It Sucks When You Want to Learn a New Type of Game, But Don't Know How

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I had a similar experience when I dived into Dark Souls 3 without playing either of the other two nor Bloodborne. I think watching gameplay clips on YouTube helps. Also diving headlong into game/genre-specific subreddits helps.

At the end of the day if you’re not excited to learn how to play a game, why are you playing the game to begin with?

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I had the same experience as Patrick. I played Xcom on the 360 and loved it, customising my squad, leveling them up, the constant fear of death and even a weird enjoyment of mourning them. However I was pretty bad at the actual strategy bit, I got the basics down but never got good at all.

Recently I posted about Into The Breach and how much I love how it breaksdown the gameplay and makes it clear and simple but leaves the option to delve into its mechanics and really push yourself on a steep learning curve. Im so happy Into the Breach exists as I now have a little more confidence to go back and maybe try tackle Invisible Inc.

But I still have this problem with other genres, I would love to get into a fighter but I feel I have proverbially missed the boat. I tried playing Dark Souls a few years after release and I just didnt GET it, I couldnt mould myself into that way of playing.

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I think one of the things that doesn’t get mentioned in discussions like this is that you need to be in the right mindset when you’re learning a new style of play or genre. Like, sometimes you’re just not in the mood to grok a new system, despite how cool it looks and how well the developer designs the onboarding. And that’s totally fine. I’m personally in a state right now where life is stressful and I just want to stick with types of gameplay that I find familiar and comforting. Sure, Monster Hunter or Into the Breach look cool as hell, but I just don’t have the emotional or mental capacity right now to deal with the frustration inherent in the learning curve.

I find that Waypoint as a community prioritizes expanding our gaming horizons and getting out of our comfort zones. And that is totally a great priority to have! But sometimes it’s better to look at a cool new experience and accept that it’s not for me right now. I get that for Patrick, whose job is covering the hot new shit, this might not be an option. But for the rest of us, it can be beneficial to stick with what you know for a time.


As a fellow un-strategic person, I have still found Into the Breach to be too much for me. After losing on my second battle, I may have to bump things down to Easy before I make any in-roads. Still, I love that the enemies telegraph their moves, and there’s something really satisfying about XCOM/Advance Wars-style input. I’m just bad at the whole “planning anything” and/or “not stubbornly sticking to one plan until I die” part.


Thankfully we live in the age of the internet where there’s no shortage of people happy to tell you how to get into their favorite thing, and once you’ve decided on a way, no shortage of people even more excited to tell you you’re doing it wrong.

At this point, I know that there isn’t any type of game I couldn’t play if I wanted to… I’ve just come to terms that certain games would take a time investment/amount of devoted concentration I’m not willing to give with my current lifestyle. I’ve largely given up on trying to seriously get into any fighting games, Strategy games, MMO, MOBA, or competitive online multiplayer games since I had kids. I’m thankful for the efforts of some developers to make those games more accessible, like Mario and Rabbids, Rising Thunder (RIP), Splatoon, and Destiny


When I find myself extremely into a game whose style I’m not familiar with but really really want to learn, I usually feel the hyperfixation kick in and I basically live and breathe content surrounding said game - YouTube, articles, AARs, everything - sometimes without ever even booting up the game first.

Now that’s probably not great or practical behavior, but diving deep into a new system scratches an itch in my weird brain.

Absolutely give Easy a try. I consider myself a pretty savvy strategy game player, but I played numerous games of FTL on Easy until I could actually complete it before moving to Normal. I think that remains a valid strategy for Into the Breach in terms of learning the game—don’t let “Easy stigma” dissuade you! Easy mode on these particular games is not a lesser experience.


@IzzyIsh I completely agree with @nindustrial. Just bump it down to easy till you get to grips with the core mechanics and the first squad. Do what you gotta do to have fun

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Into the Breach is pretty in my wheelhouse but Cities Skylines wasn’t and I wouldn’t have learned how to play it as mediocre as I do without a lot of time spent with unlimited money turned on

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I have a litany of analysis and choice paralysis issues with turn based strategy games that prevent me from enjoying some of the staples of the genre, but Into the Breach has thus far played more like a puzzle game, and some of my match puzzler skills are actually helping me strategize!

