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Play the Game, Skip the Story

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"You're sure to be in a fine haze about now, but don't think too hard about all of this. Just go out and kill a few beasts. It's for your own good."
Gehrman, the First Hunter, Bloodborne

Some games are sprawling epics centered about a cast of compelling characters and emotional twists and turns. Some paint pictures of entirely new worlds with considerable background material and long and involved histories. The amount of detail that goes into some games' storylines can rival a big budget movie or television series. On the other side of the scale, some games are made with no plot at all or have the bare minimum of one — all the developers care about is the gameplay, and they see little-to-no need to give any narrative framework when they can instead focus entirely on Rule of Fun.

And then there's this: an especially unfortunate attempt where it is clear that the developers genuinely did spend a lot of time and effort on a game's plot. They clearly were trying for, if not greatness, at least competence. Unfortunately, most of the players didn't care. The story might be ham-handed and laughable, the cutscenes might be jerky and unconvincing. All too often, though, maybe the company's only "mistake" was developing the story of a game designed around or played primarily for multiplayer, competitive, or online play. Or it attracted a lot of players to whom the metagame is the main source of enjoyment. Either way, the story goes unnoticed, since much of the player base finds it completely irrelevant to actually playing the game.

Some (though not all) games fitting this trope may have an Excuse Plot that's not really meant for players to pay much attention to in the first place. Often results in a different form of Developing Doomed Characters — nobody's paying attention to the story, all they care about is "Shut up whoever you are".

When the exact opposite happens, that's Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game. Related to Just Here for Godzilla and Better as a Let's Play. Munchkins are the Tabletop RPG counterpart to these players, albeit with a more negative reputation.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Game 

    Action Adventure 
  • In spite of their attempts to build more in-depth stories and a large universe, some The Legend of Zelda games may fall under this. Some Zelda fans tend to complain when "people talking" gets in the way of gameplay. Though, with the introduction of the Hyrule Historia and the revelation of Alternate Timelines being in effect for the franchise as a whole, fans now argue amongst themselves about the storyline implications of this, such as where The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild fits into it.
  • The reception that Metroid: Other M's story and characterizations got from fans consisted of indifference in Japan and nigh-universal hatred in the West. Meanwhile, views on the gameplay are more mixed all around, ranging from it being passable but not fun enough to make up for everything else, to being good enough to be worth slogging through all the cutscenes and monologues to experience.
  • A rare invoked example happens in the second Skate or Die game. It gives the player the option to skip the story entirely and play the Double Ramp skating game, which would normally be unlocked after completing Story Mode.

    Adventure Game 
  • Ring: The Legend of the Nibelungen is basically The Ring of the Nibelung in space. Some reviews complained that the story was almost impossible to get, except maybe if you are both a gamer and a Wagner fan, but oddly for an Adventure game, it's not that hard to finish the game without getting it.
  • The Suicide of Rachel Foster is a rare example of an Environmental Narrative Game that tends to get this reactions from players. It's widely agreed that the game's visuals and sound design are excellent, creating an eerie and suspenseful atmosphere as you explore the abandoned hotel uncovering secrets. The plot is a lot more polarizing, with many reviews feeling the story descends into schlocky melodrama by the second half and doesn't handle sensitive subjects like suicide and child grooming particularly well.

    Augmented Reality Game 
  • Ingress has some very intricate lore told through videos, websites, social media accounts, email subscriptions, etc. However, many players ignore this and mostly just play to build huge fields with faction-mates or to have excuses to go outside and explore their local area.

    Driving Game 

    Fighting Game 
  • Injustice 2's Story Mode is highly contested among fans for its perceived favoritism of Batman and lack of any moral grayness, but everyone agrees that in terms of gameplay it's one of the most solid fighting games in recent years.
  • The general consensus on Jump Force from most reviews and players is that the gameplay is only rather simple at worst and still all-around enjoyable, but the game's story in the Story Mode is generally regarded as shallow, boring, and derivative of other fighting games on the market, not to mention chock-full of hilariously awful and sometimes outright broken cutscenes that make it the worst aspect of the game.
  • A lot of people imported copies of Jump Super Stars and its sequel, Jump Ultimate Stars, from Japan without knowing a lick of Japanese. There are guides online offering translations for things necessary to play the game, like controls, attacks, and the touch screen mechanics, but translations for dialogue, narration, and flavor text are considerably harder to find. This prioritization makes it clear that most of the people who imported the games had little to no interest in these characters or the scenarios and were only interested in duking it out.
  • The King of Fighters does this, with an incredibly byzantine storyline centered around the tournament that most players neither know nor care about, as long as they get to beat the crap out of people. The series itself adds to this perception, with the occasional Dream Match Game that officially is non-canon and serves to bring back as many of the previously playable combatants as possible—even the dead ones.
  • The Marvel vs. Capcom series is filled with Continuity Nods and Mythology Gags from both companies that the players enjoy. But these same players don't seem to care what Spider-Man is doing working with Doctor Doom and Albert Wesker to beat the crap out of Phoenix Wright, Dante and Captain America in a version of Days of Future Past where Metro City is overrun by Sentinels seemingly there to hunt down Mega Man. Doesn't help by the fact that the first games made some attempt at showing what happens after each certain character takes down the Big Bad, but in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 half the endings have nothing to do with stopping Galactus from eating the earth. They even added in a tie-in comic that was normally All There in the Manual and an opening narration for the Updated Re-release that just gets skipped by most people.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • The series has a convoluted and ludicrous Backstory incorporating numerous gods, planar beings, rivaling clans of robot ninjas, etc. Most players probably don't realize which characters are the good guys, not least because many of them swap allegiances constantly.
    • The beat 'em up Spin-Off Shaolin Monks gets this reaction from the Mortal Kombat fanbase anyway. The gameplay is solid, but the story is filled with continuity errors, characters getting killed off for no reason other than getting in the protagonists' way, and out of character moments. Kung Lao gets hit with this the hardest, as the game is basically one long Out-of-Character Moment for him.
  • Soulcalibur (and its prequel Soul Edge/Blade) gets confusing, with the title weapons changing hands a few times: Soul Calibur changes hands once, while Soul Edge changes hands twice. And then a single character essentially splits into two, which is utterly confusing unless you read the story. And all the non-canon endings in Story Mode don't help much. It also doesn't help that there are Guest Fighter characters, such as Link, Heihachi, and Spawn in II (depending on your choice of console), and Yoda, Darth Vader, and Galen Marek in IV. When the story was being paid attention to, it was a good story... until Soulcalibur V, where there is a short, 20-episode Story Mode (with fewer fights than chapters), and half the cast only appears briefly, or worse, not at all. Sadly a result of time constraints, as Word of God claims the finished product was only 1/4 of what was originally planned. Soulcalibur VI would feature a much stronger focus on the narrative in line with previous installments while retaining the mechanical polish of its predecessor, but you'll still see players overlooking that in favor of using the Custom Character feature to recreate just about any character under the sun.
  • In Street Fighter, all characters do have their motivations, but most of them are pretty simple. This was until Street Fighter Alpha 3 was released, which has the most complex story in the series. Ironically, the game also has some of the most controversial story elements in the series.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • In Brawl, the overarching plot of The Subspace Emissary was mostly ignored by players. It doesn't help that a great deal of detail is left vague due to all of the characters being Heroic Mimes. An update at the official website clarifies these and also reveals that some exposition had to be cut out of the game entirely.
    • Pirated or otherwise compressed versions of this game usually cut out the Subspace Emissary cutscenes (among other things), so the game can fit on a single-layer disc. And since it's one of the most popular games for the most pirated seventh generation console, there are probably a lot of players who can't play the story even if they wanted to.
    • Indeed, the fact that many players watched the cutscenes on YouTube instead of in the game proper is the reason why Masahiro Sakurai omitted a Story Mode for the fourth installment.
  • Tekken: Internal family strife, quests for vengeance, deals with the devil, concerns about "the Devil Gene" and that usual fighting game standard, a fighting tournament with a huge prize. Never mind that, though, fight! By Tekken 6, there are more characters than Namco can fit into the main plot, so many of them have been reduced to having joke plots and endings or simply unrelated to the main story. Yet Namco was probably aware of this trope happening, so they made Jin into an evil overlord in 6, sort of; it's complicated, turning heads in the process. It didn't help the Wild Mass Guessing that arcade versions of Tekken never ever featured any storyline or cutscenes whatsoever. The same is true for Virtua Fighter, Fighting Vipers, Bloody Roar, and the first Dead or Alive. None, however, have anything even remotely close to the vastness of scope of Tekken (or the number of characters).

