Best Opening Cinematics in Video Games

Opening scenes better than any movie!
0

We've all been there, right? You start a new game, the opening credits roll, and then suddenly you find yourself watching a cinematic masterpiece that far exceeds any of your expectations. You're sucked into the story, the graphics, the characters, the dialogue, and for a moment you forget you are playing a game, not watching a movie, but the opening scene is so good, so immersive you know you're going to be spending hours of valuable time on the game in front of you.

Maybe the story is so compelling that you want whatever pieces of it you can collect through gameplay, or maybe the gameplay is so good that the amazing opening scenes are just a bonus to amazing gameplay, creating the total package. Either way, an immersive opening cinematic can take a game from good to excellent. It can stick in your memory for years. A well-written opening cinematic can even make sense of gameplay, guiding players as they tackle tough quests crucial to the plot of the game.

In this list, I cover some of the best opening cinematics in video games, so that you can reminisce, relive, and rewatch some of your favorite opening scenes!

Note: If you have not played the games below, there will be spoilers regarding the opening scenes.

Posted in these interests:
h/gaming100 guides
Pop Culture
h/popculture27 guides
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Pinterest (Edited)

You had to know I was adding The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to this list. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is like the holy grail of opening scenes in video games. It has everything a great opening cinematic should: great story-telling, anticipation, interactive elements, and beautiful graphics. The first time I played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I was immediately sucked into the story, the world, and the role players get to play.

Players are literally introduced to the game as they are being carted to their deaths. A handful of scared prisoners anticipate their next, and last, moments as they get closer to their inevitable deaths. Players wake up in the scene, confused, and taking in their surroundings as it dawns on them they are about to be executed by The Stormcloaks for crimes committed against Skyrim. Then... Alduin, a dragon, comes and very unexpectedly saves the day.

Does an opening scene get any better than that?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim facts

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Pinterest

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Director: Todd Howard

Release date: November 11, 2011

Genre: Open-world action RPG

Watch The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Red Dead Redemption 2
Pinterest (Edited)

With eight, long years of anticipation, Red Dead Redemption 2 was bound to elicit joy or disappointment. There really was no in-between. There never is with that long of a wait. The Red Dead Redemption 2 opening cinematic did not disappoint. Since Red Dead Redemption was one of the first shooting games I liked, I was really excited but skeptical of Red Dead Redemption 2, but as I settled in, watching the opening words populate on the screen before me, the anticipation grew and I knew I would not be disappointed.

Red Dead Redemption 2 plops players right into a tumultuous time of growth and change, a time between lawlessness and law creation. The outlaw's way of life comes to an end... sort of. Some are still living the way of the outlaws, being hunted, and all while trying to survive harsh weather. The opening scene welcomes players with a long, hard trip through mountains, the loss of fellow travelers, and harsh winter conditions. In a cold moment of despair, Dutch Van Der Linde and John Marston leave behind their fellow travelers at their new camp while they venture out for help and supplies. Instead, they are met with a dead body in a wagon and some not-so-friendly acquaintances. Wild wild west style, players find themselves in a full-on shoot-out.

It was so good, I almost forgot I was supposed to be shooting in-game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 facts

Red Dead Redemption 2
Pinterest (Edited)

Developer: Rockstar Games

Directors: Dan Houser, Rupert Humphries, and Michael Unsworth

Release date: October 26, 2018

Genre: Open-world action-adventure RPG

Watch the Red Dead Redemption 2 opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Pinterest (Edited)

With the cult-following and well-done storylines of previous Star Wars movies, shows, and games, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one the developer and director had to handle delicately. When a franchise like this one has an enormous cult-following and super-fans, there is little to no room for error. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is now known for its opening cinematic, so we know they did something right.

Players are pulled into the story through relevant, excitement-inducing music, as BD-1 orients them to their surroundings in a nothing-but-cinematic fashion, leading them right to Cal and Prauf. A foreman droid then sends Cal and Prauf to do a dangerous job, where they find a Jedi fighter. Suddenly, a wire snaps, Cal and Prauf are hanging off the edge of the ship, and Prauf falls. As Prauf is falling, Cal uses The Force to help save him and flies them to safety. Though Cal tries to shrug it off, Prauf knows what he's seen. Cal used The Force, and the story continues from there.

Exciting, right?

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order facts

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Pinterest (Edited)

Developer: Respawn Entertainment

Director: Stig Asmussen

Release date: November 15, 2019

Genre: Action-adventure game

Watch Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Horizon: Zero Dawn
Pinterest

Someone, totally not me, may have bought a PS4 simply to play Horizon: Zero Dawn. Okay, it was me. I had a feeling about the gameplay and storyline, so I went to the store and came home with a PS4. Horizon: Zero Dawn did not let me down. I largely have the opening scene to thank for that. As a lover of RPGs and a well-written storyline, it was hard not to get pulled in.

