One of the hottest genres in gaming, action titles deliver the adrenaline rush pc, and console gamers alike crave.
What’s your favorite game? That’s a tough question, but you can probably come up with a list of 5 or 10 titles that have blown your mind over the years. Maybe it was a well-written storyline, edge of your seat combat, or flawlessly smooth gameplay that earned these titles a spot on your list.
Out of those titles, how many would you consider action games? Chances are, most of them fall into this broad category. The action genre has been around since the dawn of gaming, dominating the charts with challenging and fun gameplay, which is why this article pays these games the tribute they deserve.
It’s up for debate which game first claimed the title of action, but many trace the success of this genre back to the release of Space Invaders in 1978. The ability to blast aliens with lasers from a spaceship combined with the challenges of dodging return fire as they slowly crept towards the player caught on like wildfire.
This single title ushered in the Golden Age of Arcade Video Games, which would expand upon the action style and spawn several subgenres from fighting games to platform smash hits like Donkey Kong and Mario. If you’re a fan of today’s top titles like PUBG or COD, then you can thank the minds behind Space Invaders for getting the world hooked on action gaming.
After the initial success of Space Invaders, it didn’t take long for game developers to diversify the genre. This area of gaming is a tricky field with lots of debate as to what titles constitute what subgenres, but there are several defined sublets within the action arena. This is especially true for the early days of gaming.
Early titles like Galaga, Contra, and Zaxxon expanded upon the Shooter genre to give it a broad definition. There subgenres within subgenres here, ranging from simple games like Duck Hunt to complex masterpieces such as Halo and Overwatch.
To be a shooter, the gameplay must focus primarily on the player’s ability to target and fire. There are a lot of cross-genre titles here, but here are some of the top games in each sublet.
- Shooting Gallery/Light Gunner: Time Crisis, House of the Dead, Operation Wolf
- First-Person: Halo, Call of Duty, Doom, GoldenEye
- Third-Person: Star Wars: Battlefront, Resident Evil, Gears of War
- Hero: Overwatch, Team Fortress 2, Quake Champions
Beat ‘em Ups, Side-Scrolling Fighters, and Brawlers all base themselves upon the action premise. In order to be a brawler, a game must include hand-to-hand combat and feature a protagonist who faces hordes of enemies. They usually allow for co-op play, have simple gameplay, and multiple characters to choose from.
Earlier titles like Streets of Rage and Final Fight gave this subgenre massive success. Today, brawler games have been revived through hit series such as Devil May Cry, God of War, and Afro Samurai, thanks to their combination of beat ‘em up and hack n’ slash styles.
These one-on-one fighting games spawned from the success of early action titles such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, which continue to top the charts even today. Marvel vs. Capcom, Killer Instinct and Tekken are also major names in the genre. The satisfying feeling of wiping the floor with your friends is something that will never get old.
When it comes to action, early platform titles were arguably the most successful. Battling enemies, collecting items, and trying not to fall to your death all at the same time gave gamers the adrenaline fix they were craving.
Nintendo’s Mario, Donkey Kong, and Metroid remain iconic titles in the early days of platformers along with Sonic the Hedgehog and Contra. Today’s titles in the genre have expanded outwards from the early definition of a platform game to include games like Little Big Planet, the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and a slew of indie titles.
Nothing says action quite like an adventure, which is why action adventure games have remained increasingly popular since their inception. Who doesn’t love exploring new, open worlds with endless bad guys and a thrilling storyline?
There’s a lot of debate over where the line is drawn between regular action games and action-adventure, but that’s an article for another time. With so many subgenres combining into one, most agree that a strong story and ample amounts of action constitute an “action-adventure” game.
Wherever you might draw the line, it’s hard to argue that some of the best action games on the planet rely on this subgenre’s stylings. While each of these can be described as another genre (again, adding to that mad mix of subgenres) each relies on both a rich story, combat, and the perils that create an action-adventure title.
- Far Cry
- The Legend of Zelda
- Grand Theft Auto
- Assasin’s Creed
- Splinter Cell
- Metal Gear
- Resident Evil
- Silent Hill
- Tomb Raider
- The Elder Scrolls
- The list goes on and on!
The Rise of Online Gaming
While it isn’t rare to see a 100% single-player title, gaming has always found more significant success with its multiplayer titles. Believe it or not, online games also date back to 1978 with Colossal Cave Adventure, Zork, and Multi-User Dungeon.
While these roleplaying games laid the framework for today’s MMO titles, it wasn’t until the late 1990’s that internet access gave more gamers the ability to play with their friends online. Once again, action games allowed this interconnectivity to shine.
Gamers jumped at the chance to play action games online with their friends, eventually making it something most expect in a game title today. Could you imagine life without being able to play GTA V or the latest COD with your friends? The world of online gaming is also split into several subgenres, each with their own hit titles and series.
Probably the first genre that comes to mind for most online players, first-person shooters are and have been a staple for consoles like the Xbox and PlayStation. Games like Halo and Call of Duty were a large part of these console’s success, while titles like Unreal Tournament and Counter-Strike were hit success on PC despite being available on console as well.
RTS titles are almost exclusively PC titles, though you can find a few console crossovers. These games allow the player to battle in real time with other players from around the globe, or with the AI, with gameplay usually revolving around the player controlling massive armies. There are a lot of hit series here, including:
- Age of Empires
- Warhammer 40,000
- Total War
- Command & Conquer
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
Simply called MOBA, these titles are a specific subgenre of strategy games that burst onto the gaming scene in 2010. If you haven’t played them yet, you’ve surely heard of electronic sports like League of Legends by now. Warcraft III, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm are other notable MOBA titles.
Massively Multiplayer Online Game
MMOs have been around since broadband internet and include everything from shooters to role-playing. While they don’t have to be action-packed titles, they still dominate this online subgenre. World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, and Guild Wars are all major MMO titles with plenty of action, despite having multiple qualities from other genres.
Flash and Browser Games
Thanks to the rapidly evolving speed of the internet, there are all sorts of free action games that you can play by visiting a gaming website. Armorgames.com, Mini-Clip.com, and AddictingGames.com are just a few of the dozens of websites that host free games.
While there are several genres to choose from, you’ll find hundreds of action titles on each of these sites. Coders and developers make these simple yet oh so fun games for fun, and they feature everything from brawlers to MMOs that will keep you playing for hours.
Top flash games vary depending on who you talk to. Each person has their own set of favorites for a variety of reasons. The next time you find yourself bored, hop online and see which games peak your interest.
On the Horizon
Forty years after Space Invaders introduced the world to action, companies are still developing new and exciting titles for both console and PC. Based on last year’s E3 conference, 2018 is going to be an amazing year for action titles. Gamers can look forward to:
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- God of War
- Days Gone
- Monster Hunter: World
- Far Cry 5
- Sea of Thieves
- And dozens more
Video games have always given players a way to experience epic battles, the thrill of danger, and the chance to be a hero (or a villain). With explosions, armies, guns, and fast-paced fury, action titles are easily some of the best out there no matter which platform you choose to play on.