Every gamer had to start somewhere. For me, that start was Need for Speed: Underground with my older cousins and an unplugged DualShock 2. Of course, I inevitably grew older and figured out that I was being played (pun intended). Now, I am an avid gamer looking to help prospective players join the club. As such, I decided to put together a selection of the 5 best games for beginners which takes many factors into consideration. Thus, whether you’re trying to find a new hobby for yourself, or you’re a mom intending to connect a bit more with your kids, I hope you can find something suiting.
In this short list, I will include a short description of each game, its features, and give insight on what makes it accessible for newcomers. Additionally, I limited the additions to this list to older current generation titles in order to keep the recommendations wallet-friendly. So without further ado, I hope this list proves helpful:
If you’ve heard about video games, then you’ve heard of Minecraft. However, this list wouldn’t be complete without its inclusion. Bearing the title of “Oldest Game on This List,” this game is widely considered to be among the best games ever made. Minecraft features endless open worlds with gameplay fueled almost entirely by the imagination and creativity of the player. General gameplay involves exploring, searching for resources, creating tools, building, decorating, and fending off (family friendly) foes. Along with its various levels of survival difficulty, it features a “creative” mode, where the players are free to create, build, and experiment to their hearts’ desires. This mode is great for learning the ropes, as players will face no opposition. Throw in mods, online mini-games, and consistent updates, and you have a game that will never get old.
This game is perfect for kids and has enough depth for adults to enjoy. For those skeptical, people have been able to create working computers within the game. Thus, I believe that this is the only game on this list which you can’t go wrong with.
For a more in-depth look, check out our Minecraft review.
2. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Before anything else, it must be noted that this game was included due to its accessibility rather than its family friendliness. Although most younger kids won’t understand these, the game contains references to controversial themes, such as child abuse and suicide. Two things which kids would undoubtedly notice are the huge amounts of blood and grotesque (cartoon) creatures.
What makes this game easy to grasp for newcomers is its simplicity, with simple twin-stick shooter controls on console and classic “WASD” with directional buttons on PC. The core gameplay is likewise easy to understand: hit enemies with your projectiles and don’t get hit by theirs. Additionally, The Binding of Isaac is a rogue-like (or rogue-lite if you want to get technical), meaning that it starts off very easy and gets progressively more difficult, and that losing and starting over is just part of the game. Taken collectively, these features make The Binding of Isaac a great game for getting used to the feel of a controller and improving skills.
3. XCOM 2
XCOM 2 takes place in a future where aliens have taken over the world. The player is tasked with taking the planet back by building up a base, researching technology, and engaging in lots of turn-based tactical combat. The game has rich character creation, flexible customization, and RPG elements. Notoriously, the game is also very difficult, so its presence in a list recommending games for newbies will require a slightly deeper explanation.
Not too long ago, my younger sister became intrigued by the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Having no experience with video games whatsoever, she decided to give the first game a go, and it proved catastrophic; she either looked in the right direction or walked in the right direction, unable to do both simultaneously. She also relied on looking directly at the controller in order to find any button. How does this relate to XCOM 2? Well, my sister’s problem was that despite knowing exactly what button she needed to press and when, she did not have the necessary hand-eye coordination to successfully enter the command in real time. This is where XCOM 2‘s turn-based nature proves beneficial. The game allows players to take as much time as they need to plan their moves and execute them. This makes it great for memorizing button placement.
Although the violence featured in the game isn’t too graphic, XCOM 2 wouldn’t be something to recommend for younger kids, due to its complexity and the inherent short attention span of most children. Nonetheless, for a more family friendly alternative to it, check out Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. For a deeper look this game, check out our XCOM 2 review. (Note: My sister has gotten much better over time.)
4. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Another universally loved veteran in the gaming industry, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a re-release of the beloved Mario Kart 8. Pitting players against one another in exciting kart races, it’s great for playing with friends and family. This game features many characters from various Nintendo franchises, light vehicle customization, and tons of race tracks to master. Apart from its easy to pick up controls, what makes this Nintendo exclusive optimal for new players is its “smart steering” feature. Essentially, this accessibility feature helps level the playing field for inexperienced players by steering for them, preventing those embarrassing moments where you run straight into a wall or fall off the track.
This game has two big drawbacks. The first is that it has remained very close to full price despite its age. Thus, finding a copy from a trustworthy source (even used ones) below $40 is very difficult, if not impossible. Of course, you can opt for the original version of the game which is available on older Nintendo platforms. The second drawback is its Nintendo exclusivity, meaning that it is not playable on Xbox, PlayStation 4, or PC. Alternative kart racers for other platforms include Crash Team Racing, Team Sonic Racing, and Nickelodeon Kart Racers.
For more information, see our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review.
5. Interactive Story Games
Apart from the other games on this list, new players might find a liking for interactive story games. I don’t play these myself, so I can’t speak about any specific titles with true opinions. Nonetheless, the genre seems like a great gateway into the endless worlds and stories that can be explored through video games. More or less, interactive story games are movies where the player decides what happens. Games like Until Dawn, Detroit: Become Human (image above), and Life is Strange are praised for their engaging stories and fleshed out characters more than anything else. Anybody can play these games, since there is very little skill (if any) required to do so. Thus, interactive story games are best suited for those who want to lay back and experience a story.
Whether you’re a fan of horror, drama, action, puzzles, or anything in between, you’re bound to find something you enjoy in the world of video games. With the countless amount of titles available, the hardest part is getting started.