5 Things That Annoy Me About Any Game

This will be the most shocking revelation of the year.  Are you ready?  Good.  I really like video games.  I know, I know!  It’s quite the thing to find out, but try to contain your shock and/or distress as I discuss some things that really, really stop me from liking elements of my favourite hobby.

Plague Road
This one was…not good.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you might think that I like most games that I play. The reason for that is probably because I tend to buy games that I think I’ll like. If you have a look at some of my reviews over at Big Boss Battle, you’ll see that this isn’t always the case. Either way, there are certain things in games that can undermine my enjoyment of ones that I enjoy. Whilst I may carry on with the game, these are things that will constantly irritate me as I continue.

Poor Pacing

Pacing is incredibly hard to define in terms of a video game.  But a skillful developer knows when to pick up the pace and when to slow it down.  Keeping up a relentless gunfight in a game can be exhausting, and being constantly chased by the terrifying monster loses its impact if it goes on too long.  Equally though, going too long without any developments or excitement lead to boredom.  It’s a tough balancing act sometimes, but a lot of games manage it very well.

Gears of War Logo
Lots of shooting and chainsawing, but it manages to pace a 9-hour campaign pretty well.

I recently played Rainbow 6: Vegas, a 12-year old (I feel old) game with some poor pacing at times.  Some of the gunfights go on for a long time, with very little downtime between them. I got fed up with some of the missions, as you go from room to room with a handful of enemies to kill in each.  Conversely, Gears of War, a game that in theory should have a more relentless pace, came out the same year.  This was paced far more carefully though, with intense battles punctuated with brief walking sections providing more exposition and a chance to explore the environments.  I remember the Berserker fight well, as you creep around slowly before it bursts through a wall requiring a quick escape.  These peaks and troughs are important to keep the exciting moments exciting.  You can’t be on the edge of your seat for 10 hours without a break!  You’d be exhausted!

Bullet Sponges

Boss battles!  Challenging encounters!  Defeating the grand villain!  These can’t be the same as fighting just regular enemies – they should be thrilling exclamation marks in the player’s journey.  So why, why do so many bosses and major encounters just turn into a big enemy that needs to be shot a lot of times?  To my mind, there’s nothing blander than a boss that’s just like a regular monster that just takes longer to fall over.  This was one of my biggest criticisms of the Borderlands games, even though there were a few good bosses littered about.  The Division was quite guilty of this too.

Borderlands 2
Pew pew pew pew pew pew…*sigh* pew.

So what do you do about it?  Creativity is the key word here.  Find inventive ways for the player to use their acquired skills.  A great example is the Mr. Freeze boss fight in Batman: Arkham City.  The fight plays out as though you are taking down regular enemies, but every time you use a certain strategy to damage the villain, he blocks off sections of the area to prevent the same technique being used again.  Now compare that to most bosses in Destiny.  Bungie’s game doesn’t come out too well.

Moon Logic

There is one reason I don’t tend to get on with point & click adventure games, and that’s “moon logic”.  This is sometimes known as “guess what the developer was thinking” and tends to involve you using one item with another item in some way that seems quite illogical.  I always think back to the very first Monkey Island game in which you need to use a monkey on a water pump so it acts as a monkey wrench…

Monkey Island
Puzzles…

Sure, it was a pretty funny joke, but there was absolutely no way I would have thought of that (not least because I hadn’t heard of a monkey wrench at my age at the time) and it was only by random clicking that I managed to “solve” the puzzle.  In this era, it’s far less of a problem thanks to the internet, but it still bugs me when I come across a puzzle that makes little logical sense in our world or the game’s one.

Overused Mechanics

It’s great when a game comes up with a good mechanic for the gameplay style.  It doesn’t matter if this mechanic has been used well elsewhere, so long as it’s effectively implemented I’m going to enjoy it.  I recently played Titanfall 2 and the Effect and Cause level used time travel in a really fun way.  Wall-running whilst having to switch been past and present to maintain a safe running surface felt great.  At the end of that stage, the time travel mechanic was removed.  It was a short and sweet adventure that was great fun whilst it lasted.

Titanfall 2
For a game that’s basically “shoot all the things”, it manages to keep things fresh throughout.

The problem comes when the mechanic outstays its welcome.  I don’t mind Five Nights at Freddy’s for only having one or two core aspects to the game as it’s very short.  A lot of sports games put me off simply because it’s the same thing over and over, regardless of how many bells and whistles are put in place.  Alien: Isolation had great mechanics that were run into the ground by the game being twice as long as it needed to be without keeping things fresh.  A long game is fine, so long as your core gameplay remains fresh and varied enough.

Cheating AI

This one could be considered a bit unfair, as AI is such a tricky thing (just look at the recent Aliens: Colonial Marines debacle), but it’s important to balance it correctly.  Making AI that feels smart would probably involve giving it advantages (the way the AI in Alien: Isolation worked was very clever), but there’s a fine line between advantages and cheating.

Alien Isolation
Does this thing really need an advantage?

Racing games are very guilty of this when they use rubber-banding to keep the race close.  Split/Second was incredibly guilty of this, and the number of times I saw my “significant” lead vanish as I drop to 8th place was rage inducing.  Then there are fighting games in which the final boss is able to fight like a professional level EVO player regardless of the difficulty it’s set to.  Or how about RTS games when the AI has a faster economy or shorter build times?  Cheating!  And I won’t stand for it!

