I like how video games are an immersive media, and how your end goal can be realized through several methods, whether by stealth or guns blazing. This ability to do whatever you want is a big selling point for me. In addition, one can find vast, lively and detailed worlds that are worth exploring and learning about. Despite the media’s strengths, there are some things that I don’t like about them.
1. Unskippable cutscenes with improper save/checkpoint handling
Some games punish you for failure in different ways. Some games show you a game over screen before resetting your progress. Some just send you back to the last checkpoint or save. Some do send you back to where you were in the last save, but only before a bunch of cutscenes or dialogue that you can’t just casually skip. I certainly don’t mind cutscenes and appreciate them for what they add to the story, but seeing them unfold another time without the ability to skip past them because I died in the boss fight right after is not what I’d call a good punishment for failure. It wastes your time by showing you what happened in the story again, which I believe to reflect negatively on the plot. In my opinion, your appreciation and awe for the climax of the tale diminishes each time you’re forced to see it before throwing another attempt at the final boss.
The main offender is JRPG games. Depending on what you’re playing, you might need to grind for levels or equipment before facing a boss, and unless you consult a guide, figuring out when to best engage in a story fight is not an exact science.
2. Rigid mission requirements
Within most genres, a good game will allow you to complete a mission in as many ways as possible, accommodating a range of playstyles. In go kart racing games, you can rely on your speed to get you to the finish line or use powerups to make sure you’re ahead. In an open world game, you can directly ambush a convoy of armed trucks, or set up a blockade, or snipe the drivers and then finish off the remainder. The problem is when a game doesn’t allow you to use your tools, skills and imagination and demands you play exactly as the designers want you to. Not only does rigid requirements negate the freedom of playstyle, but it also makes the window for failure wider in situations where you would reasonably still have a fighting chance.
For instance, the Grand Theft Auto games have various missions where you are allowed the full freedom to use any approach you want. You can snipe from afar or sneak in with your knife. You can also bring a tank or an assault chopper, or a forklift if you fancy. The GTA games also have various missions in which you aren’t allowed any freedom and must do as instructed; for example, one of the mission givers ask you to kill a bunch of assassins who would arrive by plane. Instead of giving you the freedom to plan your attack, the mission requires you to hijack a slow plane and fly over the assassin’s plane to board it and kill them while inside. You fail that mission if their plane enters the city, despite the fact you could reasonably silence them any other way.
At best, the rigidity of these missions can make them frustrating. At worst, they may make the story or how the events unfold a little bit convoluted.
3. Invisible boundaries
Video games often depict spaces and areas that are perfect for wandering off and forgetting about your main quest, but linear games will always make use of invisible walls so you can’t exit the area. The problem is, I know that these invisible walls make sense in many of these games, as the developer can’t just create detailed areas where you are supposed to be going forwards to the next event. I do recognize they’re a necessity in some games, although their approach of just stopping the player in the middle of their walk is intrusive. The same goes for small barriers that the player could sensibly pass or jump over, but can’t because of an invisible wall above the barrier, for example a short fence.
While the landscape itself can be changed so that nature or manmade buildings clearly show the areas the player can’t hope to reach, the idea of the boundaries is something I can complain about but must live with.
These are my top three gripes with games. Personally, I think there is some room to avoid all three of them in one way or another. While they don’t necessarily make a game worse for me, they do sometimes hinder my enjoyment of a game.
What do you dislike in games? Write to us in the comments section below!
You can read my editorial about achievements on the technical side here!