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Misaimed "Realism"

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"Sometimes the drive for realism goes so far, it comes out the other end of a vortex and becomes completely unrealistic. The finest example being 'weapon durability' in almost every game that features weapon durability. Yes, weapons degrade with prolonged use in real life, but a length of tempered metal doesn't shatter and fall apart after a matter of minutes!"

In video games or Tabletop Games, an element of the gameplay that is supposed to make the game more realistic, but backfires by producing laughably unrealistic results instead.

This generally occurs in at least one of three ways:

  • An effect is included for "realism", but the effect's magnitude or immediacy is grossly exaggerated.
  • A tactic is included for "realism", but real-life considerations that limit the tactic's effectiveness (such as logistical problems, possible countermeasures, or the difficulty of pulling it off) are downplayed, making the tactic unrealistically effective or dominant.
  • "Realism" is strongly enforced with respect to one aspect of the game, but not to other, closely related aspects, leading to unrealistic play dynamics and silly situations.

Since Misaimed Realism leads players to expect realism but fails to deliver, it can be more harmful to Willing Suspension of Disbelief than Acceptable Breaks from Reality would have been; players will usually accept something that's unrealistic as long as they don't go in expecting total realism and as long as it makes the game more fun.

Some tropes that commonly create this effect are Breakable Weapons, Fast-Killing Radiation, Ten-Second Flashlight, Inventory Management Puzzle, Wizard Needs Food Badly, Hyperactive Metabolism, Sprint Meter, and Grappling with Grappling Rules. Contrast Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay, in which the rules may genuinely be more realistic, but the problem is that the game doesn't adequately forewarn the player they'll have to play it differently than they would other games of the genre. Compare Voodoo Shark, where attempts to fill a Plot Hole just cause more issues.

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    Exaggerated magnitude 
  • In Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, the game does not simply drain your life bar when you're hit and kill you as soon as it's empty. Rather, your character can suffer injuries in specific body parts, and the effects vary depending on what type of injury it is; e.g. a broken leg slows down your movement while a flesh wound will cause you to slowly die from blood loss. Likewise, the game also requires different types of treatment for the different injuries, namely either bandaging, suturing, or setting the bones with splints. The treatments also happen in real time, meaning your enemies can still stab your character while he's trying to stitch up that gash on his chest. The unrealistic part of this is that the treated wounds heal so quickly that there are no lasting effects from any particular injury; the end result is your character breaking and fixing his arms and legs or stitching himself up so frequently that he should look like Frankenstein's monster by the end of the game.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • Command & Conquer: Generals: The GLA's weaponized anthrax can instantly murder infantry, while their Soviet-era surplus is able to compete with modern/20 Minutes into the Future tech.
    • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3's Natasha has a Sniping the Cockpit ability that lets her neutralize vehicles, letting them be reclaimed by an infantryman. While this makes sense for light vehicles, it gets ridiculous with the bigger ones, especially those that explicitly have large crews like ships or those that don't have a crew at all like the Future Tank.
  • Deus Ex:
    • Many of your portable items, such as tech goggles, have a limited battery life. Considering that tech goggles are military equipment, it sure is strange that they can only be used for about thirty seconds before completely crapping out.
    • Denton's superhuman inability to hold his liquor seems like Misaimed Realism, but is justified as a consequence of his nanite-enhanced metabolism. They help to pass intoxicants through his system more quickly, but in doing so exaggerate the effects for a brief period.
    • Similar to the Metal Gear example, cigarettes in Deus Ex are also ridiculously toxic, with each pack delivering 10% damage when consumed. It's not even limited to Denton, either; it's easily possible to kill other people by breathing secondhand smoke into their faces for about five seconds.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Merchants starting from Morrowind can recognize stolen items and will refuse to buy them from you; you'll have to find a fence. Exactly how they're able to tell the difference between a stolen sword and one that was "legitimately" looted from a freshly-murdered bandit is a mystery. Unless they can see the item description is in red text?
    • NPCs in Oblivion react quickly and decisively if they spot the player pilfering - in the interest of making the game more realistic, obviously. Instead, however, the result is that a horde of guards descend on you like flies on honey if you so much as touch an item that doesn't belong to you. The classic example is that of first-time players entering a store for the first time, accidentally jostling an object off a table, and politely lifting it back up to the table... only to be instantly mobbed by overzealous guards. This is particularly egregious if you try to interact with a Quest Giver and accidentally take something instead. Sometimes they'll scream for the guards to come and take you away, then politely wait for you to interact with them as if nothing ever happened. ...Yet, strangely, people have no problem with you walking into their store, pulling out a sword, and knocking everything off the countertop with it. Later installments have thankfully tweaked the behavior to them attempting to take back what you stole and calling for the guards only if they can't.
    • In Skyrim, it seems at first that you can steal items and get away with it as long as no one is looking. However, the owner of the pilfered item may send thugs to kill you... even though successfully stealing means you weren't caught, and thus the owner should have no way of knowing it was you. In addition, thugs can be sent by people realistically incapable of hiring thugs, such as dogs, ghosts and even a character who is both a dragon and a hermit.
