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Games With A High
Skill-Ceiling
 

This is our list of video games where you can continue improving for many years of play. We don't think that excelling in a video game is in the same category as learning a new language, singing or becoming a doctor. It's no surprise, there are a lot of reasons that these are very different pursuits. However, we generally misunderstand how much skill, knowledge, intuition, theory and expertise (amongst other things) are required to be the best at a specific game. Video games have a far higher skill ceiling than it seems.

Video games appear to be mechanical challenges like mowing the lawn. You can get good at mowing the lawn, but after a few weeks of practice, there's not much room for further improvement. However, even a simple mechanical game like Tetris offers almost unending opportunities to improve for years and years. Even mechanically basic video games offer space for the player to improve not only their button pressing speed and accuracy but deftness, strategy, prioritisation and systems thinking.

There are some games that lean into this ability to offer this almost unending opportunity for improvement. They offer more space for the player to find new ways to achieve their goals and offer environments with the flexibility to encourage players to incrementally improve these strategies.
 
This list includes 44 games from the last 34 years, with 2,055 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to be world champion. We break them down into the following areas:

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Multi-Player

Fortnite

Fortnite is an online multiplayer shooting game where 100 people compete to be the last player standing. You stealthily traverse the world to collect weapons, out-maneuvering and out-gunning your opponents, while a storm gradually shrinks the playable...

Rocket League

Rocket League is a sports action game where you drive futuristic cars to score goals with an oversized football. It's a game that sounds ridiculous but is actually a huge amount of fun to play and requires a lot of expertise. What's not obvious from the...

Valorant

Valorant is a team-based online shooting game, where two teams of five compete under the role of agents with unique abilities. It's designed to be competitive and requires considerable skill and practice to win matches. Between rounds, players spend...

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a light-hearted cartoon-style brawling game where multiple players choose well-known video game characters to fight. Play involves using your character's move-set to outwit and beat your opponents. You wear down their...

Apex Legends

Apex Legends is a shooting game where you team up with a few other players to survive the longest on the island. Play is. combination of shooting, moving around to get the advantage and searching for weapons and supplies. Your mission is to defeat the...

The Finals

The Finals is an online shooting game where you are a contestant in a violent game show. You play from first person perspective, aiming to shoot opponents before they shoot you. The twist is that everything in the world from the buildings to the trees...

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Seige

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Seige is a 5-v-5 multiplayer tactical shooting game where you either play a terrorist or a counter-terrorist. Your job is either to defend an objective such as a bomb site, biohazard container, or hostages or to stop the...

Blade Ball (Roblox)

Blade Ball is a dodgeball-style sports game where players use their sword-like weapons to deflect the ball at each other to be the last man standing. Like dodgeball, you mustn't get hit by the ball or you are out, here you can move around freely and use...

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Series)

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (commonly abbreviated as CS:GO) is a competitive first-person shooting game. You play either a counter-terrorist or terrorist. The objective changes based on the game-mode you play but generally, game modes are...

Foamstars

Foamstars is a team-based shooting game where you fire colourful foam from your gun instead of bullets. Using the foam, you not only defeat opponents but also create colour-coded areas to slide around on surfboards and build fortresses to gain an...

Chivalry II

Chivalry 2 is an online sword fighting game that recreates epic medieval movie battles. It's the sequel to Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and thrusts you first-hand into huge battles where you must survive clashing swords, storms of flaming arrows and...

Slapshot Rebound

Slapshot Rebound is a sports hockey game where teams battle to control the puck and score goals with real-simulated physics, like the classic football game Kick Off. Play is as you would expect, however, interaction with the puck is all through...

EA Sports FC 24

EA Sports FC 24 is a sports game designed to simulate the players, tactics and crescendo moments of top-flight football. Play involves picking players and setting tactics before controlling each of your team in turn on the pitch. Its simulation is...

Resistance 204X

Resistance 204X is a fighting game with a focus on attrition rather than complex moves. You use precisely timed attacks to repeatedly knock down your opponent and reach their side of the stage. It's an unusual twist for fighting games that focuses not...

Single Player

Cursorblade

Cursorblade is a shooting game where you are a mouse cursor and use your mouse motion to move, attack and deftly dodge the deluge of bullets. Control is one-to-one with your mouse, in this way, you move through the anthropomorphized flora and fauna to...

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy

Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy is a strange game about movement and momentum. You are tasked with climbing a mountain. However, your only means of locomotion is a hammer that can stick to objects and drag you forward.

Osu!

Osu! is a rhythm action game where you tap the screen in time to the music similar to the Elite Beat Agents games. This starts as a simple challenge but develops in speed and complexity. At higher levels, the games is an esport with people competing to...

The Long Dark

The Long Dark is a thoughtful exploration-survival game where you have crash-landed in the icy Canadian wilderness after a global disaster and must find a way to survive. Through exploring, crafting and fighting you must look after your body...

