Video games are an escape from reality.
They let us traverse the dimensions, and give us the chance to take part in worlds that fulfill our deep and most secret power fantasies. Through games we become mighty warriors, stealthy ninjas, or magicians imbued with the strength of the ancient gods. Unfortunately, not all games are like this. Some have proven themselves to be just as boring, mundane and annoying as real life — maybe even more so.
Not all games are fun. Remember, bad games exist in real life too.
While I love playing games as much as the next guy, some games are just a chore to get through. Today, I'm going to talk about the six most annoying things present in any video game.
Some of these will be small and subtle. Some will make you want to rip your eyes out from just reading them.
But rest assured, they'll all be equally annoying.
Let me paint a picture for you.
You're on the last mission of the game. You're taking your sweet time, carefully jumping over the platforms and obstacles in your way. With your palms sweating and eyes focused, you slowly move the control stick towards the goal. You come across the last obstacle. Your body tenses up. Your breathing grows heavy. In a moment that could make even the most hardiest of cardiovascular surgeons sweat, you manage... to slip and die.
You're a little less tense this time around. You jump over the platforms and obstacles with ease. Once again, you're face to face with the last obstacle. Your palms are more relaxed but your eyes are still focused. You carefully move the control stick to complete the last maneuver. You die.
You take a short breather and gather your bearings. You begin. You breeze through the obstacles — you're a professional at this point. You stand once more in front of the last obstacle. Angrily, you slam the control stick in the intended direction. You die.
You don't reload.
You turn off the game, not wanting to go through the obstacle course again.
No matter how easy a part of the game might be, poorly placed checkpoints can ruin the player's entire experience.
If I have to follow the car for five minutes one more time...
The most annoying games are the ones that make you go through an extremely long and enduring sequence, only to have you repeat it if you die. It's disgusting.
GTA IV and San Andreas are two titles that instantly come to mind.
Poorly placed checkpoints show poor design and planning from the developer.
During car chases, taking a wrong turn or missing an exit meant I would have to restart the entire mission, regardless of how close I was to finishing it. Dying would set you back so far, and it marks the moment easy and "fun" sequences start to become boring and repetitive.
Unfortunately, this problem isn't only prevalent in the GTA series. Poorly placed checkpoints are practically everywhere.
In COD, dying meant you had to repeat a sequence over and over.
In order to fix this, developers should include different checkpoints throughout missions. GTA V did this perfectly. If you were unlucky enough to die during a mission, GTA V gave you the opportunity to directly spawn at a previous part of the mission, not the very beginning.
Making different checkpoints throughout the mission should be something all games do. Those fun, and easy parts soon become tedious if a player constantly fails to succeed.
This is a problem that plagues many MMOs and RPGs.
You're given a quest to complete, and for simplicity's sake, let's go with a very basic "kill x amount of creatures." You end up killing the creatures and turn in your reward, and for some god-forsaken reason, the reward ends up being significantly weaker than the gear you currently have equipped.
To put more salt in your wound, the level of the gear is lower than the monsters you were originally assigned to kill. At this point, that's no longer pouring salt on your wound, that's sticking your finger in and wiggling it.
A lot of games are guilty of this -- World of Warcraft is one of them. However, even games like The Witcher 3 are just as bad.
Quest rewards are simple. They're rewards obtained from finishing a quest. Often times, players complain about quests becoming too tedious or boring. I feel like the lack of worthy quest rewards is a factor in that. If players were given much better rewards, perhaps they wouldn't complain as much.
Developers need to acknowledge that items are sometimes the main reason to do missions. Giving away cheap equipment is a great way to prevent people from doing further quests.
To put it simply, some games aren't meant for multiplayer. Yet despite this, developers will still go ahead and include a poorly designed multiplayer mode.
Did you know Bioshock 2 had multiplayer? Did you know Tomb Raider did too?
My problem with this is not the multiplayer itself...
Rather than making their multiplayer experience stand out from others, developers tend to give us the same old multiplayer game-modes— deathmatch, capture the flag, and free-for-all. They're nothing special -- it's as if game developers are simply checking ideas off their check-list.
However, there's one game that stands out.
