If you ask the vast majority of gamers what the most important aspect of any video game is, they’ll most likely tell you that it’s the gameplay, with only a few exceptions.
Though video game stories have certainly been getting better in recent years, a poor narrative can still be easily excused by first-rate gameplay, because more often than not the gameplay will comprise the bulk of your play-time.
Yet sometimes the gameplay ends up being the worst part of the package, and the storytelling, characters, world-building, and general aesthetics are so damn fantastic that it’s still a thoroughly entertaining experience regardless.
This isn’t to say that every game on this list has bad gameplay, but simply that it’s the least-appealing part of the experience, that its rote, over-familiar, unambitious mechanics are left in the dust by the creative story, eye-watering visuals, and so on.
These 10 video games, the majority of them major AAA smash hits, have all succeeded because they did so much so well, but the gameplay was the absolute least of it, serving as a necessity that players dealt with in order to enjoy everything else…
Ever since its inception, the Uncharted franchise has basically prided itself on being a spiritual adaptation of the Indiana Jones movies, defined by its charming cast of characters – namely a roguish Nathan Drake – globetrotting seat-of-the-pants plotting, and gloriously over-the-top action.
And as entertaining a combination as this all adds up to, the moment-to-moment gameplay is by far the worst part of the package.
This is no truer than in the first game, Drake’s Fortune, where the brilliant characters and loopy plot give way to tedious, overdone shootouts, and yes, those horrendous jet ski sequences.
Uncharted 2 placed a far greater emphasis on melding cutscenes with actual gameplay, lending the game a more appealing cinematic style, even if it only ramped up the incidence of excessive, frustrating gunfights.
Uncharted 4 finally decided to tone down the repetitive combat in favour of stealth and traversal, but even then, the constant need to use crates for platforming soon became a real drag.
In the last few games in particular, the cutscenes and performances are so fantastically persuasive that the gameplay itself really can’t begin to compare. The fairly generic, so-so combat and exploration is elevated massively by the A+ presentation and the cinematic creativity of the set-pieces.
The earlier games in the series especially feel like a chore to play today, and you couldn’t really blame someone for just watching a Let’s Play instead.