Frustrating Gameplay

There’s always that one thing that you can’t get the hang of…

Whether it’s those stupid slide puzzles or hacking minigames, there’s always one or two parts of a game that gamers can’t get a grasp on.

It’s these important questions that rack my brain at night. One evening, not too long ago, Jennifer was playing The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and breaking into someone’s house (in the game, that is). She tends to play the sneaky types, so she ends up spending a ton of time with lockpicking.

While I do just fine with my bobby pins and lockpicks in Fallout: New Vegas and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, I never got the technique of lockpicking in Oblivion. I’d always get frustrated and just mash the Auto-Attempt button, blowing through dozens of lockpicks in seconds. I swear, if I could just stomp the chest to break it open, I’d just do that instead.

Thank the maker for the Skeleton Key

Jennifer, on the other hand, has the same problem, but only in Skyrim. She’s a fricken wizard with lockpicks in Oblivion, but she just can’t deal with the change made in Skyrim‘s lockpicking.

Of course, I’d be negligent if I didn’t divulge that the header image of this post brings back bad memories from one of my favorite games ever, Mass Effect. That stupid puzzle to reactivate the VI, Mira, on Noveria irks me so. I made sure to have plenty of Omnigel on hand to ensure I never needed to bother with that puzzle at all.

It brings back memories of visualizing Shepard dousing a supercomputer with the magic goo.

Of course, I’m never content to write a short post, so instead of me ranting a bit about game mechanics that Jennifer and I shudder to think about, I posed the question to some of my fellow bloggers. Let’s see what they had to say!

Quotes From The Trenches

Of course, I’m certainly not alone in the gaming community (curse you, Mira and your stupid reboot puzzle). I decided to reach out to the wonderful blogging community to learn what others have trouble with.

Drakulus from… Well… Drakulus doesn’t appear to care much for poker (or card games in general) in games, and I’m inclined to agree. But of course, that isn’t all. QTEs are a relic from a dead age in gaming, yet they somehow linger on…:

Draklus: “Any minigame that makes me play poker.

I [also] hate QTEs during cutscenes because they always take me by surprise. I can’t tell you how many times I died in Resident Evil 4 because I was into the fancy cutscene between Leon and Krauser and ended up dying 20 times because I was too slow to press the buttons.”

Imtiaz from Power Bomb Attack echoes the disdain towards card games as well:

Imtiaz: “Card games in video games.”

Robert over on Adventure Rules appears to struggle with a puzzle in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:

Robert: “There’s a puzzle in Zelda: Twilight Princess where you have to lead two statues to stand facing each other on parallel pedestals – whenever you move, one statue moves the same direction as you and the other moves in the opposite direction. I have never once completed that puzzle without a guide, and I’ve beaten the game at least four times. I cannot wrap my head around that puzzle.”

The illustrious James from Quickly Tap X not only agreed with Mr. Shepard about that puzzle, but he also takes issue with certain shooter mechanics:

James: “Jumping *and* shooting, apparently. I’m not going to tell you how long it took me to do the Midna Mini-Tool challenge in Destiny 2, because it’s just embarrassing.”

Kevin from The Mental Attic takes issue with button mashing, and I think that most human beings with normal thumbs would much rather use a turbo function than suffer through something like the torture sequence in Metal Gear Solid again. My hands remember that part well…

Kevin: “Fast button mashing. I can do basic button mashing but as soon as games start demanding you mash like a machine gun, I’m out.”

Chris, the sage of overthinking from OverThinker Y felt that there needs to be another nail in the coffin for card games, but admits that buffs and debuffs have been his downfall:

Chris: “One of my first gaming experiences was Pokemon Silver, and being pretty little at the time, I managed to get through it without ever using anything other than plain attacking moves. ‘What’s the point in raising my attack or lowering their speed when I could just be doing damage?’, I figured, and it worked well enough.

Unfortunately, it’s a bad habit that I haven’t been able to shake, and I still suck at using buffs and debuffs effectively, generally just opting to hit stuff and hope. There are some games that literally won’t let you win without using some sort of tactic other than ‘punch and pray’, but they tend to make it clear how to use their status effects, so it doesn’t help me much in my wider inability to boost my powers!

Rob from I Played The Game admits what I’ve struggled with for years. Those damn combos in fighting games:

Rob: “Easy one for me this! Fighting and character action games. I can never get the hang of pressing the attack buttons the correct number of times for a combo. I’ll just hammer them a few times then hit the next one and hope for the best. In musou games that works fine but anything else just puts it down to luck.”

