While some games can take a while to become immersive experiences, the best games grab players from the very beginning. The best games don’t make players wait to see what makes the game special. Unfortunately, many games don’t do this. Numerous games make gamers play through a boring beginning before becoming an enthralling experience. Although a few games have pulled this off with some success, games need to grab the player’s attention in the opening moments because there is only one opportunity to make a good first impression.
An “easy” way for a game to make a good first impression is to throw gamers right into the middle of the action as soon as the game starts. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves does this perfectly. Before players even have a chance to make a complaint, Nathan Drake is already in a dangerous situation that blows platforming sequences in other games out of the water. These kinds of beginnings can be wonderful, but they only work if the game ventures into unfamiliar territory. A game that starts out with generic gameplay can be as explosive and fast-paced as it wants, but it will still lack a good first impression. Exciting first impressions are about more than just action. These kinds of beginnings need to feature gameplay that is outside the box to fully entice and enthrall gamers.
The first things players notice about a game is its setting. A game’s graphics and environment immediately stand out to players. Games can make a good first impression by throwing players into a world that is unlike anything they are used to seeing. BioShock is able to immediately immerse players by showing them the wonder of Rapture. Games that try to immediately immerse players by using a great setting have to feature a setting that leaves players in awe. Your typical urban city won’t do the trick. It needs to be a place that sparks the wonder and curiosity of players by merely looking at it.
The hardest but most effective way to start a game is to immediately immerse players in an engrossing story. A key aspect of this is frequently the creation of an emotional connection between the player and the game’s characters in the opening minutes. It can be incredibly difficult to interest players in a game’s story and characters from the beginning of the game. Very, very few games can pull this off, but games that can do this heavily benefit from it. The Last of Us belongs in the rare category of games that can do this. The opening events in the game leave players with an attachment to the protagonist that sticks with them throughout the journey. Crafting a story that players care about instantly requires incredible writers, but this kind of beginning leaves the best kind of first impression. These games make players want to continue through the game to experience the story. Once a player starts a great story, he won’t want to stop it until it’s over.
Developers need to create games that make great first impressions so that players can be immediately immersed in an experience. When a game starts out unnecessarily slowly, it can derail the whole experience. After all, a good first impression can be the difference between putting down a game after the first hour or playing through it for days on end until the conclusion is reached.