Wanted to play the first Mass Effect without romancing anyone, but unwittingly saved the opposite-sex Virmire survivor? Good luck getting out of romancing them — once the romance scene appears, there is no option to reject them.
On the flip side, did you want to romance Ashley? Hopefully, you didnt tell her she was out of line in that conversation about the aliens on the ship. This conversation takes place relatively early in the game, with no indication that that choice will have consequencesbut twenty hours later, you may find yourself unable to romance Ashley because you unwittingly locked yourself out.
The check used to determine whether or not you can take a Paragon/Renegade option in a conversation is not the Paragon/Renegade gauge in your menu. There's another, hidden meter that keeps track of the total number of P/R points available versus how many you've obtained. The total includes available missions that you haven't done yet. This makes some of the checks (particularly the Jack/Miranda and Tali/Legion confrontations, where you need to pass a reputation check to keep both parties' loyaltynote If you fail the check, it's still possible to regain their loyalty if you side with the right party member and then choose a specific dialogue option when talking to the other person later, but that is a Guide Dang It within itself - and very ill-advised for the Tali/Legion conflict) almost impossible unless you've hewed 100% Paragon or 100% Renegade from the beginning of the game. Best of all, in a New Game+, the requirements to pass reputation checks are increased, but not the amount of Paragon/Renegade points in the game. Consequence: several reputation checks become literally impossible to pass without save hacking. Combined with the other "benefits" of the New Game+ compared with the Old Save Bonus, there's a reason most players recommend just starting a new file if you want to play your character again.
After you finish a certain mission, a hidden countdown begins, and after you complete one more mission, your entire crew gets abducted. This in itself is not so bad and certainly has a punch story-wise; however, after that, a second hidden countdown begins, and unless you sally forth upon the final mission almost immediately (and if you didn't complete Legion's loyalty quest during the countdown, you still have it to do), your kidnapped crew will start to die, including various characters who will otherwise reappear in the third game. What makes this particularly annoying and counterintuitive is that at no point in the series before this was the issue of how much time the player spent between missions ever made important indeed, both games were quite fond of punishing you for charging into a story mission before you were properly prepared for it.
Unlike the previous games, side quests do not update in your log after you get them. If you miss or misunderstand what you were told to do next (like not hearing the directions properly in a noisy area), the only way to continue (assuming you don't accidentally stumble across it) is to look up the quest online.
If you don't import a saved game into the third installment, you automatically lose the potential peace between the geth and quarians due to Tali and Legion both dying by default, which can screw new players out of the best result without even knowing it.
A lot of factors for the peaceful resolution of the gethquarian conflict are Guide Dang-Its. Didn't pass Tali's loyalty mission's Reputation check in the second game? Too bad, you get genocide if you get her father struck off of fleet records, losing her loyalty, and the conflict with Legion that results. Screwed that up? Same result. Got either of them killed? No prizes for guessing. Even the official strategy guide has been proven inaccurate as to which factors influence whether or not you'll achieve the best resolution. It's an act of diplomacy that makes perfect sense once you know what to do, but a Player Nudge or two wouldn't have gone amiss. Especially since the game will fake you out with a misleading dialog tree even if you pass the prerequisites... and you can still fail the Reputation check after coming this far. To summarise...
Tali and Legion must be alive.
You have to have peacefully resolved their loyalty conflict no exploiting the "gain back loyalty" mechanic for you!
You must stop the geth from shooting down civilian ships by completing the Geth Fighter Squadron mission.
And once those four must-have prerequisites are met, you must gain at least 5 (mercifully, you get three for free) peace points from any of the following...
+2 points: Tali's loyalty mission being completed successfully without getting her exiled nearly a freebie, since most players go for the paragon/renegade solution in her loyalty mission
+1 point: Peacefully resolve Tali and Legion's loyalty conflict this one is a hard requirement, so it's obviously free, too.
+2 points: Resolve Legion's loyalty mission by being a Renegade and killing the heretics integrating them with the consensus leads them to encourage dog-kicking, causing the civilian ships to panic without steady leadership. However, if you take the Paragon route and still make peace there's a significant War Score boost.
+1/2 points: You can get one point for sacrificing Admiral Koris to save the civilians in Priority: Admiral Koris, and two for saving Koris his leadership is the steady leadership that prevents the civilians from breaking due to heretic dog-kicking.
In order for Kelly Chambers to appear, you not only have to make sure she survived the events of the suicide mission (which meant that you immediately had to jump into the relay to save her) but you also had to have befriended her to the point that you invited her up for dinner (and her promise that she would feed your fish, one of which you had to buy on Illium). Failure to do so means no Kelly appearance and no bonus intel from the Prejak Paddlefish (for a 10% weapon- or power-damage bonus). Then in order to keep her alive for the entire game, you would have to spot her in the beginning of the game, tell her to change her appearance and name, and then visit her again afterwards. Not doing that means she will die during a Cerberus attack that you couldn't possibly have known about without a guide or a previous playthrough.
In order to "save" Anderson, which amounts to postponing his death by a few minutes and cause the Illusive Man to shoot himself, you have to Charm or Intimidate him during your conversations with him on Mars, Thessia, and the Cerberus base. These Charm or Intimidate options are further buried within optional dialog trees and can be missed without knowing it. Passing this check, in turn, used to drastically lower the Effective Military Strength requirement for the Destroy ending, which used to mean the difference between getting the "Shepard Lives" cutscene or not. Thankfully averted with the Extended Cut patch, however.
If you're playing as Male Shepard, you can't successfully romance Kaidan unless you talk to him twice when checking up on him in hospital for the first time. The first conversation happens automatically, but there's no indication that the player needs to initiate a second conversation during that same meeting. Nor is there any indication that it helps to buy a bottle of whiskey that disappears from the store once you speak to him.
The only way to save Miranda from getting killed by Kai Leng is to read an email on him before messaging her; otherwise, Shepard won't know to warn her.
A number of side quests will disappear without warning once you get past certain arbitrary moments in the game, particularly most Citadel fetch quests after the attempted Cerberus coup, replaced by a whole bunch of new ones. The easy way to avoid this to not do any "Priority" missions until dead last.
When Samantha Traynor gives Shepard a warning about a Cerberus attack on Grissom Academy, it's best to do that mission as one of the next three you do. Why within the next three? Because if you don't do the Grissom Academy within three missions, Cerberus captures Jack and brainwashes her into a Phantom, and you have to kill Jack during your assault on the Cerberus base later. There is no warning given in advance that you have a time limit.
In the same vein as the Grissom Academy mission above, you should do the Tuchanka bomb mission within three missions of getting it, because if you don't, the bomb explodes and takes out most of Kelphic Valley, taking nearly all of the krogan War Assets with it. This time, you have some warning, since it's just common sense that you can't leave a bomb lying around, and multiple party members state if you talk to them between missions that this one is not safe to leave waiting, but you still aren't told exactly when the bomb will go off.
Some quests and tasks require the player to poke around every Remnant or kett site they find.
If Ryder reveals Annea's water supply, she attacks Ryder and runs off. Some time afterwards, Ryder might be attacked by mercenaries working for her, or find datapads from Annea explaining how she now wants Ryder dead. The subplot can end with Ryder finding Annea in the south of Elaaden's map, but this is never indicated via quest or character dialogue, requiring the player to either have just stumbled upon her camp by accident, or to have already known about it.
Ancient Domains of Mystery is full of these. Merely surviving to the early mid-game is possible with some trial and error to learn how to dodge the anvils the RNG will throw at you. Actually completing the game without spoilers is non-trivial, and Ultra Endings are practically impossible to reach by mere trial and error. (Though clearly not actually impossible since somebody first discovered them, either by Save Scumming or investing more time than any mortal has.)
