Game Openings: Good vs Bad?



  • I was just watching this GT Review of "Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix"

    and Michael Damiani called the opening of Kingdom Hearts II one of the slowest in history. I've only played the game once when I was just a kid and I remember being quite fond of the opening actually so I can't fully comment because my memory is blurring but it got me thinking about other game openings that are considered poor and I kinda find myself disagreeing too.

    Right off the bat Persona 4 comes to mind as an opening that people generally consider slow and poor but I found that I liked being along for the ride for that length and it made the first dungeon feel quite rewarding to me.

    Then there are game openings that are universally considered excellent but I'll actually disagree there too. The Last of Us has a very heavy and emotional opening that was amazing the first time I played it, but I would argue that everything up until Bill's Town is the opening of that game and my goodness does it drag onnnnnnnn if you've played the game more than once. You basically walk and talk with Tess for 1.5-2h with the only real good slice of action beforehand coming in when you leave the quarantine zone. It's a very on-the-rails game opening in my opinion.

    So what are some game openings you like, some you dislike and why? Do you find yourself disagreeing with the general public on some of the disdain (often sheer hatred) that certain game openings get i.e. KHII, P4?



  • It's generally about the pacing and tone. The game should also start you off doing the kind of stuff you will spend most of your time doing.

    For example you don't want DMC5 to start off with 20 minutes of depressing backstory, then have you play as some random new human character with a very down-to-earth realistic fighting style for 20 minutes ending in a bossfight you're supposed to lose. Then the human character dies and you finally get to play as Dante and he starts joking around while doing crazy stuff like normal.

    Doom (2016) has one of the best openings in recent memory. Do you want to spend time on lengthly exposition, tutorials and stuff for Doom game? No you don't, you just want to shoot demons. You get into the game almost instantly doing precisely this and the tone is consistent with the rest of the game.

    Now if I'm being critical I would argue that KH2 doesn't have a good opening. It starts you off playing as a new character leisurely having a good time with his friends, delivering mail on his skateboard and juggling balls. It then shift into a more serious tone where your fight wierd enemies and end up realizing that you started playing as, had fun with and started to like is basically gonna get erased. The exact moment after he's erased (pretty depressing actually) we see Sora, Donald and Goofy laugh and jump around.
    I didn't even mention all of it but already this opening is all over the place and it's not very indicative of the rest of the game at all. It's also pretty long, not something you can just breeze through.
    Generally I feel that if an opening gets players thinking it's annoying and "too long" to play through again on repeated playthroughs then it's not a good opening. It shouldn't feel like you have to get through some hurdle to get to play the game, it should feel like you're playing the real game from the get-go if you ask me.


  • Global Moderator

    As kinda touched on before. I dont like openings with a boss fight that you are meant to loose. I guess this is more common in sequels where you are "mean to start over" in a way and you need the motivation of revenge to get going.

    On good openings (and starting over) I must say that the first time I watched the opening to Mass Effect 2 it really blew my socks off. I did not expect it to happen and to keep it spoiler free, at the time my heart was racing and I sat there with my mouth wide open and couldn't believe my eyes.



  • @suplextrain I agree with everything you said, but I also think it's important to acknowledge that this isn't a universal rule. For example, I'm one of the few people I know
    who doesn't love the last of us, but I think the opening is one of the greatest sequences in gaming history. While tonally similar to the rest of the game, it doesn't necessarily do a good job of introducing you to how the game will play. Depending on the game, it could be better to introduce you to the themes and tone of the game. In others, it's more important to endear you to the characters you'll be spending time with (e.g. Persona 4). It's entirely dependent on the game that you're dealing with, and whatever matters to that game in particular.



  • @naltmank said in Game Openings: Good vs Bad?:

    agree with everything you said, but I also think it's important to acknowledge that this isn't a universal rule. For example, I'm one of the few people I know
    who doesn't love the last of us, but I think the opening is one of the greatest sequences in gaming history. While tonally similar to the rest of the game, it doesn't necessarily do a good job of introducing you to how the game will play.

    In the case of TLoU it focuses on the story. It's not a game like Doom where gameplay comes first, in TLoU gameplay and story goes hand in hand. It's more along the lines of getting people to realize "Oh, so this is what the game will be like". The narritive is the driving force in TLoU so that kind of introduction is required. I personally feel that the pacing could've been better for the beginning of TLoU though.

    Not all openings needs to be the same and naturally it depends on the kind of game you're making. But during the first 15-30 minutes of the game you basically need to sell the player on your game. If people start to feel that this isn't what they signed up for, it takes to long for the game to "get going" or that there's a big shift in terms of done/direction then it will generally negatively effect their experience. Many will even stop playing the game.

    I personally prefer openings that kind of just throw you into the game, like say Dead Space 2 or Final Fantasy 7.



  • The Elder Scrolls series has pretty much always had bad openings, the one in Oblivion is just plain bad (Only good thing about that opening is Patrick Stewart, but that is not enough to save it). And the one in Skyrim is even worse, and this time there is no Patrick Stewart to even attempt to make it better. Heck, the best opening to elder Scrolls game is in Daggerfall, and that isn't even decent. Thankfully, there are mods to fix those, but still...

    But as @suplextrain said, DOOM (2016) has one of the best openings in recent memory. Tells pretty much everything we need to know in few minutes, about the situation we're in, what kind of character DoomSlayer is, gives player a shotgun, and room full of demons to kill. 10/10, will play again.

