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Of all the genres of video games, action is probably the flashiest and the most popular one. With action video games, expect breath-taking combat, cinematic graphics, a lot of shooting, and fights. Be ready to immerse yourself in deep combat, amazing cutscenes, lovable characters, and to struggle together with them through both linear and open-world levels, filled with enemies. Get to know the best action games for PC and consoles!
What are the most common action genre features?
Action video games typically let the player control a protagonist character in linear or big open-world levels. The player has to complete specific objectives, defeat enemies. In many cases, at the end of the level, the player has to defeat a boss. Action games are known for having well-written characters, drama, obstacles, and rewards for overcoming challenges. New action games are becoming more and more cinematic and breath-taking.
Here is a shortlist of the most common action genre features:
- Story immersion. Action games are known for having a good story and well-written characters. This is one of the main features of the biggest action titles;
- Controlling a protagonist. In action games, the player usually takes control of a protagonist;
- Exploration. In the levels of action games, the player has to navigate through them and explore various areas, where valuable loot and treasure can be found;
- Fighting. Action games are full of enemies that you have to fight. Usually, you fight a lot of enemies in levels, and at the end of each level you have to fight a boss;
- Competition. A lot of action games are competitive and meant to be played against other players;
- Gathering points & gaining skills. Most action games reward players for their performance. Do good and you will have more points and better skills to unlock.
Why are action games so popular?
Action video games are fun, engaging, rich in story, plot, and characters. Also, they usually have good music and atmosphere, hence it’s understandable that these features are appealing to millions of players around the globe. Action games are like playable Hollywood films. They are cinematic, have good voice acting, and are very memorable and effective. Also, it is easy to start playing action games. You don’t have to learn tons of instructions to understand how to play them as in your usual RPG title (though in some cases you have to). Most of the time, action games are quite short and less demanding, hence it is simpler to play them and they provide a ton of high-quality fun.
Sub-genres of action games
The action genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, some of them were naturally born from the early action genre, such as action-adventure games, some of them became more action-oriented with time, such as action RPGs. Take a look at the list of the most popular sub-genres of action games:
- Fighting games. This subgenre usually consists of competitive 2D games, where two players are fighting each other in several rounds. The most known franchises of fighting games are Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and Soul Calibur;
- Beat ‘em ups. This sub-genre was extremely popular in the early days of the PlayStation 1 era. Its titles usually have a level-based structure, where you control a character through levels full of enemies and you have to fight them. The most popular series of beat ‘em ups are Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Streets of Rage, and Dynasty Warriors;
- Character-action games. Born from beat ‘em ups, the character-action genre is all about controlling a stylish protagonist. Games like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, or God of War are the best examples;
- Platform games. The sub-genre of platform games was also very popular during the PlayStation 1 era. In platform games, the player has to navigate through levels while jumping on various platforms. Series like Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted are the most notable titles of this sub-genre;
- MOBA. The multiplayer Online Battle Arena genre recently became extremely popular on the action games market. This sub-genre is a mixture of real-time strategy and action RPG genres. More popular games in MOBA sub-genre are Heroes of the Storm, DOTA 2, and League of Legends;
- Multiplayer shooters. These are typically first-person games, where players compete online against other players. The most notable series are Counter-Strike, Quake, and Titanfall;
- Looter-shooters. This sub-genre combines elements of multiplayer shooters and action RPGs. In looter-shooters, the player navigates through levels full of other players, where they have to do certain objectives, kill enemies, gain their loot, and get to a higher level;
- Action RPGs. This sub-genre, which is a mixture of action and RPG genres, is one of the widest categories. There are several types of action RPGs, for example, isometric action RPGs, like Diablo, or third-person RPGs, like The Witcher or Dark Souls.
You can find various action games, exclusive to different platforms. PC action games, like Counter-Strike, PS4 action games are God of War, Uncharted, and Last of Us. Xbox action games include Halo and Gears of War, and fans of Nintendo Switch action games can enjoy such titles as Zelda, Bayonetta, Metroid, and Astral Chain.
