So you’ve probably just spent a good thirty minutes watching that hefty container of files absorb all your leftover space on your console. You’ve booted the game up, ready to immerse yourself in whatever wonders it has in store. But oh wait — there’s that one small thing that happens to be blocking your way — the same as last time, and the time before that, annoyingly. The tutorial, clear as day, acting as one giant boulder on a path to progression.
Let’s face it — we all know that pressing A or X means jump. Having seen it shoved down our throats a billion times over the years — it’s no wonder we tend to skip the tutorials without even batting an eyelid these days. However, these five, weirdly enough, aren’t your box-standard cliché tutorials. These are, if anything, solid features that are well worth sticking out for if given the chance. So, without further ado — here are the five best video game tutorials of all time.
5. Forza Horizon
I don’t know what it is about Forza Horizon that makes me feel a strong compassion for the changing of seasons — but it basically manages to conjure it within the first ten minutes of every game. Without having to go through a series of mundane text boxes and an entire step-by-step training montage, Horizon pretty much throws you in at the deep end, without a buoy to keep you afloat as you spiral though sun, rain and dirt on a blitz through your vast open playground.
With every new chapter to the acclaimed racing series, Turn 10 Studio somehow manage to find a way to raise the bar and deliver a crisp, fine-tuned and informative tutorial, where the bulk of the game can be summarised in the first drag of the journey. It embraces for what’s to come, and gives you a sneak preview for what’s looming around the, well — horizon.
One could quite easily argue that the whole of Portal is really just a tutorial in itself, with Portal 2 being the actual game that players just build up to without realising they’re really just a pawn in a much, much bigger game.
Right from the get-go, Portal doesn’t exactly hold your hand as your awake in an unknown world to a population made up of cubes and textureless walls. But soon after you progress and wrap your noggin around the situation you find yourself in, Portal becomes this otherworldly home away from home that you never quite want to leave behind. In essence, however, it’s basically a 3-hour tutorial with no connection to the actual game, which we’ll just continue to assume is basically Portal 2. No regrets.
3. Battlefield 1
If we had to pin a single award for best war narrative in gaming — then Battlefield 1 would have to steal it every single time. And that tutorial? Wow. Talk about an emotionally charged series of events. It’s raw, it’s gritty — and it’s worryingly life-like, to the point of making us feel a sincere connection with some of the most horrific events in history.
Over a relatively short tutorial, you’re made to feel the energy from being on the frontline in a losing battle. Bound for bullets and a fractured brotherhood, you’re given one goal and one goal only: hold out at all costs. But with defeat being inevitable, you’re basically given a last-ditch effort to pull back the tide, all while introducing the world you’re able to plunge into.
2. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
We’ve seen one too many tutorials over the years, sure. But the fact that Ubisoft actually acknowledged this with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon was actually what won us over. By that, I mean, instead of using the stale template that has purged game after game — Blood Dragon basically just calls it out for what it is. And although it’s barely five minutes in length — it’s still an enjoyable little feature that essentially gives out giggles for free.
“To look around, look around” and “running is like walking, only faster” are perfect examples of how Blood Dragon simply refuses to take itself too seriously, and instead relies on a few tongue-in-cheek moments to course you into the narrative. It’s smart, it’s satisfying — and it’s most definitely a memorable tutorial. At least that’s what we think, anyway.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Something a lot of developers have failed to tap into over the years is the open world domain, in which tutorial segments can be scattered rather than confined to a fixed location. Breath of the Wild, on the other hand, manages to capture such a concept with absolute grace and beauty, without ever making you feel bogged down by repetitivity. In fact, with The Great Plateau being a perfect playground to hone your skills before inhaling the giant regions around you — it’s almost hard to leave such an inspiring place at all. And that’s just within the first sixty minutes, amazingly enough.
Breath of the Wild certainly does a lot of things right. And I’m not strictly talking about the fluidity of the combat or the jaw-dropping open world design that only seems to get better with each passing instalment. I’m talking about tutorial levels, in the sense that The Great Plateau is a perfect combination of beauty and bliss. Every square inch of land, every blade of grass and droplet of rain somehow churns into a sugary potion that leaves a lasting note on the tongue. Even after you part ways with The Great Plateau, you still can’t help but think back to the time you spent hours unearthing its rich contents. Even if it was just picking up Korok seeds.
So, what video game tutorials have stood out to you over the years? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here.