There is innovation in the video game world almost every year. It is impossible to predict the next groundbreaking title, but you can bet that there will be one every year or so. Game developers are constantly looking to predict the next trend before it happens, and be the game that sparks discussion and buzz. ESports are becoming more popular, and more and more companies are building their games to be competitive in that space. This has led to games that no one could have predicted, such as recent releases like Rocket League and For Honor. Nobody asked for these games specifically, but we got them and we love them.
Developers seem to know what the consumers want more than they do. If someone asked you if you’d would play a car soccer video game, your probably would have had little interest. In practice, though, Rocket League is one of the most popular games out right now. The same is true of The Sims. A second life sounds like more stress than is needed, but we were hooked the first time we heard those simulations babble at each other.
Here are 15 Video Games We Didn’t Know We Needed Until We Got Them.
15. For Honor
For Honor is best described as a hack-and-slash fighting game, but there is a lot more to it than that. It was released in February of 2017 by Ubisoft and has since taken over the gaming discussion. This unique title focuses on different styles of fighting, emphasizing skill over button-mashing. The three factions that represent Knights, Vikings, and Samurai have an overarching story and faction battle attached to the game, but little effect apart from that. The real character differences comes in the form of the four classes included in each faction: Vanguard, Assassin, Hybrid, and Heavy.
>Ubisoft has created a new kind of game in For Honor The combat borrows mechanics from fighting games like Mortal Kombat, but is wholly unique and far less convoluted. Each character has a batch of moves and combinations, but they aren’t so intricate that you’ll never learn them all. There are certainly problems with the game; namely micro-transactions and awful peer-to-peer connectivity, but there is a ton of promise in For Honor. It’s not just business as usual here, and if this game is supported like other Ubisoft titles, we could have a hit on our hands.
14. Pokemon Red/Blue
Pokémon was a cultural phenomenon when it was first released to America, and it remains a staple of pop culture to this day. The longevity of the interest in the Pokémon world was, in no small part, due to the video game adaptations of the card game. The cards did well enough, but the video games allowed Pokémon to take the next step into the mainstream.
The first video games that truly encapsulated the Pokémon trainer experience were the Game Boy games, Pokémon Red and Blue. In the game, you play the role of Pokémon trainer, exploring the world and catching your favorite Pokémon, leveling them up, and battling against other trainers. This game introduced us to a style of play that was unique and engaging. There was nothing like it at the time, and fans couldn’t get enough of it. Red and Blue blazed a trail for other games in the Pokémon universe, including the short-lived Pokémon Go craze that swept the world for a few months in 2016.
13. Super Mario Kart
The first installment of Mario Kart for the Nintendo Entertainment System was the game that sparked a generation of racing games with Super Mario characters. The game brought a style of cartoon racing to the forefront of gaming, spawning a successor in Mario Kart 64, and went on to become one of the most popular video games franchises of all time.
Part of the reason Mario Kart is because it invited non-gamers to come play with the hardcore crowd. Anyone can be good at Mario Kart; the simple mechanics of the game are easy to understand and fun for even the least experienced gamers out there. Mario Kart was truly one of the first games that could be played with the entire family, and it helped bring the Mario world into mainstream culture. Super Mario Kart created a niche, and Mario Kart 64 perfected it. The franchise is now on their eighth installment and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.
12. GTA III
Grand Theft Auto III wasn’t the first game in the Grand Theft Auto universe, but it was the game that fully created the open-world shooter we know as GTA. This installment of the franchise broke the mold in terms of open world exploration and senseless violence. There was a fair amount of controversy surrounding its release, which further propelled Grand Theft Auto to “household name” status. It was the number one game that every kid hid from their parents, and became a favorite of gamers everywhere.
It wasn’t just the violence and free-roam capabilities that launched the success of the game, though; it was the narrative-driven story line that engrossed so many players in the Grand Theft Auto world. Fans returned each time a new GTA title was released, making each more successful than the one before it. Now, The Grand Theft Auto name is synonymous with gaming and serves as the standard to which other games are compared.
