There’s nothing worse than being on the brink of victory when suddenly an NPC (non-player character) steps in and steals your thunder. Just when we think we’re in the clear and the only thing left to do is claim the trophy, those sneaky characters find a moment to either distract us or make us have to replay the whole mission from the beginning. Even the most focused gamer often gets a little distracted when having to wade through oceans of worthless filler characters. But, frustratingly, without these NPC’s, the playable worlds just wouldn’t feel as immersive and fleshed out. Even still — it doesn’t stop us from loathing them.
Everything is tolerable in smaller doses. NPC’s that pack in by the motherload, on the other hand, can truly drive a game into the dirt and make us itch for the power button. And, it’s those NPC’s that we’re here to look at. Narrowing down to just five most hated types of NPC, we’re going to explore their faults and remind aspiring developers why they should be avoided in future projects. Here’s hoping we’re all on the same page, though.
5. The singing stalkers
If you’ve ever picked up the likes of Fable, Assassin’s Creed, or any medieval role-playing game for that matter, then you’ll likely have crossed a beggar with a lute. Often sticking to your heels as you try to sprint away, they’ll sing and barge into you until you either lose them or, well — kill them. The only way to ignore the stalking musicians is to avoid major cities altogether, or simply stick to the rooftops. Sometimes, if not all — avoiding the infuriating followers is impossible, and we’re therefore left to tolerate them as best as we possibly can. Sure, you can toss a few coins their way and hope they’ll be satisfied, but chances are you’ll be facing a whole choir with some certain games. Again, smaller doses can be tolerable — but exceeding the limit can truly make us question the developers wishes to annoy us.
Although not technically characters, we still assume someone is behind the wheel of these inconveniently placed vehicles. Usually dotted around in the worst possible places and routes, taxis and buses can often lead to getaways going stupidly wrong and forcing us to restart. Similar to the likes of minivans; taxis and buses can take a ridiculous amount of space up on the road, and, depending on what you’re goal is — having to swerve around them a million times over can become the burden we don’t really need. Plus, notice how we always find them when dealing with the worst missions i.e. races? It becomes a challenge in itself just having to deal with them, and that’s why the cabbies are one of the most hated NPC’s in gaming.
3. Vulnerable villagers
We’ve all had to defend a city or two in our years of gaming, but that isn’t to say it gets any easier with experience. Annoyingly, there are still times when having to protect those defenceless souls can cost us a few spare lives ourselves. Whether it be all-out warfare or a simple escort mission; having to keep a close eye on not only our own health bars but also the civilians can ultimately lead to distraction — especially when a single blow can wipe out their entire health. Throw in a copy and paste template in an open-world game and you start to despise the useless NPC’s and scrap the side-quests altogether. Vulnerable villagers will kick and scream while we do our best to keep them from harm, but deep down — we all condemn them.
2. Pointless sidekicks
When we set out on a new journey packed full of wonder and spontaneous obstacles, we expect to be treated to a familiar face that can make the quest just a fraction better. But, many times, those sidekicks of ours have proved to be nothing more than extra baggage, which can often lead to our very downfall when facing tough challenges. Again, looking at escort missions in general; sidekicks can either make or break a battle. Sadly, it’s those who provide zero comforts to the character or any form of qualities that end up being more hated than valued.
Ranking in at the top of the list of most hated NPC’s is the snitch collective. You know, the ones who have to report your crime immediately once seeing it take place. Annoyingly, if you don’t act fast, you’re soon faced with an entire police force biting at your heels with all guns blazing. And, depending on the game, having to evade the cities military over the theft of a car can be pretty time consuming and ultimately pointless for the little amount of gain.
Of course, crime should always be reported in reality, but in video games, we’re quick to target the wandering eye and deal with it accordingly. Even still, we can’t deal with them all, and it does make us think twice about doing the wrong thing during our sessions. And, to be honest, having a moral compass in a video game sort of defeats the purpose of its existence, don’t you think?