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We don’t forget those who have wronged us in games, and we definitely don’t forget their methods. Below, we’ve collected a few of our biggest annoyances with AI enemies, whether it’s a cheap way they avoid our attacks, or an enemy type that can simply go to hell. We fully expect to see all of these pop up again in the future, but wouldn’t it be nice if they took a little break?
Share your enemy gripes with us in the comments.
Enemies who can teleport
I can’t think of anything that equates to hot mechanical bullshit more than enemies with the ability to teleport around the map. I mean, in any combat scenario you can conceive of, if one side has the ability to instantly transport troops from one spot to another, the war isn’t going to last very long. And yet it’s everywhere. From 2D Japanese fighting games, through Diablo’s dungeons and the corridors of BioShock’s Rapture, to the shared-world future of Destiny 2.
Inevitably, it’s the latter that has been rustling my jimmies most recently. Somehow those bastard Vex minotaurs are able to spam teleport at the exact frigging cadence with which I unload my Legend of Acrius shotgun. I swear it’s got worse with the expansion, too. If we have to have a swear jar any time we compare a game to Dark Souls, then so too should game developers for anytime someone in a combatant design meeting uses the T word.—Tim Clark
Enemies who can set you on fire
Maybe this is an obvious statement, but being set on fire sucks. It’s not like being shot or hurt with explosive damage: it continues to damage you, often affecting your vision and aim and making you listen to a bunch of ‘Ah! Argh! Aghh!’ voice lines, if not forcing you to completely stop what you’re doing to put out the flames. Fire, in general, sucks as a weapon when it’s used against you. It doesn’t even have to hit you. It can just hit near you and catch something else on fire, which then spreads to you. Or it makes your car explode, which first hurts you with the blast and then spreads to you.
This is entirely fair, by the way. I don’t blame enemies for wanting to light you up with a flamethrower or molotov. I just hate when it happens. And I don’t even typically use flame weapons myself, so even if I kill the flamethrower guy and then loot him, I get a flamethrower and a bunch of flamethrower fuel I’m never gonna use. Fire guys are a lose-lose situation.—Christopher Livingston
Enemies who taunt despite having no cred
Hi, I’m a super-powered hero-slash-maniac possessing strength, endurance, and abilities unmatched by any other being in the world, not to mention the power to reload my last checkpoint save if something doesn’t go my way. You are some generic, entry-level goon who just witnessed twenty of your fellow goons being horribly and easily killed at my hand. You are now the only one left.
And yet you still taunt me! You are still so confident, so certain of victory. Did you notice how I took a shotgun blast point-blank to my chest and an RPG round to my face and didn’t even fall down? Did you clock that I’m wearing armor I crafted out of a bunch of dead dragons I killed single handedly? Honestly, do you really want me to ‘come out’ and ‘stop hiding’ and are you certain it’s ‘all over’ for me? You know who else thought that? The twenty dead guys whose blood is covering the floor you’re walking around on. Soon to be twenty-one. I’ll be right with you.—Christopher Livingston
Enemies with cutscene powers
“Behold, the awesomeness of my immense power and cower before me as I give you a prime target that you should be hitting instead of sitting around twiddling your thumbs!” Or in other words, check out my animations and wait for what can feel like an eternity, especially if you’re likely to fight this creature multiple times.
A cutscene introducing a new enemy or a tough boss might seem like a good idea, but if you’re forced to watch it dozens of times, it’s going to suck. Doubly so if you can’t skip the sequence. If I want to fire an arrow into the eye of a villain while he’s monologuing, that should be an option. Seriously, just shut up already and let me get back to killing.—Jarred Walton
Enemies that just alert other enemies
“Oh you Nazi prick,” I shouted as I rattled through Wolfenstein 2 in one exhausting day last year, watching these utter bastards running for the alarm before I had a chance to put a bullet in ’em. Generally speaking, when enemies run for the alarm it’s your own fault for being caught, but in games where the AI somehow seems psychic in how they detect you or the consequences involve vast numbers of new opponents, it can be pretty irritating.—Samuel Roberts
Enemies who just explode
Serious Sam presents the most obvious example of this, with those screaming headless bomb guys, but these were kind of fun in the early ’00s. Now, though, I hate enemies that are designed to explode—bloody Cystoids in Prey, for a recent example. The solution is pretty much always the same: shoot them before they get too close. When one hits you while you’re not looking, though, the only option is to throw a tantrum then have some warm milk to calm down. Exploding enemies also partially ruined Resident Evils 5 and 6.—Samuel Roberts
Brute enemies and their continued existence
Dying Light has annoying, hammer-wielding brute enemies that I just groan at whenever I see them. They’re just tedious to fight, and usually I’ll run off rather than kill them to get the items I’m looking for. I’ll also extend this criticism to Batman: Arkham Asylum. It’s regularly called the best game in the series, which is nonsense, because I think people entirely forget just how many fights with brute enemies there are in the second half of that game. They charge at you, you dodge, they run into something, you slap them about a bit—but it’s never as fun as fighting regular enemies with a chain combo.
I don’t think I’ve properly enjoyed fighting brute enemies since the Hunters in Halo 1, since you could just run them over with the warthog or dance around them, hitting them with melee attacks.—Samuel Roberts
Enemies who carry shields that can’t be broken with regular attacks
I blame Arkham City for this one, and I’ve most recently spotted this in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, where you need to use a shield break attack in order to disarm enemies before slicing them up. I know these foes are designed to stop you hammering the same buttons over and over again in a fight, and while I don’t have a better answer for how you can make melee combat varied and exciting, I’m not a game designer so I’m just going to complain about this here and move on.—Samuel Roberts
Enemies who appear dead then grab you, the wankers
I’m pretty fresh off another playthrough of Alien: Isolation, one of the best horror games ever, and by the end of that game I was definitely done with the androids known as the Working Joes coming to life whenever you walked over them. Yes, I know you’re supposed to look and see if the eyes are still on, but invariably you will be grabbed while navigating the Sevastopol space station. The first few times are scary, but then it gets on your nerves. I’d ban this from horror games altogether.—Samuel Roberts