We make a pitch not just to inform, but also to arouse curiosity. A video game, movie, TV show opening isn’t all too different from a pitch.
The thing about video game intros is that they can truly blend cinema, music, and gameplay together in order to present a spectacle that speaks of the game’s true potential. The end result makes us curious not just about the game’s mechanics, but also about the game’s vision and meaning.
We’re counting down the best video game intros that manage to make their first impressions last.
The Portal series has it all: memorable gameplay, writing, art design, and of course, intros. The sequel, Portal 2, expands on everything that Portal 1 did well. Talking of the atmosphere of the game, it still maintains the sinister undertones to an otherwise elegant-looking design.
The Portal 2 intro starts off with Chell waking up in a test subject room, similar to Portal 1. The automated voice relays basic instructions such as looking up and down, walking around and staring at a picture, etc. As Wheatley guides you through the emergency evacuation, you end up at the same place where you began in the first game.
The score surrounding this video game intro is strikingly eerie and enigmatic, adding to the uneasiness of the game.
Fallout: New Vegas
Though it is up for debate, Obsidian really did beat Bethesda at their own game with New Vegas. Opening with the traditional slow-motion zoom-out, the intro cleverly reveals important landmarks of the game, starting from the fateful casino and then onto Lucky 38, The Strip, and so on. We also see various factions such as the Legion moving about in the shadows.
Who would’ve thought that one of gaming’s most iconic lines came from Chandler Bing? This video game intro gives you everything straight away: the setting, factions, music, lore, etc. Probably because it has a lot more in store anyway.
Talking about giving you everything straight, we have the biggest no-nonsense shooter of recent years. While New Vegas and a lot of other video game intros make their mark with an iconic line, Doom makes the same impact through pure action.
Doom wastes no time in giving players what they have been waiting so long for. You wake up, kill demons, and enter the next room for your armor. The elevator scene at the end of the intro is brilliantly done. Doomguy’s body language here is subtle and very effective in communicating his rage. Finally, the music then just dials it up to 11.
You might look at this video game intro and feel that it’s similar to Fallout, and you’d be right. The two games do have a similar atmosphere and aesthetic, mostly because of their time period. However, what separates Bioshock from most is the unforgettable tour of the city Rapture. This short and sweet exhibition of the dystopian city really encapsulates the wonder of video games.
It has been a while since Bioshock came out. These visuals hold up well even now and it is surely one of the finest video game intro cinematics you could have. Not to mention Andrew Ryan’s thought-provoking, opening question, “Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?”
NieR: Automata is highly philosophical, it is deeply melancholic, and it is certainly a gaming masterpiece. The intro to this game succinctly presents its overall theme through 2B’s inner thoughts spoken out loud and immediately gets to the core gameplay mechanics.
You go from top-down fighter jet shooting spree to a 2D mechanoid fight to a standard hack and slash sword clash on foot. The intro merges all kinds of gameplay mechanics that the game has to offer flawlessly whilst keeping the tension high at all times.
Forza Horizon 4
Seeing Forza Horizon 4 relatively high on this list may seem strange or surprising, but it’s really not. This video game intro is living proof that you can make an awe-inspiring video game intro even without intriguing lore expositions and compelling writing.
The entire intro is just too smooth. The way that it seamlessly shifts from the opening cinematic to gameplay with the right music beats and editing is just so cohesive and satisfying. The transitions between each season are amazingly done as well. The thrill of racing, the gorgeous spectacle of Britain, and a great video game intro song, it’s all there.
The Last of Us
The Last of Us, being a brand new IP from Naughty Dog, needed a powerful opening to kickstart the series and the intro did just that. They played it smart by giving players control of Joel’s daughter first, as the player experiences the bond between her and Joel and the virus outbreak from her point of view.
As you frantically escape from your house and take your car to get out of the danger zone, you see stranded families, innocent passengers being mercilessly attacked, and just the whole world crumbling down in angst. You then take control of Joel, who has just one goal in mind: protect his daughter. But in the dark world of The Last of Us, things just get uglier.
Far Cry 3
You could fill this list up with horror games but Far Cry 3 would still have the most terrifying video game intro. What you see first is the fun side of the tropical island, as Jason and his group have the best time clubbing and adventuring.
All of this is until the game reveals that the good times are just recordings on Jason’s phone, who is now captured along with his group. You play as Jason, a kid from California who couldn’t even hold a gun to save his life. But by the end of your unsuccessful escape from the camp, you’re faced with the responsibility of saving your friends and getting revenge from Vaas in a world where everything is out to kill you.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
The GTA franchise has been absolutely stellar, especially with the GTA Trilogy having a strong presence to this day. And GTA Vice City is Rockstar’s most stylish entry so far. The Vice City intro is immersive, nostalgic, and feels like a breath of fresh air right from the first second. The Rockstar logo plays out like an arcade game, fitting for a game inspired by the 80s, as you faintly hear Video Killed The Radio Star. Following that is a beautiful credits sequence showing off what Vice City has to offer.
The first scene deals with Sonny making plans for expanding his influence in Vice City, by making Tommy handle all the dirty work. Following Sonny’s instructions, Tommy heads to Vice City for a major drug deal that eventually goes wrong, leaving Tommy with nothing. With a massive debt to pay and freedom to earn, players journey with Tommy Vercetti as he rises up to become the godfather.
Not to mention that the game has multiple great video game intro songs. Here’s one that will surely bring back some memories:
Assassin’s Creed II
Assassin’s Creed II introduces one of gaming’s most beloved characters. We follow Ezio right from his birth and see him grow in every stage of his life. The game starts off during his younger years, when he’s picking fights and chasing women. In one such sequence, we control Ezio and go through the basics of combat. After being injured, Ezio’s brother urges him to visit a doctor, during which we partly explore the gorgeous city of Venice. As you climb the church and call it a day, you see the title appear accompanied by Ezio’s Family theme.
The intro is actually quite a simple tale from Ezio’s life, but that’s what makes it so memorable. By putting emphasis on the small moments and simpler times, the Assassin’s Creed II intro speaks on a level that’s beyond video games. The music reflects it too, and remains the best video game intro song.
Let us know which video game intros spark something in you in the comments. There are so many great games that we may have not seen the best video game intro yet. Here’s a list of the biggest games of Feb, for instance.