We’ve all got plenty of videogame pet peeves, but usually it takes something special to make us quit and never go back. Maybe you’ll uninstall a game over stealth sections that force you to start over when you’re spotted, cutscenes where you lose the fight you just won, or quicktime events. Maybe you’ve got no time for games that take too long to get good, or are too easy, too scary, or too into blocking your path with things you’d easily be able to get past in real life.
What dealbreakers make you give up on games?
Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.
Chris Livingston, Features Producer: It happens far less often than it used to, but starting a mission with a cutscene, then dying, then the game rewinding to the spot before the cutscene instead of after the cutscene? Yeah, that’s a dealbreaker. I can see a small benefit, like if I wasn’t paying attention to the scene (entirely possible) and I failed because I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing during the mission. But that’s rare, and games usually give you markers or some on-screen text telling you the mission goals. But repeatedly failing, and then having to sit through the cutscene again and again, it’s irritating and will probably make me switch the game off.
Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: I love games that set me free to figure things out on my own, but there’s a way to execute that openness that works and a way that really, really doesn’t. The Rune Factory series only recently made its way to PC, but I tried to play one of them on the Nintendo DS years ago and gave up almost immediately. Rune Factory is a spin-off of Harvest Moon that includes all the life and farming sim stuff of Stardew Valley, but also includes a much meatier action-RPG combat system. I started Rune Factory 3 and was immediately overwhelmed by everything I could do: I needed to start planting crops, meet all the villagers who operated on set schedules, go out and level up my character, all on a day/night timer.
I loved Stardew Valley, but Rune Factory just dumped too much on me all at once. Learning what I should be doing and when I should be doing it felt like it was going to be a grind rather than a fun process of discovery. I guess I don’t like learning at my own pace in games that make me panic about whether I’m doing the most efficient possible thing at any given moment.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Like Chris, I’ll usually nope right out of games that put unskippable cutscenes right after checkpoints. There are certain kinds of repetition I’m fine with and other kinds that I don’t have a lick of patience for. I’ve lost track of the number of games I’ve given up on for not having mid-mission saves, or for having the kind of stealth sections that restart from the beginning the second you’re spotted.
Watch Dogs managed to combine both of those things in a real tedious section where you had to do a kind of ‘car stealth’ that was even worse than the ‘ship stealth’ bits of Black Flag. You had to carefully drive through Chicago’s back alleys past patrolling cop cars and helicopters, with a do-over from the beginning any time you were seen, hearing an NPC repeat the same dialogue every time. Fuck that noise.
Tim Clark, Brand Director: Not proud to say this but I (obviously) give up on shooters pretty fast if I deem the feel of the gunplay to be worse than Destiny 2. Which I’ve now made an almost insurmountable bar to clear. I remember coming back from seeing Cyberpunk at E3 and telling then UK editor-in-chief Samuel Roberts that I could tell the combat was going to feel wonky without even touching it. WELL WHO WAS RIGHT, SAMUEL? Honestly though, this foresight is both a blessing and a curse. Much like the cyclops in the movie Krull, which can see into the future but only the moment of his own death.
Pifanjr: Obligatory grinding. I don’t mind grinding on my own terms every so often, but I do not care for games that halt all progress until you’ve filled some arbitrary progress bar by doing repetitive actions.
Colif: I generally don’t buy games that have barriers erected in them just to bloat them to 80 hours of “gameplay”. I happily play a game that has 80 hours of content otherwise…
Now I see most games as front ends to my credit card and with NFT etc coming, its only getting worse. The constant hand in wallet is a massive reason I just don’t look at a lot of games now.
Kaamos_Llama: I guess If I can’t put up with a game’s art style then it almost doesn’t matter how good the game is. Not many of those though, and easy to spot before you buy unless its a freebie from Epic or something you just happened to grab without really looking.
If it’s unplayable due to bugs that would be a big one too, but that easily avoided by not buying stuff at release, or waiting for reviews first.
Otherwise it’s all dependent. If a game’s combat is too simple it puts me off because shooting galleries, button-mashing or just holding down a trigger while strafing is not engaging to me. But if that same game has an amazing story/characters or great puzzles or something else then I might put up with it. Looking through my library there’s a lot I’ve petered out on but nothing I played and actively hated that stands out.
WoodenSaucer: One of the top deal-breakers for me is turn-based combat.
DXCHASE: Bad save systems. There’s other dealbreakers but this one gets the most of games I actually pay for and play. If I have to complete a whole board before it’ll save, I’ll usually leave it or take a lot longer to beat it. This type of saving doesn’t respect my time and I often find myself having to end games abruptly. Annoying to do that during huge lengthy sections that I cant save in. Also, save systems tend to annoy me that state something like “can’t save while in combat” but I’m away from where I was, but since something saw me, oop cant save yet. Those irk me too.
The next one is just broken buggy games that go beyond a launch window and are still broken and bad (I’m looking at Outriders, Cyberpunk2077, Wolcen Lords of Mayhem…) All games that where just bad with this weeks and weeks after they released.
McStabStab: I don’t like it when games move the goalposts on already set mechanics. Examples include: Making unkillable adversaries killable later in the game with little prompt (The Evil Within), enemies getting to take double turns in turn based games (XCOM2), and giving players access to items that provide an unfair advantage in competitive games (Fortnite – Infinity Gauntlet / BRUTE Mech, Warzone – Juggernaut).
Johnway: One of my recent bug bears recently has been Roguelikes. With work/life commitments and my growing steam collection I have little time or patience for delays in completing my games. Roguelikes rub me the wrong way in that luck is a deciding factor on how far you get. Throw in the repetitive nature of playing the same few levels and my patience wears thin as I make little to no progress or experience anything different to keep my interest going.
Speaking of progression. I’ve never been one for competitive multiplayer, the repetitive nature of playing the same few maps and implementing the same tactics just doesn’t appeal. of course part of the problem is probably because I’m playing solo and not being any good at them. Being on the losing team in a stacked game isn’t fun, I remember spending a large amount of time online quitting and searching for lobbies either to be on the winning side or finding a balanced game. That said, I don’t mind losing if the match was good and I could hold my own, but those are few and far between.
Then of course good old fashioned bugs. if the game keeps crashing or a game breaking bug, its time to call it quits and leave.
Hitobat: This is a good question for me, because I feel like Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy hits all the “usuals”.
* Sudden quick-time events that I fail repeatedly; followed by long 30s plus reload-retry times
* Slow/laggy especially in busy combat, exactly when you need it to respond to your commands quickly
I mainly persevered through because the character writing / voices were absolutely spectacular. But even though there’s a bunch of collectibles I didn’t find, lore achievements etc. there’s absolutely no way I want to replay it now. Which is a shame because I think there’s an amazing game in there just dying for some kind of optimisation.
Sarafan: In my case it’s bad save system. Not so long ago I bought Wrath: Aeon of Ruin in early access. The game is very good on its own. The shooting is satisfying, the level design is OK and I absolutely love Quake 1 engine style. The game has one horrible aspect though. It’s the save game system. You basically gather tokens that are used to save game at any spot. While it doesn’t seem that bad, in reality it’s very frustrating. There’s of course a limited amount of save tokens on every level. This means you have to use them sparingly.
Given the fact that the game is quite hard, it often forces you to replay huge portions of particular levels. It’s not Dark Souls where frequent deaths mobilize the player to try again. In Wrath it simply discourages continuing. I suspect this save game system is supposed to extend the game, but it doesn’t do its job unfortunately. I’m a huge fan of retro shooters, but due to this system I almost dropped the game.