What are the best action games?
There are lots of amazing and unique action game series, and we present to you the most significant ones. Here is a shortlist of more important action game series:
- Call of Duty. Since its launch in 2003, it has become probably the most popular shooter in the world. CoD series is known for its cinematic warfare battles, breath-taking scenes, and engaging multiplayer mode;
- Assassin’s Creed. First released by Ubisoft in 2007, Assassin’s Creed is recognized as one of the most important action games. The franchise is known for its unique depiction of certain historical periods and sci-fi elements;
- Battlefield. This beloved competitive multiplayer PC action games series first saw the light of day in 2002. The series is mostly known for its huge multiplayer matches and maps;
- Doom. Created in 1993, Doom is one of the earliest and most known FPS genre series. Doom games feature a high speed FPS action that is unique and immersive;
- Uncharted. This series was created in 2007, and is known for high production quality and redefined elements of action-adventure games;
- The Last of Us. Since 2013, The Last of Us, created by the same developers as Uncharted, is another extremely important PlayStation franchise. TLOU is loved by many for its well-written characters and engaging story, which are comparable to the highest quality HBO TV series;
- God of War. Since 2005, GoW is known as one of the greatest action genre series, which is known for its amazing combat and cinematic feel;
- Horizon. One of the more interesting series. Since 2017, it is known for high quality and interesting setting, as well as unique enemies and fights with them;
- Destiny. First published in 2014 by the creators of the Halo franchise – Bungie studio, the Destiny series is one of the more important looter-shooters on the market.
How to choose the right action game for you?
There is an action game for everyone! Depending on your personal preference, there is a big selection of various, both classic and newer action games. If you are wondering how to select the best action game for you, here are some helpful tips:
- Step 1. Consider the features you'd like a game to have. If you want breath-taking graphics, then you can look at games, like Horizon: Forbidden West or Red Dead Redemption 2, or if you want an amazing story, then look at The Last of Us;
- Step 2. Consider the experience you want a game to bring. For example, if you like to experience a good single-player story and immerse into well-written characters, then you can look at games like Uncharted. If brutal action is more of your cup of tea, then look no further and choose God of War. And if you prefer competitive shooters, choose the best action games for PC, like Call of Duty, Battlefield, or Destiny;
- Step 3. Check out the top games of the action genre above & pick one that suits you best. There are so many new action games that you will most definitely find the one for you;
- Step 4. Buy the best action games cheaper on our marketplace!
The history of action games
The history of action games is long and complicated. Let’s go through the most important events that are crucial for the genre of action games:
- In the 1970s action video games were first presented, with such titles as Syzygy Engineering's Computer Space, Galaxy Game, and Gun Fight, eventually they became more popular and well-defined when the famous Space Invaders was released. For the first time, the game could react to the player’s movement and fire back, and the player's character could be killed. Multiple lives, high scores, and a simple story with animated characters were also presented for the very first time. This was the breakthrough that led the action genre to become the most popular on both home systems and arcades.
- In the 80s, with titles such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, action games began to solidify as the most popular ones on the market, thanks to Japanese game creators. A lot of sub-genres were born from the action game genre: Double Dragon was one of the most popular and well-known beat ‘em ups, and side-scrollers as well as rail shooters, or light gun games, emerged as action-based genres.
- In the 90s, a new trend of competitive multiplayer games was introduced with titles such as the arcade fighting game Street Fighter II, which offered direct competition between two players and made the fighting subgenre of action games amazingly popular. Also, Doom was released, which popularized first-person shooter and online multiplayer genres. Naturally, the transition from 2D to 3D was inevitable, with titles such as Tekken, as well as the best action games for PC like Wolfenstein and Quake taking the world by storm. Such titles were the inspiration behind the most breathtaking games that we know and love today.