There are so many different types of video game genres just like every other form of entertainment. And, new video game genres will continue to emerge since we’re going through an innovative age of game development. For now, these are the main genres that most video games will belong to.
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Out of all the video game genres, the action genre is without a doubt the biggest and most popular among them. Action games are designed to be a test of reflexes, hand-eye coordination and reaction speed by presenting the players with a series of demanding challenges.
There are so many subgenres that have emerged from the action genre such as shooters, fighting games, platformers, stealth, etc. And most of these subgenres even have their own set of subgenres to add onto the massive variety of action games available.
Shooter games are one of the most played, if not the most played, subgenre of the action genre. It is also one of the first categories of video games to be created all the way back in the 1960s when the video game industry was just beginning.
Today, shooter games have evolved to become some of the most challenging and competitive video games you can play. This is especially true for multiplayer games such as Call of Duty and Halo. Many subgenres have spawned from shooter games to tailor to different audiences. These are some of the main subgenres that you’ll find in abundance on the market:
- First-person shooter – More commonly known as FPS games, the players view the game world through the first-person perspective of the character. This is currently the most common type of shooter game. Popular series include Doom, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, Valorant.
- Third-person shooter – The players view the game through a third-person, over-the-shoulder camera. A new trend among these games is to include a feature to let players switch between first-person perspective and third-person perspective. Popular series include Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Gears of War, The Last of Us, and Grand Theft Auto.
- Tactical shooter – Realistic, slower-paced combat to simulate real life military situations that requires strategy, teamwork, and tactics. The popularity of tactical shooters has been on the rise in recent years. Some of the most popular tactical shooters right now are Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Squad, Arma 3, and Ready or Not.
- Hero shooter – A subgenre of shooter games where players chooses a “hero” character with pre-designed abilities, health, and weapons. Each hero’s moveset is determined by what their specific role is such as tank, healer, support or attacker, defender, etc. Team Fortress 2, Overwatch, and Apex Legends are a few of the most popular hero shooters.
Fighting games are another huge and highly competitive subgenre of action games. The main premise is that two players face off against each other in hand-to-hand combat in an arena. Each player must effectively use their attack moves, blocking, grappling and other special moves to defeat the other player. Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Tekken are the most popular franchises of this genre.
The moveset and fighting style of a character will be determined by their archetype. For example, rushdown characters are excellent for aggressive close combat while zoners utilize long distance attacks to control a “zone” or area. Players must also learn about different foundational aspects of fighting games such as neutral game and frame data if they wish to become better players.
Fighting games are also considered a hard genre for beginners to learn. There are so many aspects of fighting games that you must learn in order to become better that it can be quite intimidating. Fortunately, developers are making fighting games more accessible to newcomers. If you’re struggling with this genre then check out our guide for becoming better at fighting games.
Beat ’em up games like Sifu and Streets of Rage 4 are a subgenre of fighting games where players battle multiple enemies at once in hand-to-hand combat. Hack & slash is a variation of this subgenre where the player uses sharp weapons such as swords and hatchets to “hack and slash” through waves of enemies.
One of the most recent video game genres, battle royale games are a combination of survival and explorations with last man standing gameplay. Players must search for weapons, supplies and other resources after being dropped off on an island with many other players. The goal is to eliminate other players while surviving until the end of the match to be the last player alive.
The genre has exploded since PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds introduced battle royales to the gaming world a few years ago. Call of Duty Warzone, Fortnite, Apex Legends are the most played battle royale games right now with millions of players logging onto each game everyday.
Unlike action games, there isn’t a test of reflexes and reactions in adventure games. The focus of the adventure genre is on exploration, story-focused gameplay, character interactions and solving puzzles. This accessibility is what make adventure games attractive to people who don’t play video games.
Interactive movies, visual novels, graphic adventures are some of the most common games made in this genre. Journey, ABZU, Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human are a few of the most popular, highly acclaimed adventure games.
At some point, video game designers discovered that combining action and adventure was an excellent idea. Players get to enjoy the adrenaline rush of action from facing a series of challenges. And, they aren’t overwhelmed by constant battles by exploring the world, puzzle-solving and other adventure game elements.
With the help of early influential games like The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, action-adventure has become one of the most common video game genres today. Modern franchises like Uncharted, God of War, and Tomb Raider are also excellent examples of action-adventure games.
A character development system is one of the main aspects of a role-playing game. By doing tasks such as completing quests and eliminating monsters, you gain experience points to upgrade certain stats of your character to become stronger. Sometimes, a party of CPU controlled members accompanies you on quests to help in combat.
Most RPGs have an intricate open world with various locations and many interactable non-playable characters to engage with. As well as a main story with a multitude of secondary storylines told through side quests.
With the traditional RPG elements of side quests and character development, massively multiplayer online RPGS takes it up a few notches by gathering hundreds of players into the same world. Players can team up with random strangers, friends or clanmates to tackle quests, dungeons, and difficult bosses.
Popular MMORPGs like World of Warcraft utilize the pay-to-play model that requires a monthly subscription to play the game. However, the free-to-play model is increasingly becoming more popular with titles like The Lord of the Rings Online.
The rising popularity of Japanese role-playing games, particularly Persona and Final Fantasy, in Western countries doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. There are obvious and subtle differences between JRPGs and Western RPGs. Visually, the anime artstyle is the most noticeable difference between JRPGs and Western RPGs.
Secondly, JRPGs usually have larger party sizes of four or five compared to the one or two member parties of Western RPGs. Another difference is that JRPGs are more story-driven while Western RPGs tend to focus more on gameplay and combat.
Strategy video games present challenges that require skillful planning and execution. People who enjoy mentally stimulating activities like reading, chess, and puzzles will most likely enjoy strategy games as well. A vast majority of strategy games have a top-down perspective of the world for a full view of the battleground or arena. The player has multiple units at their disposal to send into battle to attack enemy bases or defend their territory.
Real-Time & Turn-Based
Real-time strategy and turn-based strategy are the most common forms of strategy games in today’s market. Turn-based strategy games gives the player a brief period of time to analyze the situation and respond accordingly.
TBS games like XCOM 2 were the most popular form of strategy games; however, they are rapidly being replaced with real-time strategy games where the action doesn’t stop and decisions must be made on the spot. Notable RTS games include Starcraft, Company of Heroes, Age of Empires, and Total War.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
MOBAs are another very popular type of strategy games. Two teams of heroes with different classes, abilities, and perks face off against each other in a three lane arena. Each lane is defended by a series of powerful defensive towers and in the headquarters of each team is their nexus or main structure.
The ultimate goal of the match is to destroy the enemy team’s nexus while defending your own. Currently, League of Legends and Dota 2 are the two biggest MOBA games you can play right now. MOBAs also have the largest and well funded eSports scenes of any genre with prize pools reaching upward to almost 50 million dollars in a year.
The sports genre is the one of the oldest video game genres and has remained a popular category to this day. Most sports games are designed to simulate the realism of the traditional sports that the games recreated after such as basketball, football, soccer, racing, skating, etc. NBA 2K, FIFA, Madden NFL and WWE 2K are a few of the most popular series in the genre.