Developers Seriously Need to Stop With These 10 Game Mechanics
There’s a lot of copy-pasting going on the video game industry. Once one developer has established a way of doing things, the others all seem to follow. What we’ve ended up with is a whole bunch of mechanics that keep popping up time and time again. The trouble is, they aren’t always well-designed in the first place. In fact, there are 10 in particular that is so frustrating we wish they would seriously just die.
If you’ve enjoyed this list, check out our other similar content, such as the weirdest gaming patents companies have ever filed or gaming easter eggs that hinted at sequels but nobody realized.
Loot and RPGs go together hand-in-hand, but no matter how ridiculous it might be to have your character carry 24 swords, 128 apples, and a painting by the name of “The Midnight Swan,” nobody likes being over-encumbered.<br><br>
Seriously, is there anything worse than being stuck miles from a merchant or home-base in an open world RPG and having to stagger at a snail’s pace because you’ve ticked one point over your allotted limit?<br><br>
But you persist, because loot is money and money is new gear and items for your character. It’s never fun, though, and we’d all rather not do it, so for the sake of our sanity, developers, please drop the over encumberment thing.
There are survival mechanics and then there’s just downright annoying. Weapon degradation falls firmly into the latter category.<br><br>
There’s just nothing more irritating than scoring a snazzy new sword or gun only to have it break before you’ve even had a chance to use it properly. It makes even less sense when the game in question lets you customize and upgrade the weapon. Who wants to spend all that time and effort only to have it be taken away from you for actually using the damn thing?<br><br>
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a prime offender here. It made me literally avoid combat so that keep hold of my shiny favorite sword. And when I finally got my hands on the iconic Master Sword, it broke too!<br><br>
Fallout 76 isn’t much better. You better hope your weapon doesn’t jam because otherwise, you’re in for tedious hunt around for springs and screws to fix it.
Now before you roll your eyes and lament that I don’t understand the history of the JRPG scene, I do. I played many a turn-based, random battle encounter JRPGs as a child and have many fond memories of those experiences. I appreciate that plenty of excellent games have used random battle encounters.<br><br>
I can’t honestly say, though, that the random battles themselves are the parts of those games that I look back on and smile. My overriding memory is having next to no health in a difficult area of Final Fantasy VII and jumping for joy as I just about made cleared it, only for the action to stop, the screen to spin, and the battle music to starting chiming. Damn.<br><br>
Traditional turn-based battle systems have found a new life with games like Persona 5 and Dragon Quest XI. Both of those acclaimed titles put their own clever spin on the design, but both throw random encounters out the window for rendered enemies –and I’m all for that.
I love stealth in video games, but forced stealth sections can go and jump off a cliff.<br><br>
Thankfully, it seems as though we’re not seeing as much of it as we used to, but 2018’s Spider-Man reminded me all over again why the mechanic has no place in modern video games. Not that Miles Morales and MJ’s scenes were too painful in the end, but the memories of annoying insta-fail forced stealth scenes came flooding back.<br><br>
It just makes no sense when games that tout player freedom, exploration, and agency suddenly limit us to having to achieve a set objective in one single way. Particularly so, when that objective is stealth and the video game is a full-on action experience the rest of the time.
Escort missions might even be more annoying than forced stealth sequences, because it’s in these moments that games suddenly become nothing about skill and everything to do with whether the AI does what it’s supposed to. Inevitably, of course, it never does.<br><br>
Instead, your less than discrete NPC escortee always seems intent on showcasing what a great bulletproof vest they definitely aren’t wearing. Failure after hair-tearingly annoying failure has us scratching what little fluff remains on the top our heads as to why this game design still exists today.
Open world game design is hugely impressive when it’s done right, but when every quest objective boils down to fetching item A for NPC X, it really sucks. <br><br>
Bethesda Games have long been the bully boys for gamers to take out their frustration, and admittedly, Skyrim and Fallout 4 have some shocking side quests. Unfortunately, though, even some of the very best games in the genre can’t help but fall into the trap of burdening players with this same tedious design.<br><br>
Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, even Red Dead Redemption 2 has you running around as an errand boy across multiple quests.<br><br>
The Witcher 3 is perhaps one good example of an open world game that managed to steer clear of fetch quest design.
NPCs Walk Too Slow
I know you know what I mean: that scene in which an NPC starts telling you a story that you’re supposed to listen to, but as you try and walk alongside them you keep walking too far ahead. You’re forced to stop, then speed up, then stop… Why the hell does this seem to always happen? It’s infuriating!
Surely, the walk speed of the NPCs should be at the same pace as your character’s walk speed? It’s logical but it never seems to happen. Just once I’d like to stroll and listen to my NPC buddy without looking as though I’m doing some sort of high-intensity interval training at the same time.
Puzzles in Action Games
Look, you’ve got to break up the action from time to time, but that doesn’t have to mean throwing in obligatory puzzles sections. There’s nothing worse than frustrating puzzles spoiling what is otherwise an exceptional game. Especially when the rest of the experience is slashing enemies in half or chaining them down in intense gunplay.<br><br>
There’s a big difference between good puzzles and bad puzzles, and more often than not, developers behind awesome action games like Spider-Man aren’t the best when it comes to brainteasers. The circuit puzzles were fun the first few times but man were they tedious by the games’ end.
Sequence Trigger Points
There’s nothing that breaks your immersion quite like realizing that your victory in an intense firefight has nothing to do with your shooting skills and everything to do with just advancing to a set point on the map.<br><br>
Call of Duty is notorious for this atrocious mechanic, which has been a mainstay of the series all the way up to last year’s WW2.<br><br>
Missions frequently had you pinned down in a location, spawning unlimited enemy soldiers until you walked past a certain point on the map. All of sudden, no soldiers. It really took the gloss off the experience when it was so obvious what was going on behind the scenes.<br><br>
Not having to endure these trigger points is probably the only good to come of Black Ops 4’s lack of single-player.
The whole point of a boss battle is to test your skills against a tough enemy, right? So why have the encounter force game mechanics on the player or limit them to using certain items or attacking in a set way?<br><br>
This isn’t to say that developers should abandon inventing creative ways for us to take down bosses, but give us options. Too often having one special way to beat a boss feels lazy and uninspired. The best boss encounters give players the tools to choose how they want to tackle the challenge, not pigeonhole us into having to resort to one option.<br><br>
Dark Souls 3 had some memorable bosses –some of the best in the entire franchise, in fact. But there was definitely a few too many that relied on gimmicks, and none of them were all that fun.
Seriously, is there anything worse than being stuck miles away from a merchant or home base in an open world RPG and having to stagger at a snail's pace because you've ticked one point over your allotted limit?
But you persist, because loot is money and money is new gear and items for your character. It's never fun, though, and we'd all rather not do it, so for the sake of our sanity, developers, please drop the over encumberment thing.
Alex has a BA in Political Science and English Writing, but he's also a self-proclaimed history and meteorological expert. He loves cyberpunk and fantasy, and RPGs are kind of his thing too.