My first PC was an 8088 IBM Compatible PC, which ran at 10MHz. I went from that straight to a 386. I totally skipped the 286 until a couple of years ago when I decided to build one out of curiosity. I built myself a 12MHz 286, with 1MB RAM & an ISA VGA Graphics Card (as I don't own an EGA monitor).
I have a 4.77MHz 8088 build with CGA for the earlier DOS games, whilst the 286 build covers EGA and early VGA games, as well as games that require more than the paltry 256KB RAM in my 8088 build.
Now if I'm being honest, I built both of those systems just for completion sake and for some nostalgia for my old dead 8088. I never really played many DOS games back in the day and PCs prior to the 386 really couldn't compete with something like a Commodore 64 or even the ZX Spectrum! It wasn't until the 486 where they could even start competing with the 16-Bit micros like Commodore Amiga or Atari ST! Where the PC did excel however was in serious software and my old 8088 was mostly used for Office style work, word processing etc.
So is a 286 totally useless? If you only like the later 486-era games, then yes. But they're fun to play around with if you accept their limitations and even remotely enjoy the early-mid 1980s games available for them, as well as like to use old period-specific software.