    First Person Shooter 
  • Battlefield The main Battlefield series had single-player introduced with 3, many people ignored it or just ploughed through because it had a generic and frankly idiotic afterthought of a storyline with uninteresting characters that switches point of view so many times you just stop caring about them. The fact it barely explains jack doesn't help. The campaign of 4 received many of the same complaints.
  • Borderlands:
    • The first game is an odd case, as its had a lot of emphasis on plot, but when the devs decided to switch directions the plot was de-emphasized (though still present and interesting enough to catch some fans attention).
    • Borderlands 2 is an overall improvement over the first game's writing quality, having a more active plot and a charismatic villain, Handsome Jack, carry the show, but it does get its fair share of complaints, like the shoehorned meme references and just how plain insufferable your snarky Robot Buddy, Claptrap, can get.
    • Borderlands 3, unfortunately, is widely agreed to have the worst writing in the series. The snarkiness of the script is exaggerated and the constant lampshading gets exhausting, there are more meme-riddled, Reference Overdosed dialogue all over the game, and the villains are considered to be incredibly shallow and trying too hard to be funny. To illustrate how reviled the script is, a post detailing how to edit the game's file to remove all the in-game dialogue went viral.
  • The mainly online team multiplayer game Brink! actually had a rather detailed story with two distinctive paths which players could follow if they went through the single player. However due to the multiplayer nature anybody who played purely online would just skip around the maps and changing teams depending on the numbers in the teams getting annoyed that the gameplay was gated behind pointless cutscenes. Really doesn't help it wasn't popular long enough to create a sustainable online community.
  • Brothers in Arms is a good example of this trope, since while they obviously put effort into the cutscenes, there's a lot of Continuity Lockout, iffy voiceacting, and difficulty in distinguishing between characters. The games are just too short to support a cast that big. The end result is confusion.
  • Invoked in-universe with Doom (2016). There is a plot, and it's actually pretty interesting and deep when you look into it and read all the codexes, but the Doom Slayer himself simply does not gives two shits about it and just wants to go back to killing demons. When Hayden first tries to explain what's going on, the Slayer just rips the monitor he's speaking through off the wall and throws it out a window.
  • In Halo, there's two groups of players: those who deeply care about the story, and the ones that are indifferent to it altogether. The former wants to shoot people and immerse themselves in the Backstory, the mythology, and characters and all. The latter see the former as dorks for being so enthralled by the story, while the former hold them in equal disdain as low-brow fools who spam Xbox Live. Thankfully for the former group, the Expanded Universe exists for them.
  • Left 4 Dead has a minimal story to avoid getting in the way of the multiplayer action, but there's still plenty of environmental storytelling through graffiti and such to decipher on what went on in the Zombie Apocalypse, or at least much as a person on the ground trying to avoid being zombie feed might pick up. Despite this, and a detailed comic showing what happened in the ending of Left 4 Dead, some people don't care about how the zombies came to be and only care about blowing their brains out, leaving these oblivious people a little confused on how the survivors arrived at the southern part of the U.S. in "The Sacrifice" campaign.
  • Marathon has a complex and highly-detailed backstory that is still being investigated by fans to this day... almost none of which is essential to actually play the game, as it's contained mostly in incidental data screens in out-of-the-way locations.
  • All games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy have copious amounts of backstory detailing the history of the settings you spend the game romping through. However, if you're not the type to care about it, then you can just dive right in and start exploring the humongous worlds. Backstory is revealed through scanning computer consoles, hieroglyphics, and the like, which is completely unnecessary except for 100% Completion. While Echoes and Corruption do have cutscenes where Samus interacts with other characters (especially the latter), only truly crucial elements of the story (such as the objectives to complete the current mission) are told, leaving the rest to the scannable material.
  • One generally plays single player mode in Metroid Prime: Hunters only for the purpose of unlocking everything for multiplayer mode. There is a special marker for those who achieved single player's 100% Completion and if you take a drink for each time you see it you won't even be buzzed.
  • While the plot of Neon White got a rather mixed reception (especially its controversial ending), the speedrun-oriented and stylish gameplay was nigh-universally praised, making it popular with speedrunners.
  • Overwatch has much of its extremely complex backstory told through supplemental materials such as comics and animated shorts. The game itself ignores said plot, to the point where there's not even any explicit motive behind any of the in-game objectives due to there not being distinct sides other than "Team A vs Team B". Investment in the supplementary story is also rarely rewarded, as the story has chronologically advanced by virtually nothing since the game's launch in 2016 (focusing entirely on backstories, of which there are always new ones with to explore with every new character added), leading to an increasing number of fans growing numb to the idea. Most players couldn't care less.
  • Painkiller has a number of (often fairly long) cutscenes that set up the reasons for what you're doing, but very little is lost for merely jumping in and attacking anything that isn't you.
  • The first System Shock game had this as an option: if players wanted, they could turn off all plot elements, meaning that the original audio logs would still be there but stripped down to game-related info only (consider it an inversion of Story Difficulty Setting).
  • Team Fortress 2 started with a briefly sketched Excuse Plot to explain why the red and blue teams were fighting each other, but with each update and expansion it built up a generation-spanning tale of family feuds, incredible mineral, mad science, corporate malfeasance and gravel. Valve say that it's developed the most in-depth plot of any of their franchises, though it's told through supplemental materials such as comics on their website and has little impact on gameplay.
  • Titanfall plays this trope straight. Being a multiplayer game, the storyline in campaign mode was packaged into 1 minute intros to each map as players deploy. It is hard to recall these intros; matches are fast-paced and chaotic.