The most egregious factors are that 1) you should keep track of the first monster you ever kill and 2) you may want to avoid killing cats. Seriously.
It was reverse-engineered. The game's author was not pleased.
An ultra ending will require strategically switching alignments at least twice, gathering several items that are usually easier to wish for than to find naturally (a Wish being one of the rarest things in the game) and completing multiple sidequests whose very existence is well-hidden in a certain order.
There is a quest as part of the main plot where you encounter Khelavaster, the sage that is mentioned in the introduction. It isn't mentioned anywhere except in oblique hints that he is the key to obtaining the artifact that unlocks an Ultra ending. Yet he blocks the down staircase, preventing progress until you talk to him. When you do, he automatically dies, which lets you go on but also removes the possibility of him summoning the Trident at the end of the game. What you actually have to do is find an Amulet of Life Saving, which are incredibly rare (some people have spent several real-time days trying), and give him one before you speak to him. (Just don't accidentally talk to him when you have one in your hands.)
Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. Due to the wide-open sandbox, the complex lore of the setting, and the vast number of side quests, this trope is inevitable. It is nearly impossible to find all the side quests without some kind of guidance, and there are many side quests for which the game does not give sufficient information on how to complete. For example:
There is a huge, complicated sidequest where you have to make certain offerings to certain altars in a certain order. The game never tells you where said altars are and many of them are so far out of the way that no player will just stumble into one. One of these altars is so deep in a mountain range that, even if you do have the location, it is very difficult to get your character to that spot. Also each altar requires a specific offering, each of them being a completely innocuous item that can be easily mistaken for Vendor Trash if the player does not know what it's for. It's even worse if the game only provides enough of a particular offering to use in this puzzle.
In order to help Magnus find his lost clan, you must first complete a side quest for a dwarf to get the location of a mysterious clanhold, then you must obtain a keystone to get inside said clanhold. Problem is that the keystone is a reward obtained at the end of a very complex and completely unrelated side quest near the end of the game that is only available if the player is opting for the good ending!. Not only that, but the game never tells you what the keystone is for. All the player knows at this point is that the clanhold is locked with no hint as to how to open it, and that they have a rock taking up inventory space. The game also does not give the player any reason to have Magnus AND Loghaire in your party when you enter the clanhold, causing many players to miss out on a very important dialogue where Loghaire makes Magnus chieftain of the Iron Clan.
Want one of the best (so much that some consider it a Game-Breaker) NPC companions in the game? Then you need to know exactly what to do when entering a certain city, where one of the citizens is kicking a wounded dog on the ground. That dog is your future companion if you manage to tell the citizen to stop kicking the pooch. The only problem is that the already wounded dog is kicked constantly and can very easily die before you even know anything happened if you don't run straight away to the scene of action as soon as you enter the area.
The Amiga/Atari classic Captive was a particularly heavy offender in this category. The game manual neglected to inform you on such frivolous little details as:
If you want your droids to be able to learn (gain XP), you need to put the "droid chip" into the "brain" slot in each droid's inventory.
Oh, and did we forget to tell you that in order to locate your next objective, you need to enter the correct password into a giant computer to get a Planet Probe that will reveal the next base on the star map? The password is on a clipboard carried by a scientist in a white lab coat. No planet probe? Good luck trying to find the next base.
You'll really want to get everything else in the base out of the way before blowing up the generators, as after that things get all explode-y in a hurry. You did write down the four-button combination for the outer door, didn't you? Oh, and the optics device that leads you back to the exit can be quite handy, especially later in the game.
At the Space Station, however, you do not want to blow up the generators as that's where you are being held. Succeed in blowing up the station and you've managed to commit a needlessly elaborate suicide. Congratulations.
You need to recharge your droids by putting your "finger" (the mouse pointer) into an electric outlet (gray square at the bottom of a wall with three black dots) and then sticking the electric charge onto the droid's chest. Especially annoying since touching anything other than a droid chest or a battery with the electrified finger causes said item to explode. Accidentally clicked an arm instead of a chest? Hope you have a recent savegame handy.
Dice can be used to "decode" the four-button code locks, except the ones on the outer doors of the bases.
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn: During a paladin stronghold quest, you are required to guard a young lady (actually a rude, spoiled brat) from assassins until a relative comes to pick her up. When the relative finally shows up, the only way to ascertain he's not an impostor and thus finish the quest successfully is to cast 'detect evil' in his presence. There is no hint given that you must do this, and the spell is never used anywhere else in the entire Baldur's Gate saga, such that some players might have even forgotten they had it at this point.
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal for the best piece of armor (the Big Metal Unit) you must have play the first game of the series and steal the pants of a random nobleman, play the second part in which you save somebody from certain death, do some detective work to find the wrongdoers, but instead of rescuing their hostage you have to collect the ransom for her and finally in The Throne of Bhaal you must hire 3 of the weakest characters in the world to face an unknown threat. Only if you have done all that and kept the pairs of pants that have absolutely no use whatsoever, yet another guy (who needs to be found, too) can forge them into one.
The labyrinth at Spellhold killed a lot of people through this and Fake Difficulty, by placing an undetectable, unremovable smashing hallway trap in an entirely unremarkable corridor. Located right next to an enemy that was no danger at all by this point save for its ability to cast Confusion, which causes players to run around at random. Of course, if you know it's there about five different ways of getting around the problem present themselves.
Child of Light features gemstones called Oculi that you can mix together to form new, stronger items. Selecting three Oculi to mix will show you a preview of the new Oculus, but the game does not explain what the new Oculus actually does until after you hit the "Craft!" button, at which point there is no way to break it down back into the original Oculi used to form it should you discover it has an effect that you don't want. Some of these are self-explanatory; mixing three Oculi of the same colour gives you a stronger version of said Oculi, but once you start mixing Oculi of different colours, good luck figuring out what they do without risk of wasting some items.
Diablo II had this problem to an extreme degree with its game mechanics. Many game mechanics are not described in-game or in the manual and had to be determined outside the game by testing.
Attack speeds, for example, are different between characters, do not often correspond to the descriptions given for items, multiple attack moves like Zeal and Strafe increase the speed in unusual ways, and these and other properties are not described anywhere; they had to be found by outside players in outside guides.
There's a guide written up for the technical details of how poison damage works, including how it gets overwritten and how to convert damage over time in-game as relates to time IRL, to help use it viably as a damage-over-time effect. Without knowing this, it's easy to overwrite/nerf your own damage and come to the conclusion that poison simply sucks.
This is compounded by the so-called "LCS" - or "Lying Character Screen". Literally the only number it can't get wrong is your level, and inaccurate stats can appear as early as level 3. The attack (and related chance to hit), defense (and related chance to be hit), and damage numbers are particularly meaningless, having absolutely no relation to the actual figures used once you have a few different sources of bonuses to these things.
The entire skill/stat placement system was one big Guide Dang It!, as it was very easy to nerf a character by distributing points incorrectly. For most of the game's lifespan, the only way to be strong enough for higher difficulties was to save skill points until you had unlocked high-level skills, as low-level skills were too weak even with heavy investment, and allocate stat points based on what you would need for Hell mode. Fortunately, this was fixed in a later patch, with low-level skills providing damage boosts to higher-level ones and the ability to reset stat/skill distributions.
Blizzard couldn't be bothered to list all the interactions between skills:
When active, Concentration gives a damage boost to Blessed Hammer at 50% efficiency. It's never mentioned anywhere, and since these are the only aura to boost magic skills and the only magic skill to get the boost, there's no reason to expect it.
Energy Shield's synergy with Telekinesis is mentioned on the skill tree but never explained: investing skill points in Telekinesis decreases the amount of mana lost per damage prevented.
Diablo III continues its predecessor's proud tradition of lying character screens: Battle.net and the in-game character screen both give inaccurate damage/second information and don't necessarily agree with each other.