Also some feedback for @patrick.klepek : If you just see the headline/screenshot and skim the article, it looks like a piece about how you’re bouncing off Into the Breach? Reading more carefully I don’t get the impression you’re actually ready to talk about your personal experiences with it, but I did experience a “first flush” impression that this was about your struggles with Subset Games’ latest and not the genre as a whole.

I’m the exact same way with city builders. They are very much up my alley thematically, but I remember playing a SimCity (I think 3 or 4?) over a decade ago and just couldn’t get things going without cheats. Being older/more patient and experienced with economy stuff in games now, I’d like to return to something like Skylines in the future and try again.

To a lesser extent… puzzle games, particularly logic-based/factory-building ones like SpaceChem are titles I enjoy and can get the basics down, but end up plateauing very quickly in my understanding of its systems in later puzzles.

Oh damn, I switched to Easy and it instantly became the exact game I was looking for. This is all making me think of the recent discussion around Celeste’s “Assist Mode”, and how some better language around the difficulty settings would really make the whole game a little more approachable.

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So for me my personal bugbear has been Paradox games. Every time I read or saw something about Crusader Kings 2, I knew that it was something I wanted to check out. I got my chance when it showed up on a Humble Bundle many years ago, but ended up dumbstruck when I actually started playing it. Even now, the game is terrible at explaining itself. The built in tutorial does a good job at teaching you systems, but I found that it did little to nothing to actually teach you about how those systems interact or what exactly you were supposed to do. I’ve tried numerous times over the years to get into it, including several attempts of learning via Let’s Plays (such as from Northernlion and Waypoint’s own Austin Walker back at Giant Bomb). Alas, it never took.

Thankfully, it did eventually take with Stellaris. In many ways, Austin is to blame for this one, thanks in large part to this bit from the Beastcast: I’ve had that story in the back of my mind for a while, so I decided to take a shot with the recent sale and was very pleasantly surprised that Stellaris is far, FAR better about onboarding than Crusader Kings. Part of this could be because of scope. Stellaris (and presumably Europa Universalis based off what I’ve heard of it) has a macro view on empires while Crusader Kings is very much about interpersonal relationships of all the various dukes and queens and the like.

However, it really all comes down to the Adviser. Rather than have a separate tutorial mode, Stellaris employs an adviser that, depending on your settings, will guide you through the early stages of the game and gently remind you about what each menu does. This is ideal for a few reasons. First, it’s much more organic, with no set path you have to follow. Second, he’s available regardless of game or empire settings (hiveminds aside), so you’re not required to follow any sort of template. Most importantly of all, the biggest thing that sets it apart is that it’s your save, your game. Even if you follow the letter of the tutorializing, you are eventually let go to your own devices.

A genre that I always wanted to jump into was the western CRPG. Years ago, I attempted to play Baldur’s Gate knowing very little about D&D and was immediately stuck within about an hour or two. Same thing happened with Planescape: Torment, Wasteland 2, and Arcanum. The only ones I could manage were the first two Fallouts since it’s only one character you have to manage, but I yearned to branch out.

Then when Pillars of Eternity was released, the genre just finally clicked with me, if only somewhat. I was able to play through all of Pillars of Eternity and understand the systems behind it. This gave me confidence to try out Baldur’s Gate and I fared much better than my first attempt, but I wouldn’t say I understand most things in that game. I still haven’t completed it, but that is more due to needing to take breaks for long games like that.

As someone who plays strategy games, I do believe that their problem isn’t so much having to learn a new genre. The problem with strategy games is that every game needs to be learned from square one. The genre isn’t like others such as platformers, that playing one teaches a bulk of the language of the genre. Approaching a new strategy game after having played another one is like learning Settlers of Catan after playing Monopoly. Sure there is plenty of overlap such as taking turns, placing houses on a board, rolling dice, etc. But pretty much everything else is different: what houses do, what rolling the dice does, how trading involves other players during your turn, etc. Having played Crusader Kings II might give you some kind of leg up if you try Hearts of Iron, but your goals and almost everything you do during a turn is completely different. And these are two games that share a lot of the same DNA.

I’ve been playing Civilization since 2 and I’m not sure that I even know how to play yet, even though Endless Legend (which is very similar) was too easy for me. Approaching a new strategy game is a cliff I don’t always want to climb. After most of a game of Stellaris, I just didn’t feel like trying to learn it. It just didn’t feel like I was going to get something great from scaling that peak. Though I can watch Waypoint play it and see the kind of fun it can generate.