Immediately, players are immersed in the snowy haven Rost made for himself and the orphan, Aloy. Players follow Rost as he tells baby Aloy the story of their people, their past, and the machines they fight to survive. All along the way, players are oriented to the stunning scenery, rivaling The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim in its beauty. Aloy is then blessed by The Mother, where her story and upbringing with Rost, a loyal father figure and outcast, begins.

The opening scene continues, as players watch Alloy grow up, learn about her story, and learn stealth and fighting skills.

Horizon: Zero Dawn facts

Horizon: Zero Dawn
Pinterest

Developer: Guerrilla Games

Director: Mathijs de Jonge

Release date: February 28, 2017

Genre: Action-adventure RPG

Watch Horizon: Zero Dawn's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Pinterest

As usual, Assassin's Creed makes another video game-based list. Here's the thing, the cinematics within the game are stellar. The use of fictional storytelling intertwined with historically true happenings makes for consistently immersive cut scenes and gameplay. Assassin's Creed: Revelations has been long considered to have some of the best cut scenes, storytelling, and one of the most loved opening scenes in the gaming world.

With mood-setting, dramatic, vocal music, and Ezio's narration of a letter to Claudia, players are oriented to the sad reality of this opening scene. Ezio reflects on his long journey in his letter to his sister, and players come along for the ride. Ezio, who sought to find a library his father wrote about, finds, instead, a fight, a massive army of Templars. Ezio is outnumbered and captured, and in his letter, he urges Claudia to search after his inevitable death. As each, anticipatory moment approaches, you know Ezio is about to die... or is he?

C'mon. How much more cinematic can an opening scene get?

Assassin's Creed: Revelations facts

Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Pinterest

Developers: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Annecy, Ubisoft Quebec, and more.

Director: Alexandre Amancio

Release date: November 15, 2011

Genre: Open-world action RPG

Watch the opening scene for Assassin's Creed: Revelations below:

Watch the video:

Death Stranding
Pinterest

I know Death Stranding was not for everyone. A lot of gamers found themselves confused by the premise and unique approach to gameplay, but I was into it from the very first line, "Once there was an explosion, a bang which gave rise to life as we know it, and then came the next explosion." The opening narration done by Norman Reedus (from The Walking Dead), who plays Sam Porter Bridges.

Players are instantly warmed by the poetic, introductory dialogue that leads way to melodic music and gorgeous landscapes, foliage, and empty space. Players then get to see Sam in his natural habitat, riding through the beautiful, incredibly realistic, land, and an ominous flock of birds bigger than any scene in Hitchcock's The Birds, which Sam follows until the land stops. The birds are trying to outrun a storm, and so does Sam, who jumps a cliff to beat the deadly storm. Sam then crashes because of a young woman, Fragile, his bike falling off the cliff.

The opening scene continues, leaving players on a cliff-hanger (pun intended).

Death Stranding facts

Death Stranding
Pinterest

Developer: Kojima Productions

Director: Hideo Kojima

Release date: November 8, 2019

Genre: "Strand" action game

Watch Death Stranding's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

God of War 4
Pinterest

God of War 4 does a wonderful job basing the storyline on mythological stories and intertwining the known stories, with some creative liberties and interpretations taken by the writers, developer, and director. The opening scene is exemplary of that.

Players start God of War 4 with a tender moment, Kratos putting his hand on Faye's hand marking on the tree. He then begins to angrily chop the tree. The rise and fall of tension between moments of sadness and tenderness display what Kratos is going through as he chops down the trees she marked to build his wife's pyre. Players follow Kratos and his son as they take the journey downriver, carting the marked trees through the forest and saying goodbye to Faye.

The moments where his son, Atreus, begins saying goodbye to his mom, honoring her, and going through their traditions are sad, heartwarming, and definitely cinematic.

God of War 4 facts

God of War 4
Pinterest

Developer: Santa Monica Studio

Director: Cory Barlog

Release date: April 20, 2018

Genre: Action-adventure RPG

Watch the opening scene for God of War 4 below:

Watch the video:

Assassin's Creed Origins
Pinterest

I tried not to have Assassin's Creed on here twice. I swear. However, I couldn't make this list without including one of my favorite opening scenes. Assassin's Creed Origins explores Ancient Egypt, which I find extremly interesting, so I may be biased, but the opening scene has been mentioned by more than I. I'm sure of it.