Attacks that can run continuously, such as Arcane Torrent, never specify how long it takes for them to do the listed damage or consume the stated amount of mana or equivalent. Despite the skills running continuously, the mana consumed/second is equal to the listed cost times the number of attacks per second, even though the latter has no bearing on how these skills work or deal damage.
Before patch 1.0.8, items on the Auction House only listed changes to base stats or damage, so you needed a calculator or 3rd-party site to figure out whether an item would be an improvement over your current equipment. Damage/second comparisons were added in 1.0.8, but even now, there's no way to account for skill-specific damage boosts and the impact on damage reduction/dodge chance still has to be done by hand. note This is no longer a problem as there is no longer an auction house, however.
Proc coefficients are one of the game's worst offenders. They are less than intuitive and integral to many builds but are mentioned nowhere in the game or Battle.net's official guide.
If a weapon has a chance of causing a secondary effect, the listed chance is misleading: Each skill has a hidden proc coefficient, and the actual probability of the secondary effect occurring when you use that skill is (proc coefficient) * (base chance).
A handful of runes and passive skills have "a chance" to trigger and provide some beneficial effect when you land a critical hit. Same deal as above, except even the base chance isn't even given.
Proc coefficients can vary even within a skill based on the rune used, and some skills even have a coefficient of zero.
Life on Hit has a different proc coefficient than all other effects, and the third hit of the Monk's primary skills has a different proc coefficient from the first two.
There are actually two Swornbreakers in the game, one you make and one you find. Two quests need them. One can only be found in Kemm's Vault and the other must be obtained in pieces and then created. While Ryker gives the player a hint, a lot of other players will not make the connection, since the other NPC who tells the player is found in the corner of the Driftwood area, with no hints as to that she's there.
You also need one in your inventory for the optimal outcome of the Red Prince's personal quest. The issue is, there's no way to figure this out until you get there (At least, not without prior knowledge) - and when you get there, you can't simply leave and return with the item.
Three late-game bosses will, if you defeated them, appear in the Final Boss fight, and will make it harder since they have all their abilities. There is no way to know this until you get there. This is especially annoying since at least one of them must be fought so that you can get a late-game quest (and Lohse's personal quest) done. The first one to be encountered The Sallow Man will be encountered hours earlier. Have fun if you fought them!
You must complete a ritual twice in the game's second act. However, the second time, you must find a specific ingredient, and the Meistr doesn't tell you where, just "It's in the clositerwood", no more hints beyond that. This results in a lot of pixel hunting and backtracking holding the Alt key around.
Quite a few things in Divinity: Original Sin can only be discovered through trial and error. For instance, the game contains two types of combat invulnerability: Invulnerability proper and the Void Immunity. The former is what the Death Knights possess and you eventually find a spell that nullifies it; the latter is sported by certain demons and plot-relevant bosses and can only be removed in specific cases by story events. What the game doesn't tell you is that the Remove Death Knights' Invulnerability spells works on all enemies with the Invulnerability status effect—including the Sentinel statues and those who can case Invulnerability as a high-level Witchcraft spell.
DRL has a Dragonslayer sword. Even if you find it, you can't pick it up without meeting the proper secret requirements. What are the requirements? They're a secret. The devs, as well as the handful of players who've figured it out, are all in agreement not to tell anyone. So not only is it a Guide Dang It!, there isn't even a guide. You have to be berserk and not wearing any armor.
The game keeps a hidden counter based on conversations and choices you make throughout the game, which only has any apparent impact at the very end of the game: who of Cassandra, Leliana, or Vivienne will be chosen as the new Divine. Figuring out what dialogue options affect this required datamining the game, and even endorsing a specific character as Divine may not result in getting your choice in that matter.
Wicked Eyes and Wicked Hearts, where achieving desired outcomesespecially the "golden" outcomescan require a guide to figure out exactly what to do. It's possible to have Celene and Briala reconcile or have all three contenders for the throne work together, but require frustratingly exact directions to achieve. The better outcomes require you to not only have a high enough reputation with the Court (which is pretty doable by save-scumming when you figure out the flags that cause it to raise and learn to do the infiltration sections as quickly as possible) but also have some dirt to blackmail each of them with. Two of them can be gotten from certain conversations, but for Briala this requires freeing a witness who is locked in an out of the way room that opens by using five statuettes you can find around the palace and which are used to open other doors. There are ten total, and before the point where you can unlock the door, there are three doors that use two each. Meaning you have to avoid using the statuettes to open one of the other doors for that.
War Table missions, where your choice of advisor in one mission can have no real impact on the outcome... and your choice in the next can bring an abrupt andtragic end to a chain of missions, along with any rewards they might have brought.
During the attack on Haven, it is possible to save everyone, but doing so requires knowing exactly where the trigger flags for events are and precise timing. Special mention goes to Adan and Mieve. The time limit to save them is so ridiculously short that many people assumed you could only save one, when in fact it is possible to save both of them if you're faster than lightning.
Softening Leliana from her ruthless streak can very much be a chore: if you do not explicitly forbid her executing a traitor, oops she remains hardened. Suggest that sometimes war forces terrible choices and, whoops she won't listen to you later. Let her kill another traitor or did not pick the right earlier options and you can't talk her out of it. Did everything else right and then suggest sacrifices have to be made? She will be surprised at your words, then commit even more vile acts. What's worse is that if you choose her as Divine but had conflicting responses during her special scenes—yes kill the traitor spy, no don't kill the unarmed crying Sister in cold blood—she'll kill the Sister anyway and call you out for being fickle, but the epilogue will state that her rule as Divine Victoria is conflicted and ineffective.
Keeping Merrill's clan alive at the end of her questline. The dialog options are completely reversed in result from what you'd expect. Say that you murdered their leader without explanation and they'll let you go, but call for calm or honestly explain what happened and why it wasn't your fault and the entire clan will throw themselves on your blades in a suicidal attack.
Try getting Sten's approval up without being told how to do so. He's naturally argumentative, but if you tell him what you think he wants to hear, you'll actually lose approval. Learning this much is easy, but beyond that, good luck figuring out which responses cause him to respect you for sticking to your guns and which ones just piss him off.
The gift system. Sure, you can probably guess some of the gifts by the character (Andraste Relic... oh, Leliana from the Chantry would like this! A scroll... maybe I should give this to Wynne. Booze? DEFINITELY give that to Oghren...) but there are some other ones that aren't as obvious, other than Trial and Error. (Hmm...Oghren doesn't seem to like Wine at all... who would... oh, Wynne? Gold and Silver bars... maybe Ogh... oh no he doesn't like that... neither does Alistair. Hmm who would-Zevran?!)
Alistair's romance plot is relatively predictable and easy to navigate. Except for one seemingly-innocuous conversation option in the first half of the game right after meeting his sister which changes his entire personality, making him more open to the idea of being king, and also to the idea of keeping a female non-human-noble Warden on as a mistress after becoming king. It is also the only way to keep him from dying or becoming a wandering drunkard if you choose not to kill Loghain. If the player does not take this option, it never becomes available again, and nothing you say makes any difference to the eventual outcome of an Alistair romance. The only way a romance with Alistair can work out if you don't change his personality and did not choose the Human Noble backstory is if Alistair either remains in the Grey Wardens and lets Anora become ruler or Alistair becomes king and you pass a Persuade check so he'll still keep you around.
Leliana's personal quest has a similar moment of choosing, a bit after you either kill Marjolaine or let her go. If you change Leliana's personality, she'll be open to the idea of a threesome with Isabella, will (sometimes) not lose approval if you commit immoral acts, and a Persuade check opens up that, if you pass it, prevents Leliana from leaving the party if you do what Kolgrim wants and defile Andraste's sacred ashes with dragon blood.