    Four X 
  • Galactic Civilizations: the backstory has a few minor impacts on the events in a game, but most of the time people and the AI just run on cold hard realpolitik. There's also a campaign mode, that most people just ignore in favour of Gigantic galaxies, no items, final destination.
  • Master of Orion III has a quite detailed Backstory, including a bunch of stuff that's not been seen in either of its predecessors, but aside from the manual it doesn't matter, at all. The only references to it in the actual game is in occasional "color text" from the advisers, which has no bearing on how the game actually plays. Of course, the only part that could conceivably even matter still is the empire the Antarans at the height of their power were afraid of, and even the remnant in the game will ruin your creations when they come out of their capital. If they showed up, everyone on the map would be dead in a few turns.
  • The X-Universe games have an extensive backstory going back over five billion years, as well as decent (not spectacular) plots, but most of the fans play it to screw around in the sandbox, only playing the plots to get the rewards (unique ships, a Player Headquarters, the Unfocused Jumpdrive, etc.). The devs even included an optional gamestart with the plots disabled (though the Custom Start is really meant for testing mods).

    Full Motion Video 
  • Happens in Night Trap: Since the story happens in real-time, if you stay around to watch a story cutscene you'll miss a few enemy captures that are only possible at the same time. And since missing too many of them leads to Game Over and bad endings... The 25th Anniversary Edition fixes this problem by letting you unlock a mode that lets you watch the story details on their own.

  • Many MMORPGs with a team mechanic fall prey to this. "Hey guys, wait up, I want to read the history of Doomy McEvilton and why he wants the MacGuffin of Glory to... ah nuts to this, where's my XP?"
    • Guild Wars also has this happen. Most people who engage in the PvP aspect of the game probably have never seen any of the cutscenes in the game. On the plus side, though, it's possible to play through the story campaign yourself, where you don't have a message saying 7/8 members of the group want to skip the scene and getting yelled at by everyone else for making them sit through it. (Often justified with runners, who've probably seen the cutscene over nine thousand times and don't wanna hear it again.)
    • The same thing can happen in The Lord of the Rings Online. Some group quests vital to the main storyline requires you to talk to NPCs to get the quest going, but the first one who gets there can activate the NPC without the rest of the group getting a chance to read whatever plot information that NPC were willing to share. One example is in Moria, where the players are heading into a dungeon to find a powerful axe, and ends up fighting the Watcher in the Water. If one person gets there before the rest and activates the Watcher, it's not impossible that players don't realize they just saved a NPC who was taken by the Watcher and presumed dead earlier in the storyline, until they actually talk to him again. Lately the game has been steering away from this, making most of the main storyline solo-playable so that people can enjoy the story in their own pace.
    • World of Warcraft. The quest writers intentionally try to keep the quest descriptions brief because people will just ignore them anyways. Even in Cataclysm, which made all the zones have their own unique story arcs, many of which even tie into later zones or even end-game content, a lot of quests are just ignored since people level up alts with heirlooms and barnstorm through the zones. Unless they're Thousand Needles, which people stopped and enjoyed their ride through (or skipped the zone altogether, depending on play style). Another problem occurs with fully scripted events instead of quest texts: While these might be powerful in their own right, the fact that most players will see them over and over again quickly tires their effect out. Because of this, they are usually kept brief, skippable by some means, allow players to carry on as they play out, or a combination of these. Even the flight paths, a quick and cheap way to get around, took some flak for being too scenic instead of going in a straight line, even though before the introduction of flying mounts they were far faster than anything else (outside of summoning, portals and hearthstones anyway). Although taking the same inefficient route over and over again would get boring... For Horde druids leaving Moonglade in vanilla, before the second flight point was added, it was a fifteen minute ride looping pointlessly over two zones that weren't even on the route.
  • Ace Online has a relatively long and interesting plot spanning all three episodes, from the colonists starting Bygeniou City (BCU) in Episode One, to the machinations of the Shrines and Phillons and the defection of Arlington City (ANI) in Episode Two (which introduced the Nation Wars mechanic), to the new frontiers and the breaking of an uneasy truce between ANI and BCU in Episode Three. Most players just pick a nation with their friends and go warring/mobhunting, ignoring walls and walls of political cloak-and-dagger text in the mission briefings.
  • CABAL Online has a well-thought-out story, but good luck finding players who even knew one-third of whatever is happening in the lore. Part of it is because the game relies on Dialogue Tree and barely any cutscenes to keep players invested, made worse as the story barely makes any impact in the game. Another part is the long grind required to max skills and level; it's more optimal to slog through dungeons in the minimal time possible, making it impractical to read all the dialogue.
  • City of Heroes has, in its Mission Architect, many stories written by players (many of which are dev-sponsored), with custom enemies, fairly unique plots, et cetera. Most players seem to just jump for the grindfests set up for the sake of easy leveling. If you play in any high level Incarnate Trials, be prepared to see the introductory cutscene explaining which Physical God you're taking down. If any person on the 16-24 person team hasn't seen it yet, the game stops everyone and automatically plays it before the Trial begins. At least you can spam text macros to mock the supervillain in the meantime.
  • Dragon's Dogma has a thin Excuse Plot about you being The Chosen One to kill the dragon (and later the Seneschel, essentially the god of the game's world), and a shoehorned-in Love Interest (who may or may not end up being anyone the player actually found attractive), but really, all players care about is the ability to climb up a cyclops and stab it in the eye (and maybe play around with the far-too-detailed Character Customization options).
  • EVE Online has an incredibly detailed gameworld with four factions who each have their own unique history and the constant political squabbles between them. The website is regularly updated with short stories which further flesh out the game world. All this background detail has little to no impact on the actual game, and roleplayers are few and far between. For a long time there has been only one roleplayer faction holding any 0.0 space and that was due to a "gentlemen's agreement" amongst PvP-oriented factions that they be left alone. A change to game mechanics made them too inviting a target and this tacit understanding subsequently collapsed.
  • In EverQuest and EverQuest II, a lot of the players who enjoy the end-game raiding aspect not only don't care about the story and "fluff", but even consider it an annoyance up with which they should not be forced to put. Part of the reason for the Disappointing Last Level in the middle of the game is that they know there's no point in making elaborate storylines, because roughly ninety plus percent of the playerbase are going to skip it.
    • The developers invoke this in EverQuest II. Normally, when you hail a Quest Giver, you're given two dialogue boxes: accept the quest or leave. They're well aware of all the players who didn't like having to click through 5-6-7-8-12 dialogue boxes just to get to the quest, so with the "Sentinel's Fate" expansion pack, they started adding in a third dialogue option that basically amounts to "Yeah, yeah, skip the story. Do you have any work for me or not?"
  • This one's all over the place in the base game of Final Fantasy XIV.
    • If a player wanted to view the cutscenes of several main-story dungeons, they'd swiftly get left behind, if not miss out on the entire dungeon. There was always the option to view the cutscenes later, but this was not well-documented, and generally didn't feel the same. So in return, once the Stormblood expansion rolled around, Square-Enix made it impossible to skip the cutscenes. This was met with some asperity. In contrast, dungeons in Heavensward and Stormblood don't have long cutscenes mid-run.
    • One Brutal Bonus Boss punishes players that do this. In order to survive the last phase of the fight, the party has to perform a certain mechanic in the previous phase contrary to what's normally expected in the rest of the game. However, the fight itself gives no hints about how to perform this mechanic. Instead, one has to remember an important detail about a character from the Story Arc the boss is based off of. Thus, the hardcore raiders who charge into the content without reading the story end up messing up this mechanic.
    • The story skip items let players skip ahead in the main story at the expense of not knowing what's going on and it costs a pretty penny in real money to purchase. Most who use this item generally do so to catch up with their friends or are boosting their alt characters.
  • MapleStory has a story long and detailed enough to invoke Archive Panic, but almost all of the players who can actually do the quests to find out the storyline are a ton of Munchkins. The game's Backstory is so easily ignored that there are some players who don't even know it exists.
  • RuneScape varies between this and Excuse Plot. This is a more subjective example; some of the free to play quests and a not-insignificant amount of older members' quests are rather bland, but most members' quests really have a lot of detail in the history of RuneScape. Retroactively, the older quests have been integrated more closely to the main storyline while staying short and fun. For example, Romeo and Juliet has been replaced with Gunnar's Ground, about "a dwarf poet that falls in love with a Barbarian chieftain's daughter". Old School Runescapenote  still qualifies as this even with its own newer quests, though some more attentive players have noticed it taking steps to prepare for a much different approach to the modern version's wham quests.
  • Second Life. There are some sims that have very detailed backstories and continuities; but very often people just go in and Troll all the roleplayers or cover the zone in self-replicating blocks for no good reason other than to annoy the players.
  • There's a certain expectation in Star Trek Online that you only really play the Federation side for the story and race a Klingon character to 50 for PVP, PVE events, and other endgame content. This is not helped by how, after a certain point, the different factions all have basically the same storyline only with a slightly different explanation on why they get involved, to enable all factions to be involved in the overarching plot. People end up bolting through the missions just to get the gear and experience rewards. Not helped by the Klingon content being a bit... lackluster during early years and only recently catching up, due to most of the devs' attention going to the Feds.
  • Played with in Wurm Online. The PVP zones do have an ongoing storyline, with a Cosmic Chess Game and a complex backstory for the three warring kingdoms. The non-PVP zones are kind of an in-universe example of this trope, lore-wise; they're populated by people who said "Screw This, I'm Outta Here" to the endless war going on and declared themselves a Truce Zone.

