Top 5 Game Beginnings

I would say top five game intros, but that’s a bit too limiting. This encompasses not just the intro cutscenes, but also the initial gameplay and concepts introduced in a game. A good intro sequence doesn’t necessarily mean a good game, but it does mean that the developers took their time to build the foundation for something great.

5. Kingdom Hearts

Even though the game is dated, its intro and cutscene graphics still remain beautiful. The beginning of the game introduces Sora, the series protagonist, and has you play through several different areas while figuring out what kind of play style you want. The choices at the beginning of the game greatly affect your abilities and stats when you level up, but the choices you go through at the intro are hardly noticeable. Along with that, it puts you right into the action and teaches you to battle right away.

4. Oblivion

The intro to Oblivion has you stuck in a dungeon, getting insulted by a jail mate, when suddenly Uriel Septim himself chooses your cell to escape through. While that doesn’t exactly work out for him, the main character does get introduced to several different types of play, and it allows the player to pick appearance, race, gender, and star sign—all of which give the character specific advantages. Even though you do get one opportunity to redo your character decisions, playing through the intro again is anything but tedious.

3. Final Fantasy X

This game quickly introduces a bunch of questions that get answered (albeit vaguely) later in the game: who is the transparent guy dressed in purple, why does the weird dude in the red trenchcoat toast a huge tsunami, and what on earth is attacking Zanarkand? Along with that, it quickly and painlessly introduces the main character as an oddly-dressed star player on a Blitzball team. The difference between the huge city structures and the ruins is very poignant and introduces the themes of the game well.

2. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

This game starts off following Old Snake, whose age has accelerated because of his status as a clone, and overlaid onto the cutscene is a narrative describing how war has changed. It demonstrates this in waves: first, the futile nature of the soldiers’ sacrifices, then the strange behemoths that appear during the battle and attack both sides, then the advanced technology that Old Snake has at his disposal when dealing with them. With bits of gameplay in between cutscenes, it introduces all of the basic gameplay concepts without seeming like a tutorial.

1. Fallout 3

The intro scene to Fallout 3 slowly introduces different forms of chaos—first, a crashed and ruined bus, then a destroyed bus among a wasteland, then a strange figure among the post-apocalyptic world holding a gun. Within just a few seconds, it introduces the scene entirely. Like Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it continues into a philosophical narrative. You begin in a white and pristine shelter thinking that anything that exists outside has long perished. Stepping outside after the first intro sequence, the first thing you see is a sunrise across a shattered landscape—the entire time, you were lied to by your own family, and now you’ve escaped the Vault and have the world to explore.

Honorable Mention: FFVIII