Making the most out of the Arcane Warrior specialization. It turns out that several mage spells, if you've equipped a weapon other than a staff, require the weapon be sheathed before casting. Those two seconds feel like an eternity when you're in the middle of combat. And there is absolutely no pattern to which spells will sheathe your weapons and which won't (except specialization spells, which never do). What this means is that a lot of mage players who intend on taking the Arcane Warrior spec will consult guides and build up their mage from the start by picking spells that don't sheathe weapons.
The climax of Dragon Age: Origins Awakening involves a choice between saving Vigil's Keep and saving Amaranthine, in which if you do not save Vigil's Keep, it falls and all your companions left there are killed. That is, unless you completed a series of seemingly not-too-important side quests and also agreed to pay a ridiculous amount of money very early in the game. It would not be so much of a Guide Dang It! if the player were not led by the original game to consider the amount of money demanded ridiculous; however, since it's about 20 times easier to earn money in Awakening than in Origins, not only is it unlikely a player will have enough money to pay for everything at that stage, it is equally unlikely they'll be willing to part with that much gold.
In Fallen London, the steps to get the Passion destiny are so obscure that it's a wonder anyone managed to discover it: you have to get a specific ending of the Fate-locked Secrets Framed in Gold storyline, then draw a rare card that can be unearthed in only one location.
Famously in the original Dungeon Siege game there is a secret 'chicken level', which can only be accessed by placing three completely unassuming items on pressure plates in the MULTIPLAYER map! You need:
The completely normal in every way level 1 knife that your character starts with in singleplayer. You only get one of these (per character), so if you replace it (as any character would as they level up) then tough, start again!
An item from a HIDDEN secret mini-dungeon in an otherwise normal quest area in the singleplayer campaign.
A quest reward book from an extensive quest chain in the multi-player campaign. The book gives a very cryptic riddle which vaguely directs the player to an area of the multiplayer map he'd never usually go anywhere near. The entrance to it is only opened if you have the book. The riddle also very cryptically refers to the level 1 knife and the item from the hidden dungeon, and rather less vaguely instructs the player to place all three items on the respective pressure pads to 'start the trial'. The trial turns out to be slaughtering a load of chickens (one of which is named for the lead developer, Chris Taylor) who start with ridiculous amounts of health (but do very little damage). Once defeated, the player receives humorous and massively overpowered loot, including a gun that fires chickens.
The beginning tutorials of Gaia Online MMORPG zOMG! have been altered, edited, debugged, taken apart and reassembled, and generally changed so much that they no longer tell you much of how to play the game. Things like Ghi, suppressing your level to farm in lower-level areas, ring CL swap, and salvaging your spare rings for orbs all have to be explained in the forums.
There were a few moments even before the tutorials were removed. The Tiny Terrors in the Old Aqueduct and the Anchor Bugs on the Buccaneer Boardwalk do not count towards kill count badges for those respective enemies (though the Bugs still drop loot, and both can drop charge orbs; this makes farming the quickly-respawning Aqueduct Terrors quite rewarding). The goal of the Gauntlet is to run away.
The Gay Option in Jade Empire can be very difficult to unlock unless you know exactly what to do. The only way to get Sky to date a male PC is by being Open Palm and shutting down the romances with both Silk Fox and Dawn Star. Because 'nice' conversation options get you higher good points, it's pretty close to impossible to figure out how to let the girls down gently while still being 'good' enough to catch the fella's interest. Additionally, if the conversation that normally triggers the Sky romance has already occurred and you haven't properly rejected the two women first, you won't get other chances.
Kingdom of Loathing, despite falling under this trope on numerous occasions (like most of the Holy MacGuffin quest, just for starters), actually averts it with the special monsters in the final dungeon that can only be defeated with a specific item. The game gives you a hint after losing to them for the first time, which grows increasingly more specific until the fifth or sixth one tells you exactly what you need and where to find it.
One of the more versatile (and cool-looking) spells in Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos is only attainable in the abandoned city of Yvel about two-thirds of the way through the game. Most of the doors in this city are boarded up, but there is one boarded-up door that can be opened, and the scroll for the spell is waiting inside. By the way, all you have to do to open this door is click on it several times with the mouse cursor...but the door looks exactly like every single other boarded-up door in the city, and nowhere else in the game are you ever required to click on random background scenery for any reason.
The game is peppered with other instances of this trope. Example One: using the Green Skull is the best (and possibly only) way to kill the Lahrkon guarding the Urbish Mines, but you might not figure this out until you'd tried everything else. Example Two: the fact that the Emerald Blade is the best (and possibly only) weapon to use against Wraiths is only mentioned once, in an easily-missed book in the only library in the game, which is located on the very first map, which is inaccessible by the time you're fighting Wraiths, which are easily capable of wiping out your entire party in a single blow. It's also possible to miss both Green Skulls and both Emerald Blades. Worse, it's possible to screw up due to the Barrier placements and have your only other available weapon against the Wraiths lost for good. Bye-bye, plot development.
L.A. Noire has such a big problem with this that some reviewers have actually called it "Guide Dang It!: The Game".
Also, in lots of missions, going to some location or interrogating someone at the wrong time will mess up the mission structure, sometimes ending the mission before you got all the clues. This comes without warning and leaves you with lower scores for not guessing what order the developers had in mind.
The golden film reels are even worse because they are often located in obscure locations like in the middle of train tunnels or random playgrounds. Without a guide, you almost literally need to cover every street, back alley, and overland area of the game map to find everything.
And let's not forget finding all 95 vehicles in the game. A good amount are not even unlocked until certain missions. The vehicle showroom feature does show you which cars you've found, as well as the general shape of the ones you're missing, but so many of them are variations of similar models that it doesn't really help much. In order to find out whether or not you've found a car you need, you have to enter every single vehicle you come across unless you can recognize the slight detailed differences.
Averted with regards to the "Complete Edition" version of the game, which includes the bonus levels previously released for download which, as a result, are not covered in the officially published game guide.
Do you want to get the Golden Ending in Mask of the Betrayer? You'll have to reassemble the titular Mask. Too bad two of the parts are only collected in unmarked sidequests in completely optional areas that require Gann to be in your party to even find.
The Megaman Sprite Comic game has this. Got the bad ending? Don't know what you have to do? Get this; you ACTUALLY HAVE TO STAY OFF THE GRASS FOR EVERYTHING UP UNTIL THAT POINT. However, the game does provide a hint in the form of a sign at the very beginning of the game telling you to stay off the grass. However, reading said sign requires you to... step on the grass.
Might and Magic II requires you to go into a dungeon to retrieve King Kalohn's Element Orb. However, as long as the Orb is in your inventory, a magical barrier prevents you from leaving the area which, by the way, is also an anti-magic area preventing the use of teleportation spells. What you are supposed to do is to give the Orb to a hireling and dismiss him from the party. The hireling will then somehow find his way back to the last visited inn with the Orb still in his inventory. That's right — abusing game mechanics is the intended solution to this puzzle.
Much like the "Rumplestiltskin if the alphabet is backwards" example near the start of this page, browser-based MMORPG Travians includes a spell of protection where you have to say the first letter in each word of the spell. The only clue to this is the word "SHORTLY" as in "Enter the house, and say SHORTLY: Great Mother! Protect this house!" etc. etc. As the letters don't even form any manner of word themselves, nobody could get that without looking at the Quest Guide.
Blessed/Uncursed/Cursed status detection. Cursed items in NetHack are Bad News. If you don't know how to detect them, you'll waste lots of scrolls uncursing them, or walk around with cursed armor and attract hits, basically meaning you need to play as a priest or die. What the game doesn't tell you is that you can detect curses for free at any altar in the game, even of a god that doesn't like you, just by dropping the item on one. This is made more confusing by the fact that the game does tell you how to offer items to gods at altars, and to do that, you don't drop the items, you use a special Offer command. So you won't discover this use of altars in the course of their normal use.