    Platform Game 
  • Celeste: The game? A twitch reflex platformer with a scaling difficulty. The story? A Broken Bird slowly dealing with depression and anxiety. It often sidetracks into discussions on how to subjectively grapple with these issues, often slowing down the game's pace significantly. Though certain people feel the game handles these themes well, others find it Anvilicious and choose to focus on the gameplay instead.
  • Freedom Planet: Many have praised the gameplay but recommend skipping all the story cutscenes. The game even has an option specifically to do this. The sequel, though seen as an improvement overall, story included, still gets this treatment from some.
  • A particularly sad example in High Seas Havoc. There are beautiful, engaging, lovingly-written and drawn story clips, a colorful set of characters and villains, inventive and humorous elements here and there... all this having nothing to do with the game proper. Heck, the hero never even sees the McGuffin until the final battle!
  • Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, a B-Team Sequel made by High Impact Games, has a good gameplay with several challenges, but is infamous for its lackluster story that just rehashes the first game with a villain who's too ridiculous to take seriously.
  • Gameplay wise, most critics admit that Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is a worthy followup to the original trilogy which uses the level and mission-based structure of the previous games, has larger worlds, with the added benefit of being able to switch characters (though some did complain about the backtracking). Most even liked the ability to play as members of the Cooper Clan which gave variety to the stages, and all characters had fluid controls to boot. It is the story which garnered complaints, largely due to pacing issues and the resulting ending. Most critics didn’t mind the story too much, but the Sly Cooper fandom is very split when it comes to the story, with only the controversial ending being universally hated.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Some of the more charitable opinions of Shadow the Hedgehog tend towards this. While the story is a mess of random events with barely any cohesion, the gameplay at least plays mostly like Heroes and the Adventure games, just with guns added. At the very least, it doesn't have the Gameplay Roulette that many dislike about several 3D Sonic games.
    • While the gameplay of Sonic Colors has been well-received by many, the story has become increasingly controversial among fans over the years due to the increased silliness of the cutscenes, corny dialogue, and general disregard for characters outside of the Sonic/Tails/Eggman trio.
    • Sonic Generations runs into similar issues to the aforementioned Sonic Colors, but it also runs into criticism for its Excuse Plot. However, like Colors, the gameplay is well-received by many.
  • The first Spyro the Dragon game has a fairly simple plot of "rescue all the dragons and fight Gnasty Gnorc." The second and third games introduce tons of people who Spyro interacts with, making the plot very convoluted.
  • The Super Mario platform games typically eschew elaborate plots to avoid this trope. Super Mario Galaxy, however, contains a relatively detailed backstory for Rosalina and the Comet Observatory, and only because the production team snuck it in when series creator Shigeru Miyamoto wasn't looking. Even though the backstory was brief and fairly easy to skip (it can only be found in a completely optional room in the Hub Level), some fans didn't like this direction, and neither did Miyamoto, so Super Mario Galaxy 2 reverted back to the plot-free gameplay of the series.
  • Super Mario Sunshine's plot wasn't very elaborate, but kicked things off with a 5+ minute unskippable cutscene. Unlike the later scenes, the first one didn't feature Bowser hamming it up with his polarizing voice, either, making it much more likely for a player to leave the room and make a sandwich.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Company of Heroes: It's World War II. You can skip all the cutscenes and not have the experience change much. All you really need is the mission briefing.
  • Defense of the Ancients: Allstars in fact has backstories, mostly elaborated on in Dota 2. The game's more known for its endless fountain of Ascended Glitch that spews out goodies every few patches.
  • League of Legends:
    • The game has a surprisingly deep and complicated story for the League, the various factions and many of the champions. You'd never know from playing the game, though, as most of the lore is on their website, and the story unfolds in the Journal of Justice newsletter, most people only know of its story as OMFG STOP FEEDING NOOB!! The JoJ is history and most of the background lore has been retconned away due to the entirely correct observation that no one actually cared and the setting was holding them back from creating things like wacky music videos about characters. A few complaints followed but by and large the community shrugged and kept playing.
    • In 2015, pirate character Gangplank was disabled during a pirate themed lore event for in-universe reasons. Players got angry until it was revealed that they discovered a Game-Breaking Bug on him and had to take him down before it ruined the game, and since there's a lore event, they just went along with it and re-released him later when the bug was fixed.
    • Generally, League holds the distinction that despite all those ignorance of the players of the lore, Riot Games still takes an extra attention to their lore. Eventually, the game's lore expanded so much that it's its own universe (even after they removed the Journal of Justice). League of Legends holds the distinction of the MOBA game with the most intricate lore that attracts even non-players to enjoy the world of Runeterra and its inhabitants. All because Riot refused to just abandon their lore and worldbuilding in favor of pure gameplay, both have to walk together in harmony.
  • The original Total Annihilation had an interesting setting but not a well-detailed plot, which was not a problem. However the sequel Total Annihilation: Kingdoms did have a very detailed backstory, which most players were largely unaware of (making the plot utterly incomprehensible).
  • Starcraft II has one of the biggest multiplayer scenes of gaming, and people who buy the game often skip straight to the multiplayer without playing the campaign. And even those who play the campaigns often skip the cutscenes, not helped by the quality of the story being contested.