  • Escape from Tarkov plays up punishing, hardcore gunplay, extensive gun modification, and a massive in-game economy to trade for weapons, gear and resources. Putting aside some liberties with actual bullet and armor performance for gameplay reasons, the game overwhelms the player with dozens of different ammo types and accessories all the way down to the gas blocks, buffer tubes, and charging handles that seem to be added just because they exist in reality, ensuring only someone who has in-depth knowledge of the real parts can discern how to work with them or figure out what they need without looking up guides. The FN SCAR's stock, for example, comes in four separate pieces - the front half of the stock that attaches to the weapon, the rear half of the stock that lets you shoulder it, the rubber butt pad at the end, and the cheek rest on top. There is also an absurdly in-depth healing system that the player is not instructed how to use. The most absurd however, is that the in-game currencies of rubles, euros, dollars and bitcoins are inexplicably tied to their actual real-life values, meaning that when real life economies crash, the in-game economy does too.
  • The Fable series:
    • In Fable, they tried to make a realistic economy based on supply and demand, except it turned out really half-baked: any player with a decent amount of gold could go to a merchant, buy their entire supply of a certain item, then after the prices increase, sell it all back to them for a net profit. And then you could buy them back for a lower price since prices drop when supply is high. Rinse and repeat, and you eventually have a majority stake in all of Albion.
    • Fable III's economy was similarly structured but corrected the supply-and-demand thing quite a bit. Instead, real estate flubs on realism. Residents' ability to pay on time is based what the rent is when they move in and if you raise it afterward. If a given home is too expensive for its quality, no one will move in, and if you raise the rent too much after someone moves in, they won't be able to pay and might get evicted. However, it doesn't take long for the profits of one home to pay for the next, and so on. And rent is paid every few minutes despite the in-game calendar only advancing when plot quests are completed. Just buy up all the property, run off to finish all of the side quests, and you once again eventually have a majority stake in all of Albion. This then completely breaks every "moral dilemma", which always hinge on either painfully cloying options which cost the kingdom money it needs for its defense, or options which gain the kingdom money but are so over-the-top evil it comes off as hilarious (e.g. repairing and upgrading a damaged orphanage, or turning it into a brothel), since you don't need to take the "good for the kingdom, bad for approval" choice. The intended realism also falls apart a bit when your approval rating is tied only to those choices and not affected by how much you raise the rent, meaning your citizens apparently can't put two-and-two together on their landlord being the monarch.
  • The Far Cry series, starting from the second game, has a healing system where the protagonist will do things like digging bullets out with a knife or reset broken bones that are actually sticking out of the arm, but will be absolutely fine a few seconds later. Unfortunately, situations arise which can be a bit jarring: not only do your arms ever appear to be the only part injured from Far Cry 3 on, the canned animations mean that the player can heal themselves after being mauled by a panther by digging out a bullet, or to bandage themselves and then immediately bandage themselves again, with that first bandage apparently having disappeared 2 seconds after you put it on.
  • From the Depths models fluid drag on vehicles with pretty surprising accuracy given its artstyle, but the viscosity of air and water is so great that the air behaves like water and the water behaves like Jello; a boat that would take kilometers to come to a stop can do so in about 20 meters, and aircraft cannot glide because they slow down far too quickly once the engines are shut down. Even the most extreme aircraft (such as a 200 meter long turbojet with a 12 meter nosecone) can barely approach the speed of sound because the drag forces become so extreme. The same applies to its ballistics, which are modeled to pretty heavy detail (shells fragment, ricochet, over-penetrate, etc), but armor is comically thick, to the point where 1-meter thick wood armor can survive a 100mm high-velocity shell; in real life, a 12.7mm bullet can go straight through it.
  • If we ignore the implementation of microtransactions that might have pushed the increase in car prices relative to in-game credit rewards in Gran Turismo 7, the director's comment that the changes occurred to better reflect the real-life prices of the more expensive models may fall under this; no one's going to argue against the simple fact that some cars will end up costing more than others but fans might not respond well to the idea that the high-end cars should be that much harder to access in a video game whose appeal lies largely in the fantasy of collecting and driving said cars to begin with.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV aimed to have more realistic vehicle handling than its predecessors and has a fairly detailed physics system, but not a realistic one, leading to modern day cars handling worse than vehicles from the 1940s. San Andreas has very little body roll, but IV has enough to make cars flip over in relatively benign corners. Traction from tires is excessively low as well.
    • In San Andreas, overeating makes CJ gain weight, and eating too much in one sitting will make him throw up. The limits at which these two effects set in, though, are ridiculous: CJ can eat about ten super-size Burger Shot meals in one sitting before hurling, but when you walk him out the door he'll have conspicuously gained about fifty pounds.
  • The Last of Us:
    • Due to the odd crafting system, you can increase the durability of your weapons, which can boil down to taping a pair of scissors to a machete.