And if you can't find an altar, drop an unknown item near your pet and wait a while. When it walks over the item, it may "move only reluctantly," meaning the item is cursed. Nope, the game doesn't tell you that either.
Removing cursed items. Some of them make sense (reading a scroll of destroy armor, letting a nymph steal it), while others are more out there (dipping a cursed item in a fountain has a 2/15 chance of breaking the curse, cast stone to flesh and eat it).
Excalibur. This is one of the easiest artifact weapons to get. All you have to do is choose a lawful character, advance to at least level 5, and dip an ordinary long sword into a fountain. But there are no hints to the combination, and no messages saying why you have failed or why you're successful. Further, it only works 1/6 of the time, so even if you stumble on the correct combination you could rust multiple swords into uselessness trying it.
Nethack is a game of exploration. Reading the "guide" spoils the point of the game. That said, there are clues to Excalibur-dipping. Rumors (which pop up in fortune cookies, from the oracle, etc.) has this entry: "They say that the lady of the lake now lives in a fountain somewhere."
Sting is another example. There's a function of the game that lets you assign a name to an object; by all appearances, its only use is to help you tell unidentified items apart. But if you pick up any elven dagger and name it Sting, it will suddenly gain the powers of Bilbo's sword from The Hobbit. (Faintly justified since Bilbo did, in fact, name his own weapon, but it had magic powers before he started calling it Sting.) There's also Orcrist, an artifact elven broadsword gained the same way.
The game gives you very few Scrolls of Identify, so you have to experiment with your inventory to find out what most items are. There are a lot of ways you can do this without using an item outright, which is fortunate because using the wrong item at the wrong time gets you dead. Some of these are intuitive: if you throw a potion at a wall next to you, you'll "breathe the fumes" and get a tiny dose of the potion's effects. But some are bizarre: if you drop a ring into a sink (in a game where the drop command normally puts the item on the floor), it will have a magical effect on the sink, usually a pun on the ring's normal effect. If you really wanted to play without a guide, you'd have to test rings the hard way by wearing them, then drop them in sinks to see the magical effect (because there's no way in hell you'll guess what the effects mean on your own), then record the results so that next game you can identify that particular ring.
It has been long debated as to whether NetHack is possible to beat in its current form without recourse to spoilers or sourcediving. Arguments end up focusing on what exactly constitutes a spoiler and whether price-based identification of items is actually cheating or not, but the general suspicion is: yes, it is theoretically possible, but it's seriously hard work — and proving such an achievement is even harder.
If you inscribe the word 'Elbereth' on the ground, most sentient enemies will not attack you. This knowledge is absolutely vital to most strategies, but you'll only find out if you read the manual carefully; and even if you know, there's a huge number of clauses (how long various ways of scribing it will last, which monsters will respect it, etc) which can only be discovered from a guide or from extreme trial and error.
Slash'EM Extended has a set of weapons capable of breaking down iron bars. Basically, it's a list of random weapons including steel whips, torpedoes, and electric swords, some of which nobody would even consider of being able to break bars. The only way to find out about them is to try applying every weapon at a square containing iron bars and hoping it does something.
On the first level of Undermountain in the Hordes of the Underdark expansion for Neverwinter Nights, there's a secret door that can only be discovered when a specific non-hostile rat is within ten feet of the door. There's no indication of this in the game, save that the door will sometimes refuse to appear regardless of your character's Search skill rank. This is hardly game breaking, and you can open the module in the game's level editor to figure out what's going on, but it still makes very little sense.
OFF contains a puzzle that is impossible to solve without consulting a guide. Specifically, the READ ME.txt attached with the game.
Just one? Puzzles in this game generally have two difficulty settings - "so easy they're boring" and "goddamn impossible." One puzzle requires you to leave the room and go buy the final piece from an NPC. There are no hints at this anywhere in the level.
Some mechanics aren't very well-explained, such as establishing your first settlement - once you've claimed a new region, you have to build one by selecting a marker in the region on the map screen.
In a general sense, all of the relics you can collect and craft into gear or get a story (and XP) from. Finding them without a guide can be an exercise in frustration, especially if you have only one more left to find but can't remember which ones you've already obtained.
The same thing goes for the key to unlock the Bonus Boss. It requires that you defeat 45 specific monsters - but once you get down to the final few, trying to figure out which ones are left is an exercise in frustration.
The "Lost Child" quest has a few possible outcomes, but to get the "best" one you have to know exactly what you're dealing with, and have exactly the right spell prepared, and pass a DC 20 Knowledge (Arcana) check to get the dialogue option to use the spell to appear. A more obvious option that sounds like it will lead to the best ending only will if you've talked to the named lizards in the village and picked all the good dialogue options; otherwise going through with it actually results in the child dying. The reason is that the NPC you ask for help dispels the invisibility on a Will-o'-the-Wisp, which immediately attacks with lightning; the previously-mentioned "exact spell" is Glitterdust which will both reveal and stun the wisp, preventing it from doing that, and talking to the villagers calms their fears, which are what give the creature strength.
The final romance option available is Nyrissaherself (i.e. the Anti-Villain nymph you repeatedly clash with), but accessing it is so convoluted that entire guides have been written to help. Particularly frustrating is that getting the Golden Ending on this path requires dialogue options with three bosses: Tartuk, Vordakai, and Armag. Tartuk and Armag (whose dialogues are interchangeable) can die without you being able to talk to them, and the check for Vordakai? It requires an Arcane Knowledge check of 21 or higher to even access it, is absolutely required, and it's completely hidden! Compounding this, Vordakai likes to use death spells on your weaker party members, like the ones most likely to have that skill, and if they're not alive at the end of the fight (you don't get time to heal them before the conversation comes up) you can't use their bonuses.
In Jaethal's final quest, you can convince her to spare her daughter, but it requires making several choices before. In her first quest, tell Jaethal to kill the girl she has turned undead. In the next quest, learn Tanaka's secret and protect Jaethal. Finally, when you face Jaethal's daughter, protect Jaethal and then, in the aftermath, remind Jaethal about her pride in her daughter. After making two choices, Jaethal will tell her patron deity Urgathoa she must disappoint her—which leads to Urgathoa killing her. This, however, allows you to later meet Jaethal in the House at the End of Time as a friendly NPC.
A handful of sidequests give directions which boil down to little more than "meet some guy in the woods". Sometimes the player is meant to revisit a zone, sometimes the quest will advance as a "random" encounter while traveling, and occasionally a hidden node will spawn when the party walks past on the world map. Good luck figuring out which is the correct option without a guide.
It is possible to end up without a Councilor for Kingdom Management during the storyline, which often spells inevitable doom due to the position being needed to resolve numerous events. Of the three potential candidates, Shandra must be selected at the very start of the game, without any indication what function she could actually serve (and the player's Swordlord benefactor advising them to avoid her), Tsanna is a Chaotic Evil priestess who is likely to die or be banished at the player's hands long before there's any indication she's recruitable, and Tristan betrays the party and may be fought and killed as a result.
Saving Nilak during "The Twice-Born Warlord", which is required to get the best personal ending for Amiri. When "Hour of Rage" becomes available, you must go there before doing "The Betrayer's Flight". Then, when the time comes for Amiri to infiltrate the camp, she must use an alternate path to reach the center of the camp so she doesn't engage in combat with anyone except Armag himself. A Chaotic player can instead make the Tiger Lords throw a riot, bypassing the stealth mission aspect. Oh, and to top it off, doing this permanently ends Tristian's Romance Sidequest: you have to do "Betrayer's Flight" first to continue it.