    Rhythm Game 
  • Most of the story arcs in beatmania IIDX from beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro onwards exist to set up the games' song unlock systems, and tend to feature some amusing dialogue between the player's Q-Pro avatar and various characters. However, most players, especially non-Japanese players who do not speak Japanese, will simply skip over the dialogue; some players who watch will "helpfully" press the Start button for you to skip.
  • Of the three major Bushiroad idol franchises — Love Live!, BanG Dream!, and D4DJD4DJ is seen as the weakest lore-wise due to rehashing so many concepts from the earlier two franchises and trying to shoehorn the idol structure onto DJing, whereas in Bang Dream it at least made a fair bit more sense. As such, while the story isn't awful, it's generally regarded as average, so don't expect much of a fandom or fan works for it. However, D4DJ's video game adaptation, D4DJ Groovy Mix, is generally considered to be the best out of the three franchises', due to a lot of features tailored towards rhythm game players (like timing graphs, customization of gameplay sounds, hold notes no longer having "release timing", failing a song no longer cutting it short, rhythm game elements that are more involved than just "tap and hold notes", and even conventional rhythm game scoring that isn't dependent on the player's loadout although locked behind a paywall) as well as a very diverse selection of songs, encompassing originals, covers, non-cover licensed songs, and even songs from other video games.

    Role Playing Game 
  • Demon's Souls, Bloodborne, the Dark Souls series, and Elden Ring have a lot of lore with tragic history and tragic characters. A lot of people are simply content to just go demon and god killing given how unintrusive the story is in each game. Meanwhile, other players spend hundreds of hours merely focusing on archiving lore information, discussing the possible meanings of it all and comparing and sharing theories. A significant part of this is that a lot of it is barely touched upon in the game, forcing you to either look really hard or go to a wiki, ultimately deterring people who would normally be interested.
  • Diablo:
    • The original Diablo didn't have much plot to speak of (that wasn't All There in the Manual). Something something kidnapped prince, something something cathedral, go downstairs and kill monsters. You can get some more backstory by chatting with a handful of merchants and NPCs in town, but most players don't bother. Except for Griswold, anyway, who's just awesome.
    • In Diablo II, multiplayer mode skips cutscenes (if you don't have them installed), which doesn't help.
    • Diablo III has Adventure mode patched in, which allows the player to jump around the various locations from the story mode willy-nilly and auto-skips all cut scenes. In case that still sounds like too much story for you, there are Rifts, procedurally generated dungeons mashing up enemies and backgrounds from all over the game. After hitting the Level Cap, that's where you'll likely spend most of your time; playing in the game world proper is only good for farming a few endgame quests (Whimseyshire, Infernal Machine) that are themselves only there for a bit of optional variety, being suboptimal for Loot Grinding which is, ultimately, what the game is really all about.
    • Ironically, there is a very large amount of backstory you would never know about unless you hit Blizzard's bookstore.
    • Sanctuary is canonically a bleak and grimdark Early Middle Ages low fantasy setting where mankind is hated by both demons and many angels with the power to end existence on a whim and nothing good ever happens to any of the characters, but only the first game with its roguelike elements actually evokes a feeling of dread and danger. Diablo II starts out on a dreary marsh, but quickly goes off the rails with its subsequent parade of exotic and wonderful locations and its focus on loot farming and spectacle, culminating in the "Uber Tristram" map added in the last patch. Diablo III then ran with it by adding killstreaks and excessively flashy supernatural combat for every class.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The series is renowned for its many Game Mods and hardcore modder fanbase. With every new game, the number of people who only care about mods gets bigger and bigger.
    • Morrowind had no voice acting to speak of beyond simple greetings and taunts, yet something like six times the written text of Oblivion, in the form of both NPC dialogues and books.
    • Oblivion contains numerous books full of expository text which most players ignore, "reading" it only to see whether or not you get a skill point from it. The blandly written, woodenly voice-acted NPC dialogue also tends to make people skip through all the exposition until a quest flag is triggered.
    • Skyrim has a lot of different texts and loads of small story arcs that people ignore.
  • Final Fantasy X-2 receives a lot of flack for the major Mood Whiplash after its more mature predecessor. Nonetheless, it's also praised for its well-tuned battle system serving as one last hurrah for turn-based combat before the series ditched it in favor of real-time action.
  • The consensus on Forspoken from critics and players is that the core gameplay mechanics, while not perfect, can be legitimately fun and immensely satisfying once one gets the hang of them, with many critics praising the traversal system for how fun and exhilarating it is to run, jump, and parkour through Athia at insanely fast speeds, on top of regarding the magic combat system to be the game's strongest attribute. By contrast, the story is regarded to be a predictable and bland Cliché Storm of Isekai and fantasy tropes that suffers from uneven pacing and lackluster writing.
  • Grand Kingdom has a lackluster story about competing mercenary companies versus a fallen empire that wants to summon demons and take over the world. However, the battle system is a robust prototype South Park: The Fractured but Whole, featuring pushable enemies, various battlefield armaments and traps, seventeen playable classes, dozens of attack patterns and support / buff / defense abilities, and you can mount a dragon. Meanwhile, your characters can be customized with weapons and accessories (many of which are just plain silly) that can in turn slot various stat gems, and can obtain both combat and field skills that can turn the tide on the map and in combat.
  • This was part of Hellgate: London. Although part of the unfortunate reasons the game died, the more unfortunate reason was that the company went bankrupt before most everyone got a chance to beat it.
  • The Monster Hunter world is filled with robust wildlife with unique traits, various habitats and lots of locales, many of which aren't even visited. Looking at the quest descriptions can paint a pretty good picture of the type of society the world is, and how the hunters affect them. There are also various sentient races that aren't monsters, like Wyverians, Felynes, Melynxes and Shakalakas. There are even what are presumably maps of the world at the base camps in some locations. Even the weapons and armors have colorful descriptions, especially in regards to the origins of the weapons or the cultures they come from. But go on any forum and 99.9% of what you'll see is how to fight a monster or where to get what material. All anybody cares about is the gameplay. It's even more apparent with Monster Hunter 4, which was announced to have a greater emphasis on story with the player character being part of a traveling caravan that has various colorful characters. This didn't stop Western players from importing Japanese copies and not caring a bit about not being able to read any of the text. Because of this trope, you won't see many fans of both the Monster Hunter main series AND Monster Hunter: Stories — it's right in the latter's name.
  • Pokémon. Only some fans bother paying attention to plot elements like parallel dimensions or reoccurring characters like Looker. Heavy story elements were originally relegated to the various spinoff games, before Platinum signaled an increase in the main series titles. Fans are usually mixed on the quality of these stories, with even more well-regarded ones such as Black and White's being subject to much criticism. The steady increase in cutscenes and story dialogue with each new installment especially draws ire from fans who would rather lighter plots akin to the earlier Game Boy games, so they can better focus on catching and battling Pokémon. In particular are the competitive battlers (and aspiring competitive battlers), as the resources needed for team optimization has always been placed in the postgame, and they see the story as something to slog through so they can get to the parts they're interested in. Pokémon Sun and Moon annoy them in particular due to the heavy focus on story, with long, unskippable cutscenes and frequent use of But Thou Must! in which the next area is physically open but the player character is detoured somewhere else to help someone, often to places they've already visited. That aside, there is a strong contingent of Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game among Pokémon fans—Pokémon X and Y and Pokémon Sword and Shield, designed with the competitive battlers in mind, gave a minimalistic plot and let you reach the end of the game in record time and received sharp criticism from fans of the story and lore.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse is criticized as having a weak story that basically says Both Order and Chaos are Dangerous in a very strawman kind of way, and giving you "force your ideas of bonds and friendship on everyone" and "kill everyone in a bid for godhood" as "good" endings. Some players feel that the game isn't that bad if you ignore the story and focus on the game mechanics, lauded by many as perhaps the best a mainline SMT game can get.
  • Shin Megami Tensei V is highly praised for its RPG gameplay, demon customization and Wide-Open Sandbox overworld, but its story is widely ignored for its Obvious Beta feel, with wasted non-developing characters and a plot that feels more like a loose outline of beats than a genuine story.
  • Too Human suffers from this when playing co-op, as it automatically skips every cutscene.
  • Torchlight and Torchlight II are similar to Diablo in this respect. Both games also have map items that act like Diablo's Rifts.
  • Many fans of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 seem to be in agreement that the game's story is the weakest of the trilogy, as while the main cast of characters are beloved for how well-developed they are, the villains are often ridiculed for how one-dimension and plentiful they are (although there are exceptions, with the main one being N), and the writing is often slated to take a nosedive around the second-to-last chapter. Despite the criticisms directed at the story, the gameplay is often declared to be even better than the last two games, owing to the many quality-of-life features added, the more in-depth battle system, and the removal of some of the more contentious mechanics from the previous installments.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Raiden V is noticably more plot-heavy than past games in the Raiden series, all of which have only a nominal plot as an excuse for players to fly out and kill stuff (the Raiden Fighters spinoff has mission briefings, but that's it). However, many longtime fans of the series (especially anyone who never played Raiden Fighters titles) find the story elements unnecessary and the constant voiced dialogue to be obnoxious in a genre that traditionally has been focused nearly entirely on gameplay, causing many players to simply set voice volume to 0% and turn off top-of-screen subtitles. Others don't mind that the story exists, but find it too difficult to follow it since Raiden V, being an action-intensive shmup like many other arcade-style shmups out there, demands that the player remains alert at all times for enemy attacks, and usually prefer to enjoy the story by watching a replay of the game where their reflexes and dexterity aren't demanded.
  • Fans of Star Fox: Assault can generally be divided into two categories. The first being those who liked the on rails shooting, wanting more of it and less of everything else, the second being those who only played enough of everything that wasn't multiplayer to unlock everything for multiplayer.
  • Touhou Project has lots of characters, most of them Historical or Public Domain with all the impressive lore that implies, but even the series' original characters have colourful personalities and intriguing backgrounds. The setting itself also has some extensively fleshed-out lore and even in-universe justifications for many tropes, like the Conflict Ball and the excessive use of Bullet Hell in various colourful patterns. Most of this information is confined to the official manga series and Universe Compendiums with very little of it being present in the games themselves, who mostly have Excuse Plots, interactions between characters being brief, comical and a fair bit on the dismissive side, world lore mostly just being referred to off-handedly and all dialogue being skippable in favour of just getting on with the action. Like Star Fox Assault above, the fandom is largely split in two: Those who play the games, and those who are into the franchise for the plot and the fandom community's creations.