Players follow a hawk as it flys over the arid landscape, following the arrival of the Pharoah and his many magnificent elephants. Time jumps ahead one year, where Rudjek is on the floor, surprised by Bayek who means to kill him. Rudjek throws a knife at Bayek, who stops it with a mask. Bayek then tells Rudjek he will kill all of them and kills him by slamming the mask onto Rudjek's face.

It's pretty dramatic in all the best ways.

Assassin's Creed Origins facts

Assassin's Creed Origins
Pinterest

Developers: Ubisoft San Francisco and Ubisoft Montreal

Director: Ashraf Ismail

Release date: October 27, 2017

Genre: Open-world action RPG

Watch Assassin's Creed Origin's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

The Last of Us Remastered
Pinterest

The Last of Us Remastered literally had me from the first moment. It's well-written, realistic, and relevant to the storyline, setting up players with context to future relationships and interactions throughout the game.

It starts when players are oriented to a hard-working dad, Joel Hayes, who gets home late on his birthday, where his daughter, Sarah, gives him a thoughtful birthday gift. They joke around about how she paid for the watch, being that she is only 12 years old, and Joel tucks her into bed for the last time.

An unexpected call from Sarah's uncle comes and then the phone goes dead. Sarah is then alerted to the apocalyptic zombie tragedy playing out, gunshots, and finds her dad trying to load a gun. Their zombie neighbors break into the house and Joel does his best to protect and react to the situation, shooting their neighbor. They escape with Tommy (Sarah's uncle) but as madness ensues, they get in a car crash, get separated, and end up getting fired at by a soldier even though they aren't sick or bitten. Tommy kills the soldier, but he's too late. Sarah dies in Joel's arms.

The saddest opening scene in a video game I've ever seen.

The Last of Us Remastered facts

The Last of Us Remastered
Pinterest

Developer: Naughty Dog

Directors: Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley

Release date: July 29, 2014

Genre: Action-adventure survival horror game

Watch the opening scene for The Last of Us Remastered below:

Watch the video:

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Pinterest

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End starts pretty dramatically, fitting to the game's storyline and gameplay, of course. In typical Uncharted fashion, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End leaves nothing to be desired in the way of drama, excitement, action, or the like.

Nate and Sam are in a bit of a snag, and by a snag, I mean stuck in an awful storm in the middle of the ocean while being chased by multiple boats. Players have to interact in this dramatic scene by hitting smaller boats and avoiding mines. The scene is hectic, messy, dramatic, and all while trying to make it to an island visible on the horizon. With a lot of luck, a handgun, and teamwork, Nate and Sam have to outrun this swarm of boats despite how outnumbered they are.

It's an extremly exciting opening scene with a lot of interaction, which is hard not to appreciate!

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End facts

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End
Pinterest

Developer: Naughty Dog

Director: Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley

Release date: May 10, 2016

Genre: Action-adventure third-person shooter game

Watch the opening scene of Uncharted 4: A Thief's Ends below:

Watch the video:

Mortal Kombat 11
Pinterest

Mortal Kombat 11 is another game with an intense cult following, and, to take it further, Mortal Kombat fans have been disappointed many, many times before by awful movies, mediocre shows, and bad spin-offs. So, for the storyline to be accurate and respectful to the one fans have known and loved for years is important. While it's expected some creative liberties are to be taken, Mortal Kombat 11 stayed pretty true to the original and gave fans what they were asking for.

Players are welcomed to the game with Shinnok being tortured and hushed by Raiden. Shinnok and Raiden have a captivating dialogue about their similarities and dissimilarities regarding their beliefs and roles in society. Raiden decapitates the skeptical Shinnok, who hardly takes him seriously up until his last breath. Because Shinnok is immortal, he is not dead yet, and before Raiden can deliver his head to Liu Kang, he is interrupted.

The opening continues, orienting players to the realm and characters of MK.

Mortal Kombat 11 facts

Mortal Kombat 11
Pinterest

Developers: NetherRealm Studios, QLOC, and Shiver Entertainment

Director: Ed Boon

Release date: April 23, 2019

Genre: Action-adventure fighting game

Watch the Mortal Kombat 11 opening scene below:

Watch the video:

BioShock
Pinterest

An oldie but a goodie, BioShock knew how to do opening scenes. In fact, BioShock's opening cinematic has long been considered one of the best opening scenes in video game history, long before I made this list at least. After all, 14 years in the world of gaming is a long time. Still, this opening holds up against many of the newer game's opening scenes.

Starting with brilliant narration and beginning lines, BioShock then hurls Jack from a plane crash, into the water, where he, and the player, swim to the nearby lighthouse. Jack then discovers Rapture. The player is oriented to the setting, the history behind the setting, all via a transatlantic accent and retro-inspired architecture. Beautiful, music sets the mood, time, and setting, before the horror in Rapture is discovered and the game begins.

