Gaming allows players to disappear from reality for a bit. Depending on the type of game, players might be immersed in fantasy realms, competing in their favorite sport, or delving into an operatic space war. The sky’s the limit in these virtual worlds, dependent only on the vision of developers and in the interests of gamers.
However, the rules that define these virtual worlds vary greatly. Developers of popular games can choose to challenge players in a variety of ways. In a game like poker, the challenge might simply be in the game’s series of unknowns. In a video game like Super Meat Boy, those challenges are instead based on game mechanics.
While not every player is interested in these types of hefty challenges, a learning curve isn’t a turn-off for most gamers—especially when it comes to their favorite genre or a new release. Learning the ropes is simply part of the magic of delving into a new world. Let’s take a closer look at some of the world’s most popular games that take time to master.
Even if you’ve played a game like Texas Hold’em before, online platforms like PokerStars allow learning the rules of poker and its strategies. Although learning them takes more than a bit of memorization.
Players must log in practice time in order to improve their game. After all, skills like bluffing, reading players, and knowing how to play based on your seat take time, effort, and observational skills.
Even those who have played the game for years might still find themselves uncovering new insights—or be forced to contend with a unique new tactic from other players.
EVE Online is one of the world’s most developed and expansive open-world MMORPGs. Players are thrown straight into the action without any progressive build-up, meaning they need to learn dozens of skills right off the bat.
And there’s no guide to help them along the way or clear path laid out—just the opinions of other players, which may or may not be helpful. That last point could prove hugely problematic for certain players, as EVE Online’s in-game market includes plenty of scams that first-time player fall into.
Super Meat Boy
This side-scrolling game is all about speed. It differs from similar titles in that there are no progressive tips or weapons that make the character better—only the experience and determination of the player.
Each level introduces a brand-new series of challenges, which are seconded by maps that become more complex. While there are infinite respawns, there’s only one way to beat this game: keep going faster.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 mirrors EVE Online in that it takes time to learn where and how to funnel energy. In other words, players might spend hours on a side quest that won’t contribute to their success in the long run.
However, the game can be played casually, which means players don’t necessarily need to target an end game. They’re free to explore and take on smaller challenges.
Though Cyberpunk 2077 faced backlash upon its release, its subsequent patch worked wonders to please gamers. However, some still found it to have a steep learning curve.
The game includes tons of personalization options, along with an incredibly vast open world with almost endless possibilities. From weaponry to side characters, there are tons of rabbit holes to dive down. And only through exploration and iteration can players learn the ropes.
The game’s popularity also gave rise to Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, a series inspired by this popular game.
The Civilization series puts players into the position of managing and expanding an empire. The game is known for its realism, which means that players can take dozens of different approaches to expand their reach.
However, they’ll need to step into the shoes of politicians, businesspeople, craftspeople, manufacturers, traders, and more to get into the groove of the game. It’s a highly mental game that requires foresight and a long-term plan, similar to poker.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
This hugely popular game has been around for decades and is considered so realistic that it’s used by flying instructors to help educate students. Its most recent update also includes real-life layouts for dozens of North American cities.
The challenge for players here is obvious—players need to have real-world knowledge to succeed. Though anyone can learn by playing, it will take time for those starting from scratch.
Certain games are designed to be difficult—which is certain the case with Dark Souls. This action RPG sees players taken down increasingly difficult enemies.
The gameplay mechanics are very unforgiving, meaning even the slightest slip-up can lead quickly to death. Respawns are also unkind, requiring players to repeat huge portions of the main mission.
On top of that, some of the game’s lessons are counter-intuitive, taking longer to learn. For example, some enemies players simply can’t defeat and must learn how to avoid—which isn’t commonly found in any type of video game.
As we outlined with our poker example, not all difficult games are digital. Go is a boardgame that requires players to surround enemy pieces with their own. Though it sounds straightforward, the board is large and there are literally countless ways to win. This is part of what makes the game so difficult to learn.
Everyone has their own strategic approach, and each approach has its own faults and benefits. The only way to become a true expert is by gaining a lot of experience.
This game was originally released in order to build on the hype of Angry Birds. However, anyone who remembers its release probably thinks instead of how difficult the mobile game was to pick up on.
Compared to its counterpart, the game’s flying mechanics were more difficult to sort out, while its in-game obstacles avoid prediction. Still, that didn’t stop Flappy Bird from becoming a major hit after its release.
Over a decade later, the game remains an intriguing moment in the mobile gaming zeitgeist. Though it only lasted a year on the market, it remains a memorable moment in gaming history.