    Simulation Game 
  • Hardwar contains a plot about escaping the city of Misplaced Optimism and flying away from the Titan moon due to the two major powers meddling with human life in the moon but anyone who's ever played it generally ignores the plot altogether and have fun fiddling with the sandbox by being an entrepreneur and improving the game's shaky economy. There are a few specific items that must be acquired by advancing the game's plot but even then they are of little significance to the players; especially, the game's own developers made game mods in the form of the unofficial UIM patches that added a lot more features in the game and fixed the issues that plagued the early versions of the game. The Earn Your Fun game starts that came with the patches, for example, allowed players to start off with a more powerful moth and equipment that normally can't be acquired until much later in the game and/or required a significant amount of money to attain such equipment.

    Stealth Based Game 
  • Assassin's Creed: Most players of the franchise tend to enjoy the games for their individual historical set-pieces and entertaining open-world gameplay, but the overarching Myth Arc has been largely derided for being meandering, confusing, and stagnant all at once, due to the fact the series is a Cash-Cow Franchise for Ubisoft, and has no end in sight, leading to countless story retcons, information only told through tie-in media, numerous storylines being abandoned, and the insistent to continue the much-loathed modern day subplot even though it doesn't serve any purpose beyond being a framing device after Desmond's death, making the idea of any sort of narrative payoff basically impossible.
  • Metal Gear:
    • It is possible to skip some of the Codec conversations, which you can fast forward through if have to listen, without missing too much. For example, Natasha Romanenko's lectures about nukes in Metal Gear Solid, or everything Rosemary says in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
    • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty fell into this hard when it released. Fans enjoyed it for the updated mechanics like needing to drag and hide bodies, the tranquilizer pistol, new combat mechanics, first-person shooting, and vastly improved enemy AI. The story however was a Post Modern take on the escapism of video games that was difficult to understand, strangled by possibly the biggest Romantic Plot Tumor in history with an extremely unlikable love interest, a protagonist that wasn't Solid Snake, and a massive Gainax Ending... given as a follow-up to a straightforward action game. Naturally the story got outright slammed and disregarded by fans, outraged by this and how the trailers advertised a clearly different game. Nowadays the opposite seems to hold true, with the story being Vindicated by History and praised for being ahead of its time, with the good-for-their-time game mechanics being seen as quite vanilla and underwhelming by modern standards.
    • Many players found this possible with Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker as the game, unlike previous entries, offers repeatable missions that don't take too much time, encourages multiplayer cooperation to get high scores and cutscenes are not as long. Half of the game's plot is in the form of audio tapes which a lot of fans accidentally gloss over.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which is a action/ stealth game which involves running around a military base fighting soldiers, and that's as far as most people go. Very few players will end up caring about the story behind why you're running around the base, or what happened in the opening cutscene, and play it for the solid gameplay.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain follows a similar pattern. Even detractors admit that they play it not for the story, but for seeing what sort of ridiculous antics they can get away with in the field against the enemy AI. Although the game paid the price of being seen as a Contested Sequel for this and for being, at absolute best, only about 60% complete when it was cobbled together and released.
  • IO Interactive learned a hard lesson from Hitman: Absolution when it comes to adding story into their games: We don't really need a story-driven Hitman game that interrupts the gameplay to absurd degrees. They put this lesson to good use with Hitman (2016), which does still have a serious story, but it's confined to cutscenes and mission briefings for the most part.

