50 sci-fi game clichés that won't go away

Before he played it, James said he'd eat a shoe if Anthem doesn't have any floating rocks in it. He won't have to boil leather. Rocks float somewhere in Anthem, just like they do in so many other science-fiction games. Look at how many times rocks that float are mentioned at the very beginning of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

This got us on the topic of sci-fi game clichés, and we started listing them out. We ran with it and ended up with a list of 50 (plus a few more because we just couldn't stop). I'm not saying sci-fi games can't use any of these things—I am not the mayor of sci-fi—but I'm never going to see them and not think, 'Ah yes, a science-fiction game thing.'

  1. Floating rocks 
  2. Floating gas bag creatures 
  3. Floating enemies that are called 'wraiths' 
  4. Invisible enemies that might also be called 'wraiths' 
  5. Enemies called 'acolytes' because they're in a cult, I guess 
  6. Big enemies called 'brutes' 
  7. Little spider-like enemies that can leap at you 
  8. The spider-like enemies are probably called 'crawlers' and at some point someone shouts 'crawlers!' 
  9. Dogs with spiky manes 
  10. Glowing alien mushrooms 
  11. Trees that aren't the color of normal trees, but are instead purple 
  12. Sometimes they're red, though 
  13. One very hot planet and one very cold planet 
  14. Pools of turquoise acid 
  15. Chromatic aberration 
  16. A cheeky robot assistant 
  17. A cheeky robot assistant that learns to feel love 
  18. Space elves 
  19. Drugs are called Stims 
  20. Stim injections are pneumatic because needles are icky and not futuristic 
  21. Money is credits 
  22. Neighborhoods are sectors 
  23. British accents 
  24. Alcohol, but green 
  25. No one ever drinks beer or wine, only the hard green stuff 
  26. Hexagons 
  27. Military spaceships are white, making them very easy to see in space 
  28. Extremely shiny floors 
  29. 80s and 90s hairstyles 
  30. Ancient alien ruins 
  31. You're the only one who can activate the ancient alien ruins 
  32. Oh no, the ancient alien defense system has been activated in the ancient alien ruins and we're caught completely off guard
  33. Art Deco
  34. Helmets with glowing eyes 
  35. The guy who doesn't wear a shirt is the engineer 
  36. He might wear an American football-style chest pad though
  37. Someone plays the guitar (probably the engineer) 
  38. All beds look extremely uncomfortable because no one just has a regular mattress 
  39. Doors with hinges have been outlawed 
  40. Enemy spaceship pilots can just broadcast right into your cockpit to insult you, you don't even have to accept the call 
  41. Space pirates with far more confidence that you're an easy catch than their ability warrants 
  42. Expensive, complex energy weapons that aren't much more effective than regular guns 
  43. Corporations rule everything as if that's not already how it works 
  44. Giant energy weapons that look like blooming flowers 
  45. The zero-G section is really fun but you only get to do it a few times 
  46. 80s and 90s alt rock songs 
  47. Helmets are shockingly easy to crack 
  48. Science so advanced it's indistinguishable from magic, except also some people have real magic 
  49. Someone is psychic for some reason 
  50. Someone wears a tattered cloak over their advanced battle armor 
  51. Everything has a unique energy signature that you're constantly 'picking up' 
  52. All walls are paneled, providing easy access to the wiring and piping behind them, which is actually a pretty good idea, because I often wish I could easily access my house's wiring but I can't without putting a hole in the drywall. It's gotta be cost-prohibitive if we're being realistic, right? I assume so, because I don't know why you wouldn't do panels if not. To be honest, I don't know much about house construction. I'm just saying that panels would be convenient.
Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.