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The Fast Five: Our biggest annoyances in gaming

Posted on February 28, 2014 AT 02:56pm

Each week, the EGM Staff bring you The Fast Five—in which we choose a topic related in some way to the week’s news, and five editors pick their top answer to the question.

The Setup

We here at EGM love games—and love that we get the chance to play so many of them—but lately, it feels like more than a few releases have been doing things that annoy us. For every fantastic innovation, new idea, or out-of-the-blue gameplay decision made that makes gaming better, there’s inevitably something that bugs the ever-loving crap out of gamers.

The Question

What are some of our biggest annoyances in gaming, and why? Once you’ve read our responses, let us know your answer in the comments below.

Forced cutscenes

You walk down the long corridor of the castle, and there he stands—the evil vampire lord. A cutscene kicks off, and your ragtag team of heroes tell him why he’s drawn his last breath, while the vampire lord reminisces about his life and how he fell from grace.

It’s a powerful scene—the first time you see it. Then, during the fight, you die, and must attempt the battle once again. And there it is, that cutscene, repeating. Every time you take another shot at the fight is another time you have to watch the same cinematic play out.

Developers sometimes seem to feel as if we players need to see those storyline segments every single time we reach that point in the game, when the truth is we do not. If we’ve seen it once, then we’ve got the idea—have a little bit of faith in us. Of course, it’s mere annoyance when the cutscene shows again but you can skip it; it’s rage-inducing when the game also bans you from skipping cutscenes. Seriously, who are the people that make games that work that way, and why do they not actually play the games they make to understand how annoying that is?

This is one of countless examples where I can read scripture from the Book of Dark Souls. In that game, non-gameplay cutscenes last seconds, not minutes, and once you’ve see a particular cutscene, it never shows up again. That’s the right way to do it.

RPG padding

I’ve been a role-playing fan for 25 years, but nothing makes me reach for the power button mid-quest as much as needless, boring padding in the genre. For as much as I’ve enjoyed the more recent entries in Namco Bandai’s flagship RPG series, Tales is a particularly notorious offender.

“Oh, we don’t have the key to the gate! We need to go to the ancient mine to get the ore to make our own key!”

“Oh, but now we have to go to this old sage in the forest who’ll imbue it with the power to work like a key!”

“Oh no! We’ve returned to town only to find the royal guard surrounding us!”

“Oh no! We got thrown in jail!”

“…But we escaped in a matter of moments!”

“Oh…it turns out one of our party members had the key in his pocket THE WHOLE TIME!”

And, developers, if you think you’re not doing any harm when a publisher orders you to bump up the playtime so you can brag about your game being “a 70-to-80 hour adventure” on the back of the box, remember this: Bravely Default‘s score dropped a point-and-a-half after I had to deal with its interminable final few chapters. RPG fans certainly don’t mind long adventures—we embrace them—but we also don’t like to feel like we’re wasting our time.

The forgotten hot mic

You’re in the zone, racking up kills left and right, calling in assault pandas or whatever they’re putting in FPS games these days, and suddenly, he’s there: “Maaaaaawm! Maaaaaawm! Did you say you were making burritos? What kind? OK, I want extra rice in mine.” He’s the kid who fails to realize everyone can hear what he’s saying or, worse still, doesn’t understand that no one cares. He’s there to ruin your day with mundane screeches about his dinner, his friend’s girlfriend, and his upcoming drug-smoking plans. The worst part is, since some Xbox One games default to using the Kinect for voice chat without warning you, the problem will only escalate as we move into the future.

The lone wolf
You know what drives me nuts? Guys who are obsessed with their kill/death ratios in online shooters and then play objective-oriented modes. Why are you in Capture-the-Point if you never have any ideas of working with the people you’re partnered up with to, ya know, CAPTURE ANYTHING?! Having a lone wolf-type like this on your team occasionally can work in your favor if they’re very good, but typically they’re not much better than your standard 1:1 player—and, at that point, it gives their team a distinct disadvantage when it comes to trying to break through their enemies’ strategy. If all you care about is kill/death ratios then stick to Deathmatch and leave the team stuff to the rest of us.

Breaking perspective

One of the reasons I find first-person shooters so appealing is the perspective. Seeing the world through the character or narrative anchor I’m inhabiting is so much more effective a tool for immersion than controlling a character from afar. It drives me up a wall, then, when developers choose to break that perspective—for any reason. The worst offenders are games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, wherein a gameplay mechanic routinely rips you out of the first-person. But I equally despite jumping out of the first-person for the the sake cinematic scenes. Whenever a game lets me see those moments from the eyes of the character I’ve been playing as, like in Crysis 2, it’s always much cooler and satisfying.

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