    • If you try to fire an empty gun near enemies, they'll realistically hear the click and try to kill you while you're vulnerable. It stops being realistic when you keep tricking the same group of enemies by pulling the trigger on an empty gun and using a different gun to kill anyone who tries to exploit your perceived vulnerability.
  • Most of the weapons in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are Breakable Weapons. They generally break in only a few hits. This turns really good weapons into Too Awesome to Use.
  • In the newer Mario Kart games, in an effort to make the computer drivers seem more human and less cheating, they will be affected when Blooper ink hits their "screen". Inexperienced players will probably be barely fazed (if at all), computer drivers swerve all over the screen as if someone blindfolded them and turned their controller or DS upside down.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In the series, the cigarettes Snake smokes are bad for his health, which is understandable. What is not understandable is how they kill him in two minutes.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:
      • The game has the Cure system, where Naked Snake could be injured by various means (such as an animal bite, gunshot, or other trauma), and he would have to break out medical supplies to treat his wounds and let them slowly heal themselves. While it can provide more immersion, it also leads to the situation where Naked Snake can set broken limbs dozens of times, carve any number of bullets out of his flesh, and other sorts of field expedient medical procedures, even when by rights such things should leave him laid up. He can also do this in the middle of a firefight. It also doesn't matter which order you do the steps in so long as you do all the right ones, so you could, for instance, bandage up your gunshot wound before digging the bullet out with your knife.
      • The game uses a Stamina system which drains over time, requiring the player to feed Snake food regularly to prevent negative symptoms like shakier aim and slowed healing. Late in the game, EVA gets impaled in a motorcycle accident, causing her Stamina to drop at a rapid rate, which is understandable. However, the practical result of it is that getting a serious injury makes EVA ravenously hungry - the segment of the game where the player must look after EVA largely consists of stuffing her with tens of thousands of calories of instant noodles. Or knocking her out and dragging her around by her hair.
  • Tail of the Sun attempts to impose limits on how much the player can work the cavemen by giving them sleep cycles, which function by making the cavemen instantly fall asleep, no matter where they are at the time.
  • Shenmue III finally gives Ryo a use for food items by giving him a Hyperactive Metabolism. Bummer is, his stamina — which also serves as his life meter — continually drains from running and even simply walking around, forcing the player to continually pound down grub to make sure Ryo doesn't get his ass rolled by entering a fight with too low of health.
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows has a Ragdoll Physics version of this. The much-hyped but imperfect ragdolls (a new and exciting concept in 2004) are supposed to increase the realism of falling bodies. What they end up doing in practice is making bodies bend into unusual shapes, completely ruining any sense of realism in the silliest way possible. The backwards U, as though the body's spine is reversed, is a particularly common posture.
  • The XCOM: Long War mod's Fatigue system causes your soldiers to require rest after going on a mission, and gives penalties and a longer recovery time if you force them to fight regardless. In the real world, soldiers of course need time to relax and spend time away from the frontlines, but they don't need several weeks or even months of downtime in order to perform well. Whereas a modern soldier can expect to spend a week on the front before rotating out for the same amount of time, a system that has been used by professional militaries since at least World War I, X-Com operatives need to take weeks of rest after going on a single mission that may only last a few minutes.

    Downplayed limits 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • A discussion on a fan forum referred to this as the "bag of flour problem". The issue is that providing bonuses to certain tactics because of "realism" (e.g. in a battle in a kitchen, grabbing a bag of flour and throwing it in an opponent's face to distract him) leads to players performing unrealistic stunts in order to get that bonus all the time (e.g. walking around carrying bags of flour all over the place to use in every fight). Part of the DM's job is to roll with such ideas, rewarding player ingenuity (perhaps offering a one-time bonus for improvising) while discouraging silly abuses of mechanics (by ruling in subsequent flour throws that the opponent dodges the bag, starts throwing their own bags, or is experienced enough to ignore the distraction).
    • Attacks of Opportunity/Opportunity Attacks started out like this in Third Edition D&D, so each successive edition of the game has mostly scaled them back. The basic principle behind them is simple and understandable: In a game that uses turns for simplicity instead of real-time, there should be some kind of restriction against a character abusing the turn-based rules to simply bypass a whole group of defenders to take out a weaker target, steal an object, etc. The problems occurred with both confusing terminology and an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach as more situations were added to what could trigger an Opportunity Attack. The former describes this as a situation where the trigger creature lowers their defenses, but a more accurate description would be a situation where the trigger creature lowers their counter-attack offense: i.e., you can take a free swing at them because you're not worried about leaving an opening for them to swing back at you. The latter issue combines with the first issue confusion to where using an action triggers an attack, even though the condition where the action is made isn't changing regardless of the action. To explain, why does attempting to stand up from prone trigger a free attack, but simply lying helplessly prone does not, or attacking someone without a melee weapon in hand (e.g., crossbow or punching) triggers an Attack of Opportunity, but simply standing there unarmed doesn't?