Cuphead

Cuphead is a running, jumping and shooting game that looks like an old Mickey Mouse cartoon. You play on your own or with someone else and work across the screen, jumping gaps, shooting enemies and avoiding projectiles.

Mini Metro

Mini Metro is a sequencing strategy game where you create an ordered, efficient underground train system. It sounds like hard work, but the simple Tube-map visuals, calm music, and streamlined interactions make this relaxing, like sudoku. Dip your toe...

Don't Starve

Don't Starve is an open-world survival game where it’s the environment and enemies, rather than other players, that you have to work with. You need to find and develop food, weapons and shelter to survive. It’s enjoyable because it’s hard, so...

Elden Ring

Elden Ring is a role-play game set in a fictional world created by fantasy novelist George R. R. Martin, with a focus on combat similar to Demon's Souls and an open world with real time and weather like Zelda Breath of the Wild.

Drink More Glurp

Drink More Glurp is a wacky sports game where you take turns to play athletic challenges. The twist is that you have to control your over-long arms with a separate joystick and your body is a wheel you can roll along on if you lift your arms right up...

BeamNG

BeamNG is a super realistic vehicle simulator where individual car components rather than just the driving experience are modelled. Play involves selecting a car and a location and then exploring how the vehicle copes with different environments. It's...

Factorio

Factorio is a construction strategy game where you crash-land on an alien planet and must harvest resources to create industry to build a rocket to escape (or fall in love with running your factory and stay on longer).

Demon's Souls

Demon's Souls is a fighting and exploration game where you take on monstrous enemies in tough-as-nails combat. You navigate interconnected locations while fighting enemies with weapons and magic, timing your attacks, dodges, and parries exactly. It...

Returnal

Returnal is a sci-fi shooting game played in repeating rounds that slowly change the world and your character. You are a pilot stranded on a mysterious planet and must investigate and fight through the world to both survive and solve the repeating...

Tetris 99 (Series)

Tetris is a longstanding puzzle game where you make horizontal lines by placing differently shaped tiles in a well. It's simple and fun, but as the pieces speed up it gets increasingly difficult.

QWOP

QWOP is a sports game with a difference. You have to control each limb of your virtual athlete. This changes it from a challenge of hitting buttons to using the touch screen or keyboard to deftly coordinating movement to gain forward motion. It's really...

Art Of Rally

Art of Rally is a racing game that focuses on stylised off-road motion from the creator of Absolute Drift. Slide through the hand-crafted stages set in Finland, Japan and Spain with varying weather and time of day.

Fire Emblem Engage (Series)

Fire Emblem Engage is a series of strategy games where you help an ensemble cast of characters fight off evil. You gather heroes, unlock weapons and special abilities to aid your fight in tactical turn-based combat. It's not just a tactics game though,...

Dark Souls II

Dark Souls II is a fighting game with an emphasis on precise timing and extreme difficulty. You navigate through labyrinthine ruins and ancient kingdoms, defeating monsters with your weapons and magic. It pairs immense difficulty with a grand story and...

Dark Souls

Dark Souls is a fighting game with an emphasis on precise timing and extreme difficulty. You navigate through labyrinthine ruins and ancient kingdoms, defeating monsters with your weapons and magic. A spiritual successor to [link to game/Demons+Souls...

Laya's Horizon

Laya's Horizon is a traversal and collection flying game where you plunge from mountains, weave through forests and glide down rivers to unlock new abilities and discover a huge tranquil world. Coming from the people behind Alto's Odyssey it's no...

Rock Band 4 (Series)

Rock Band 4 is a music rhythm game. Play along with licensed music using specially made plastic controllers acting as guitars, drum kits and microphones. The game comes with 65 songs spanning the 1960's to 2010's. The music appears as coloured blocks...

Annalynn

Annalynn is a running, jumping, and collecting game that recreates a classic arcade challenge with more expansive levels. You work to collect every coin on the stage while avoiding enemies. While it appears easy, getting a perfect score requires...

Dark Souls III

Dark Souls III is a fighting game with an emphasis on precise timing and extreme difficulty. You explore labyrinthine ruins and ancient kingdoms and defeat monsters with your weapons and magic. The final entry in the Dark Souls trilogy features the same...

Hyper Light Breaker

Hyper Light Breaker is an action fighting game where fluid motion is used to defeat enemies in a surreal, abstract world familiar if you have played the previous Hyper Light games. You move around the world and use guns, swords, and abilities to defeat...

Just A Guy

Just A Guy is a running and jumping adventure where you explore a colourful world with your ragdoll hero. Play involves using the physics of the work to get around and discover all the different themed activity areas.

SPGP Super Polygon Grand Prix

SPGP Super Polygon Grand Prix is an arcade racing game based on classic 90's games like Virtua Racing. Play is all about having quick reactions and finding the perfect racing line. It stands out not only for recreating a classic game style but also for...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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