Not to be left out, Kim from Later Levels has a bit of a hangup with dodge-rolling in The Elder Scrolls Online:

Kim: “The thing that I can’t get the hang of right now is the dodge roll in The Elder Scrolls Online. The red AoE circle appears around enemies to signify that an attack is coming… I know which buttons I need to press for my High Elf to avoid the onslaught (L2 + X)… but my brain just can’t seem to communicate that to my fingers! I invariably end up pressing something else on the controller, and manage to jump backwards out of harm’s way only if I’m lucky. I was like this when I played the game the first time around and I’m still like it now after being sucked back in; I just can’t figure out why I find the dodge roll so difficult!”

NekoJonez, from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog doesn’t appear to care much for jumping sequences in games, and I know Jennifer would agree.

NekoJonez: I struggle with anything heavy platform based. When it comes in doing some jumps in quick succession, I get so panicked and I fail multiple times. When you make them timed with an extremely difficult time limit, oh dear lord… I broke a keyboard because of that. Yeah.

That’s Not All

I’d like to thank all the participants in my little survey, but I’m not content to stop there. I want to know more. There are definitely more folks out there that can’t get the hang of something, so I ask of you, dear reader:

What about you? What’s the gaming mechanic that grinds your gears? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

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20 thoughts on “Frustrating Gameplay

  1. Oh boy, is this a great topic 🙂 For me it’s definitely inventory management. No Man’s Sky (at launch) is a good example of this. I spent too much time merging/discarding items I mined to make room for new items. It was very annoying to me when all I wanted to do was explore.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The hacking in Fallout 4, some simple word puzzle thing. I just can’t get the hang of it. I worked out pretty fast it was actually quicker for me to just select words from the top left and down, until the right one was found. There’s a skill to allow retries without waiting too, I haven’t bothered looking at the words since!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A combination of tricks works for that. You can back out when you run out of tries, or look for the “( )”s, “{ }”s, or “[ ]”s to get you extra attempts or allowances.

      Ever since I learned that you can back out of hacking the computer to get a complete refresh of your allowances, I never bothered with that perk, and haven’t locked up a terminal since!


  3. Once I got the technique for picking locks in Oblivion down, I was all about it. It did take a lot of repetition, patience, and frustration though.

    If I were to pick one gameplay element that really angers me, it’d have to be motion control puzzles. I can’t tell you how pissed I would get at some of the shrine puzzles in BoTW that made me tilt and turn my Gamepad. They are exhausting and downright not fun in my opinion.

    I’m sure I’ve had some other frustrations with motion controls in the past, but that’s the most recent one that comes to memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can definitely relate on the motion controls. I can understand Nintendo wanting to make use of their higher-quality motion controls, but I can’t help but feel like they’re forcing it sometimes. Reminds me of the issues with Star Fox Zero.

      Like you though, I’m probably forgetting other mechanics I can’t get the hang of.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. There are other things that frustrate me in games. The one that Chris mentioned is something that irritates me as well.
    Also, rhythm/reflex based things. Where you need to hit the button at the right time or hit a button combo in a certain sequence and timing… That’s also the worst.

    Great article Shelby btw.

    Liked by 1 person


    Anytime that appears in a Zelda game is the absolute worst for me. I freak out during stealth missions and cannot do it, which is why I’m also bad at games like Metal Gear Solid. When it’s done in a way where stealth is optional and you can still rambo your way through, it’s fine. But otherwise, those forced sections are stressful and difficult for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would like to say that Metal Gear Solid is one of those series that you can play Rambo-style. I’d recommend the Twin Snakes version on the GameCube though, because it implemented changes to the gameplay, like including first-person aiming.

      That said, some games do better at stealth than others. I mostly don’t like non-stealth games that shoehorn in stealth sections.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for your recommendations man! I actually do have Twin Snakes but I didn’t get too far into it because I was frustrated with the stealth. If you think I’d like even with the stealth, I’d certainly be willing to give it another chance.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I hate time limits in RPGs, especially when there are random encounters. It’s so anxiety inducing. It’s the reason I haven’t picked up FFV in over a month because I’m at a part where you have 10 minuets to escape a castle before it blows up, there’s treasure to collect you can’t get elsewhere, there are random encounters, AND a boss you have to defeat in that time limit, too. And every Final Fantasy I’ve played has at least one of these scenarios.

    I also don’t like that mini game in FFVIII where you have to fight a paratrooper in midair or the red dragon in a flashback sequence. The controls are kind of random and it’s not optional.

    Any Mario level with Lakitu or SMB3 with that thrice damned sun shakes fist I hate any situation where you’re chased which spans all games across all generations lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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