Hacked Off: Slow NPCs

It has been a whole week since I managed to rant for 700 odd words about unlocking hard mode. Well, we’re back for the second area of games that annoy me. Those of you who are struggling to recall ever reading anything about hard mode before this paragraph, chances are you missed the first one. Oh well, I’ll catch you up, basically unlocking hard mode annoys me.

Why must games make slow NPCs? Too many times have I twirled on the spot, shooting bullets or swinging swords at un-killable AI characters in hopes it’ll spur them on to move quicker. Why must I wait for someone else to open the door? For example, Gears of War, a game I have a fond memory of and then plenty more not so fond. The amount of times you have to stand there after the fights just so someone else can let you progress is ridiculous. Then again, maybe their sheer volume of muscle stops them from moving too quickly.

So many games make you wait for people to get a move on. Just because my teammate can’t find the keys, I have to sit there drawing pictures made out of bullets. Is this an attempt to make the game realistic? As if in games I can get past the fact I’m killing monsters, double jumping, or even being outside. The one thing that will stop and make me realise it’s just a game is if I open every door or the NPC runs a little quicker than they realistically could.

Assassin’s Creed takes it to the next step. The missions where you have to tail someone are beyond frustrating. I have thrown many tantrums while playing the instalments over the years, with these missions racking up the most. The NPCs walk so slowly and turn around at the slightest cough. Then they just randomly stop in the middle of the path, as if they’re trying to remember whether they left the straighteners on. All this time you’re sitting on the roof twiddling your thumbs waiting hours for him to finish a walk that should take two minutes.

The worst part is when you fail, which happens a lot as I’m bad. There are no checkpoints, you have to follow him all the way back from the start. Now, I’m sure a patient person would just accept that they failed and continue to be slow. Instead I get frustrated and muck around which in turn gets me caught and then I get to do it again. I end up doing these missions ten times – at which point, I know every step they will take, every time they’ll turn around, blimey I even know how many times they blink.

Following NPCs is probably the worst of all. When you have part of a quest which involves you following someone to a certain area and they take a nice evening stroll. They could be late to a party or their own family could be about to be killed, it doesn’t matter as they would still just go at a brisk walking pace making sure to look out for local wildlife. It’s probably just to use as conversation fodder on the next person they take on a quest. Sure, slow and steady wins the race, but I’d like to be there within a month.

Then there’s the moment when you’re ever so slightly out of their range and although you are in front of them they look straight at you confused and scared, adamant about not moving until you stand next to them. Is this their life? Do they have to wait for people to hold their hands before they can go anywhere? It feels like they’re our parents and we’re too excited that they are trying to wait for us to calm down so we’re not annoying to other adventurers.

Games like The Witcher III that have NPCs go at the same speed should be the norm. If I’m walking with someone I try to match their speed, not just keep going at my own pace, thinking ‘They’ll be back, they always are’.

Maybe slow NPCs are just to rack up gameplay time. Then again, who am I to say that waiting in one spot for someone else isn’t fun – oh yeah, I’m a sane person.

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2 Comment

Mike Fitzgerald April 17, 2016 - 10:46

Natalya in Goldeneye on the N64 would drive me to utter madness. Super slow and always got in the way!

James Haxell April 20, 2016 - 16:35

Omg yes, Natalya is awful, especially on the Control mission where she takes what seems like hours to override the system and you have to defend her.

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