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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUh4SRR4B3I. 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.