The Soap Box #1: Our Pet Peeves in Gaming

We love video games here at CountrCultur. I know, difficult to believe for a website predominantly about gaming. But now the shocking truth is out. Let’s be real, there are some things in video games that flat-out make us rage. Grinds our gears, rustles our jimmies, and flat-out pisses us off.

Join us as some of our writers at CountrCultur explain what their biggest pet peeve in gaming is.

Alex – Normal Enemies During Boss Fights

Boss fights have long provided some of the most impressive and challenging moments in gaming. Set pieces that form the apex of your story. You’ve spent hours building up to a boss fight. Pushed through countless mobs as your journey reaches an important juncture. You’ve probably seen some cutscenes where the boss has showcased an incredible skillset. It’s the culmination of the story. Finally, you get to enjoy that long-awaited mano e mano dance of death.

It’s not mano e mano though, is it? Your efforts have been rewarded with creative bankruptcy.  Because, rather than creating the epic boss fight your efforts deserve, you’re fighting the boss with the distraction of countless pathetic spawns. Spawns you’ve spent hours dispatching with relative ease. Spawns which have no place in this battle.

Fuck this creative cul de sac.

It is, without question, the laziest difficulty-increasing technique I can think of in gaming. It doesn’t even provide a challenge. More often than not, it’s just a pointless distraction taking away from the aesthetics and meaning of the fight between you and your nemesis. Not once have I ever thought, “wow, those pointless spawns really made that fight more interesting”.

In gaming, I think there’s no better feeling than overcoming a challenging boss. After overcoming a boss with pointless spawns, I usually just feel the veil of frustration lifting. It’s more liberation than satisfaction. Fucking looking at you, Rom!

If you look closely, you can see Rom amongst the mass of pointless spawns

When I look back at my favourite boss fights – The Witcher 3’s Imlerith and Bloodborne’s Blood-Starved Beast – the common theme is that they don’t have any fucking distractions. The bosses stand on their own as challenge, and their solitary presence adds weight to the occasion.

It took me so many attempts to kill the final Valkyrie in God of War. Likewise, it took me a few attempts to kill Imlerith on NG+ Death March. However, when I did, it felt great! That’s the feeling I want to experience when killing a boss. It’s also the feeling I believe developers want you to experience. That just doesn’t come from fights like Bloodborne’s Rom the Vacuous Spider.

Warren – Racing Modes in Non-Racing Games

God-awful racing modes in games that have no business trying to be racing games. It’s like as soon as a game adds vehicle physics, they feel the need to add races, and it’s almost never, EVER a good move. Probably my earliest memory of this that still haunts me today is a mission in the first Mafia game, where you had to race in an old-timey 1930’s race car, and the controls were so atrocious I ended up having to download a cheat just to get past it (because oh yeah, it was a progression blocking mission too, thanks Mafia).

Fuck this

A well-designed game needs to play to its strengths, it should have a strong vision of what it wants to be and know when enough is enough; it doesn’t need to try and be everything to everyone.  The new God of War is what I often hold up as my gold tier example of this, there was no fat on that game, even the optional bits and the side missions felt as meaningful as the main story.  There was no need to have Kratos racing rowboats around the lake.

Other notable offenders are Batman Arkham Knight for it’s Batmobile riddler races, Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey for their Chariot races, and Witcher 3 for its clunky-as-all-hell horse races. I’m also gonna throw a dishonorable mention to the drone missions from Marvel’s Spider-man because they were kinda races and took what was arguably the most enjoyable part of the game (web-swinging around the city) and made it feel like torture.

Amber – Real-time Game Clocks

My biggest pet peeve in gaming has to be the real-time game clock (i.e. where 1 in-game hour equals 1 hour in reality). There’s one specific example that comes to mind, but I’ve been told I have a bit of a vendetta, so I won’t mention it by name.

Cough Animal Crossing cough.

Tom Crook

I could spend hours bitching about this, but the main reason is that I play games for escapism. It’s a game, not a reality simulator. Hell, even most actual simulator games don’t have a real-time clock. I don’t care what time it is in reality – if I want to play a game at 11pm, I want to be able to go to a shop in a game and not be told that it won’t reopen until 8am tomorrow morning. I want to play the game now, not in 12 hours’ time. It causes me so much rage. Give me accelerated time clocks or give me the ability to fast forward time, but don’t try to pretend that real-time clocks add something to a game. I shouldn’t have to plan my real-life schedule around a game.

Sociopathic honourable mention: Not being able to kill children in games. If you don’t want me to be a sociopath, make video game children less annoying.

Graham – Stalling Tactics

“I’m accessing the terminal…oh no, I’ve triggered a response. They’re coming. Hold them off while I download the data”. “We need to get out of here, call the elevator…why is it taking so long? We need to hold them off until we can escape”. “I can unlock this door, but it’s going to take some time. Hold them off until it’s done”. My heart sinks whenever a game trots out this mechanic. I hate wave-based “hold-them-off-a-thons”. It’s the reason I knew I’d never play Destiny.

