With technology expanding into the titanic proportions that it does, video games have benefited from new advancements and techniques and changed how we play games to levels that only sci-fi could have predicted. Virtual reality is now actually attainable, thus giving the opportunity to make video games more immersive than ever before.
But even the most heavily immersive and realistic video games that have made their way into our hearts in the past decade or so fall to the same tropes we have seen since day one. And that’s not a bad thing, necessarily. The video game features we can’t do without are solutions to obstacles that cannot be avoided in gameplay. As immersive as a game may try to be, it’s still a video game, so we still come to expect a certain amount of distance from reality. Without further ado, let’s talk about our favourite ridiculous video game features/benefits we can’t without.
This game benefit makes the most sense in constituting its own existence. You already spent three hours of your life clearing this side of the map – you deserve to cut your travel time back to it down to a fraction of that time. If you’re playing a game with a massive world like Fallout 4, Skyrim or Dragon Age: Inquisition, the idea of actually walking from point A to point B is unheard of. Suddenly, the appeal of having a larger-than-life landscape to valiantly explore disappears. You might never even try to play games like this again if fast travel weren’t an option. Better hop on your Battle Nug – this is going to take a while.
You see this trope in a lot of roleplaying games or open world games where you have to investigate matters for the sake of quests. This house looks like a nice place to start. No need to knock, though. Just walk right in and make yourself cozy in this stranger’s home. And how do these residents feel? Well, one conversation will tell you they’re much too concerned with themselves to reprimand you for breaking and entering. Go ahead and take a moment to look at all their stuff. And if their back is turned, why not take this opportunity to steal some valuables? That chest looks promising. While you’re at it, break their pots and take the health that falls out, just for good measure. And when you’re all done, stroll right back out the front door, three cheese wheels richer while the burgled victim looks on in idle indifference.
Health and regeneration
So, you’ve just come out of a gruesome battle with what is essentially a giant wolf wielding a sword. You’ve got gashes on your legs, wounds in your arms, and bruises on your face. You’re victorious, but you sure have taken a beating. How do we amend this less-than-perfect predicament? Well, that vial of glowing orange stuff you’ve been keeping on your person sure looks tantalizing. Take a swig and – POOF! What injuries? This trope exists for obvious reasons, but the reason it’s hilariously ridiculous is because you are always given an item that miraculously cures any type of ailment you can imagine.
This is more palpable if you’re relying on magical potions. But what about games like Left 4 Dead that are straight up offering you a regular first-aid kit? Stab wound? Broken leg? Internal bleeding? Nah, just throw some bandages on it and you’ll be fine. What’s more is that if you’re playing most first-person shooters, you don’t even need medical attention if you squat behind cover long enough. If you can achieve maximum bullet evasion for about fifteen seconds, all the ones you already have lodged in your shoulder and stomach won’t even count anymore. And here’s the cream of the crop: if you’re feeling crappy, just punch through the wall and eat the whole roasted chicken waiting for you inside.
Bethesda games are good at adding some dimension and strategy to how players handle this trope: sure, you can hold a lot of stuff on your person, but it will affect how agile you perform in combat. Looks like your attacks are getting too sluggish – time to drop those cheese wheels you stole. Most other games you find won’t give you that same strategic depth to your inventory, but you will have your limits. Even with your inventory just halfway full, however, you have an arsenal of items that would give any Looney Tunes character a run for their money. Just make sure you’re not keeping the bottles of potions in your back pocket.
Looting the body
No amount of moral righteousness will ever stop you from doing this in a video game. It’s not enough that you removed the enemy from your path and made your own life easier for it. You put in the work to get this strong, and you slayed the villain. The least you deserve is whatever he’s got left in his trousers, right?
Depending on the situation, you might feel minor pangs of guilt, but none powerful enough to stop you. And this trope exists in all forms, even if you are not literally rifling through a corpse’s personal effects. If you cut down a Deku Baba and you collect the rupee that takes its place, that’s looting the body. If you defeat a couple Water Flans and get a bit of gil out of it, that’s looting the body. You beat your opponent in a Pokémon battle and are rewarded with money? Well, that’s looting the body or gambling, depending on how you look at it.
Absolutely any social interaction
Let’s forget, for a second, that your comrades in battle will use the same catch phrase over and over again, but no one seems to call them out on it. Let’s put aside that NPCs are condemned to a living purgatory where they are limited to expressing themselves in only three sentences or less. And let’s not even mention how despite watching you drop the body of an innocent guard from a five story building, all the surrounding civilians can think to do is turn their nose up at you with mild disgust.
There’s only one aspect of this trope I want to sit on today: the idea that you can have sex with anybody if you talk to him or her long enough. This isn’t just a dating sim trope, either. In Mass Effect, you don’t even need your romantic partner to agree with your moral alignments or your attitude for them to want you. In the Fire Emblem series, you can literally throw together any two members of your army and have them inevitably fall in love with each other over a set number of battles. And here’s a follow-up thought: why can’t dating be this easy in real life?
Of course, the list of tropes that most video games are guilty of is endless. What is your favorite? Did I miss a big one? And to be fair, I was also going to include double jumping in this list until I learned that this is something that cats can actually do in real life, those sneaky bastards.