It’s worth mentioning that I also don’t like it when games have silly economies that give you so much money that you can buy out all the shops or so little that you have to grind money to get anywhere. And (more of a bugbear than utterly annoying) is disparate art styles.  When something glaringly seems out of place, it really breaks the immersion.  Kingdom Hearts//Pirates of the Caribbean springs to mind here.

Kingdom Hearts 3
THIS LOOKS STUPID!

Rant over!  What annoys you about games?  There’s got to be something that sticks out as being something that eternally puts you off.  Let me know what it is!  And thank you for reading.

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25 thoughts on “5 Things That Annoy Me About Any Game

  1. This is because I’m visually impaired, but when the (often very small) font in the game can’t be made bigger, or is *impossible* to read because the developer needs a lesson in contrasting colors.

    It also annoys me when a game doesn’t have an easy mode, because I’m a very casual player. Sometimes I just want to blow up zombies after a stressful day, not die a million times doing the same scenes over and over.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Preach it! The first thing I usually ask about is whether I can increase font sizes. God of War (which is an INCREDIBLE game) and Ni no Kuni 2 come to mind as recent offenders in the “I hate having to sit up close to the TV to read the text”; and despite the taunts, I too am a proponent of easy modes. Maybe I won’t stay in them! But having one gives me the confidence that I won’t have to give up on a game just because my limited gaming time can’t take so many game overs.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Very much agree with all this. I do see a lot of elitist chatter about “dumbing down” etc. If you want a challenge, there’s hard mode right there! You even get a shiny achievement in most games to show how MLGPR0 you are. Let people play!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. With the visual thing, I remember trying to play Dead Rising on Xbox 360 on a regular TV. It’s near impossible to read the text unless you’re playing in HD. It’s nice that more games are starting to put in VI centric options, such as colour blind modes. There’s still a long way to go.

      As it happens, I’ve done a couple of posts in the past regarding difficulty in video games. I’m very much of the opinion that accessibility is key!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I have one: when games have you play right up to some pivotal moment… and then you watch a cut scene. So annoying. If you’re going to bother to have me involved in the standard, mundane stuff at least make sure you keep involving me when stuff is really going down!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I kind of get it in some games, but I do understand. Taking control away from the player is not a great move in an interactive medium!

      I will grant that in some games (horror ones especially) that sometimes you need the player to be looking at something specific when an event occurs, otherwise they entirely miss it. I had that happen to me several times when playing F.E.A.R.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s horribly grindy at times, and you gain very little from that grinding beyond opening up the next area to grind in. I think the idea is ok, and I like the colourful design, but it’s not much of a game. Credit to your friend for finding some enjoyment in it though!

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  3. R6:Vegas does have some awful pacing, but I think its biggest sin is starting you off in a godawful ugly brown level that goes on for ages before you get to the bright lights and neon parts. 🙂

    Weirdly, the most memorable thing about the game, for me, was that it was the first game I’d played that had advertisements in it – I played it in January of 2008 and Las Vegas was full of ads for The Sarah Connor Chronicles which had just started airing. Now that you’ve reminded me of the game, I’m half tempted to go back and see if they kept selling ads or if they stopped at some point and all the billboards are blank/replaced with placeholders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well when I played through it recently, I saw a lot of adverts for Axe body spray. So either they’ve sold lifetime rights to them or they’re still selling them generally. Considering the age of the game, I’d suspect the former!

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  4. Moon Logic is absolutely the one that’s my least favorite. It just feels crazy what some developers expect you to understand while going through the game. For Paper Mario Color Splash I had to use a guide several times because the title thought it would be fun that for every boss fight you need a very specific item from a past level to beat. If you didn’t have it then that was game over. After a while I started looking up the items in advance because I couldn’t figure it out. I do like puzzles but half the time I feel like they just don’t have enough context.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thimbleweed Park suffered from “moon logic,” a bit, too. It was fine until the end where you had to use a balloon animal on a corpse like what? Apparently it was from the original trailer, but if you didn’t see that you were SOL. I dislike when a game ramps up the difficulty at the end either with a boss gambit or near impossible final boss fight. It makes me think the devs couldn’t think of any better way to end it so that’s what they do. I heard that complaint about Mario + Rabbids, and Illusion of Gaia did it, too, before having an already difficult final boss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The penultimate stage on Mario + Rabbids was pretty tough, and I had to experiment with team composition a fair bit before managing to beat it. I didn’t begrudge it too much seeing as it had been pretty hard all the way through though.

      I do dislike “artificial difficulty” though, when developers can’t think of a good way to up the challenge and so just throw a boat load of enemies at you instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YUP. Have it be a challenge, but don’t just make it part of the end game because you can’t think of anything else. I’m even okay with some of the random encounters being boss level since you’ll be at that point, but doing a boss rush honestly feels like you ran out of ideas.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m 100% with you on the first two points. Pacing is just as important in gaming as it is in T.V. shows and movies. It can make or break the experience.

    Bullet sponges are perhaps what annoy me most in gaming. Nobody wants to sinks 1000 clips of ammo into one enemy; it’s boring. I feel like developers make bullet sponge bosses as a lazy way to add difficulty to games, but they’re usually not even difficult. They just take way too long to defeat.

    Destiny always comes to mind when I think of this. Potentially great game riddled with boring bullet sponges.

    Liked by 1 person

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