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Multiple Game Openings

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"What will you be? A banker from Boston, a carpenter from Ohio, or a farmer from Illinois?"

Multiple Game Openings is a form of Story Branching opposite of Multiple Endings, where each available Player Character (or Character Class) starts the game in a different level, but all such prologues soon converge into a single common plot (which can coincide with Opening the Sandbox).

Particularly common in MMORPGs, in which your choice of faction, race, or class can determine where your journey begins.

Compare Another Side, Another Story, where the player unlocks an alternative level progression by completing the game, and Big First Choice, where all new games start the same but branch out heavily early on. See also Schrödinger's Player Character, where picking a player character effectively erases all other playable characters from the game, and Schrödinger's Question, where choices selected by the player build the setting and plot instead of merely affecting it.


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     Platform Games 
  • The opening level of Mega Man ZX Advent differs depending on whether you chose to play as Grey or Ashe.
  • Little Samson introduces each of the four player characters in a solo stage. These can be played in any order, but from then on progression is strictly linear.
  • X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse has different opening stages for Wolverine, Cyclops, Psylocke, Gambit and Beast, which can be played in any order.

     RPG — Eastern 
  • In Trials of Mana, depending on which of the six characters you select as your primary party member, you see six separate opening sequences. These paths converge at Jadd Stronghold, shortly after the opening credits.
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story gives you the choice to play as either Claude or Rena, with the other character relegated to the role of deuteragonist. As such, your perspective of the first part of the plot varies with your chosen character. Though the pair eventually resolves to travel together, there are still minor differences in what you see depending on this initial choice.
  • In Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, each character started off in the capital of his or her respective nation, before getting involved (to varying degrees) in the overarching plot.
  • In Threads of Fate, you can select one of two characters as your protagonist, and each one depicts his backstory and motivations for finding the legendary treasure. Although the game proper begins after they both arrive at the Hub Level, there are many times throughout the game where their individual stories diverge again.
  • At the start of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, you're given the choice of whether to follow the Persona 3 protagonist or the Persona 4 protagonist. Each has a totally different opening explaining how they got into the game's world, and while the first dungeon itself is the same for both, you start with a very different party in each.note 
  • At the start of Tales of Xillia you choose whether to follow Jude or Milla's story. This affects where the story starts and whose perspective you see when the party splits up. Each story has several exclusive events and bosses. At one point, Jude travels through an ice themed dungeon while Milla takes on a lava-themed one, for example. They also get different battle music.
  • Octopath Traveler has an eight-way version of this. To complete the game and see the credits, only one character's distinct opening needs to be cleared solo and the other seven don't even have to be recruited. Still, for variety's sake and fun's sake, recruiting all eight characters lets you play all eight openings as a party.

     RPG — MMO 
  • In World of Warcraft every race has its own starting area. Dwarves & Gnomes and Orcs & Trolls each share the starting zone but, as of the Cataclysm expansion, they begin in different parts of those zones. Death Knights and Demon Hunters are the only classes that get their own unique starting zone, regardless of race.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, for both the Republic and the Sith Empire, Force users start on one planet (Tython & Korriban) while those who don't use the Force start on another (Ord Mantell & Hutta)
  • In Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV, you choose your home nation but inevitably begin traveling along the same path as players who chose others.
  • Guild Wars 2, whose personal story, though it branches frequently, generally converges to a single story thread — apart from the first twenty levels, where choice of race and answers to biography questions during character creation result in one of forty-five unique scenarios.
  • The opening of DC Universe Online (after the Justified Tutorial) can be any one of six different missions, depending on your character's allegiance (good or evil) and origin (meta, tech or magic). Beyond that one mission, however, all other missions within your allegiance are available to you.
  • In The Lord of the Rings Online dwarves, elves, hobbits and humans all have different introductory scenarios before getting involved in the main game.

