Reviews

Top Language Gaming Games

While English is typically the most invested language in terms of quality (or famous) voice actors, you probably already know English. So, here is a list of the current top language-learning games with the most important language-learning features examined:

Skyrim (2011)

Best Languages: Northern European Languages
Audio Languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Japanese
Genre: Role-playing game
Different Subtitles Language: Available (Requires files change outside the game)
Pause: You can pause the game with the “`” key (left to the “1” key) if you want to freeze a line to get it translated
Reading: Lots of in-game short stories, including notes and messages. Reading is not voiced sadly.

Skyrim is currently the best open-world experience for learning languages. You will hear a lot of repetition from store owners, guards and other background character that it will eventually stick to your head; even enemies will tend to speak and repeat the same lines (you will hear “who is there?” if you sneak around or “I will kill you!” during a fight with some bandits). With the ability to play in first person; the immersion value is priceless.

 

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Witcher 3 (2015)

Genre: Role-playing game
Audio Languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese-Brazil, Russian
Best Languages: Polish, Russian; European Languages
Different Subtitles Language: Available in game, easily done through the “localization” option
Text Freeze Ability: You can pause the game with the windows key (in windows OS of course).
Reading: Lots of in-game messages related to quests and background stories. Reading is not voiced.

Most incredible medieval fantasy open world experience I’ve ever had, based on a bestselling fantasy saga by a Polish writer; Witcher 3 is an amazing game for language-learning. The settings are very appropriate to eastern-european or european languages in general. Other languages feel less appropriate.

Atmospheric conversations and catch phrases by certain characters will often repeat themselves. Lots of reading material.

Previous game version, Witcher 2, is also highly recommended; although it’s not open-world and is more linear.

Metro 2033 (2010) and Metro Last Light (2013)

Best Languages: Russian
Genre: First Person Shooter
Audio Languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, Ukranian
Different Subtitles Language: Available in game
Reading: Cutscenes have a little reading material that are voiced.

Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light are ideal games for learning Russian since they occur in the post-apocalyptic metro of Moscow. The original story itself is based on a book written by an Ukranian author (who chose to write it in Russian to get a wider audience).  The game has a lot of stereotypical Russian behavior, style and characters. With sci-fi elements and a dark atmosphere, the story is eerie and interesting. Russian language gives it the perfect touch for an immersive experience. Metro Last Light is a better game than Metro 2033 simply because it was released later so it feels more refined, but since it’s the second game in the series, you might consider playing Metro 2033 first.

BioShock Infinite (2013)

Best Language: English
Style: First Person Shooter
Audio Languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese

Since this website caters for English speakers who want to learn a different language, I doubt that you will find my recommendation of playing this game in English useful. Nevertheless, this game feels most appropriate in English due to the “American” background theme.

“BioShock Infinite is set in 1912 and takes place in a fictional steampunk city-state called “Columbia”—named in homage to the female personification of the United States—which is suspended in the air through a combination of giant blimps, balloons, reactors, propellers, and “quantum levitation.” The city of Columbia was founded by self-proclaimed prophet Zachary Hale Comstock, who used his connections in Congress to have the American government build it. The government intended Columbia to serve as a floating world’s fair and as a display to the rest of the world of the success of American exceptionalism. The city was launched to much fanfare and publicity at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, and was later dispatched to distant shores, travelling from continent to continent.” – Wiki

Fallout 4 (2015)

Best Language: English
Audio Languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese
Different Subtitles: Available. Requires file change outside the game.
Pause: You can pause the game with the “`” key (left to the “1” key) if you want to freeze a line to get it translated
Reading: A bit of in-game quest-related reading as well as items  

Fallout 4 is another great game for language-learning, though since it’s set in a post apocalyptic retro-future USA, the atmosphere is very American and the game feels a little out of place in any other language than English.

Nevertheless, the game has wonderful language-learning elements. Lots of background chatter and marketplace announcers. Even enemies will often react to you with catchphrases (those that can talk at least).  

Fallout 4 is quite highly recommended, though it’s a difficult game to beginners. It’s recommended newbies will play it on “easy” level to avoid frustration.

There is also a radio available. All the songs are in English (actual 60’s songs), though the radio announcer himself speaks in the language you’ve set the game. There will be all sorts of radio stations available throughout the game, some related to quests; sadly there aren’t any subtitles to radio.

Assassin Creed: Black Flag (2013)

Best Languages: Spanish
Style: Role Playing Game
Audio Languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Portuguese-Brazil
Different Subtitles: Available in game. Also the user interface language can be different than the subtitles language. This is true for all Assassin Creed games.
Text Pause: Not available
Reading: Some notes and stories, all voiced.

Assassin Creed: Black Flag is the ultimate pirate experience, set in the Caribbean, background characters will speak either Spanish or British English (also a bit of Latin from local priests), depending on the region (i.e. Havana – Spanish; Nassau – English), regardless of what language you choose for the game; that’s the way it was determined by the developers. Also, all “pirates shanties” are in English.

Assassin Creed: Unity (2014)

Best Language: French
Style: Role Playing Game
Audio-Languages: English, French, Italian, German, German, Japanese, Russian
Different Subtitles: Available in game. Also the user interface language can be different than the subtitles language. This is true for all Assassin Creed games.
Text Pause: Not available
Reading: Some notes and stories, all voiced.

Set in Paris during the French revolution, Assassin Creed Unity is a gorgeous immersive experience, particularly useful for French learners. Background characters will speak French no matter what language you set the game. The game also depicts famous French murder cases and famous French characters. This is the perfect game to learn or improve your French.

Assassin Creed: Syndicate (2015)

Best Language: English
Style: Role Playing Game
Audio-Languages: English, French, Italian, German, German, Japanese, Russian
Different Subtitles: Available in game. Also the user interface language can be different than the subtitles language. This is true for all Assassin Creed games.
Text Pause: Not available
Reading: Some notes and stories, all voiced.

Set in London during the industrial revolution, Assassin Creed Syndicate is a gorgeous immersive experience, particularly useful for English learners. Background characters will speak English no matter what language you set the game.

Diablo 3

Best Language: European Languages
Genre: Action Role-Playing Game
Audio-Languages: English, German, French, Latin American Spanish, European Spanish, Russian, Italian, Polish and Brazilian Portuguese.
Different Subtitles: Not available
Text Pause: Not available
Reading: In game short stories and tales that are related to the settings or the quest, with voice recordings.

Diablo 3 has one of the most well-done cutscenes, voice-acting (in all the languages I looked into) and dark atmosphere that exists in the gaming world. The experience is very memorable and the story is captivating. Sadly since a different subtitles option isn’t available, it’s only recommended to advanced learners, otherwise you will easily lose the plot. The amount of information, characters, stories and dramatic moments are staggering. Also the amount of fighting can be a bit excessive to some, thankfully language-learning elements can be found in every corner in this game, even while fighting.

Far Cry 4

Best Language: Oriental Languages\
Genre: First Person Shooter
Audio-Languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese-Brazil
Different Subtitles: Not available
Text Pause: Not available
Reading: In game short stories and tales that are related to the settings or the quest, with voice recordings.

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