Epic, wonderfully directed opening scene.

BioShock facts

BioShock
Pinterest

Developers: 2K Games, 2K Marin, Irrational Games, and more.

Director: Ken Levine

Release date: August 21, 2007

Genre: First-person shooter RPG

Watch BioShock's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Stardew Valley
Pinterest

Stardew Valley is not like any other, considerably more cinematic, games on this list, but it has its place. I promise! This heart-warming opening scene is subtle with a big impact that sets players up with important context for gameplay. It's also cry-worthy.

Right at the start, players are thrown into a room with the grandfather of the player character. The player's grandfather is in bed, not well, and gifts you an envelope he wants you to open later in life, when he is no longer around, and the player character needs it most. Next to the roaring fire, some of the player's grandfather's final words predict the player character's eventual boredom and lack of satiation with modern life. The cure, he says, is in the envelope. Years later, after working in a cubicle for far too long, the player character decides to open the envelope.

In the envelope is the dead to Stardew Valley, the place that once helped the player character's grandfather find fulfillment. The opening scene continues as the player character travels to Stardew Valley.

Totally wholesome and wonderfully done. Especially considering this game was created by one person.

Stardew Valley facts

Stardew Valley
Pinterest (Edited)

Developers: Eric Barone, ConcernedApe, and Sickhead Games

Director: Eric Barone

Release date: February 26, 2016

Genre: Action-adventure RPG

Watch Stardew Valley's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Mass Effect: Andromeda
Pinterest

Mass Effect: Andromeda is another video game known for its cinematics, as are all the games in the Mass Effect series. The writing, directing, and drama inherent to the series is why it's so beloved, after all. As many great movies do, Mass Effect: Andromeda starts with amazing, well-written narration that leads us into another epic opening scene.

The narration is what makes this opening scene. "Every great moment in our history began with a dream. Each bold leap forward was achieved by those willing to do anything to attain it." The narration continues, describing the big-picture thinking behind the storyline that makes up the Mass Effect series: interstellar travel, the discovery of alien ruins, the advancement of technology. The focus then becomes the ships, the vastness of Outerspace, and the "dream" that the "one-way trip" to space references sociologically.

It's a movie-worthy opening cinematic if I ever saw one.

Mass Effect: Andromeda facts

Mass Effect: Andromeda
Pinterest (Edited)

Developer: BioWare

Director: Mac Walters

Release date: March 21, 2017

Genre: Action-adventure third-person shooter RPG

Watch Mass Effect: Andromeda's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Batman: Arkham Knight
Pinterest

Batman: Arkham Knight and the entire Batman series have long been one of my favorite video games in terms of cinematics. The cult-following that comes with the Batman franchise is like other games on this list in being held to higher scrutiny, and the writers and director definitely took that seriously when creating the opening scene for Batman: Arkham Knight.

Players are welcomed by a dead Joker being cremated to rather relevant music that gives context to the upcoming storyline and Batman's hallucinations. Players are oriented to the state of Gotham from the comfort of a local diner. While chaos has been slim, all of Gotham is in waiting, and it's in that moment in the dinner that Scarecrow breaks in, chaos ensues, and the opening scene continues.

The narration and art remind me of the Sin City movies, and I love every moment of it.

Batman: Arkham Knight facts

Batman: Arkham Knight
Pinterest (Edited)

Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Director: Sefton Hill

Release date: June 23, 2015

Genre: Action-adventure RPG

Watch Batman: Arkham Knight's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Pinterest

It's no secret I am a fan of The Witcher series. A big part of that is the writing. Since these games were derived from books before being made into games and movies, I find them thoroughly developed and well-written. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is no different. The opening scene is dramatic and so much information is provided to the player without any words being spoken, which I commend.

Amid dramatic music, players are oriented to Temeria 1272, in the thick of the war. The Witcher is hunting, following the trail of his adopted daughter, Ciri. As he follows the trail, the prior events are replayed for the player, bringing them back and forth in time, letting them see the before and after of the war.

The combination of story-telling, of all that is shown and done without words, and the music makes for a killer opening cinematic.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt facts

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Pinterest

Developer: CD Projekt and CD Projekt RED

Directors: Konrad Tomaszkiewicz, Mateusz Kanik, and Sebastian Stępień

Release date: May 18, 2015

Genre: Action-adventure RPG

Watch The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt's opening scene below:

Watch the video:

Relaxing gaming experiences for every personality.
Odin Odin (54)
0

One of my favorite things to do when life gets stressful is to make some time in my schedule for a good gaming session.