Enemy design in video game can be tough. You don’t want to be too generic, boring players, but you don’t want to be too outlandish either, making encounters too frustrating . As such, a number of enemy “types” have become universally accepted and copy/pasted across many, many video games.
Sometimes that’s totally cool, others, not so much. These eight enemy types never cease to annoy the shit out of me when I come across them in a game, and we’d all be better off if most of their iterations were banished from the medium entirely. See if you agree with my list below:
Enemies that Blow Up to Kill You
There are usually one type of these in every single game, and I think we can trace them all the way back to Bomb-ombs in Super Mario. To me, there’s nothing inherently fun about backpedaling furious against an enemy where if it gets with in five feet of you, it will explode and you will be crazy amounts of dead. Just thinking about Banelings (in Starcraft, above) makes me shudder.
Enemies that Blow Up When You Kill Them
Yes, this is a different category than the one above, but almost just as annoying. “Oh so you managed to burst down my loads of HP so I”m dead, well F*** YOU MAN I’M GOING OUT WITH A BANG.” The Carriers from Halo above are the worst offenders, but most recently explode-upon-death molten enemies in Diablo 3 are annoying as all hell.
Enemies that are Cloaked
This category isn’t necessarily all bad, as I can respect the use of cloaked units in strategy games, but in shooters? It doesn’t really work. You see just shimmers of where they’re supposed to be, and you end up using most of your ammo spraying around the room until you hit one and it phases into view. Not exactly strategic combat design.
Enemies Who Get All Their Life Back
There are a lot of vampiric units in games, including vampires like the one above, but this can extend to any enemy that gets life back. That means bosses who go into “healing mode” just when you think they’re defeated, or any Pokemon trainer using a Full Restore on his almost dead Alakazam. SCREW YOU GARY!
Enemies that Randomly Become Invincible
These show up from time to time in games, and always manage to prove the hard and fast rule that making an enemy invincible for any reason, for any length of time, is almost always a recipe for frustration. Above we have the “shielding” affix in Diablo 3 which just makes elite groups of enemies invulnerable for random intervals. It does not make them stop attacking however, and therefore you are usually dead because of it. This also extends to the horrific addition of armor lock in Halo Reach which was almost by itself the reason I quit playing that game.
Enemies that One-Shot You
This pretty much covers every enemy in Demon’s/Dark Souls more or less, and most definitely all of the bosses, but it extends to other games as well, from FPS snipers to any powerful foe that kills you with a bat of his eyelashes. Some may dispute this and say that these types of encounters require the most skill of any type of play, and it’s how the vast majority of old school video games worked. I say f*** that noise, give me my checkpoints and health bars and armor shielding, and I guarantee you I personally will be having much more fun.
Enemies that Fly and Won’t Sit Still for Two Damn Seconds
There are ways to do flying enemies correctly, and ways to do them poorly. It’s sort of stupid to have a flying enemy sit two feet off the ground in front of you like in most RPGs, but it’s also dumb to have them swooping around in random patterns, unable to be hit by your melee character.
Enemies with 50 billion HP
Boss battles, I’m looking at you. There’s nothing wrong with a challenging boss battle, whether he hits hard or has a lot of life. But when you have a boss that takes 45 minutes to an hour to beat just because they have 50,000 times as much health as you? That just isn’t fun for anyone. Trying to punch down a brick wall isn’t enjoyable, and you’re not even satisfied when you finally get through. Your hand will just be mangled and you’ll be severely pissed off.