    • Fourth Edition reduced the circumstances to just attempting to move past a creature or use a ranged attack next to them, although oddly giving the defender supposedly unlimited attacks as long as it's against a new target, and Fifth Edition reduced this even further to just moving past the defending creature completely, as you can still circle around an opponent. No edition has brought up the concept of removing your ability to use Attack of Opportunity if other enemies are engaging you (e.g. if you have five creatures engaging you, how can you possibly get a free swing at a different one?), but most likely it's due to the rules getting just too complex at that point.

    Partial enforcement 
  • Bloodline (2005) has a rather ludicrous example in one of the quests. After unlocking a door, the protagonist just keeps saying "It's just to turn the doorknob, and I'm in" as the player tries to use the door and open it. The solution is to point the cursor right on the doorknob and use it, not the door. The misaimed part is that it never happens with any door in the game again.
  • The LARPs Dagorhir and Belegarth have rules that state that if two of your limbs have been disabled by hits, you are dead, to represent blood loss. But since "realistically" piercing attacks cause less blood loss than slashing or crushing attacks, pierced limbs don't count toward this limit. This often leads to players looking silly as they hop around like the Black Knight.
  • Condemned:
    • In Condemned: Criminal Origins, some doors can be broken with an axe. The key word is "some"; why doesn't it work on all of them, considering most of them are made of wood? Also, locks can be smashed, but only by sledgehammers. All other weapons, no matter how heavy and/or strong, can't do that (though these examples are closer to Fridge Logic than this trope).
    • Firearms used as melee weapons break after hitting people with them maybe ten times. This works both from a gameplay standpoint (firearms are meant to be hard to conserve, considering most enemies go down in one or two bullets) and a realism standpoint (guns are obviously designed just to propel bullets down their barrels at lethal velocities, so smacking it across people's faces won't do its ability to actually fire any favors), but melee weapons do not have any such restriction; you could find an old and rotted 2x4 in the first minute of a level and take out every enemy in that level without it ever snapping in half. Condemned 2: Bloodshot fixed this and allows melee weapons to break as well, with the exception of the punch-dagger you can unlock (the game doesn't count it as one because it's an upgrade to your Good Old Fisticuffs).
  • Age of Empires II has a limit on the number of units a vehicle can carry, which is realistic. But as demonstrated by Awkward Zombie, it doesn't take into account the size of the units, only the specific number - a ship has enough room for ten war elephants, but removing one of those war elephants will only give enough room to fit one soldier.
  • The Battlefield series tries to create realism by averting certain tropes like Crew of One or No "Arc" in "Archery", but depending on the game, plays other unrealistic ones like One Bullet Clips or Regenerating Health straight.
  • Call of Duty:
    • Your bullets can penetrate some cover, but not all. This is especially odd with the addition of the "Full Metal Jacket" attachment that increases your weapon's ability to penetrate cover, even though all military weapons already use FMJ rounds.
    • CoD tries to create some realism with reloads by making a reload from empty take longer, as your character will have to charge the weapon to load the first round of the new magazine, but otherwise plays One Bullet Clips as straight as an arrow (mid-mag reloads don't give you an extra bullet, your reserve ammo is a flat number that's only decreased by exactly how many bullets you fired from the last mag, etc).
    • The trained military spec-ops soldiers you play as can only sprint for about fifteen seconds, even if they're carrying nothing but a pistol or a knife, unless they have the Marathon perk equipped. You'd expect someone who's gone through a rigorous military exercise regimen to have a bit more stamina than that. This is finally averted for Advanced Warfare, where multiplayer characters wear Powered Armor and have unlimited sprint duration by default.
  • Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn: GDI Mission 12 tasks you with rescuing Dr. Mobius from a damaged base under siege by Nod forces. The initial sequence shows the transport helicopter being shot down by SAM sites right on top of the base, beyond a river. Then you must use your initial small force to wipe out all SAM sites in the map before another helicopter can come. To complete the mission objectives you must go destroy all of them, even those far away on the northern edge of the map. This is realistic because, in real life, SAM batteries have a very wide range and, unless there is cover offered by hills or mountains, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) missions would target all of them in an operational area. However, in-game the range of SAM sites is ridiculously short and only the initial four SAM sites surrounding your starting base would be any threat to your aircraft - in fact, it would easily be possible to pick up Mobius in the first minute with the first helicopter the game sends, remaining well out of range of even those starting SAMs, if you could control it yourself. Instead, you're forced to watch as it deliberately steers away from your base and primary objective and towards the SAM sites to force a situation in which they're a threat, and the game won't spawn another until every SAM is destroyed.
  • In Deadly Premonition, the game plays out in real time if you let it (e.g. it takes one hour for the time to go from 2300 to 2400), but you can skip ahead by sleeping or smoking cigarettes. This isn't a bad thing, as there are plenty of sidequests and trading cards to collect, which makes that extra time come in handy.