    After all that said, the opening should usually be telling the player that what kind of game it is you're about to play. That's why there is no overall basic formula that would work with every game, because the games are different, and even the games in same genre have their own quirks that seperate them. With gameplay focused games the opening should more or less focus on letting player to get the feel for the controls and teach the basic mechanics they need to get going, while story focused games should start the game with world building and letting player get to know the characters and the world their in, and give a sample of the tone of the game, but in the end it depends heavily on the game itself.



  • I really enjoy the openings to each of the Tales from the Borderlands episodes. Especially, episode 2:

    Maybe its because I like the songs, or the feel of what I think Borderlands should have, or the slight interactivity in some. But probably its because of how they are so segmented and concise.

    While on the flip side what do people think of the openings to games like Persona? Where I remember it being a couple hours until you could even walk around in Persona 4. I think I like it because it cleanly sets up the whole adventure, even though it can be a little too much exposition.



  • @frasafrase said in Game Openings: Good vs Bad?:

    While on the flip side what do people think of the openings to games like Persona? Where I remember it being a couple hours until you could even walk around in Persona 4. I think I like it because it cleanly sets up the whole adventure, even though it can be a little too much exposition.

    The pacing is generally terrible in Persona games. Usually takes ages for the games to finally open up. 5 is a bit better at this and has a pretty neat opening "mission" tutorial.



  • FF7 and FFX are good openings, the bombing mission and the attack on Zanarkand get people into the action right away THEN let the game sit back and have their proper opening section

    Personally I'm perfectly fine with and even enjoy the slow paced opening that get you into the atmosphere of the world first in games like Trails and Yakuza but I understand the need to get people who arent already invested in the series excited right off the bat



  • @suplextrain said in Game Openings: Good vs Bad?:

    For example you don't want DMC5 to start off with 20 minutes of depressing backstory, then have you play as some random new human character with a very down-to-earth realistic fighting style for 20 minutes ending in a bossfight you're supposed to lose. Then the human character dies and you finally get to play as Dante and he starts joking around while doing crazy stuff like normal.

    Hmmm I think you hit the nail on the head and you even made me remember where I did in fact get annoyed with KHII pulling a 180 and ripping away a character I cared for. Especially because it was the first KH game I've played so Roxus was the first character I met. You're totally right about changing the tone and giving you a gross spin on its head.



  • @GoTaco I didn't hate the KH2 opening, but I can see the issue. It's hard because it's a sequel, you want to get back to the characters you know and love but instead are stuck with Roxas. It makes sense story wise, but I think people would like it more in a first game perhaps. I know I will be a little annoyed if they do something similar in KH3. I don't want to wait more to play as Sora or Riku.



  • I have no problem at all with openings, specially if it is the first time. When I'm playing for the first time I'm very generous about absorbing the world and vibes, and usually even if it has mostly no action at all I go along nicely, like everyone complains about Zelda openings but I don't care at all. My problem is when the game has some sort of new game plus, or I just want to replay it, and I have to go through some boring stuff, because I already know everything they are trying to show me in there, it is still mostly fine though. There was one exception though...

    Dragon Quest 7 (on 3DS)

    I played it for 25 to 30 hours and they kept talking about features I would not be able to use for 20 more hours and that was infuriating me (the monster tablets and capturing monsters), it felt like the game was constantly introducing itself to me and never moved on, and while I liked some vignettes, being thrown from one story into the other probably helped me feel like the game wasn't going anywhere. (the menu system is also ridiculously bad, slowdown and poor controls response, probably influential on me giving up)

    I don't have experiences with most of the games mentioned here, but Doom does start really well, it presents you just enough of the world while also going into the action, it is a very pure fun game, but it still has a strong atmosphere.



  • I can definitely enjoy a slow beginning, but of course it will depend on the game and genre. KHII was perfectly fine for me, as goes with any JRPG really. DOOM 2016 was also a wake up call, as its deliberate force into a zero explanation start was refreshing.

    The only thing that pisses me off really is those that force walking or limited control upon you, and make to adhere to the set pieces they want to push down your throats. The likes of MGS V and The Last of Us were very eye rolling for me.



  • @Sheria

    99% of the time I'd agree with you. I LOVED the beginning of TLOU when it first game out because it felt quick, but on second playthrough and beyond, it really is just a lot of nothing and that walk and talk keeps going for 2ish hours before the game really begins. So I do agree, but I liked it the first go.

    As per MGS V, again, I'd normally agree that walking around isn't that fun but the intro to the game served to spin our expectations from video games on it's head when we find out certain story details at the end, so in retrospect I actually appreciated it for that particular reason. It is still a long haul. Especially

    when you have to do it all over again at the end


  • Global Moderator

    I really liked the openings of one of my favourite games... Zone of the Enders II. With this I count the intro cinematics before you reach the main menu. However, the start of the game it self is really nice. Setting up the world and it got me to really care for Dingo and hate Bahram. I mean sure it can be a little generic, but it really goes with the whole story of the game and gets you right in the mood!



  • One of my favorite video games in Okami. A common complaint about the game is it's opening. While I think it's probably the weakest aspect of the game I still don't think that it's bad.



  • @Sieghardt said in Game Openings: Good vs Bad?:

    FF7 and FFX are good openings, the bombing mission and the attack on Zanarkand get people into the action right away THEN let the game sit back and have their proper opening section

    Those tend to be my favorite kind of openings.
    If a game starts out slow I would be impatiently asking myself when the game will "start".



  • Turns out GT actually did a Top 10 Openings:

    Their descriptions are quick and I'm not really a fan of countdown videos in general, but there are some good ones on here. Portal 2 is one that I think we all missed but is a prime example of an amazing game opening for the reasons they described. Portal 2 teaches you how to play the game while being cinematic, but without removing your control as a player. This is even better because it teaches you through humour.


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