In Assassin's Creed Unity, there was more to multiplayer than killing.
Believe it or not, I'm talking about Assassin's Creed Unity.
Others would argue that the multiplayer experience was very basic, very lack-luster compared to most, but I disagree. In Assassin's Creed Unity, players were free to choose what they wanted to do. You could kill, but the game wasn't specifically about killing. Players can take the stealthy approach and just lay low and cause distress.
Developers, if you're going to release a multiplayer option, develop it carefully. Don't include multiplayer for the purpose of it to be on the box. It's cheap, and nobody is going to play it.
The completionist in me is crying as I type this. Do you know how many games I will never be able to reach 100% because of a poorly designed multiplayer mode?
If the success of the Dark Souls series is indicative of anything about our current generation of gamers, it proves that people enjoy challenges. Higher difficulties are enjoyable, and having to think and play safe can make any video game that much more intense. Instead of making the computer AIs smarter or more reactive, some developers opt to just turn them into "bullet sponges."
A "bullet sponge" refers to a character who soaks up bullets. In most games, increasing the difficult doesn't make the AI play smarter, it just means you'll have to take a longer time killing the enemy.
The best example right now is Fallout 4. I'm a huge fan of the series, but one of my biggest gripes with the game was how increasing the difficulty only increased a monster's health. All monsters fought the same, regardless of difficulty. They didn't suddenly engage in strange and unorthodox tactics. They were just able to withstand more bullets.
Developers need to understand that sometimes a smarter or more reactive AI is more challenging than simply giving them more health.
Veteran difficulty in COD is an example of a better alternative to "bullet sponges."
In the Call of Duty games, the highest difficulty mode, veteran, made it so that players would die in fewer hits. It did not make it so that enemies could take more damage, it simply made the game more realistic. Enemies would chuck grenades and make full use of their cover and position.
This is a great alternative to "bullet sponges." I'd be a happier gamer getting instantly killed by an enemy than spending ten minutes punching rounds into a "bullet sponge."
If there's one thing I hate more than "bullet sponges," it would probably be poor level design.
When creating a map, developers always want to restrict the players from certain areas. Restricting them to a certain path would prevent them from getting anywhere they're not supposed to be. However, if you're gonna do this, for the love of God, don't use caution tape.
Batman Arkham Asylum suffered from this tremendously. There were so many parts of the map sectioned off by mere police tape. Realistically, it just doesn't make sense. How can caution tape prevent a fully-grown man in body armor from moving around?
Bruce Wayne, millionaire master martial artist. Weakness? Yellow police tape.
Trust me, I understand the desire to section off parts of the map. Sometimes you just don't want players to go to certain areas because they're prone to bugs or glitches. However, if you're going to restrict players from specific areas, do it in a creative way.
Police tape is getting old.
Nothing is more annoying than that awkward walk/run movement you do when you're escorting someone. Whoever you're escorting either runs too fast, or too slow. If you want an example of this, just think of any escort mission in a Bethesda game.
Sadly, the NPCs are very stupid.
They'll run ahead of you and stop, waiting for you to catch up to them. And when you do manage to catch up to them, they slowly turn around and sprint away in their intended direction. It's an absolutely unpleasant experience.
In Redemption, players could hold A in order to follow a predetermined path.
However, not all escort missions were bad. Some games implemented mechanics that made this type of mission much more bearable.
In Red Dead Redemption, players could hold down a button to stay close to the NPC they needed to follow. By holding "A" or "X," your character would automatically match the NPC's pace and direction. This let you focus on the dialogue instead of having to constantly stop and go.
Even a solution as simple as a "follow" command would have sufficed. In Mount and Blade, long adventures across the map were made bearable with a simple right click and follow.
And yet, another great example of escort missions done right is in the game The Witcher 3. In this game, instead of you following the NPCs and matching their pace, the NPCs would match yours. If you took off in a sprint, the person you're escorting would too. If you stopped to smell the roses or took your time dealing with the numerous ghouls plaguing the map, the NPC would do the same.
Terrible escort missions are one of the most annoying things in any video game. They're clunky and they break immersion. But fixes are simple, and I'm glad numerous games have implemented this mechanic as a solution.