While it’s great that the summer dry spell is now over, the lull in entertainment did give me a chance to kind of reflect on a number of topics regarding video games.
Today, I wanted to tackle the stuff which may not be so great about some game mechanics. You know, certain mission types, or maybe things that games do that make you just want to rage quit.
For me, I’ve paired my list down to five things that are just my pet peeves with games. I’ve been playing games since the days of NES, so you can say I’ve seen it all. Surprisingly, much of the stuff on my list continues to exist in some form, which probably means that I may be alone in some of the things I dislike considering they’ve existed for so long. Either way, lets take a closer look at some of things that make me cringe in games.
Yes, this is where I start to complain and nit pick things that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter all that much. It’s all in good fun though.
Are there any certain gaming mechanics that make you want to chuck a controller across the room? Any moments you love to hate about games? Let me know in the comments below.
On a personal level, these may be my number one most hated mechanic. Games that task you with finishing something within a certain time limit or face the threat of a failure of game over screen tend to get my blood boiling. By default, I’m a person who likes to take their time, explore, and take it all in. This is in obvious conflict with what a timed mission stand for. Feeling that pressure of getting things done in a certain time limit is not what I would categorize as fun. I don’t want to miss anything by rushing around.
Some developers side step this issue by giving players more time than they ultimately need, but ultimately, I’d just rather not.
I won’t spoil anything of course, but Deus Ex: Mankind Divided features a particular mission that has massive implications on the story if you fail to do something within a set amount of time. The catch here, just like in the previous Human Revolution, is that you don’t actually see a timer on screen. What can be taken as an empty threat is actually quite real. If you take too much time to go where you need to go, something bad does indeed happen or something changes.
Considering Deus Ex is mainly a stealth game (I say mainly because you can technically play it as a FPS) that rewards players for taking their time to not get caught, having to rush around kind of goes against those core principles of taking your time to get things done.
Another “fan favorite” mission type, this is typically when a game asks you to babysit an NPC through a level while waves of enemies descend upon you. The catch here is that if the NPC dies or fails their objective, you fail as well. Depending on how difficult the developers want to make the experience, the NPC could have very little health, make the NPC incredibly dumb by not avoiding combat, or add in a host of things to essentially rig the mission against you.
If you want a modern example, Battleborn is a clear offender in this category. Most of the story missions feature an objective that needs to be protected for the duration of the mission. If that object gets killed, it’s game over. Worse yet, there are no check points or restarts. From what I remember about the game, the NPC character you were set to protect was a massive mechanical tank that seemed to have no armor and health that depleted much faster than you’d expect. Obviously, if things got hairy, and they almost always did, your tank would be in a world of trouble.
With that said, some games have figured out how to make this mechanic work. Games like The Last of Us, which feature a companion character who is both capable and smart, assisting the player and managing to stay out of harms way. So while most escort missions are horrible, they’re not a lost cause as some games have shown us.
Unskippable End Credits
Being a functioning adult, I tend to play games at night when everyone is asleep and I actually have free time to do things that I want to do. Considering my time is precious to me, the joys of finishing a game quickly crumble to the ground when I reach the dreaded end game credits that you can’t skip. Waiting another 15+ minutes before I can turn the game off isn’t ideal for me, especially if I manage to complete the game right before I’m ready for bed.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “but Derek, why not just close the game once you finish it?” A worthy question, sure, but the problem is that many developers want you to stick around and throw in a number of things to entice you to stay. You could see a cut scene, just like what Marvel typically does with their movies, or perhaps you’ll unlock an achievement, or some other rewards.
I understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into video games. To spend 2+ years of your life working on something, you definitely want to let people know how proud you are of what you created. Still, there has to be a better way to make everyone happy, right?
Unskippable Cut Scenes
Speaking of things you can’t skip, cut scenes are high on my list as well. I like story in games, so typically I have no problems with watching something. I problem arises when you’re playing through the game again, as I typically know what’s happening and would rather get back to the gameplay as fast as possible. If it’s a game I love then I don’t really mind, but for the most part, I’d love to have the ability to play my way.
Vanilla Destiny had this problem in spades when it released two years ago, which is weird to say considering how poor the story was in that one. The few cut scenes that were in the game were lengthy and were particularly bad if you were replaying the game as a different character. Thankfully, Bungie learned their lesson and patched in the ability to skip past cut scenes. Much appreciated Bungie!
So this “feature” is essentially what happens when a player enters an area, and triggers enemies that materialize out of places like a small room or a closet. This will continue to occur until the player manages to advance to a certain point. Until then, endless waves of enemies will continue to spawn, challenging the player.
The best example I have of this behavior are the older Call of Duty games, including the beloved Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. While that game is still wonderful in my eyes, developers would use this tactic to make the world feel more like a war zone, continually spawning enemies into an area regardless of how many the player was able to put down. Once the player advanced up to a certain point, the waves would stop as the player progressed to the next zone. Unfortunately, standing back and picking off the enemies one by one wouldn’t work. It was all progression based.
Thankfully, this idea seems to have kicked the bucket with most developers, even in games that relied upon them heavily such as the aforementioned Call of Duty.