Videogames have a giant insect problem

(Image credit: EA)

There's a level in the Star Wars Battlefront II campaign where you play as Luke Skywalker. Sounds exciting, right? Luke Skywalker! Except it's not, because you spend most of it killing waves of giant, easy-to-kill insects. I'll never get over what a wasted opportunity this is. A chance to play as Luke in his Return of the Jedi prime, squandered on oversized bugs. Videogame developers love giant insects, but they suck. Here are some reasons why.

They're no fun to fight

(Image credit: Capcom)

No matter what game they're in, big bugs are always boring to fight. They either charge dumbly at you, or they keep their distance, strafing from side to side, spitting poisonous, probably green goo. And because they're generally thrown at you in large groups, they're usually easy to kill too, making them little more than chitinous cannon fodder. After a while, killing them becomes white noise. In most cases they feel like filler, tossed in to make a trek through a cave more interesting. But I'd rather just look at rocks.

They look rubbish

(Image credit: 2K)

Artistically, big bugs are a dead end. The most talented art team in the world couldn't make them interesting. They're either just bigger versions of regular insects, or they look like the bugs from Starship Troopers. That's it. If you asked me to draw a specific giant insect from a videogame, I couldn't. They've all merged into one indistinct smudge. It's always disappointing when you visit an alien world in a sci-fi game and the place is crawling with giant space bugs. It shows a stunning lack of imagination.

They have no personality

(Image credit: Bethesda)

I don't feel anything when I'm fighting a giant bug in a videogame. Insects, by their very nature, are incapable of complex emotions. When one charges at me, I don't feel like it has any real malice towards me, or that it has some specific reason for attacking me. It's just a brainless drone obeying its genetic programming. And that makes them crap as enemies. There's nothing memorable or interesting about them. Nothing to latch onto. They're just empty vessels. Faceless organic automatons.

There are too many of them

(Image credit: Valve)

The other annoying thing about fighting bugs in videogames is that there are bloody loads of them. They spawn endlessly, which is deeply unsatisfying. You can kill a hundred of them and feel like you've made no progress. Sometimes you have to destroy a nest to stop them appearing, but I've never found that interaction particularly engaging. Like so many gaming tropes, I blame Aliens for this. I love that movie, but it's wild how many games have tried to recreate the "They're coming out of the goddamn walls!" scene.

Okay, they're not all bad

There are exceptions, of course. I haven't played it, but people swear by the Earth Defense Force series. There are a few interesting moments in Half-Life 2 (and, more recently, Alyx) involving antlions—although I still basically hate them. And I like bug type Pokemon. But in general, big insects and arachnids are uninteresting, and I never want to fight them in a game again.

Andy Kelly

If it’s set in space, Andy will probably write about it. He loves sci-fi, adventure games, taking screenshots, Twin Peaks, weird sims, Alien: Isolation, and anything with a good story.