    • A less convenient example is your car. Unlike most open-world games, your car can actually run out of gas and you have to go to the gas station to fill it back up, and if you run out of fuel far away from any other cars, then you have to use a road flare to restore your car's damage and fuel. What makes this especially glaring is that during certain areas (chapter 5) and in checkpoint races, your car cannot take any damage and has unlimited fuel.
    • There's also the weapons system, like the Condemned series, melee weapons will gradually wear out from use until they break, forcing you to get new ones... or just use your starting pistol which has unlimited ammo, or unlock unlimited ammo for the other firearms as well, or unlock special melee weapons which are unbreakable.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • 1st edition AD&D has the Potion Miscibility Rules. The idea is that if you drink multiple magical potions that you find in a dungeon, they might have unintended side effects. The problem is that the side effects are determined by a random table and have nothing to do with the potions themselves, so there's no way to learn which potions are compatible through trial and error or through study. It's also impossible to replicate beneficial side effects. On the whole, it's a frustrating mess that leaves the game even less realistic than it was before. It's likely that Gary Gygax left it perpetually random to avoid abuse, because as soon as one player discovers the mix that lets a potion have a permanent effect...
      • It's also worth noting that, depending on edition, the same potion can be created a number of different ways. For example a character of class A might create a potion of healing by doing B, C, and D with ingredients E, F, and G, a character of class H might create a potion of healing by doing I, J, and K with ingredients L, M, and N, or a character of either class A or H could create one by doing O, P, and Q with ingredients R, S, and T...
    • The optional rule for "fumbles", which cause a character to become stunned or hurt themselves whenever they roll poorly. Because your number of attack rolls per turn increases in proportion to your fighting ability, this results in supposed Master Swordsmen frequently Stun Locking themselves or cutting off their own limbs. Also, most spells require the defender to make all the rolls required in determining its effect, meaning that this rule makes wizards stronger while hurting everyone else.
  • In older versions of Dwarf Fortress, which parts of the target an attack hit had no relation to where these body parts are located: it was entirely possible for a single crossbow bolt to hit a goblin in the left kidney and the right ear. This was fixed in v0.31, which drastically overhauled the combat mechanics and started simulating a proper body plan, though it wasn't until v0.40, a year and a half later, that the new mechanics actually worked properly (but that's another trope).
  • Elite Dangerous is obsessively detailed in its modeling of faster-than-light space travel, taking account of gravitational lensing and providing a 1:1 scale galaxy to explore. Which makes it particularly jarring that space combat is done with weapons that have an effective range of only two kilometers.
  • The Fallout series allows you to heal yourself by chowing down on food, but especially in the 3D games makes a distinction between freshly-prepared food and what's been sitting unattended in an abandoned grocery store or kitchen for 200 years. However, outside of Hardcore or Survival modes, whether food is raw meat freshly extracted from a wasteland creature or a two-century-old pack of chips, any possible negative effects of eating it as-is are simply abstracted as the food in question irradiating you by a tiny amount that can easily be ignored.
  • F.A.T.A.L. has this all over the place, with most of the examples doing more to illustrate the... prurient interests of the game's writers than actually build realism. In one specific (work-safe) example, there's a massive table of organs that can be struck by a critical hit. Two problems: the table seems to assume that you hit nothing else on the way there (such as striking the gallbladder but missing all the organs your weapon would have had to pass through to hit it), and the fact that there are no corrections for organs that your character would not have (meaning you can hit a man right in the ovaries).
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, your character can faint if he doesn't eat enough. However, he can stay for weeks if not months without eating or drinking anything before he even feels hungry. Also, the lack of food doesn't prevent him from running, jumping and fighting like an athlete, and workouts will make him look buff even if he's starving.
  • Jurassic Park: Trespasser made use of one of the first extensive physics systems in a video game, but because it was one of the first they hadn't worked out all the kinks. As one example, physics-based puzzles in the game never get much more difficult than pulling a box next to an object to climb onto it or retrieving an object from a high place by throwing another object at it, because there is no friction coded into the physics system, making it impossible for more extensive interactions because everything will invariably slide off of each other. Melee weapons likewise deal damage based on the mass assigned to them in-game, but then came the problem that stowing a melee weapon would cause it to constantly hurt the player character because it clips into their hitbox, causing the developers to assign a quick fix of... removing mass from every melee weapon that had this problem, making all but about two of them functionally useless.
  • The developer of Killing Floor 2 who added the rocket launcher to the game clearly thought about what they were doing, but could have done with a little bit more consideration. The weapon has back-blast - dangerous exhaust from the rockets is expelled from the back of the weapon, and the rockets take time to arm - they can't explode immediately after being fired, which are both features of real life anti-tank weapons. However, since friendly fire isn't part of the game, and the Demolitions class is resistant to explosives, all the back-blast does is clear the area around the user instead of making the weapon really dangerous to use indoors. And due to Wreaking Havok physics, dead or stunned Zeds don't have quite as much weight or inertia as they should, so all the arming time feature does is comically launch enemies into the air before they explode, especially ones that jump in front of the player when they fire.