11. Street Fighter II
There are multiple games that didn’t hit their stride until their third or fourth installment, and Street Fighter is one of them. Street Fighter II set the standard for all fighting games that came after it. It was the first official sequel to Street Fighter, though there were two failed follow-ups before its release, and it was a wild success. The Street Fighter franchise would soon become the second best-selling title in Capcom’s history due to the innovation of Street Fighter II.
>Street Fighter II was the first game in this niche to involve a multitude of different characters, each with 30 or more unique moves and two or three unique special moves. The combat in Street Fighter became the template on which all other fighting games were created, including games like Tekken and Mortal Kombat. Grappling had not been included in a fighting game until this point, and the variety of combinations gave players a massive skill-cap and a true feeling of mastering a character.
10. Dance Dance Revolution
Dance Dance Revolution is a game that truly does epitomize “We didn’t know we needed it until we got it.” It was originally released as an arcade game in Japan, but quickly caught on and became a crossover hit in Europe and America. A console version of the game was released for PlayStation 2, bringing the DDR experience to homes across the globe.
Dance Dance Revolution soon became an arcade sensation, and was one of the only games to survive in the arcade setting for so long. The longevity of the game is a testament to how many fans loved it, and through multiple iterations it has remained the same to its core. People still spend hour after hour grinding away on DDR machines, getting better and quicker with every step. There have been multiple imitators but never a successor: Dance Dance Revolution still completely owns the genre it created.
Destiny is the first game we’ve seen from developer Bungie since its smash-hit Halo, and there was a ton of anticipation leading up to launch. When the game was initially released, it faced harsh criticism for its shortcomings. Thankfully, after years of improvement, development, downloadable content, and support, Destiny has become a fan favorite and a genre-defining game.
Destiny was the first game to successfully combine aspects of an MMORPG and a traditional first-person shooter. It found itself in the niche of “looter shooter” with games like Borderlands, but transcended this genre with elements of teamwork and PvP. The combat in the game was one of the shining points at launch, and the promising skeleton of Destiny was fully flushed out within a few years. Destiny 2 is now right around the corner and fans can’t wait for the new content that is sure to keep them busy for years to come.
8. Guitar Hero
What Dance Dance Revolution did for the arcade dancing scene, Guitar Hero did for the console music market. While many true-blue gamers may thumb their nose at the inclusion of Guitar Hero, there is no denying its impact on the gaming industry. Guitar Hero was all anybody wanted to play when it was released in 2005, with the first and second versions receiving most of the attention. People were even performing Guitar Hero songs on the highest difficulty at their high school talent shows. People took pride in memorizing entire songs, even performing them perfectly with their eyes closed or their back turned.
Guitar Hero blazed the path for the genre of games that soon added party favorite Rock Band to the mix. The game gave fans the chance to live out their dream: playing lead guitar in a rock band. It also inspired many people to pick up real instruments, giving them a baseline of knowledge and interest that would otherwise not have been present in their lives.
Minecraft started from humble beginnings, but has blossomed into one of the most recognizable games ever created. This open-world sandbox video game brought creativity and innovation to the user. There are endless possibilities for those who want to create and explore, and the addition of modded game modes creates a level of intricacy that goes even deeper than the original developers ever imagined.
The idea of a sandbox game like Minecraft is the ultimate video game experience, and was welcomed by the community with open arms. The success of Minecraft has inspired other copycat games as well as games that add their own tweaks to the sandbox creation concept. Without Minecraft, it’s unlikely that we’d ever have experienced a game like Ark: Survival Evolved. After over seven years of additional content and support of the game, Minecraft is second only to Tetris as the bestselling video game of all time.
6. COD World at War
The fifth installment of the Call of Duty franchise was not unique on its own, as it explored many of the same themes that were so popular in its predecessor Call of Duty 4. The groundbreaking and game-changing wrinkle that was added to World at War was something that will go down in the history of gaming: Nazi Zombies.