Firstly, it’s because these sequences always throw no fewer than (the magic number) 3 waves of regular grunts at you. They rarely add different or interesting enemies/encounters. I find doing the same thing, fighting the same enemies – and multiple times in quick succession – tedious. So these usually don’t feel like fun, they’re just something I have to plod through.

Secondly, it’s one of the most transparently gamey mechanics out there, and this takes me out of the experience. These downloads/elevators/locks take an arbitrary amount of time to be finished. Or rather, it turns out to be exactly long enough for the set wave-based assault to end. Funny that. My PS4 downloads can tell me the “estimated time remaining”, but not in games. Fuck knows how long it’ll take. Also, the enemies never send a continuous assault, it’s always in waves – with handy breaks in between to get ammo. That’s nice of them. And they almost never overwhelm or lead to “we only just made it” moments of getting through a door as the enemies swarm.

Smile and “Wave”

It’s almost always “That’s the last of them. Let’s get moving”. Their military tactics are shit. So this kind of sequence doesn’t increase the tension, it makes me roll my eyes and suffer through it. What can make it even more annoying is if an NPC says something like “How many more can there be?!” or, even worse, something like “Seriously, more?!”. It’s pointing out the shitty mechanic, shows that the devs *know* it’s a shitty mechanic, and yet still makes me go through with it. Piss off.

(Dis)honourable mention: food packaging that isn’t fit for purpose. “Just peel back the cover”. Oh, is that all I have to do, just peel it back? Then why does the cellophane splinter into an infinite number of thin strips?! Why, if I need to remove the cellophane, did you use industrial glue to stick it down? Fuckers.

Tom – Let Me Wear What I Want, Damnit!

Being the big lover of the RPG genre that I am, it makes sense that I’m attracted to RPG’s for the very reason that you can role-play. You can make a character that’s entirely yours, you can often choose the play style you feel most drawn towards, and a lot of the time you can even design your character exactly how you want. So then, why are the majority of RPG’s based around getting the best gear, with the best stats?

As you may have guessed, I’m a strong believer in the age-old practice of “Fashion Souls”. A nice little way of thinking, going all the way back to the original Dark Souls. Wanting to use the gear that looks the best can often be your downfall as, depending on your tastes, the nicest looking gear may be absolute trash, statistically speaking.

Looking Good

Destiny 2 springs to mind as well. Most of the time, my Titan ends up looking like a cube with arms and legs rather than the legendary warrior he’s supposed to be.

JRPG’s are often the worst for this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to use a weapon that may as well have been a wooden stick as far as design is concerned, compared to the most artistically impressive greatsword.

This issue can oftentimes go both ways of course. Sometimes it’s the most artistically impressive weapons and armour that may as well be a wet towel as far as stats go. My only question is, why?!

Nioh will always have my unending respect and praise for letting me transfer stats from one weapon/armour style to another based on what look you prefer. Good on ye lads.

So there you go, my biggest pet peeve. Just let me wear what I want to damn it! Even if it is taking on the big bad wrapped entirely in bedsheets.

Rich – Escort Missions

I’m a fan of MMORPGs. Still active today in World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy 14. Both great games with plenty of content to enjoy. Whether that be some fun main questing, dungeons with friends…Following NPCs that walk very slowly? Hold up.

There is nothing more frustrating to me in an MMORPG, or any game for that matter than having to follow an NPC that moves so slowly that you can see the sloths going past you. I appreciate it’s used as a chance to tell some story but it’s lazy. Throw in some encounters along the way and it can fuck right off. Bad design. And don’t get me started on Final Fantasy 14’s “/Beckon” quests…

Oh but what could be worse than slow? Try differing speeds. This makes me want to claw at my own face. Having to follow someone who is just slightly slower than your character is infuriating! Start, stop, start, stop. How about Fuck, off, fuck off. It takes me out of the experience, especially with games where you cannot control your own speed.

Just let her die, Leon

Then of course you have the AI partner that you’re trying to escort. Some are just dumb whilst others are flat-out suicidal. It’s an added stress in a video game when you have to keep an eye on, especially when it leads to a game over screen. Like having to look after a baby desperate to stick their fingers in a plug socket.

The odd mission or quest is bad enough (Goldeneye, anyone?) but when the entire game is based around escorting your AI companion I want to weep. Unless it’s a dog, they’re cool.

Well And Truly Peeved

So that is just some of our pet peeves in video games. We like to think we’re a calm bunch but even we can get pushed too far. Do you agree with our biggest pet peeves? What annoys you in video games? Why not let us know in the comments or on social media.


Enjoyed what you’ve read? Check out our feature on Shenmue and Belonging in the Gaming Community!

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Co-owner and senior editor at CountrCultur.com. Follow Rich on Twitter to learn all about the virtues of Shenmue.

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