Even our favorite games have flaws. Whether you’re into games for the story, the gameplay, or the competition, you’re bound to run into some aggravating level design on occasion. These irritating missions are some of the worst offenders of poor level design, relying on tedious gameplay or outdated mechanics to progress the plot.
Helpless non-player characters (NPCs) are the bane of everyone’s existence. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to follow an incredibly slow NPC around and protect them from harm as they do absolutely nothing to help themselves. BioShock: Infinite‘s Elizabeth and The Last of Us‘ Ellie (for the most part) were a breath of fresh air in this sense—both were largely ignored by the AI enemies, allowing the player to focus on eliminating the enemies without worrying about the health bar of an inept NPC. But the trope lives on, especially in big-name MMOs like World of Warcraft, making players feel more like glorified nannies than heroes.
Having five minutes to diffuse a bomb is one thing, but the sudden intrusion of timed missions with only vague in-game warnings can be incredibly frustrating. Sure, it’s more realistic that Commander Shepard doesn’t know that dawdling will kill half of their crew or destroy an entire planet, but from a gameplay perspective—particularly for the completionists—it’s an incredibly frustrating part of level design. While timed missions have their place, do they really belong in RPGs like Mass Effect, especially as a surprise? Let us complete quests at our own pace, please.