The bane of even the most battle-hardened gamers, escort missions are perhaps the most frustration-inducing mission types in the gaming world. These missions usually entail protecting an AI controlled character from enemies while guiding them through a particular environment. It sounds like a simple structure, but can quickly devolve into controller-throwing fits of rage. Whether it be due to bad AI, convoluted level design, or poor controls, these are the top examples of the absolute worst that escort missions have to offer.
10 most frustrating video game escort missions
10. Metal Gear Solid V
Metal Gear Solid V has widely gone down as a disappointment in the gaming world. Though the graphics are incredible and the open world design immersive, the game itself was hampered by internal feuding between series creator Hideo Kojima and executives at Konami. As a result, the game was shipped in a borderline unfinished state, with loads of content cut at the last minute. Repetitive and poor level design was used to fill the empty spaces.
Once such level, Blood Runs Deep, occurs later in the campaign. As Snake, you’re tasked with escorting a group of unarmed child soldiers through enemy territory to an extraction helicopter. As if playing babysitter doesn’t sound frustrating enough, one of the kids is injured, and Snake is forced to carry him to the extraction, which means players will have to manually drop and pick up the kid every time they need to use a weapon. Since you’re being pursued by enemies, this turns into a fairly frequent occurrence.
Taken together with the poor AI pathing, this mission quickly becomes an agonizing slog that will leave you wishing you could just get on the chopper by yourself.
9. The Evil Within
Much of the first entry in Bethesda’s Evil Within series consists of escort missions. In the late game especially, player character Sebastian Castellanos will find himself paired with a rotating series of AI companions that he’ll need to keep out of harm’s way. Most of the time, this aspect of gameplay is no more than an annoyance.
This annoyance, however, quickly becomes rage-inducing during a particular set-piece sequence. Sebastian and his partner, Joseph Oda, find themselves in a maze-like area filled with hordes of bloodthirsty enemies. As these enemies chase them down, they also need to endure barrages of fire from enemy-controlled arrow turrets. This sequence would be difficult enough playing alone, but Joseph’s AI quickly becomes a complete hindrance. If you don’t move fast enough, the hordes will attack and kill him. Move too fast, and you’ll be slaughtered by the arrow turrets. Playing this particular mission more than a few times is enough to drive players to a state of insanity worthy of the mental hospital where the game takes place.
8. Jak 2
Naughty Dog is no stranger to the escort mission format. Their blockbuster title The Last of Us is essentially one long escort mission, and garnered critical praise as an example of how to do this frustrating mission type in a way that doesn’t alienate players. Before they perfected the art, however, they had their share of missteps.
Their classic PS2 title Jak II included a variety of exasperating escort missions. Of note is a late-game mission that involves providing protection for a group of mercenaries as they move through a sewer infested with ravenous Metal Head creatures. The three soldiers are essentially useless at defending themselves and have pitifully low health bars. The route is long and full of enemies, and to top it all off, there are no checkpoints, meaning if any one of the soldiers dies the mission starts from the very beginning. It’s enough to make any player want to throw their copy of the disc in the nearest trash can.
7. GoldenEye 007
GoldenEye 007 is a classic title that includes an escort mission that has reached legendary levels of infamy in the gaming community. The mission? Seemingly simple: “Protect Natalya.” As Bond, you’ll need to do your utmost to protect hacker Natalya Simonova in several levels throughout the game.
This would be an easy task, if not for the fact that Natalya’s AI was seemingly programmed by some kind of chaos god that feeds off the pain of gamers everywhere. Natalya is all but suicidal, walking into enemies with brazen abandon and even walking in front of your own gun at seemingly any opportunity. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get through the missions except with a dose of luck and near-infinite reserves of patience.
6. Resident Evil 5
Love her or hate her, Sheva Alomar holds a special place in the heart of any Resident Evil fan. Serving as Chris Redfield’s partner throughout the events of Resident Evil 5, Sheva seems great on paper. She can shoot, carry supplies, and follow a variety of commands. Sounds great, right?
Well, it would be, if Sheva did so with any kind of skill. She’ll routinely get in your way, chew through your ammo and supplies, and default to using her weakest weapons. More often than not, you’ll find yourself having to drop whatever you’re doing to save her from certain death at the hands of nearby enemies. Oftentimes even your best efforts won’t cut it, and you’ll have to sit through Sheva’s death screen before starting over at the nearest checkpoint. If possible, grab a friend to play as Sheva, and spare yourself the stress and anxiety of dealing with her utterly horrid AI.
5. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
For the most part, MGS3 is an excellent game, regarded by many to be the best entry in the series. As Naked Snake, you’ll engage in Cold War-era espionage during a secret mission to take out a Russian defector. Most of the game sees you playing as a solo operator, but for some baffling reason, the developers decided to include a head-scratching escort mission directly before the final boss battle.
Your companion, fellow spy EVA, is injured by a tree branch. With enemies on your tail, you’ll need to escort EVA through a maze of jungle with enemies in pursuit. EVA moves at a snail’s pace and her stamina drains at a blistering speed, meaning you’ll have to continuously burn through valuable food and healing items to get her through the area. Again, this mission takes place right before the final boss, so every resource you’re forced to use to keep EVA alive makes that final fight just that much harder. As far as we can understand, this mission seems to exist purely to make the player suffer.
4. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
Though including three Metal Gear games in the same list may seem like pushing it, Konami doesn’t seem to learn from their mistakes. Their repeat offenses all seem to stem from a particular mission in Metal Gear Solid 2. The character you’re tasked with escorting, Emma Emmerich, is a veritable cornucopia of phobias and questionable life choices.
First, you’ll have to physically carry Emma through a series of flooded areas. She can’t swim, however, and has insect-sized lungs, which means you’ll need to come up for air every couple of seconds.
Once that’s done, you’ll have to sneak her past groups of enemies, and if seen, she’ll simply sit down and wait to die while enemies attack her.
Finally, you’ll come to an elevator covered in bugs, and Emma will refuse to move any further until the bugs are taken care of. You have two options to get rid of them: use coolant spray to kill them, or knock Emma out and drag her unconscious body through the door. After everything you’ve just been through, it’s hard to pass up this opportunity for catharsis.
3. Dead Rising 1, 2, 3, and 4
Escort missions are the backbone of the Dead Rising series, and that’s a crying shame. In big worlds full of opportunities to make mayhem and kill zombies with ridiculous weapons while wearing hilarious outfits, the last thing you’ll want to do is escort all-but-useless survivors through the zombie hordes. Unfortunately, that’s what you’ll be spending most of your time doing if you want to advance in the game.
It’s an incredibly unfortunate design choice that almost makes the series unendurable. Later entries include free-roam modes that allow players to mess around to their heart’s content without worrying about protecting their latest damage magnet. You have to be a particular type of masochistic to find the base games any level of enjoyable.
Like MGS3, this is another late game escort mission that seems to serve no purpose except to infuriate players. In the game’s first and only escort mission, you have to protect one of the game’s Little Sisters as she goes about her work. Though other Little Sisters are just about impervious to any type of damage, the game pairs you with a Little Sister that’s apparently made out of glass. She can die quickly and unexpectedly at the hands of the endless hordes of enemies that choose this particular moment to go after you, and if she does, you’ll have to start over again. It really makes you gain another level of respect for the Big Daddies that make a full-time job out of protecting these little demons.
1. Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 isn’t always an escort mission, and thank goodness for that. For large portions of the game, you’ll have to endure the presence of Ashley Graham, the President’s daughter. Fortunately, these sections are spread out between periods of solo gameplay. If Ashley were a constant presence, she could have easily prevented Resident Evil 4 from becoming the enduring classic that it remains to this day.
Ashley is pretty much nothing more than a giant bullet sponge. She can’t use weapons, oftentimes she can’t hide, and essentially just serves to make you a bigger target. To make it even worse, her nasal screams of terror will quickly drill their way into your subconscious and you’ll start to hear them in your dreams. The phrase “Leon, help!” will soon be enough to cause even the most hardened player to break down in a cold sweat and tears of anxiety. Invariably, Ashley will get herself kidnapped again at some point or another, and it’s hard to view these moments as anything but a blessed relief.
Despite all these egregious examples, escort missions aren’t always awful. There are plenty of instances, from The Last of Us to Bioshock Infinite, that show how escort missions can be used to create fulfilling character bonds and interesting new gameplay elements. That said, bad escort missions can easily ruin a gaming experience, and well-done escort missions unfortunately seem to be an exception rather than a rule.