    Survival Horror 
  • While not considered bad by any means, The Evil Within 2's story was criticized for lacking the complexity that its predecessor had. This is attributed to the story being more straightforward as opposed to the jigsaw puzzle structure that the first game's story had, in addition to lessening the gore and Surreal Horror in favor of a more Lighter and Softer tone. That said, even detractors agree that the gameplay of the sequel is a step up from the first game; the difficulty is more balanced this time around to allow a fairer challenge, the Wide-Open Sandbox nature of the setting appeased those who enjoyed the exploration elements of the first, and additions of newer mechanics (like stealth upgrades) made gameplay much more convenient.

    Survival Sandbox 
  • The current plot of Starbound is often criticized for being generic with no characters to get invested into. As a result, mods to simply skip the plot exist and many of the players ignore the plot in favor of exploring and building.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Bullet Witch actually has quite a complex plot, regarding a guy who summoned the demons to bring back his dead daughter and how Alicia got her powers. Too bad the players only wanted to shoot stuff.
  • The plot of Bullet Girls Phantasia is a massive mess, but the core gameplay is fun, the character interactions and side stories are entertaining, and the Fanservice plentiful.
  • Dirge of Cerberus is filled with cutscenes, but being an action game, they only break down the flow. This becomes even worse later in the game as the cutscenes are even longer and filled with Deus Ex Machinas.
  • Some Grand Theft Auto players will barely finish the missions and couldn't care less about the rather-intriguing storylines in each game, just creating mayhem instead of moving the plot forwards. This has led to the unfortunate stereotype where non-fans are surprised to learn the games even have plot.
  • Saints Row (2022) may just have the most forgettable plot in the series at best (at worst, with all the bad press surrounding the game, it's downright polarizing), but despite its many shortcomings, the gameplay is still relatively solid. The customization is deep and detailed, the map itself is a huge improvement over Steelport, it's by far the prettiest game in the series (which, given this is Saints Row, isn't saying much, but still), and it's got a killer soundtrack, to (re)boot.
  • Like Bayonetta all the way up at the top of the page, PlatinumGames' Vanquish had a Russian plot to take over a space station and destroy the USA. Of course, you can follow the generic plotline, or you could focus on sliding around on rockets while you destroy a variety of massive robots. The fact that you're rated on speed shows that they knew players would do the latter.
  • Warframe started making a deep and interesting story relating the Tenno to the Orokin and Lotus, if only you were to pay attention to dialogue/codex entries/Synthesis stories. Unfortunately, you can go through every single planet of the game and all of the nodes and never pay attention to a word being said to you. To make matters worse, a significant chunk of the plot is delivered through time-limited events, effectively placing a Continuity Lockout on the info for players who miss said events. Update 14's addition of quests has improved things somewhat, but quests still can't be replayed as of 18.6, so if you're not paying attention the first time around, you'll have to check out the wiki to see what you missed. Quests also tend to focus more on the backstory than the solar system's contemporary developments, while events are the other way around, so players can easily get screwed out of one plotline.

    Turn Based Strategy 
  • Children of Zodiarcs: A polished tactics game where the right loadout and strategy can mean the difference between an impossible task and an assured victory, but with a narrative that grows increasingly cringeworthy and brutal until you wonder if it was drawn up by a perverted serial killer.
  • Fire Emblem, the Strategy RPG little brother of Nintendo Wars, takes a similar philosophy with its games barring some exceptions: the story, unlike Nintendo Wars (which doesn't even try), is told in a serious attempt to be compelling, while the world-building of most Fire Emblem games tend to be very intriguing and even deep. However, because Fire Emblem plots tend to recycle themselves a lot and tend to be a bit of a Cliché Storm at times, some fans of Fire Emblem tend to prefer the series for its gameplay. Matters are helped by how each character is customizable and with their own distinct personalities, traits and Character Development potential, which thankfully offset most stories having an average narrative by having the cast driving it. Bonus points in games with marriage and children in it, where it suddenly becomes a lot of fun to experiment with different support relationships and genealogies. Regarding some specific examples:
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade was a deliberate "back to basics" approach after the more radical SNES games, and as such it has a story so by-the-numbers for the franchise it boarders on an Excuse Plot, with most of the dialogue coming from Vanilla Protagonist Roy and his Grumpy Old Man advisor. Its gameplay was Vindicated by History in the later half of The New '10s, however, and is now widely regarded as one of the most solidly designed games in the franchise. (For example, it's one of the few FE games where the Crutch Character works as intended rather than being a Game-Breaker, 1-2 ranged weapons aren't overpowered, and swordlocked units are actually good)
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, while regarded by most of the fandom for having a simple but well-executed story, is debatably the biggest case of a Cliché Storm in the franchise, owing to the quest hitting all of the beats of a typical Fire Emblem story (bandits in early game, killing a demon by the endgame, a party of legendary heroes, an evil empire possessed by said demon king...), and compared to Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the story definitely comes off to some as a bit yawn-worthy. Thankfully, the gameplay is agreed to be a ton of fun, due to the world map allowing those to either go straight between maps like in traditional Fire Emblem or go fight battles on the map, two huge dungeons to explore, plenty of replay value, and even a post-game Creature Campaign to sink more time into it.
    • Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem was never released in the West due to the DS being dead by the game's launch in Japan, but those who got their hands on the translation agree it's up there with only Fire Emblem Fates (see below) as it's competition as the best Fire Emblem game speaking exclusively from a gameplay perspective. As for story? Well, let's just say the fans didn't take kindly to an Avatar in a remake who is argued by some as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad for characters who had their big scenes in the original game, but got taken instead by Kris.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening is regarded as one of the best games in the series, listed on The Other Wiki as one of the greatest games of all time, and even now the game boasts a great deal of fans on social media. And while said praise is definitely not unearned, the game possesses some narrative issues: while some parts of the game haven't aged as well compared to other installments, the game manages to be highly addictive with its RPG mechanics, explorable map and tons of StreetPass content to add hundreds of hours to your playthrough with. However, the story and world-building was regarded as a major point of contention due to it having less (or none) of the reams of encyclopedic world-building of previous games (some of which contradict each other between supports and story content), a story that is seen as trying to fit too many different arcs into a single story, a time-travel plot, and having most of the characters who "die" in the main story being alive and recruitable a la Disney Death in the game's free Downloadable Content. Some fans didn't take well to this, with some of those fans also finding a lot of the cast exaggerated in its quirks compared to earlier games. It goes without saying, but because of this, most people who play Awakening usually play it for its other strengths, like cast and gameplay.
    • Fire Emblem Fates managed to be even more controversial than Fire Emblem: Awakening ever was, to the point it got its own Broken Base page before the game had even launched in the west!. On top of many issues, the game's story was hyped up beyond what it could achieve. Many fans in recent memory looked more fondly on Fates' gameplay and characters; in fact, Fates ended up being Vindicated by History with the well-regarded six-part DLC campaign Heirs of Fate.
    • Fire Emblem Engage has a standard "save the world from the resurrected Fell Dragon and his followers" plot, similar to Awakening, but is praised for its gameplay, especially the new Engage system. It helps that it follows Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which is often considered the opposite of this trope, along with the Fell Xenologue that was released several months later.
  • Nintendo Wars was this to the point it wasn't until the most-famous installment (the 2001 GBA title known as Advance Wars, which also conveniently was the first internationally-released title) that it even bothered to include a campaign mode. Before that, the draw of the game was to make your own maps, battle with your friends or the AI and just blast each other to pieces in a fun, colorfully-drawn war setting. Virtually all installments that have a Story Mode has it as an Excuse Plot, with the one installment that buckles that trend, Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, actually drawing a bit of complaints from some fans due to it trading the cheerful, light-hearted tone of the earlier games for a gritty, post-apocalyptic narrative that tries to tell a genuine story. Given poor sales made Days of Ruin the last installment in the series until the Nintendo Switch, this has caused plenty of debates whether or not the shift in priorities axed the franchise.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony was hit hard by this. Its updates on the gameplay, mysteries and the individual writing of each character were highly praised, but the main story overall was considered average at best and a nonsensical mess at worst. Making things worse, a huge number of plot twists became highly divisive among fans.

