Up For Debate - What are Some of the Most Poorly Used Game Mechanics?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sat, Mar 18, 2017 3:01 PM
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I, like many others, have found it all too easy to step aboard the hate bandwagon for Ubisoft’s ‘towers’ mechanic. Popularised by Assassin’s Creed before creeping into a huge number of Ubisoft’s games, and since then into just about any open-world game in existence. As soon as I heard a game had a form of the tower mechanic I would instinctively scoff a little. It’s game design by number. However, since playing Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not the mechanic itself that’s to blame, but the way in which it’s unimaginatively used.

In Horizon: Zero Dawn, the map is covered by a fog of war. However, just walking through it uncovers the map. If you want to uncover an entire section, you can climb up these gigantic robotic dinosaurs called Longnecks. From here you stab your spear into its head and download data on the surrounding topography. Not only are these gigantic, moving machines incredible to spot in the wild, but climbing them is an absolute joy for the eyes. Once on top you’re greeted to some awe-inspiring views. In addition, revealing the map doesn’t also reveal a bonanza of icons indicating pick-ups, quests, collectibles, and shops. It is literally just the topography.

You can go through Horizon and complete everything without ever climbing one of these towers. In Assassin’s Creed they are a necessity. Content is locked behind climbing towers. This quickly leads to it becoming a chore as you climb your 17th tower, going through the motions just to unlock some side content.

Meanwhile we come to Zelda’s towers, which, in my opinion, are an absolute masterclass. Like other towers before them, they expose the environment around you. However, like Horizon, it is map data only. No points of interests, no quests, nothing. Instead, you can get your binoculars out and stab a pin into any point that that looks interesting, whether that be a cave shaped like a skull, a hidden shrine or a sunken shipwreck. Then you can bring up your map, see this pins you’ve placed, and replace them with stamps such as swords, treasure chests, skulls etc, to use as an identifier. It’s extremely basic cartography, but it’s immensely satisfying. It ultimately leaves the sense of discovery down to the player, rather than just mindlessly telling them where to go.

Without just constricting things to towers though, there are loads of mechanics which crop up regularly and are used so terribly, including inventory weight restrictions, checkpoints, and dodgy stealth scenarios. So what game mechanics do you think are used poorly? Can you think of any obvious solutions to poorly used mechanics? Share your ideas below!

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18:17 Mar-19-2017

Leveling and collecting points for unlocks in arena based game like shooters, mobas, strategies and everything that is match based, just give me all the guns, all the cars, all the heroes, all the characters, etc, etc.

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18:21 Mar-19-2017

Also luck based unlocking systems.


Otherwise,I can tolerate everything else.

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05:15 Mar-19-2017

Seeing through walls - a cancer of a feature plaguing many games now!
Quick time events - you don't know what to press and often lose cause they are done so poorly
Poor fighting mechanics - 95% of the games with hand to hand combat have poor combat mechanics, where you just mash random buttons and the game performs hollywood type of cinematic nonsense, booooooo!
Having no mechanics at all - using cutscenes for every little interaction. I wanna play not watch!!!

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22:57 Mar-18-2017

Crafting is starting to grind on me, fed up having to look for five different parts for a weapon/upgrade that I used to have to kill a boss for (or do a cool side mission). It needs to feel like a natural part of the game, not added in because its a trend.

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22:35 Mar-18-2017

I think the most poorly used mechanic is a dialogue wheel.


The reason it's poorly used is becasue it's used at all.

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20:10 Mar-18-2017

Holding hands. Assassins Creed or COD, you can ignore the game, look at the GPS you can complete the game. The Witness, tells you nothing, you learn everything!

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19:46 Mar-18-2017

Quick Time Events, I think they're fine in horror games and sometimes if infrequent in other genres but when the boss battle is a quick time event a part of me dies, Dying Light for example.

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20:09 Mar-18-2017

The one thing which disappointed me in Shadow of Mordor that a lot of reviews didn't address.

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14:54 Mar-19-2017

They did adress it. One of me things the fans want more in Shadow of War is a better boss fight. Don't know what reviews you saw.

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16:36 Mar-18-2017

Is "DLC" and "Season Pass" a mechanic? Because those are waaaay overused and annoying xD


Jokes aside, there are two things that I feel are making me dumber in games:
1) The GPS. Back in the days of GTA III and Vice City I actually knew the entire map by heart. You had to - a pin is dropped onto the map and you gotta get there somehow without opening the world map every 5s! Nowdays you just follow the GPS line......
2) Minigames. Not all are bad. I quite like the way lockpicking works in Skyrim or Fallout 4 - it has difficulty levels and you can break consumables (lockpicks, pins, etc), but the garbage that's featured in Mafia III, for example, is a nuisance....

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17:23 Mar-18-2017

I'm okay with GPS. I fly direct GPS in FSX and I still experience pilot overload. That'll fix itself by increasing the number of flights, but still though. In the case of GTA, I still prefer it. It allowed our squad to roll together and even then I still knew the map well enough to know when I should and shouldn't trust the GPS.

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15:15 Mar-18-2017

Dark Souls 3 Repair mechanic

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15:27 Mar-18-2017

what repair mechanic?

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15:42 Mar-18-2017

You can repair your weapons in the Firelink Shrine but it is useless because by the time you reach a bonfire the durability restores. So it is a useless mechanic.

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17:26 Mar-18-2017

I know.Plus actually breaking a weapon is nearly impossible.It's like a complete opposite from DS2 where some weapons broke in like 20 hits.

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15:55 Mar-18-2017

Well it's there because some weapons have OP properties to them and they need to be balanced some way.

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17:17 Mar-18-2017

i can agree with you on DS3, i myself didn't get alot of "weapon at risk". but in DS2 NG+ the durability becomes a huge pain in the a'" especially with the rings, and ofc it depends on the weapons you are using.

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15:05 Mar-18-2017

Weapon and in general item durability.
Those of you who played Diablo 3 on release may remember the time when Blizzard changed item durability in a way that you were actually losing gold by playing the game.
But even apart from that it's a horrible mechanic that'd never fun to deal with.

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16:22 Mar-18-2017

Agree,


I never liked the durability mechanic, it is just really tedious backtracking all the time to fix your stuff when you'd rather explore and progress through the story


I had to use a mod to eliminate this in the witcher 3

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16:26 Mar-18-2017

It doesn't really bug me in TW3, I just carry a bunch of repair kits :)

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21:26 Mar-19-2017

Part of it is that item durability doesn't work with most games that implement it. If it's a game that's gifting you stuff like crazy, there's not much point.

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