     RPG — Western 
  • While it doesn't change specific events, the players' starting position in Ultima IV depends on their class, with their arrival in Britannia in the city corresponding to the virtue associated with said class.
  • The PC adaptation of Temple of Elemental Evil had nine opening scenes, depending on the alignment you selected for your party. Some were just cutscenes or conversations, while others had a short battle. All nine served to give your team a reason to head to the village of Hommlet, where they pick up the real quest.
  • Dragon Age does this a lot.
    • The six playable Player Character origins were the main gimmick of Dragon Age: Origins. The first mission-slash-tutorial leading up to the PC's recruitment into The Order of the Grey Wardens depends on the combination of their race and class:
      • Human Nobles (human warrior or rogue) start the game in their parents' castle, just before it falls to an unscrupulous vassal's treachery and everyone inside save the PC is butchered.
      • City Elves (elven warrior or rogue) attend their own wedding at their Fantastic Ghetto when it is crashed by a jerkass human noble, who kidnaps several young women, including the female PC. The PC either gives chase and possibly murders him or fights their way out from the inside and possibly murders him.
      • Dalish Elves (ditto) explore some ancient ruins when they stumble upon an ancient Artifact of Doom that infects them with The Corruption — and the only cure is to become a Warden.
      • Circle Mages (elven or human mage) pass their Harrowing but immediately get embroiled in a conspiracy that results in a Blood Mage's escape, so only the Wardens can protect them from execution by the Templars.note 
      • Dwarven Nobles (dwarf warrior or rogue) fall victim to a courtly intrigue when their younger sibling, The Evil Prince, frames them for the murder of their eldest brother, the heir apparent to the Orzammar throne.
      • Dwarven Commoners (ditto) break pretty much every law in Orzammar to make ends meet and join the Wardens basically as a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card.
    • In Dragon Age II, the player character is always human. However, selecting the character's class determines which of their younger twin siblings will be killed during the prologue. If Hawke is a mage, their sister Bethany (who is also a mage) dies; if Hawke is a warrior or rogue, their warrior brother Carver is the one to go. The only hint of this prior to the character's death comes in the exaggerated scene described by Character Narrator Varric, in which the twin who will survive is shown fighting at Hawke's side.
    • Downplayed in Dragon Age: Inquisition, where the choice of race and class for the player character impacts a number of dialogue options and conversations throughout the prologue. In particular, a mage character can point out to Cassandra that putting down a weapon doesn't actually mean they're disarming, and an early conversation with Varric will have him perform a Sherlock Scan on the character in which he correctly pinpoints their origin (unless they're a Dalish elf, who discusses it with Solas instead).
  • Nox had three opening sequences, depending on the choice of the PC's class. Essentially, it's three different games until you reach the Field of Valor.
  • Sacred and its expansion pack had different opening sequences for every character class. The plots quickly converged after that.
  • Wizardry 8 did this by virtue of possibility of importing saves from previous game, where if you had an alliance with Umpani or T'Rang, you would start in their respective camps and higher level instead of in a Noob Cave, but the objectives were the same. Some earlier games did this too.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Depending on which lifepath you choose for the protagonist V at character creation, the first half of the prologue features a completely unique storyline: the Nomad V smuggles a contraband item into Night City with Jackie; the Corpo V gets entangled in a political scheme within Arasaka, then fired by their superiors covering their assesnote ; and the Streetkid V tries to hijack the same supercar as Jackie but both get busted by the police. Either way, it is followed by a universal Training Montage and the first proper mission with Jackie.

  • Concealed the Conclusion has four sets of stages 1-3 — one for each shot type. The rest of the stages are the same, but the game does have Multiple Endings depending on your performance.
  • The order of Giga Wing's first four stages is dictated by which character you pick at the start of the game.

     Simulation Games 
  • In all but the 2004 Sid Meier's Pirates! games, you have a choice of your character's background, which can cause wildly differing scenarios when it comes to friendly ports, initial flagship, and crew size. It also provides differing explanations as to how your family became scattered across the Caribbean.
  • The X-Universe games starting with X3: Reunion offer various starting scenarios, which differ mainly in terms of which ship and sector you start in. X3: Terran Conflict's "Terran Defender" start, for instance, starts you off in a Terran Sabre interceptor in Uranus orbit and lets you begin the game's first plot immediately, while "Humble Merchant" starts you off in Herron's Nebula with an Argon Mercury and a Discoverer scoutship, and requires a bridging mission to get you to Terran space before you can start the plot. Various other game starts are unlocked by fulfilling conditions in the game.
    • Optional openings return in X: Rebirth's 2.0 update, where each start has an alternate cockpit layout for the Albion Skunk, weapon loadout, ships upgrades, credits, and property. The Mercenary start, for example, has the basic versions of every weapon installed and a hefty suite of upgrades installed, along with a minimalist cockpit that uses multiple panoramic video screens instead of a window for maximum visibility. However, unlike previous games, every start is explicitly the same person (Ren Otani) to prevent dialogue from breaking. The alternate starts disable the plot and have all star systems unlocked right from the get go; no Broken Bridges need to be overcome.
  • Planned as a feature in future versions of Dwarf Fortress.

     Stealth-Based Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, if you pick "I didn't play MGS1" before starting the game, you'll start it from Raiden's perspective, skipping the Tanker storyline altogether. Conversely, picking that you did play MGS1 lets you play the Tanker chapter, and if you do so then Raiden will have a line at the start of the Plant making note of having completed hundreds of VR simulations before this mission.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, your answer to the question of which MGS you liked best slightly influences the introduction scene (whether Snake is wearing the Raikov mask in the transport plane) or the rate at which your stamina depletes; the Subsistence rerelease adds MGS3 itself to the list as well, allowing you to start with camouflage patterns that are otherwise New Game Plus rewards.

     Survival Horror 
  • The Suffering had three different endings, so its sequel has three different beginnings, which the player could choose according to his headcanon. Surprisingly, the beginnings of the second game continue to have an effect on the game throughout its length.

     Visual Novels 
  • Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem plays with this. The game always starts with a Player Personality Quiz that functions as character creation, but after that, you are allowed to pick one of the playable backgrounds you've unlocked with your final stats. Each background then gets a unique interactive flashback that allows you to further refine the PC's personality, and is regularly referenced later in the game. There are even secret backgrounds unlocked by triggering certain events.