3D games for people who did not play them as children

I bet most people here can’t remember a time before they knew how to play games, but a lot of people come to this hobby later in life. This means things like 3D camera controls can be an unexpected hurdle. A lot of games seem to assume deep familiarity with gaming conventions from the player. They are also less demanding than they used to be (waypoint markers, railroading and heavy signposting being pretty widespread), but they do seem to forget that just moving around fluidly, aiming the camera the right way at the same time as you control your movement, could represent a steep learning curve for a new player who is not 7 years old. I would argue even something like Mario Odyssey is immediately quite complicated in that regard.

So my question is this: What 3D games do you think would be a good introduction to controlling conventional 3D camera movement (first and third person). I don’t think they have to be necessarily super easy, maybe it’s a matter of pace. Something like Gone Home requires a lot of specific use of the first person perspective, but the only punishment for ‘failure’ is it takes longer to complete. But it can’t all be walking simulators because the moment they are dropped in a shooter they will be overwhelmed… I am curious to see what people think!


I think a lot of us probably learned how to manipulate camera controls with games that had tank controls like Tomb Raider or having minimal control over the camera like Mario 64 or Goldeneye but that’s probably not a great way to introduce it in 2024.

The first thing that comes to mind is a game like Xenoblade Chronicles, where you can just set the camera so far back behind the player that they would not need to move it much when they’re doing anything like a battle or exploring the map. There isn’t really a reason to quickly move the camera around in those games. (There are a lot of other reasons Xenoblade might be overwhelming to someone new to games, but camera controls isn’t one of them)

Similarly, something like SMT V or Persona 5 could be good because you only manually control the camera outside of battle, where you’re encouraged to be proactive and if you can sneak around the dungeons you’re unlikely to get attacked by things unless they see you.

Fire Emblem Three Houses would also be a good one, because the action takes place on a top down grid, but there is a free camera to use when exploring the hub area, so there is no pressure at all to learn how to use the camera.


I wonder if VR would be useful in this regard. Start there, in a space where navigating a 3D space is much more intuitive, until they’re familiar with the language of 3D games. After that, help them transfer that knowledge to the less intuitive right stick (or whatever).


Not exactly answering the question but I was thinking how a lot of people approximately my age (early to mid twenties) know how to control a first person game even if they didn’t grow up with video games just because Minecraft. like even if they didn’t have it they played it at someones place either on PC or the ps360 port.


I’ve been playing Tears of the Kingdom with my kids and I can report that this is also a steep learning curve if you are a seven years old. They’re getting better, but still quite often the camera will be pointing slightly up so we can’t see the ground and we’ll fall off a cliff or they’ll run into the screen rather than turn the camera around. And as soon as combat starts they throw the controller at me.

Then again, we’re also playing Phantasy Star, whose 3D movement is much simpler, and there’ll still be times where we need to take one step forward, turn left, and step forwards again and instead we’ll step past the turn, rotate 180 and then step backwards.

I wonder if older games without the second analogue stick would be a good starting point. A lot of PSP games have the left and right shoulder buttons as the only camera controls. That might get someone used to controlling movement direction by rotating the view without overcomplicating it.


I think maybe you’d want to get them in there with low stakes in the environment. Not only is dual analog camera control really hard to suddenly get used to, if someone is learning 3D games, that might indicate to me that they’re not super well versed in the sort of “language” of games

Maybe something like A Short Hike would be good? The stakes are really low, it’s hard to really mess it up and you’re not punished much if you do, and it’s such a comforting time without being a patronizing game. The camera does 90% of the work for you, but you have just a little bit of extra control on the right stick if you want to peek around a bit – once someone’s used to that, it might get them to a spot where they’re now they really want to be able to swing a camera around all over

Also, a little weirder, but what about Luigi’s Mansion (the first) as a really low-key warmup if they need it? I’m just remembering that that game was kind of Nintendo’s very gentle pitch on learning to use a second analog stick (I know I’m focusing on that, but it’s gonna be fundamental for modern 3D/first-person games). Maybe learning to control something else, directionally, with the second stick while also moving around a 3D space could help someone ease into having wider controls?


I think some sort of driving or racing game using a chase camera might be a good option. “Character control” becomes a bit more familiar and less free-form in the manner of acceleration/braking/steering, but the right stick allows the viewport to be shifted.

…or perhaps not racing, but any sort of vehicular control game. Anything that helps remove the confusion around “moving forward” and “looking around”.


I totally agree! Low stakes with the chance for positive reinforcement/rewards for doing things right. That might even be something like getting to a place more quickly than before or just “looking cool”.

I’m somewhat torn between either a game that focusses almost exclusively on movement and very little else (like e.g. a driving/racing game or a very simple platformer) or a game where the focus is on something else completely and the movement just happens in there. It depends on the player/learner I think.

In a lot of the cases in which I learned trickier movement etc. that was mostly because I struggled through them to get something else as a reward (like the next part of a story for example). But there are also a lot of people who like to just beat a challenge for the heck of it. And probably those two types of players might need two different games for learning 3D.

For someone who is like I was as a kid maybe something like a Dragon Quest XI would be a good fit. The focus in the game is mostly on story/dialog/battles and movement just connects them. Also the game has a lot of potential for exploration and climbing on things etc. but you don’t necessarily need to do those things to enjoy the story.

For the “I want to beat a challenge” type of player maybe something like Venineth? It’s a bit of an odd example but it provides a sandbox with some challenges but you also just freely move around and enjoy rolling your marble through space. It might be a little too abstract but something in that vein might be a good fit.


Maybe taking it too literally but what about Pokemon Snap or other camera based games such as Umurangi Generation.