Path of Exile could be called Guide Dang It: The Video Game thanks to the sheer number of options it gives players. There are so many mechanics, spell/stat interactions, and strategies to contend with that it can be very easy to get lost and make a terrible build through no fault of your own, only to hit a wall when the Nintendo HardDifficulty Spikes start being piled on. The infamously gigantic skill tree doesn't exactly help either. However, as players learn the mechanics, builds, the metagame, and ways to make currency effectively to buy and trade for items, the game opens up and becomes considerably more manageable.
Several maps can be very annoying to travel through if you're not aware of the "tells" or "hints" that they have to help players navigate. For a few examples;
The Western Forest, Act 2: From the waypoint, the way to get to Alira is the side of the road where the torch is.
The Lunaris Temple, Act 3: The correct way to go is always upstairs.
The Grain Gate, Act 7: The exit is through the warehouses with the dead Blackguards sitting next to their entrances.
Getting proper defenses and knowing which types of defense take priority can often mean the difference between success and frustration. In particular, getting your Fire, Cold, and Lightning elemental resistances to the 75% soft cap is extremely important for surviving (Chaos resistance also to a lesser degree, although very few enemies use Chaos attacks). In contrast, armour and evasion typically doesn't do anywhere near as much to keep you alive; armour has a hard cap in how much damage it can mitigate, and evasion has a cap on how much dodge chance it gives you, leaving you still vulnerable to lucky hits.
The "% increased damage" modifier is not the same as "% more damage" modifier and has a different effect on damage.
Several gems are much, much more useful if you don't upgrade them because upgrading them also will increase their mana cost/damage threshold to proc. For example, connecting level 1 Cast When Damage Taken with level 1 Immortal Call will result in Immortal Call being procced every single time you are hit, which is extremely useful against spiky enemy damage and oneshots. Another example of this is Arcane Surge, which is a useful spellpower buff that can be linked to movement skills so it procs every time you use it (which will be often).
Most of the vendor recipes, including several very useful ones, are not described in-game and have to be looked up. For example, selling a six-socket piece of gear will give you 7 Jeweler's Orbs, and selling a set of rare items between level 68-75 will give you a Chaos Orb (and if they aren't ID'd, two Chaos Orbs).
RuneScape has clue scrolls, a sort of elaborate treasure hunt in which you solve a series of puzzles and challenges leading to a cache of treasure. Most of these offer enough in-game hints that a diligent player can solve them without a guide. However, there are some exceptions:
One clue tells you to use the panic emote in the "heart" of the Haunted Woods, which is an undefined area with no conspicuous landmarks to distinguish it from the rest of the Haunted Woods. And the area is crawling with goddamned vampyres and leeches, and you can't use emotes in combat, so trial and error won't get you very far.
Another tells you to look for a "throat mage." Most clues ask you to solve puzzles and riddles, so one can be forgiven for not expecting the solution to lie in a Stealth Pun. You're supposed to look in the Necromancer's Tower. Get it? Neck-romancer? HA HA HA! To make matters worse, the Necromancer's Tower is pretty much a piece of scenery that nobody ever goes to for any reason.
Speaking of clue scrolls, there is a quest in the desert series called Do No Evil, where you attempt to introduce Planet of the Apes type monkeys into the desert ecosystem. One part of this quest is to use the equivalent of a metal detector to dig up some metal boxes with Magic Carpets for the colony. What does any of this have to do with clue scrolls, you might ask? Well, after the quest, you can use said metal detector to locate a rare Elite Clue Scroll with great rewards. You are never told this, ever. Furthermore, the Elite Clue Scroll is buried in one of four obscure locations that you would not likely go to otherwise while wearing the device.
Another clue scroll can be gotten by giving a banana to a monkey in your inventory, which can be obtained in an earlier quest. However, the chance of getting the clue scroll is very low, and there were no hint at all that you could get a clue scroll this way before an achievement for getting it was added to the game, and the achievement doesn't say how to get the clue scroll, and so without a guide, the player may not realize that is it received randomly.
One quest taking place in Morytania, a land ruled by the undead, involves you finding a cure to a disease in Mort'ton. Afterwards, the diary that you start the quest by reading can be given to an Apothecary in Varrock for some Herblore experience. You are never told this. Furthermore, Varrock is not located in Morytania, and the Apothecary is used only for a minor role in an easy freeplay quest (which has now been removed). Guide Dang It!.
This one is no longer an example, as there is now an Achievement in the game that tells you to do this.
The "Elemental Workshop III" quest features an insanely complicated, 3D sliding puzzle that is nearly impossible to solve without a guide. And even with a guide, it still takes ages.
Want to know how to dodge Vanstrom Klause's extremely dangerous darkness attack? The game tells you to look away from him when he telegraphs it, and you'd be forgiven for assuming that means to position your character facing away from him. Nope, just doing this will probably get you hit with around 500 unblockable damage. It actually means to angle the camera in such a way that it's not looking at him. Not only is this hard to figure out, but you only get a second or two to react to the incoming attack, and winning the fight without knowing how to dodge this is something only the highest level players can do.
In one particular quest released in December 2012, players needed a Tz Haar to translate old texts for them, but didn't have him on hand to translate the last set. That's alright, because by this point it's the boss fight of the quest line, so you can just complete it. Well, a Jagex moderator confirmed that it was possible to translate the text. After months of searching for the solution by themselves, the community was given the following information: there was a Ga'al (basically, a Tz Haar born as a blank slate instead of fully matured) who escaped the Tz Haar city wandering around Runescape, but he's really good at disguising himself. If you found him, he'd take you to the area and translate it for you. To trigger his appearance, you needed to meet a set of conditions which were totally unknown... and that was all the players were told. Some ideas from players included changing your title to be Tz Haar themed, a Ring of Stone (which turns you into a pile of rocks, as Tz Haar are rock creatures), obsidian armor from the quest, a Ring of Visibility (it was confirmed that you need "more than this ring"), or all of the above.
Has since been solved, with the full solution requiring (among other things): making armour and equipping it, unequipping it shortly after, equipping a Tokkul-Zo ring while having both a Ring of Visibility and Ring of Stone in the inventory, as well as a number of obsidian shards equal to the current Runedate divided by 10. The Runedate could only be found with a completely unrelated item. Oh, and all of the above must be done within 20 minutes, and none of it was hinted at.
One achievement that is unintuitive is getting every piece of circus clothing. Some of the pieces can only be gotten by getting low scores at the circus and the game doesn't tell you this.
At one point in Slime Forest Adventure, you have to mine the hills for a certain kind of rock. The author wanted each attempt at mining to trigger a random encounter. (It's an Edutainment Game, and random encounters are the main tool for training the player.) However, it's been repeatedly established that there are no slimes in the hills. The end result is that mining while standing on a hill tile results in a generic "Nothing found" message. You have to be standing on another type of tile, facing the hill you want to mine, before you can trigger the random encounter, which you have to win in order to get your rock.
When Star Wars: Galaxies was first released, Jedi characters had to be unlocked through specific in-game actions.
Star Wars: The Old Republic has the Datacrons. A few of them are easy enough to find, but most require some crazy platforming sequences (in a game whose controls are very much not platformer-friendly) that are usually started in some obscure, out of the way place on the map, or needing cooperation between multiple players with specific skills. Some even involve riding on a moving platform that oterwise appears to be simple background ambiance; the most infamous of these requires boarding a hot-air balloon at one specific location, riding it for 30 minutes to another specific location, and then trying not to miss the dismount, which is easy to do if you don't switch off the sprint toggle that most players turn on and forget about.