    • In a combination of Reality Is Unrealistic and Cowboy BeBop at His Computer, reviewers reported that the weapon was deliberately coded as being unreliable, claiming that the rockets can be duds or launch backwards. This is a pretty fair assumption to make, since these features are more common in games more realistic than ones about zombies, which they might not have played.
  • The Last of Us:
    • Enemies who notice your gun will yell "He/She's got a gun!" and the whole group will be more cautious as a result. Weirdly, this sometimes happens after you've loudly killed several enemies with a shotgun in the same room.
    • The Grounded difficulty tries to make the game more realistic, but does it by simply removing your HUD outright, which leads to the unrealistic scenario of not being able to tell that you're on the verge of bleeding out or drowning.
  • Realism Mode in Left 4 Dead 2 is supposed to make the game more realistic by removing the outline that normally appears around your allies to help you find them. A common consequence is that players will be unable to find their screaming ally nearby because a small object is blocking their view in the darkness even though, realistically, your ears would tell you where the sound is coming from. Made even sillier by the fact that zombie players can still see the outlines of the humans, and the given explanation is that they have good hearing.
  • Madden NFL includes coaches challenges. Coaches challenges in real life are designed to cover for mistakes made due to human error by human officials. The in-game officials, being part of the same computer simulation as the game being played, do not err in this way (outside of bugs). However, the game still includes coaches challenges and officials are specifically programmed to make mistakes to give you an excuse to challenge. Simulating human error is one piece of realism the series could certainly do without.
  • In Max Payne 3, the Laser Sight realistically jumps around when you try to aim with it. Interesting, but in a Heroic Bloodshed-inspired work where the Made of Iron One-Man Army liberally uses Leap and Fire with Guns Akimbo, it looks rather out of place.
    • The three-gun system, for much of the same reasons. In the first two games, Max could stuff an entire armory into his trenchcoat with no problems. In 3, he's limited to carrying two one-handed guns and one two-handed gun, and if he goes akimbo, he has to drop the two-handed gun. Again, interesting, but in a game where half the fun is killing your enemies as stylishly as possible in Bullet Time, it doesn't fit and severely limits your arsenal.
  • Metal Gear:
    • In Metal Gear Solid, Nobody Poops is explained as Snake having been shot up with a cocktail of drugs that has temporarily shuttered his digestive functions. In fact, in an early scene, Snake explains he was able to smuggle his cigarettes in by having swallowed the packet, taking advantage of the lack of stomach acids. This doesn't really do a lot to explain how the game's healing mechanic is based around him eating food.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
      • The game takes place over a longer period of time than MGS1 (over the course of about three or four days) and yet Snake's digestive functions are limited to eating and vomiting, making his totally-uncommented-upon inability to poop seem more notable than usual, especially since there's an early radio conversation that discusses what Snake should do about concealing his wastes. Evidently, we're supposed to assume he just takes his breaks when you save and turn off the game.
      • The game has a system for tracking time in regards to things like food in your inventory spoiling, based on actual playtime, including how long it's been between saving your game and loading that save, but in gameplay terms the actual passage of time is still dependent entirely on the plot. This means it's possible to rush through the game as quickly as possible and end up having unpreserved gavial meat stay edible for the best part of two days, then save after killing a rabbit and have it go bad in what appears to be the space of five seconds because you saved right after and didn't play again for a week.
      • It also comes up in regards to the boss fight with The End, a soldier who's so old that it's possible to essentially skip the battle by saving in the midst of it and waiting for him to simply die of old age. The thing is, it has to be at least one week since saving, and specifically during that fight - you can load it six days and twenty-three hours after you saved and you'll instead get the result where he ambushes you mid-nap and drags you back to a cell, and you can leave a save within that cell unplayed for years without it having any effect on him.
  • In an effort to justify this game's instance of Bag of Spilling, Metroid: Other M restricts Samus from using all her abilities by saying she does have them, but just isn't using them in order to cooperate with the military's investigation of a spaceship that suffered some crew-killing disaster. It's made clear that the person in charge of the investigation (her former CO) doesn't trust her not to go Cowboy Cop like she did when she was much younger. As such, Samus doing this to establish some level of trust with them makes sense narratively; especially since she could easily damage large swathes of the facility and accidentally kill the rest of the team or any hidden survivors if she isn't careful (particularly, Power Bombs are noted to be extremely dangerous and aren't unlocked for use until during the final battle, at which point everyone else is confirmed dead). What doesn't make sense is that completely defensive abilities are also disabled until you're given explicit permission; the most infamous instance of this is the "Hell Run" through Sector 3, where you're forced to traverse a high-temperature area for a prolonged period of time before you're allowed to activate the ability whose sole purpose is to prevent heat damage, compared to earlier games where finding a high-temperature area was explicit in telling you that you're not supposed to go there yet until you have the Varia Suit.
