7 Most Aggravating Video Game Mechanics

Graham Host

Some video games have irritating enemies, and others tend to fall into the same traps with each new addition to the franchise. Regardless of which genre they belong to, most modern games tend to fall into some fairly glaring mechanic problems, and we’ve taken the time to point them out.

Out of Bounds in “Open Worlds”

Zelda Breath of the Wild
An open world is restrained by nothing -- except invisible walls and sometimes giant storms.

Open-world video games were a giant leap forward in terms of not just scope but possibility. Will you be the sort of player who snipes from afar or barrel in with guns blazing and swords swinging? You have complete freedom, right up until the moment a convenient story-related storm cuts off the sneaky path or a ravine forces you in the other direction. There is always some sort of reason as to why the player suddenly can’t reach certain areas.

In the case of the Grand Theft Auto series, they typically call in the police to stop you (can’t have lesser criminals getting over to the next island, can we?). Games like the Borderlands franchise handle world boundaries a bit better with a combination of unclimbable cliffs, sharp drops, and turrets to shoot anyone venturing into “restricted space.”

Total Stealth

Hitman jumping from roof
Hitman takes stealth to an extreme.

Let’s face it — total stealth is impossible. There’s always either something to knock over, gravel to alert sentries, or some farm animals to draw attention. Having stealth-oriented goals aren’t annoying in and of themselves, but being unable to be seen even once is too unforgiving. The “Professional” difficulty in Hitman even goes so far as to grant grunts the ability to hear your footsteps, limits the weapons you can use, and ruins any uniform from a dead body.

However, there is a nice middle ground to the problem. Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain gives a short window to take down the guards before they raise the alarm. Maybe it should be considered for an industry standard.

Unskippable Cutscenes

Kingdom Hearts Jafar
Unskippable cutscenes are also more trouble than they're worth.

A dramatic final speech is mandatory. Hero or villain, every main character is allowed to have their say before the end. And again if you fail. And again. And again. With the incredible advancements that technology has made, it baffles the mind that any game still suffers from this flaw.

Players of the original Kingdom Hearts game will remember the pain of ten-minute cutscenes before boss fights with no way to skip them. It might be because of a binary choice or some quick-time event that requires a tiny bit of player input, but these games still force you to endure that same scene over and over. Why they don’t just remember the choices and let players skip ahead to the action instead is a mystery.

Slow Walking

Normandy pilot Joker had a small playable part in 'Mass Effect 2.'

Broken ribs, mortal wounds, a dawdling couple — all good reasons to walk slowly. Of course, only two out of the three are excuses to constantly go at a snail’s pace. Many games include the “injured soldier” cliché and take hours to cover the distance that can take a healthy baby two minutes.

At least the short (and slow) use of Joker in Mass Effect 2 was explained with a brittle bone disease. A lot of other games just have characters limping off mortal wounds by the first checkpoint. A twisted ankle might serve as an accurate excuse for a while, but going from near-death to fighting-form in two minutes is something that needs to be removed. Go on, go. Slow walk out that door.

Exponential Upgrade Times

Phantom Pain upgrade timer
Three days to shoot smoke instead of explosives.

Upgrading to the next tier of technology will always take some time. There are bugs to remove and errors to fix. Yet video game logic takes that process and stretches the ratios beyond recognition. A basic upgrade will take a few minutes. An intermediate upgrade can last a fair few hours. Trying to reach the high-level stuff can usually leave players their twiddling thumbs for days as relatively minor upgrades are made. There are upgrades in the popular mobile game Clash of Clans that take two weeks to complete.

Some games are nice and work in relation to an online clock, letting you get on with life. Others run entirely off active play time and make you wonder how cruel the developers are trying to be.

Multiplayer Achievements

Halo spartan chiefs
The eternal struggle of Red vs. Blue.

Playing alone is usually the better option. It gives the player time to level up and the ability to seek out rare weapons without the worry that another player is going to steal them. When it comes to games that offer the choice of playing by themselves or with friends, the lone wolves get penalised for going it alone.

Having multiplayer achievements attached to any title is like a constant reminder that you’re taking the game for all it has to offer — even if the rest is just other people shouting about how bad you are. Thankfully, several Call of Duty games let players run offline AI equivalents instead of hiding extra medals behind online subscriptions.

Escort Missions

Just Cause 3
Best take a selfie with my gun -- for tactical reasons!

There are three levels to AI: the boss fights that can see the future, the normal enemies who just attack wildly, and the one person you’re trying to protect from their insatiable desire to act as a bullet sponge. Attempting to escort anyone anywhere in a game is about two steps below the tutorial level.

They generally move too slow, contribute nothing but a mediocre reward, and have the same grasp of stealth and tactics as the average watermelon. Let us not forget the endless Fallout 4 gifs of Dogmeat running down a hallway of landmines.

Graham Host
Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight.
Become a
Pop culture fans! Write what you love and have your work seen by millions.