The fight with Undyne during the Pacifist run. Every boss battle (in fact, every battle period) up to this point could be completed through selecting the "Spare" option after enough Act menu trickery, or by outlasting their attacks in some cases. Undyne, however, continually refuses to accept your mercy and won't react to any attempts to spare her. Violence Is the Only Option? Nope, that'll ruin the Pacifist run. It's essentially a Hopeless Boss Fight - you have to run away when your soul heart turns from green to red, and the only hints at this are her line at the beginning of the fight ("As long as you're green, you can't run away") and her line after she's said all of her other battle dialogue ("You'll never escape from me!!!!). Additionally, most players wouldn't think that fleeing from her would allow them to run in the other direction.
Likewise, Mettaton EX can only be spared by getting the ratings for the show over 10000. There is no indication of this beyond the subtle rising stats under the ratings, it just kind of... happens. It could easily be believed that the ratings are just there for show rather than being an actual game mechanic. A pair of NPCs do give some hints about what they like in his shows, but that's quite a while before the fight so it's easy to forget.
Another Pacifist Run example: the fight against King Asgore can be really confusing, specifically becauseViolence Is the Only Option. Up until that point, every boss could be spared without any physical violence. After a while, the game will say "All you can do is FIGHT" but ignoring any calls to violence and being persistently pacifistic is completely necessary until that point, so it's easy to assume it's just another trap to trick you out of the Pacifist run. It also explicitly goes against any hard lessons the player might have learned from the very first boss battle, which is meant to harshly dissuade you from using the Technical Pacifist "hit until they give up" strategy. Not helping matters is that your stats are completely atrocious for actually fighting anything, adding another layer to the "this can't possibly be the solution" confusion.
If you kill Flowey after his boss fight in a neutral run, he won't show up at the end of the game to tell you how to get the best ending, which can leave you unaware that there even is another ending unless you read about it online.
Starting the genocide route at all is actually really unintuitive. You need to grind off monsters in the ruins before fighting Toriel until you start getting "encounters" where it just says "but nobody came" and the music gets all spooky. From there, the save points will tell you exactly how many monsters you need to kill before you can kill the boss, but even then, Snowdin has a nasty trick where you need to hunt down and kill Snowdrake- a random encounter, albeit a very common one- before meeting the quota or the run will end anyway.
If you're having trouble with dodging an attack only to run into another one, you can slow down by holding the X key. However, unlike other game mechanics, this is never actually hinted at or brought up, so many players go through the game without ever using it, thinking that X is only used to skip through dialogue. Similarly, the same button can be used to exit the menus during fights so you can choose another option instead, but again this is never mentioned except for at the very beginning of the game right after the intro.
Speaking of covering tracks, there's a handful of ways to do it, with varying degrees of success. The problem comes in that when you do one of the major server hacks (that spawns a "Find Out Who Hacked Us" mission that, in older versions, you could accept and submit 127.0.0.1 for), the game slowly checks the logs on each server in the chain until one of two things happen. The first case (which you want) is that the trail is completely lost by a properly-done log wipe. The second case is that they manage to trace it all the way back to you because you forgot that when you disconnect, you leave a log message saying you disconnected (which, if not paired with a connection log message, does not stop a slow trace). And there's still a chance that the game might bug out and get you anyways.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings features an essentially hidden side quest, "From a Bygone Era", which allows you to either reset your skilltree or get the best additional weapon, and one of the three Dragon Scales in the game. You must find a rundown shack in Chapter 2, near the Kaedweni camp, which is tricky if you're playing Iorveth's path, in which case you only visit the area once, and blast some unremarkable barrels behind it to reveal a cellar entrance. Then you must solve a puzzle that requires information from the gravestones in the backyard. This gets you a book containing some gibberish words. You must show it to Bras of Ban Ard in Chapter 3, who will explain exactly once in what order the words must be used to pass the Guardian that you can find in the sewers of Loc Muinne. This information is not recorded in your Journal and you can't ask again, making the Guardian's puzzle a very frustrating process. Finally, you must pass a relatively simple puzzle to reach the Operator, who will either reset your skill tree or end up being possibly the hardest boss fight in the game, depending on what you want from him.
The Witcher has a Collection Sidequest involving a dentist who collects monster teeth. The thing is, most of the parts you extract from creepies have little use beyond simple Vendor Trash, and the appearance of relevant monsters are not limited to chapters the guy appears in. For example, barghests (and therefore, their skulls) are plentiful in Chapter I, but never to be seen again after that - and the guy does not show until Chapter III. So you need to hang onto some with no apparent reason at all since they can't even be used to brew potions.
In Wizardry VII, some of the puzzles are nigh-incomprehensible without the guide. Map pieces in the game give you clues on occasion, but even with all of them, you will do lots of aimless wandering.
Wizardry IV is a massive offender of Guide Dang It, with devious dungeon layouts, random hidden doors, and one-way walls, and puzzles which required pop culture knowledge to know which item to use, let alone where to use it. The very first room is one of the most glaring examples: there's seemingly no way out of the room you start in. There's a hidden door, which you need a light spell to find and enter. But Werdna can't use light spells! So you summon some Priests. But you can't command your monsters outside of battle! So you have to get into a random battle and hope that one of the Priests randomly casts a light spell so you can use the hidden door once the battle is finished.
World of Warcraft: Mankrik's Wife was infamous for being impossible to complete without a guide. Mankrik tasked players with finding his wife's body, which shouldn't be hard... except that he offered no clues to her location, she was very far away from him, and oh yeah, players looking for "Mankrik's Wife" will never find her, because the thing you had to find was given the generic name "Battered Corpse" instead. Eventually Blizzard just took the quest out of the game.
On the Alliance side, the quest "Fiora Longears" was easy: travel to Theramore, talk to the eponymous NPC... until she was arbitrarily moved to Auberdine and the developers forgot to update the quest description, leaving the players clueless for months until it was finally fixed.
The Onyxia attunement chain is one reason why the attunements were removed altogether before being replaced with the fairly straightforward proving grounds in Warlords of Draenor.
For the horde players, you have to search for Rexxar in Desolace, who is wandering around the region. Oh, he's not in a fixed location... he's on a fixed patrol path, meaning you have to literally run it and hope he's there. Desolace chat was frequently filled with "Where's Rexxar?"
The alliance version flat out bait-and-switches you. You must run Blackrock Depths, and in the early part of the dungeon, you get a quest that tells you to go outside the dungeon. Usually, when you do quests in a dungeon, you don't go outside to complete it, but in this case, you must - because completing the quest causes a crumpled up note to drop. The kicker? You complete the quest, turn it in, get a reward and are told "Oh, I guess there isn't anything else we can do"... so for no apparent reason, you have to think to go back into Blackrock Depths, kill around the jail (Which you just cleared, meaning you have almost no reason to go there unless you are starting another run) until the note drops, and then start off an Escort Mission.
Before quest-giving NPCs were moved to the dungeon start, you had to find the quests yourself. Alliance had quests inside Razorfen Kraul (A dungeon in horde territory, which alliance have very little reason to venture.) but the way to find them requires you to pixel hunt for a dead body in The Thousand Needles. By the time you reach Thousand Needles, you're probably too high a level for the dungeon, especially in Classic when it was a 30-40 zone. The Alliance Scarlet Monastery quest starts in Desolace... which is so far removed from any place the alliance usually goes that very few people would have actually gone there and found it naturally. (Most only knew of it via friends who knew via friends who eventually figured out via a website.)
Hunters had to rely on third party websites, to find out which tameable pets would teach them various ranks of pet abilities. Not only did the game itself not mention this, it never even mentions that it's possible to learn pet abilities from sources other than the Pet Trainer at all.
Originally, the very gameplay itself was an example of this trope. The game failed to teach you incredibly fundamental information like "what defense score is needed to make the tank immune to critical hits?" or "damage dealers should stand behind the boss because attacks from the rear can't be parried". Blizzard made a valiant effort to fix it, adding obvious descriptions to important skills ("This spell deals damage, use it a lot.", ""This talent makes you take less damage. That's your job, meatshield.", etc.) and putting great big Tank/DPS/Heal icons and short description of how you're going to be expected to play your role on the early-game talent selections. They also added quests where you fight a boss designed to teach you simple mechanics like getting out of the way when the boss starts telegraphing an attack, another crucial skill players weren't getting taught. Later on, the proving grounds were added.
