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5 video games with lackluster stories but fun gameplay

Players can explore the world of Mass Effect: Andromeda (image via BioWare)
Players can explore the world of Mass Effect: Andromeda (image via BioWare)
Sidhartha Deka

Video games can be a great way to tell unique stories, which can only be experienced in a specific way. Such has indeed been proved by many narrative-driven video games like The Last of Us and Life is Strange, which earned various accolades for their stories.

However, sometimes a story isn’t the only deciding factor in judging a game’s calibre. Gameplay is also an important, if not equally vital part of the video game experience. A non-engaging gameplay can make the game a mundane trot through the story, sometimes leading to players losing interest along the way.

So what happens when a video game has good engaging gameplay, but a somewhat lackluster story? More often than not, such games receive middling to bad reviews, causing a divide in the player base. Here are five video games of the sort with dull storylines but engaging gameplay.

Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion.


5 video games with bad narratives but great gameplay

1) Mass Effect: Andromeda

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It is a shame that Mass Effect Andromeda could not live up to the standards set by the Shepard Trilogy in terms of storytelling, as the game probably features some of the best gameplay in this video game series. Uninteresting characters, bland story and a comparatively sparse setting, eclipsed this game’s better qualities.

Mass Effect: Andromeda has a vastly improved traversal mechanic, with a jetpack that can be used in and out of combat to dash as well as jump around. Combat is also a much smoother experience, with old and new weapons. Powers also make a return, looking better than ever.

The UI is the same one from the preceding video games, but polished to look much better. And finally, Andromeda does away with the old class system, instead favouring a more branched skill system letting players pick and choose their loadouts, and also resplacing at certain points in the campaign.

Hopefully BioWare will keep these changes going forward.


2) Doom (2016)

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Doom has never really been a franchise known for its story. After all, the original video game gives no explanation as to why the protagonist is on Mars (or one of its moons) fighting off demons.

The 2016 game of the same name as the first, similarly, does little in terms of quality in its story. Most of it is just a backdrop to what makes this modern iteration of an old classic such a great experience: the gameplay.

Doom 2016 sees players take control of the Doom Slayer as he continues to do what he’s best at: rip and tear his way through demons. And that might as well be the tagline of the game, as the gameplay is the real reason why any player picks up this game.

With fast-paced gunplay, cool executions and a generous difficulty curve, Doom allows players to really embody the essence of what it feels to be the Doom Slayer.

Despite relying solely on its gameplay, it was successful enough to earn a sequel, where the combat was further improved with the inclusion of a grapnel hook (because the Doom Slayer is too cool for a simple grapnel gun). A dash button was also added, which combined with jumping and grappling, allowed for some fun platforming as well.


3) Just Cause 4

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All Just Cause video games are very fun to play, which is why the developers have even succeeded in making four of them so far. The series has always had no real depth in terms of storytelling, with generic plot lines and mostly repetitive side missions. And yet, the games always offer unique experiences, which is what brings players back with every release.

Just Cause 4 did this with a brilliant sandbox and in-game physics. The game introduces the ability to tether rocket boosters to any item, NPC or creature using the grappler. Subsequently firing these boosters can lead to innovative or ridiculously funny results.

Traversal is also one of the most appreciated aspects of the game, with a combination of parachuting, wingsuiting and tethering, getting from point A to B becomes a literal rollercoaster ride. In the fourth game, jetpacks are introduced as well, meaning that touching the ground is not even necessary at times. Not many games can beat Just Cause at making world traversal fun.


4) Far Cry 5

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The Far Cry series has had a varied history in terms of story. While many players might remember the third and fourth games for their memorable characters and even more charismatic villains, Far Cry 5 is generally forgettable in that regard.

With a bland player character and an antagonist that paled in comparison to the ones from previous video games, this entry didn’t manage to make a big splash.

But players still enjoyed the game, despite its boring narrative, as the open world was one of the best in the series. Accessible from nearly the very beginning of the game, players can travel anywhere in the game's map. The emphasis was for them to explore and encounter various areas on their own, with each player having their own unique experience.

Combat was also improved upon with more realistic ballistics, as well as the inclusion of more melee weapons, as a way to enforce more close quarters combat.

A mechanic to tame certain wild animals and use them as companions returned from Far Cry Primal, with Peaches the Cougar, Cheeseburger the Bear, and Boomer the Dog being viable options. Any game that gives the player a functioning pet is a definite win.


5) Destiny 2

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Destiny 2 is known well enough to provide players with long cutscenes full of stories and even more plot through plain old exposition through NPC dialogue. Most of the time, despite the story having many details that should be followed and characters that get introduced, players often ignore cutscenes and skip right to the gameplay.

As this is a Bungie product, the gunplay is just top notch. And Destiny 2 knows that because the entire loot system is centred around new and different types of weapons to try and experiment with. Every expansion is accompanied by completely new armaments or at the very least some good looking variations.

Additionally, Destiny 2 has some of the best co-op multiplayer experiences of the genre. Furnished with a three-player co-op system, with little to no server problems and generally quick load times, it offers some good fun that players can have with friends online.

Destiny has solidified its status as a live-service game, as players can’t help but keep coming back for some of the best gameplay in a multiplayer experience.


Edited by Abu Amjad Khan

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