  • In No One Lives Forever, the tutorial notes that the player character, Cate Archer, would not have much luck hauling dead bodies out of sight while in the field, due to her slight frame and relatively low upper-body strength (as an alternative, they devise a powder which dissolves bodies altogether). All well and good, but they provide no explanation for how she is able to carry around a dozen weapons with hundreds of bullets and numerous gadgets on her person. The sequel would take this to its logical conclusion and let Cate carry bodies out of sight, with the body-dissolving powder instead acting as a quicker but limited manner of hiding bodies in stealth.
  • "Desert Bus" from Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors is a Deconstructive Parody of this, with an already boring idea for a game (driving an old bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas and back) being rendered nigh-unplayable by stupid and misguided attempts to make it more "realistic". The trip happens in real time, but you’re not allowed to do anything that a real bus driver might do to make the trip go quicker, like listen to music or driving faster. You can't even pause the game; the manual itself proclaims that this is because you wouldn't have a pause button in real life. Other self-proclaimed "realistic" elements are clearly just there to enforce the Fake Difficulty, like having the bus constantly veer to the right for no reason but to keep you from simply putting a weight on the drive button. Lastly, the game would have you believe that there's nothing but empty desert between Tucson and Vegas, and if your bus crashes, you have to wait for a tow truck from Tucson to get you back on the road. In reality, you would pass through or near several small towns and the city of Phoenix along the way.
  • In Pokémon, a traded Pokémon has a high likelihood of ignoring you if you don't have the right badge, since you haven't "proven" yourself to them either by catching them personally or beating a strong enough opponent. Fair enough.note  Except this rule remains firmly in place despite the series having progressively added more ways for you and your Pokémon can bond and become True Companions outside of battling; meaning no matter how friendly or affectionate your Pokémon is with you otherwise, it won't improve their chances of listening to you in a fight if you haven't got the right badge. Sure, they will avoid attacks, shrug off status effects, tank hits that would have knocked them out, all because it "was in sync with you" or "didn't want you to be upset", but they'll still loaf around or fall asleep because "you're not strong enough".
  • Project Zomboid:
    • After a set period of time (about an in-game month by default), the waterworks and power will go out, forcing the player to scavenge for further water sources. However, water never evaporates or goes stagnant, which means that it's theoretically possible to spend that entire month stockpiling water in as many random pots and pans as you can find and live off of that later on. There is a water purity mechanic, but it's relatively simple: any water drawn from any place that was previously connected to the waterworks will always be pure and safe to drink, barring you intentionally tainting it with bleach or something, while water drawn from natural sources or catching rainwater will always instantly give you food poisoning unless you boil it first. There are also some strange limits on what you can use to hold water, e.g. being able to have a whole cupboard's worth of filled cups but not able to simply fill a bathtub, and, at least before an update, what containers you can use to purify water by boiling it, e.g. a saucepan full of water could be boiled but tin cans set out in the rain couldn't be.
    • Carry weight is an important mechanic, but it is almost entirely tied to weight reduction granted by backpacks and containers you can wear or carry, and the stat is fixed. This means it works properly for actually wearing packs, under the logic of different types of packs being able to distribute the weight of their contents differently to make it easier to carry more, but any sense of realism goes out the window the second you simply carry a pack as a separate item. This means that, for instance, carrying a military bag filled with 27 weight units will only weigh 4 when worn or carried, ostensibly because it uses the US military's old ALICE system to distribute weight more evenly, while a school bag carrying only 15 weight units will weigh 6 when worn or carried - depending entirely on the bag used, it's possible to carry 70 units of weight on you, one worn and one in hand, without issue, or carry two bags with much less stuff in them and be over-encumbered from having a weapon on you. That's also not getting into the general abstraction of the weight system, where those two bags can carry more stuff than the trunk of a car because weight reduction only applies to bags - or that damaging a car leads to its maximum carry weight degrading, meaning a car filled to near-capacity that's been banged up enough will let you take a case of ammo or can of food out of it, but then won't let you put it back in until you remove enough other stuff to go under its now-reduced weight limit.
    • The game has a system for growing, hunting for and preserving food, but many of the involved mechanics are arbitrary to the point of inspiring several mods to fix the issues - for instance, the only way of preserving food that does not involve a refrigerator (and a generator, once the main power goes out) is by pickling it in vinegar in a specific type of jar, and seeds to grow food can only be acquired from seed packets looted from stores and farms, not from the plants themselves once you've already grown a crop.
  • Red Faction allows you to blow up walls in the way... but only some walls, making it very obvious when you abruptly can't.
  • RimWorld
    • Most pawns suffer from negative buffs if they wear clothes looted from a corpse, which would make sense for health perspectives if the body was rotting, but this happens regardless of the body's freshness, even if the person died immediately before being stripped. Also, wearing clothes looted from a living pawn doesn't have such effect, even if the pawn was dying. You may think stripping a dying person from their clothes would be more disturbing than taking clothes from a dead person...
