—obviously. As a player, though, you can’t wait to find out just what the hell led Nathan to this train car. Luckily, the expedition begins right after to explain the events prior to this sequence.
3 God Of War III
Some games would rather take their time to build up the action. God of War III is not one of those games. The opening of the sequel is a thrill ride of adrenaline and testosterone that only a God of War game can provide. The game begins immediately with Kratos and other Titans leading an all-out assault on Zeus. Kratos is pissed—as always—and nothing will get in his way on his path to vengeance. Within the first 30 minutes, Kratos manages to take down three major bosses, including Poseidon himself.
The God of War series has always been known for its majestic set-pieces. Developer Santa Monica Studio has no interest in wasting the player’s time and immediately drops them into the action. Going into this sequel, hardcore fans of the series expect action, crazy boss fights, and blood. God of War III provides all of that and more in its opening mission.
2 The Last Of Us
Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us surprised everyone when it was initially revealed. This is because it seemed to be the complete polar opposite of the Uncharted series. The Uncharted gamers are over-the-top action adventure stories, while The Last Of Us is anything but. This is promptly displayed in the game’s opening mission.
Players knew going in that Last Of Us was going to be an emotional journey. What they were not expecting, however, was that the game would rip their heart out in the first 10 minutes. The Last Of Us is a bleak, character-driven narrative. The game’s opening minutes immediately establish this with a devastating death of a character you were already becoming attached to.
What makes BioShock such an amazing work of art is the setting. With Rapture, Irrational Games crafted an unforgettable world that evoked a feeling of dread and despair throughout. The game’s opening minutes are no different. Playing as Jack, your plane crashes into the Mid-Atlantic. The screams of the remaining passengers are bone-chilling as the title card emerges. As you swim your way to safety amidst gorgeous water effects, you come across a lighthouse. This lighthouse eventually leads you to an elevator that submerges you to the depths of Rapture.
This introduction is so memorable due to how it generates the atmosphere you’ll experience throughout the rest of the game. The setting of Rapture is a character in and of itself. Rapture’s ideology is educated through Andrew Ryan’s opening monologue in the elevator. Seeing Rapture for the first time is not only one of the best introductions in gaming, but it’s one of the best moments in gaming period.