The video game medium has made great strides alongside the advancement of technology, with stunning upcoming games revealed in the likes of PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo’s recent showcases, but one constant of gaming regardless of the generation is infuriating NPCs.
Mileage may vary depending on the player and the NPC in question when it comes to how annoying they are. But whether it’s the snobbish citizens of Bethesda’s RPGs or handholding rivals, there have been some impressively irritating NPCs in the decades of gaming history.
There are certainly more notorious NPCs throughout the catalog of Bethesda’s open-world action RPGs, but Preston Garvey deserves his spot on the list. Like other annoying NPCs, Fallout 4‘s Preston Garvey isn’t a bad person or a villain; he’s part of the Commonwealth Minutemen that operates as a defense militia.
But once players get far enough into his faction’s side questline, Preston starts to become a nuisance. He constantly barrages the player with comments about how another settlement needs their help, pestering the player with some of Fallout 4‘s most monotonous “busywork” quests.
The Sinnoh region’s Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum are frequently cited by fans as some of the greatest mainline Pokémon games ever, but even that generation didn’t escape having one of the franchise’s most hated NPCs. In the games, an NPC named Mindy will offer players to trade her Haunter for a Medicham. It sounds like a great deal on paper, as Haunter can only evolve into Gengar via trading.
However, upon receiving the Haunter, players will discover that it’s holding an Everstone — a Held Item that specifically prevents evolution. Mindy even jokes about it, earning an equal part hilariously meta and infuriating place in the series. Though, trade evolutions are admittedly one of the most antiquated mechanics of the Pokémon franchise.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is arguably one of the best games with the deepest replay values thanks to the countless ways players can approach it, but Nazeem is one of the most consistently hated aspects of the game. However, Nazeem certainly falls into the category of characters that players “love to hate.”
He’s a citizen of one of Skyrim‘s most popular hub cities, Whiterun, and he’s notorious for his elitist attitude. The number of times that players must have killed him whenever asking them if they’d ever been to the Cloud District before concluding “of course, you haven’t” must be astronomical.
While other NPCs might be guides or one-off characters in the story, Eric Sparrow doubles up as an annoying one as well as the antagonist of Tony Hawk’s Underground. A skateboarding game isn’t going to have an intensely personal drama of a story, but Eric nonetheless makes himself one of the most memorable dastardly characters in the medium.
Tony Hawk’s Underground has a fun story that makes Eric a cartoonishly over-the-top villain that also becomes fun to hate, as he’s an irredeemably selfish and conniving con artist of a “friend” that’s happy to sell out his childhood buddy to advance his pro skater image.
Even before the likes of Skyrim and Fallout 4, Bethesda was no stranger to having pesky NPCs trail behind the player in its open-world RPGs. The Adoring Fan in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is one such infamous character, and the stinger to having him irritate the player on their journey is that he’s a “reward” for a side questline.
After becoming the Grand Champion at the Arena, he’s given to the player as a companion who constantly praises them. Some gratitude wouldn’t go amiss, but the Adoring Fan refuses to leave the player alone and is functionally useless in combat, and so becomes dead weight. To an extent, it could be a clever joke on the dev’s part, as it’s not subtle how annoying he is, and he can’t be permanently killed.
Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda franchise is a pillar of the publisher and the gaming industry as a whole. Likewise, the acclaimed Nintendo 64 classic Ocarina of Time is often talked about as one of the greatest games ever made.
Despite that, it also has one of gaming’s most irritating guides. Navi constantly follows Link throughout his adventure across the land of Hyrule, but frequently shouts “Hey!” at the player to tell them something that might be inconsequential or repetitive. She often comes across as an in-game backseat driver.
Annoying in-game companions in the Zelda series haven’t become a glaring issue. Still, it seems that Nintendo didn’t learn its lesson from Ocarina of Time when developing Skyward Sword for the Wii. In fact, the latter game’s Fi doubled down on Navi’s worst tendencies, becoming perhaps the series’ worst guide.
Her prompts and unskippable dialogue are far more intrusive, with Fi stopping and forcing Link to listen through tutorials, overworld prompts that the player certainly already noticed, and reiterating a conversation with an NPC that Link just had. Navi arguably had a more functional purpose to gameplay, so it makes Fi’s shortcomings all the more inexcusable, as it feels like she’s gripping the player’s hand throughout the entire game.
Resident Evil 4 is widely considered among the series’ best, crafting a compelling mix of horror, third-person action, and an endearing sense of campiness to make for one of the most enduring games in history. Even so, rescuing Ashley Graham is one of the most frustrating parts of a critically acclaimed game.
She’s essentially the MacGuffin of the story, as finding and rescuing the president’s daughter in a remote zombie-ridden village in Spain is the whole reason Leon Kennedy is there. Ashley also becomes one of the worst escort missions, as she’s frequently uncompliant with Leon’s gameplay mechanics, often getting caught by enemies, actively getting in the way, and has a spoiled personality, which makes her segments the most unpleasant in the game.
Arguably around the time that the sixth generation of Pokémon was released in the form of X and Y, the “friendly rival” mainstay of the games went far overboard. Many rivals crossed the line from being fun rivals with entertaining banter to direct hindrances to the gameplay experience.
However, Sword & Shield‘s Hop is perhaps the series’ worst offender. He stops the player many times throughout the story to tell the protagonist something uninteresting or something that the player probably already knows, which kills the pacing of games that already have too much unnecessary dialogue. Intrusive rivals and tutorials are some of the other poorly-aged tropes of the mainline Pokémon games.
Given the premise, setting, and gameplay loop of a game like Grand Theft Auto IV, it’s rather expected that it would intentionally have its fair share of unlikable characters. It’s part of the series’ raunchy charm, and Roman certainly fits the bill.
As anyone would expect, Roman is fittingly selfish and greedy, a gambler, and he’s happy to try any underhanded tactic to make himself money regardless of who it negatively affects. That, of course, is on top of the admittedly funny long-running meme of Roman constantly calling the player to go bowling.
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