Horde mode, while not a new concept, was done flawlessly in the World at War installment of Call of Duty. It combined the two scariest things imaginable: Nazis and Zombies, and added a truly terrifying backdrop in which to fight them. Nazi Zombies did the “horde mode” concept so well that it became synonymous with the genre. There was no competition besides your personal best, and the game had scores of college students cooped-up in their dorm rooms for hours on end, trying to get to the last round. Every Treyarch-developed Call of Duty game that followed had some additional Zombie mode, and many fans bought them for that alone.
5. Resident Evil
Resident Evil was a game that became so much more than anyone could have anticipated. It grew even bigger than gaming itself; spawning comic books, films, novels, and other mediums, far outside of the story presented in the game franchise.
The first installment of Resident Evil is credited with being the first mainstream horror game, pioneering a new genre of video game that took off. Horror games had never been really succesfful before the first Resident Evil game was made, creating a storyline that is still developing to this day. Gamers are particularly susceptible to horror in video games, as they are engaged far more than if they were just watching a move. Resident Evil, though, goes beyond the easy jump-scares and into the twisted depth of true horror. Without the success of Resident Evil, it is unlikely that any other major game developer would take a chance on such a concept.
4. Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Brothers was the first Nintendo video game to include many of its iconic characters fighting to the death. This was the first fighting game made by Nintendo, and was a smash hit (no pun intended) worldwide. The first installment of the game had 8 playable characters from the Nintendo universe, but it has since expanded with more releases of the game.
This game gave us something we never expected we’d be captivated by: our favorite Nintendo characters beating each other to a pulp. Button-mashing is a decent strategy for a while, but more skilled players can duck and dodge around, grabbing players and even throwing them off of the map. Everyone had that one troll friend who would always play as Donkey Kong, only to grab and perform a suicide jump on their opponent. As Super Smash Brothers went on it became more complicated, but it’s still the game everyone fell in love with on the Nintendo 64.
Halo is considered by many to be the best first-person shooter ever created. The game is what put Bungie on the map, and without it there would likely be no Destiny. The combat in Halo had everyone buzzing when it came out, as it was unlike any other first-person shooter on the market. The story mode and lore was also excellent, but the PvP is where the game truly shone.
Many people first discovered the beauty of Xbox Live through Halo, leading to many late nights and days without sunshine. Halo is considered to be one of the best “party games” out there, as it encouraged people to come together and play against each other. This game was the reason many people got an Xbox in the first place, as it is and always has been an exclusive title. Halo is now one of the most lucrative and popular eSports on the scene and the franchise continues to grow with each release in the series.
2. The Sims
The Sims is a game that few people would’ve described as a strong concept. Life is difficult enough; when you play video games you want to escape, not create an entire new life where you have to go to work and use your hard-earned money for food and furniture. But this is a perfect example of how game developers often know what we want better than we do.
The Sims is the ultimate role-playing game. It allows you to take control of a character, get a job, make a family, and move up in the world. The Sims had any people spending hours on their computer instead of studying, and their newest releases only add to the procrastination. The Sims completely engrossed people in this fictional world, having them hanging on every strange syllable and image over their character’s head. The game has gotten more intricate and detailed over the years, and is one of the most popular games for hardcore and casual gamers alike.
1. Rocket League
Anyone who says innovation in gaming is dead just needs to look at Rocket League. The original installment of Rocket League found little success, mainly because it was more complicated and called Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars – quite a terrible mouthful. The game has a simple concept in theory: car soccer – but there’s so much more to it. You can focus on fundamentals, getting your spins down at the right time and perfecting your judgement of the ball, but the first time you see someone fly up in the air and poke the ball into the net you’ll realize you’re still hours away from perfecting your craft.
Rocket League is a game that you just want to get better at. There’s little in the way of progression; your only goal is to be better each game you play. What’s even more impressive about this game is that it isn’t priced at the $60 standard. It’s a full game and is constantly updated, but the developers aren’t greedy. There are likely to be more installments of Rocket League in the future, but even if there isn’t, this is a game that will play on for years to come.
Which video game could you never have predicted would be awesome? Let us know in the comments!