What are games doing in 2018 that you thought they would have stopped by now?

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PCG Q&A

In the PCG Q&A, we ask the PC Gamer writers for their thoughts on a particular subject, and encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments. We've been doing it for nine months now, and here are some past editions you might enjoy:

- Which game were you the best at?
- If you could play a sequel to any game, what would it be?
- Which PC game do you regret spending money on? 

It doesn't take a lot of prodding to get the PC Gamer team to share their ongoing gripes with games—there's always a couple of recurring, bothersome things to complain about. Unskippable cutscenes, having to restart a game after changing the graphics settings, being forced to read copious amounts of in-game text just to keep things moving: these things will probably exist in games forever.

In today's PCG Q&A, then: What are games doing in 2018 that you thought they would have stopped by now? This week's first answer is from MOX, a member of the PC Gamer Club who shares this in our Discord channel: "With regret, games are still putting New Game above continue. I can't remember which game it was, but it knows what it did."

Share your thoughts in the comments—we always love reading them. 

Tim Clark: I've got a list

  • Asking you to select a difficulty level and/or character class before you've played anything.
  • Burying reams of information in letters and books that you feel obligated to read but resent every second doing so. 
  • Adding stealth and/or vehicle sections to games that they have no business whatsoever being in. 
  • Releasing items that don't appear to have been playtested
  • Overcharging for hats.
  • Crashing.

Samuel Roberts: Assassin's Creed's platforming and any story bits where you walk slowly while an NPC barks plot at you

Assassin's Creed's self-playing platforming is a bugbear of mine. I haven't played loads of Origins, but I recall it being a similar deal to the previous games—one button to 'parkour', and another button to climb down. I think every jump should require a button press and some directional precision in these games, and I swear that's how it always used to be before Assassin's Creed got big. Imagine Mario had a 'parkour' button and all you had to do was hold it down while he jumped through the entire level himself. Platforming didn't need streamlining. 

I'm also no fan of story sections in games where you're forced to walk rather than run as someone explains some plot to you. I'd much rather this sort of thing was in a cutscene I could skip. 

And finally: missions where you have to follow an NPC without being seen. They're always bad

Chris Livingston: Games needing to restart after I change my settings

I'm always surprised (not to mention annoyed) when I have to restart a game after changing my settings. And because some games let you change anything and everything without requiring a restart, that makes it so much more irritating when a different game needs a restart before the new settings can be applied. How have some games and engines figured this out, and others haven't? (Note: I don't want a real answer, I want to remain mad about it.)

Monkeying around with settings is usually about trying to find that compromise where a game looks as good as possible but doesn't completely tank your frame rate, and that can require the careful nudging of sliders followed by close scrutiny of the results. And I hate this process. I don't like dinking around in menus for long minutes and slowly giving up on my hopes of running everything on Ultra. There's no heartbreak like realizing you have to change texture quality from Very High to simply High so a game won't run like claymation. But it's made a million times worse when before-and-after comparisons are delayed because I have to bounce out of the game after each tweak and come back once it's relaunched. It's just adding salt to my wounds.

Joe Donnelly: Invincibility frames

I can't stand invincibility frames, and nothing breaks my concentration more than inexplicable invincibility in battle. I love Dark Souls' combat, but the joy of landing a well-timed parry, riposte or backstab on a baddie is, for me, undone when another foe is unable to deal damage in my state of invulnerability. In a game that almost always punishes missteps, these instances make my triumphs feel cheap—so much so, that I'd rather be killed and not let off. It's my fault if I decide to parry and riposte my way through the Deacons of the Deep boss fight and get swarmed every bloody time. Don't forgive my ill-informed tactics. 

Invincibility frames just about make sense post-respawn, but I don't care for them in the heat of the moment.  

Tom Senior: The new Tomb Raider is doing many of them

Unskippable cutscenes. Insta-fail trial and error platforming sections. Slow walk-and-talks. Basically a lot of the go-to storytelling devices that are still driving games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018. I hate it when games stop and try to be a film for a while, because films are much better at being films than games are. It was novel being stuck in a cage and ranted at by Vaas in Far Cry 3 in 2012, but in almost all cases it's extremely tedious and I wish games would move on. 

I can't believe we're still seeing games interrupt themselves mid-fun to knock your character down with a rifle butt and sit you down in front of some bad guys (hello Far Cry 5). These sequences are so hackneyed at this point I don't know how they make it to production.

Austin Wood: Cutscenes that use the default character model and don't incorporate my awesome shoes

More and more games show your character's actual equipment during cutscenes, which is great, but that also means there are still games that don't and instead use your default character model, which is definitely not great. Nothing ruins immersion like an instantaneous off-screen outfit change, and quite frankly, if I take the time to pick out my best pair of Quick Shoes of More Healthness, I want to strut those puppies wherever I go. It's even worse with weapons. What happened to my mighty greatsword, huh? Is it in my other pants, which you also took away?

Imagine spending 30-plus minutes painstakingly sculpting every last feature of your next RPG character only to hit accept and load in looking like a random extra from Grand Theft Auto. That's how I feel every time my carefully coordinated outfit gets camera shy and magically disappears. I don't remember asking for a stunt double, and I don't want or need one, thank you very much. 

Jarred Walton: Unskippable intro screens

I have always hated the unskippable videos and screens that load before you get to the game. Go ahead and make me watch them the first time if you must, but please quit with the delayed gratification on the hundredth time I run Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. "Oh, I didn't realize AMD helped with this game, that it's published by Square Enix, developed by Eidos Montreal, ported to PC by Nixxes, uses the Dawn Engine, and is part of the Deus Ex Universe. Also, I'm glad to see the warning about the autosave feature, again, because I might have forgotten!" Total time to launch the game and reach the main menu, on a high-end PC: 48 seconds.

What's interesting is that the community put together a 'hack' that replaces the unskippable videos with empty vids. Except for the autosave warning, which we still need to see. With the hack in place, the game loads to the main menu in 18 seconds. Considering DXMD also makes you restart when you change texture quality, and I've run benchmarks for the game hundreds of times since its release, the hack has saved me 2.5 hours of repeatedly sitting through the same intro videos.

DXMD is definitely not the only game to do this, it's simply one of the worst offenders that I regularly have to deal with. I would love it if games put all the promotional videos under a menu option and only showed them on the first launch. Sadly, I doubt that's going to happen.