Non-video game examples:

  • Due to the very racist overtones, nobody teaching The Birth of a Nation in a film class wastes any breath on its plot; they just focus on the film's many stylistic tropes.
  • Discussed Trope in M. Butterfly. When talking about Madame Butterfly, Song dissects just how racist and sexist the actual plot is. The greatness of the piece is the sublime music, not the appalling story.
  • Metropolis is watched today for its groundbreaking special effects, futuristic architecture, and kickass robot - not its romantic plot or political message (as the screenwriter intended). This often ties in with its own trope.


  • If a pinball machine has anything beyond an Excuse Plot, and even if it does, nearly all players will simply ignore it and focus on bashing the ball around. For non-fans, this is due to how it's not commonly known that pinball games can have stories, and they assume it doesn't. For fans, the majority (or at least the most visible fans) are focused on maximizing their scores in any way possible and pay attention to the plot either as flavor or as a means to better understand and/or remember how to score as efficiently as possible. This is best exemplified in NBA Fastbreak, which has a trivia round—serious players will instead use a cheat sheet with all of the answers, unless they've memorized all of the answers. Having a strong, highly visible plot is a good way to get fans excited over an upcoming or new game though, as is what Jersey Jack Pinball did at Pinball Expo 2016 with Dialed In!.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This often happens with Tabletop games, Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer, and even Magi-Nation. Many players don't care about the material in the sourcebooks beyond feats and rules.
    • This can also extend to the actual game sessions of roleplaying games, much to the frustration of Game Masters with players who are only interested in hacking-and-slashing and not the Game Master's campaign storyline or even actual role-playing (hence the ironic term "roll-playing"). The Munchkin archetype is defined by this trope, treating the campaign strictly as a game, rather than a roleplaying experience. The Real Man may also be susceptible to this if they are only interested in showing off during action sequences, whereas The Loonie is mainly preoccupied with their own "game".
    • See DM of the Rings for an In-Universe example of the above. Almost any time the DM starts trying to tell them about the backstory or do NPC monologues, the players completely ignore him (though their hatred of his blatant railroading is also a factor; the DM is basically telling the story like a JRPG).
    • The "Spike" Player Archetype in Magic: The Gathering is characterized as only caring about the cards as a tool for victory, with no regard for flavor, verse, or the overall story. Contrary to the attitude some creators might take to this kind of mindset, though, including stuff to make the game interesting and flavorful for "Spike" is considered just as important as keeping his less goal-oriented counterparts "Timmy" and "Johnny" engaged.
    • As opposed to the Vorthos archetype, Melvin is interested solely in a card's mechanical effects and interactions, rather than the flavor.
  • The Smallville RPG has drawn many fans among people who don't care for the TV show the game is based on. This is because of the unique dice system that prioritizes relationships, motivations, and personality traits over skills, powers, and equipment. It has been described as not only a superhero television drama simulator, but also usable for ANY genre of game that wants the feel of a television drama. This resulted in a stripped down version of the Smallville RPG called Cortex Dramatic, the mechanics of which found their way into the modern version of the base system: Cortex Prime.

  • One could buy a particular American Girl character doll, be it a historical, Girl of the Year or a WellieWisher, and disregard the character's backstory in favour of what her owner sees fit — give her a new name, a wholly different backstory, or just play with the doll for what she's worth. Though that basically defeats the purpose of them being an educational tool, right?
  • LEGO frequently falls into this. Particularly BIONICLE and the other story driven sets. But even just an individual kit is frequently build once (if that), and then torn down for pieces that are mixed in randomly with the rest of the owner's collection.

  • DM of the Rings has a domineering, plot-obsessed DM butting heads with players who couldn’t care less about the story and take every excuse they can to derail it. Gimli’s player is only one paying real attention, and he claims he hates the story. There’s multiple points where the DM engages in long exposition-heavy monologues while the players are left doing nothing, causing Aragorn and Legolas to complain that it feels like they’ve been in a non-interactive cutscene since Rivendell.
  • Parodied a couple of times in Penny Arcade. In addition to the page image, one strip has Gabe skipping his character talking about how much he wants to protect his sister, until the next scene opens with him and his sister preparing to fight to the death, and he realises that maybe he would like to know how that happened.
  • Parodied in the Sluggy Freelance World of Warcraft parody, presented as Deep-Immersion Gaming:
    Torg: I've defeated all your guards, Lord NPC-Boss-Crap! Now I need your head!
    NPC: Please, call me Lord Darkblack. Ah, you hope to avenge the Fragilition forces I decimated 5 years ago whose spirits came to you and...
    Torg: Bla-bla-bla! I don't even read the quests anymore, but killing you will get me a reward-ring to boost my PvP rank to spang other players!
  • In Sunstone, Ally has this mindset in Moonstone Gate, while her partner Lisa, being a writer, wants to read the lore before being pulled into a quest.

    Web Video 

    Western Animation 
  • Tuca & Bertie: In "Vibe Check," Speckle and Joel play a medieval MMORPG where they turn down all the story quests given to them and mostly just focus on the farming mechanics instead.

Alternative Title(s): Ignored Story, Waste Of Time Story