  • Rock Revolution, in an attempt at imitating the highly-successful Rock Band and Guitar Hero series' full-band gameplay, came with a drum kit controller which was intended to be "the most realistic drum peripheral on the market" according to Konami. This was done by having more pads to hit than their competitors, six of them as opposed to Rock Band's four and Guitar Hero's five, and arranging them in a layout that more closely resembled that of a real drum kit. However, the pads representing the cymbals were still just awkwardly-positioned and shaped pads, as opposed to actual elevated cymbals like Guitar Hero's drum kit. Meanwhile, the "realistic" layout just made it hard to tell which pad you're supposed to hit for each on-screen input, while Rock Band and Guitar Hero's drums have neatly-lined elements that are easier to associate with each lane.
  • In Sid Meier's Pirates!, there's an aging mechanic that reduces the Hero's fighting skill as he gets older, which is largely seen as a Scrappy Mechanic on account of it applying to only the Hero. Everyone else in the game stays at the same age from start to finish, most egregiously with the Hero's long-lost grandfather (who is always the last of the relatives to be rescued) and the Big Bad (who, on higher difficulties, may eventually become unbeatable as a result).
  • The first and second S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games feature weapon and armor degradation. Makes sense, as guns which keep getting fired get worn out, and armor that keeps taking hits eventually gets destroyed, but in the first game of the series there is no way to repair weapons and armor (outside of a glitch, which only repairs armornote  or a Game Mod). It's one thing that your character can't repair his gear in the field, but the Zone is full of arms dealers and gun-toting Stalkers, and despite this there's not a single gunsmith in sight. A gunsmith to repair weapons is finally introduced in the second game.
  • Stardew Valley has an energy bar that is depleted as you perform energy-intensive actions, and continuing to perform them after it's empty will cause you to collapse from exhaustion. All well and good, except two major activities - sprinting and combat - are exempt from this, so you can do things like kill 50 monsters without breaking a sweat only to collapse right after because you whacked a rock with a pickaxe one time. Even more oddly, the energy bar only determines whether you are able to sprint, but not for how long - you can't sprint at all if you have no energy, but if you do then you can sprint all day without depleting it. You will also collapse from exhaustion the moment the clock strikes 2 AM, even if you have a full energy bar.
  • Among 4X RTS games, Star Ruler is fairly realistic, with Newtonian motion, no Space Friction, instantaneous continuous-beam energy weapons rather than the painfully slow bolts normally used, and with "speed" effectively being "how fast you can accelerate", like on a real spacecraft. However, relativity is not implemented, which results in the game having, once you research enough, lasers that travel faster than the speed of light, and it being possible to exceed the speed of light by simply accelerating long enough.
  • War Thunder has a good degree of "realistic" gameplay mechanics that are wildly inconsistent, though some of this can be laid at the feet of limitations in its engine, given that said engine is from a game that originally released in 2009.
    • In ground-based modes where everyone is in a tank or other wheeled/tracked vehicle, crew members can more or less freely switch between the positions of driver and gunner, making sure to keep both positions filled even in cases where crewmembers start dying. In air-based modes where everyone is in some variety of aircraft, however, even if the player is using a plane with more than one pilot, taking out any one of them will cause the game to act as though all of them were killed, sending your plane down.
    • Shell penetration is all over the place, to the point there's a YouTube channel dedicated to demonstrating the weird physics involved, such as losing the entire crew to a shell fragmenting after penetrating halfway through the tracks and side-skirt of a tank in such a way that the in-game protection analysis simulation outright says is not possible.
    • Helicopters are notorious in their ability to keep flying after absurd amounts of damage, especially compared to fixed-wing aircraft: whereas an airplane can and will go down any time a wing is shot off, the engine catches fire, or the fuel tank leaks, helicopters can keep flying and even scoring kills with their tail rotor ripped off and the whole thing on fire.
    • Air battles near or over the ocean often include AI-controlled destroyers and PT boats for you to destroy, but the game arbitrarily restricts you from damaging them unless you hit them with bombs, rockets, torpedoes, or cannons of 20mm caliber at minimum; in real life, armor-piercing and/or incendiary .50-cal rounds, though all but useless against modern-day tanks and aircraft, are still routinely used to harass destroyers in real naval battles, with noticeable results.
    • As is always possible in a game touting realism, random bugs can completely screw over those attempts, such as that attempts to use bushes and other foliage as cover can be stopped dead in their tracks by a player running the game at ultra-low settings where that foliage isn't rendered, or a glitch that completely silences some players' cannons.
    • In an inversion caused by the fans' antics rather than the developers', the game has reached a degree of infamy because players, trying to win arguments about vehicle stats in the forums, have repeatedly posted classified technical documents about said vehicles to prove their argument. Moderators removing the information and telling the posters that the dev team don't look at them hasn't stopped it from happening half a dozen times, and it quickly reached the point that, when people started posted images of defense contractors asking the families of potential employees whether they play War Thunder as part of a background check, a very high number of people thought it was real.