I think if you start out with any genre where camera movement isnt tested (so no shooters) it should be alright.

Most 3rd person games these days have auto camera movement built in where the camera will slowly move to face where the character is looking. On the other hand there’s nothing like jumping in the deep end


Hearing a description of younguns playin zelda, I’m thinkin OoT on 64 might actually be good for this. Camera controls are basically just a single button - “fix it”. Might be good for the purpose of learning “in which cases do I need to be adjusting the camera” with the least possible camera inputs. Use of the first person view is limited/minimal for a bunch of the game, but there are opportunities to practice first person aiming with pretty low pressure/stakes (slingshotting puzzle stuff in Deku).


I think playing a first-person game with mouse and keyboard might be the best way to learn. On controller you frequently have to move your right thumb between the analog stick and the face buttons, and that feels pretty bad no matter how experienced you are.

Doom (1993) and the aforementioned Minecraft come to mind as good starter games. Doom in particular emphasizes moving and aiming simultaneously, but like Minecraft it requires very little precision.

My other, worse suggestion is Resident Evil 4 (2005). There’s virtually zero involvement with the right stick, you can’t even move while aiming, and still most everyone struggles with that camera the first time they play. It’s the great equalizer lol. If you can play that game, I’d say you have the third-person camera fundamentals down.


i think you’re onto something! part of the problem is that we all have to be introduced to the controllable camera as a concept - a game like snap, or even mario 64, reframes the idea of a manipulable field of view in terms that people might be more familiar with.


Very good responses so far! Looks like the theories are:

  • Start with games where the aiming is basically done for you, so you can solidify the understanding of 3D movement, and then slowly introduce games with more camera control. (3D JRPGs, A short hike, Luigi’s Mansion, racing games)

  • Games where aiming is a factor, but there is no great pressure in terms of time, difficulty or precision. (Photography games, Minecraft, Zelda OoT, Doom).

It’s not just about the player gaining the skill to control the camera smoothly, but also getting used to the idea that the camera should be used intentionally to look around corners as you turn, etc.

On that note, maybe a cinematic game like Uncharted, on easy mode, would be a good introduction. The way the game signposts everything and smoothly takes control of the camera in certain sections might be a good way to build that intuition.

I feel like I read they were working on a Beyond Good and Evil remaster and sequel for the last 10 years, where is it? That first one had a great mix of slow paced, meaningful exploration and both third person and first person controls, hopefully with the PS1 aesthetic revival we will get more of those kinds of games. I did boot up Croc Legend Of The Gobbos recently and the controls kinda broke my brain, I don’t know how on earth I finished that as a child. I think tank controls would be a very confusing stepping stone for a new player.

Mouse+keyboard is probably ideal, but not as accessible/shareable as passing around a controller. I just remembered I played Portal with my girlfriend, and apart from that puzzle where you have to jump down into a portal, look down in mid-air and shoot another portal, she got through it all by herself. Not many Portal-likes out there though.


Yeah, Portal is a pretty good model for introducing 3D. No matter my other feelings about the Myst series, Myst and Riven were good training for learning how to pay attention in a 3D environment without time being a large factor. The Witness, too, has 3D elements to it.

There may also be something to the team puzzler, sort of like We Were Here or It Takes Two. The puzzles are occasionally difficult, but the 3D in itself isn’t.


i remember when i was a young kid (younger than 6, i think), playing ocarina of time, the camera controls were the biggest thing that got in the way between me and a good time. i also didn’t really know where to go, but because i struggled with the camera, i couldn’t get to all the places i thought i might be able to go.
to be tbf fair, i was playing on the gamecube collector’s disc version, and maybe i was just a stupid kid


I think it would need to be something fairly linear with a fixed camera, third-person perspective like a racing game. Basically as rejj said.

Maybe 2 years ago at work we did have a team-building activity with a Nintendo Switch set up, and I watched some co-workers in their 50-60’s who had either never played a video game, or did a long time ago. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on 50cc with auto-steer they gradually got used to movement in 3D and when I think about it my first introduction to 3D gaming was Mario Kart 64.


For my kids: Bugsnax.


From my experience of introducing other adults, not only to 3d movement but also gaming conventions I find this flow the best one:

  1. Monument valley, gorgeous visually almost no stress. You could say its 2d but it introduces you to character moving in space as a way to solve puzzles, looking for visual clues and how objects, movement and three dimensionality interact to solve a level

  2. Flow, after monument valley is also simple but introduces you to more action and conflict concepts in a 2d plane that uses vertical axis to move between levels and also mixing movement with pushing one or two buttons for actions

  3. Journey or and Grow Home for a full fledged 3d moving game, and analogue joysticks,trigers etc, but no pressure or long dialogues and cutscenes, just the joy of movements with elegant or funny story

  4. Flower for easing in to advanced, faster 3D moving while directing the view, your character is basically the camera, and Mario Kart for simple movement while doing other actions, throwing shells hitting targets and so on.

  5. With some assistance for the fights Shadow of the colossus with its starting climbing tutorial really eases you in to more “traditional” gaming environments movements, fantasy theme, free roaming etc and some good taste :smiley:


haha, there it is!

Looks pretty good!


I feel like games from the early era of 3D gaming would work well. I’m specifically thinking of the Dreamcast, which had only one joystick, and games with camera control were mapped to L and R. I feel like controlling a camera on one axis is way easier to get used to than full 3D control.

Plus, most games of that era had the camera (at least try to) intuitively follow behind the player character.

Also, a game like Power Stone I think would work well to get someone accustomed to controlling a character in 3D space without the need for a camera (top down, just move and jump your person around the field). Then they can graduate to a game with L and R camera control, then full camera control.

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