All of the following was eventually removed from the game because Blizzard recognized that players were being forced to consult guides and automated websites just to be able to hit things reliably, and that wasn't a good state of affairs. Post-6.0 items have primary stats appropriate for anyone who can wear them, there are only a few secondary stats (and all are useful), reforging is gone, and gems and enchantments have been massively downplayed in importance. For posterity's sake, all examples about the old state of affairs have been retained:
Cataclysm also seeks to further simplify weapons and armor (much to the chagrin of "hardcore players") by removing many of the different stats. For example, a physical damage dealer (rogue, warrior, etc) in earlier expansions had to balance Agility, Strength, Attack power, Hit Rating, Critical Strike Rating, Expertise and Armor Penetration... along with enough Stamina to survive a few splash damage attacks. That's seven different stats to look at, and a good number of them were rather redundant anyways. Cataclysm specifically calls out a primary stat for each class: Agility for Rogues and Shaman, Strength for Warriors, Death Knights and Paladins, or Intellect for spell casters. A few stats, largely perceived as redundant and non-intuitive but important nevertheless (such as expertise, which reduced the chance of enemies dodging and parrying your attacks) remain, and the addition of mastery (a stat which does very specific things based on your character's specialization) complicates matters further. Still, it's enough of an improvement that one can safely assume a class-appropriate level 359 item is better than a level 346 item of the same type.
In addition, the new Reforging option that allows you to change part of the stats allocated to your equipment more or less mandates that every class and specialization knows their stat priority and allocates as much stat points as possible from suboptimal to optimal secondary stats. Said priority is only available on forums and in external player guides and is a result of empirical research rather then something the developers actually enforce. Thus stat 'weights' often change when classes undergo overhauls.
Nor does the game specify in any way what enchants and socket gems are optimal for a given specialization at a given level. Is +500 Nature damage better than occasionally getting +1200 Intellect? To find out, you'll either need to spend a ton of money on enchants or look it up on a third-party site. On some trinkets or enchantments with a proc, there is an "internal cooldown" that prevents the proc from re-occurring within a certain period. When comparing a trinket that randomly procs with one that has a cooldown, you must not only compare the relative benefits of each one in terms of statistics but how often the latter will proc, which you will not be able to find from in-game information.
In short, the gear optimization metagame has grown so complicated that automated spreadsheets have been developed by advanced players for specific classes that automatically parse character data and decide for you which way should your gear be optimized.
To say nothing of stat caps. While most stats improvement follow the general rule of "more is better", some stats will suffer critical diminishing returns after a certain amount is reached (or Soft Cap) while others will cease giving any benefit whatsoever past a certain point (Hard Caps). While it is possible to discover some of these on your own if you ferret deep enough in your character stats ("Hey, why am I putting more hit rating on my mage if I already have 0 percent chance of missing?"), some are so obscure (such as the mage 25% haste soft cap) that they are definitely trope-worthy and a sign that you need to do more online research for your optimal build.
Haste is an especially non-intuitive statistics, especially since for classes that use damage or healing over time spells, getting haste to a certain threshold, you get extra ticks for each spell since haste determines the time between ticks (for example, a HOT with a duration of 4 seconds has four ticks if it ticks every seconds, but gets a fifth tick if you increase your haste to the point at which it can tick every .8 seconds). This involves gearing to fairly specific break points; you won't get the extra tick if you're a little short, you'll likely benefit very little from extra points unless there is a nearby breakpoint, and it's hard to determine those breakpoints without a chart, especially since haste buffs come into play.
Since patched to be reasonable, but Vanilla Blackrock Depths. This is just a pair of Guide Dang Its, but they're critical: the dungeon cannot be completed unless you get the Shadowforge Key and unlock the Shadowforge Lock with it. However, you can run half the dungeon without it, only to find yourself in a dead-end without explanation. There is never an indication you must have the key, nor where to get it, nor does anything tell you that you have to take a quest from a ghost outside the dungeon whom you can't even see unless you're dead and that you need to not kill a unique dwarf you're going to find before you have the quest, or a completely required item won't drop and the dungeon has to be reset. Later on, you hit up a tavern with a locked back door, and indications you need a key to get through it, but there's no way to get it. How do you get through? Four ways: pickpocket the tavern owner and risk death when he finds out and everyone there attacks, kill someone to summon a guard patrol (which never happens anywhere else), do a quest for an NPC there that requires you leave the dungeon and fly around the world gathering bits, or give an otherwise normal-looking dwarf several beers, at which point he'll smash the door down for no reason other than he wants to be drunker.
Actually he smashes a keg to get more booze, and the security golem (Phalanx) smashes through the door to stop him.
The endgame content is pretty much entirely this, as it is utterly reliant on knowing in advance things that are never mentioned in the game. Practically every raid boss will slaughter a group where people don't already know what it's going to do. In this case, Blizzard just put the required guide right into the game — dungeons and raids now have the Dungeon Journal, which will tell you each boss' gimmicks and, from Siege of Ogrimmar on, even have a short little "okay, this is the stuff that you specifically need to pay attention to" blurb for the tanks, healers, and DPS.
There's a quest in Felwood based on the Arthas vs Illidan fight a while back. When the quest-giver summons an image of Illidan monologuing, you expect to just kick back and watch some fireworks. However, once the fight ends, you'll notice that you never saw Arthas the entire time, and when Illidan lost, you were marked as having failed the quest. You need to jump in and fight Arthas yourself. Now going back to what was just said, you never saw Arthas, so you can't target him, meaning that Illidan can't win and you can't succeed. How to get around this is to go to where Illidan is and look where Arthas will appear, which first off, the quest never mentions having to do, and second, you don't know where Arthas will appear since you can't see him. If When you fail the quest enough times, it will eventually give you a different quest.
Cataclysm put a new quest in Loch Modan, where you find a Dark Iron spy's list of drop places for parcels, which you can go around collecting and giving to a Dwarf NPC for experience. The third note is listed as being in the back of a cave on the southern side of a hill that's just south of Thelsamar. Logically, you look at Grizzlepaw Ridge, which fits the description perfectly. Except, there are two caves on that hill. One is a large, Trogg-filled cave on the southern face. The other is on the eastern side, but still sort of fits the description, since it mentions the path to the cave, which does begin on the southern side, and that it's at the top of the hill, and the larger, southern cave is at the bottom. After thoroughly investigating both of these caves, you'll notice that the item isn't anywhere in either of these caves. You'll later happen upon another cave, not to the south, but much more to the southeast of Thelsamar. There's also the fact that there are no quests leading you here, meaning that most players have no reason to go here.
Some of the Hidden Skins for Legion Artifacts are a nightmare to collect without an actual guide. Havoc Demon Hunters have to farm demons until they eventually find a locket that they turn in to an eredar that kicks them up to a felbat they have to fight[[note]]It used to be possible to glide to said felbat from Dalaran or Highmountain but after flying was unlocked for Broken Isles, Blizzard made it out of phase (unseeable and unattackable) for anyone without the locket[[/labelnote]]. Some like Frost Mages and Arms Warriors have no option but to check their order hall daily in hopes of getting the prompt they need. But worst by far is Retribution Paladin which has to hit two different Vanilla dungeons, Alterac Valley, Blackwing Lair, talk to several different NPCs around the world, kill a rare monster, fish up an item with an incredibly low drop rate (roughly 1/10,000 chance), and talk to some more NPCs before finally unlocking the Hidden Skin.