This past year was an embarrassment of riches in the world of video games. Not only did we see a huge quantity of amazing games, but there was an impressive diversity of games as well. As we look ahead to another year of promising video game releases, let’s take a look back on some of the more disappointing releases of the previous year.
The latest game from the team behind the Saints Row franchise, Agents of Mayhem, makes a really strong first impression. The world of Agents of Mayhem is colorful and stylized. There are a dozen different playable characters with unique playstyles and upgrade paths. Unfortunately, the game’s open world feels empty and boring. The character upgrades feel meaningless. The missions lack variety, and the humor is cringeworthy, which is a real tragedy considering how hilarious the Saints Row games have traditionally been. Each mission requires you to bring along three characters that you switch between, but only one character is present at a time. With the three character system, the fact that there is no cooperative play seems like either a massive oversight or perhaps a feature that was beyond the scope of development.
This is not the most surprising disappointment on this list. Nintendo doesn’t have great track record with their mobile game initiative so far, but Animal Crossing seemed like a perfect fit for mobile. Animal Crossing is known for its real passage of time-based gameplay. Different events happen and different characters appear depending on the actual time of day. This makes it a perfect fit for mobile seeing as how everyone is already checking their phone throughout the day. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp only resembles Animal Crossing in its visual presentation. It lacks all the features and activities that make Animal Crossing what it is. Worst of all, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is filled with the typical suite of free-to-play bloat including, but not limited to: timers, artificial delays, and resource grinding.
Mass Effect: Andromeda just feels unnecessary. Mass Effect was a complete trilogy. It was by no means a perfect trilogy, and Mass Effect 3 had its own unique set of problems that I won’t get into here, but the series was generally liked as a whole. Mass Effect: Andromeda really just feels like a publisher trying to leverage the value of a popular intellectual property. It doesn’t bring anything new to the series, the story isn’t interesting, and it was a technical mess when it launched. This game was so bad that all of the planned DLC for it was cancelled. This game effectively killed the Mass Effect franchise. That’s how disappointing it is.
This game was somehow even more of a disaster for EA than Mass Effect: Andromeda. When this game was announced EA was very vocal about how Battlefront II was going to make good on the problems players had with the first game, like the lack of a single player campaign. In response to the community backlash regarding the price of unlockable characters, EA significantly reduced the costs of in-game currency transactions. Hours before the game was released, EA completely removed the ability to spend real money in the in-game storefront of Battlefront II. But what about the actual game part? It turns out it’s not very good either. Battlefront II consists of a handful of extremely straightforward multiplayer modes and a short and predictable single player campaign. This game looks incredible visually; it’s too bad that everything else about it is such a mess.
Sega puts out a middling to bad Sonic game every year. The reason Sonic Forces makes this list is because last year Sonic Mania was also released. Sonic Mania is an uncharacteristically good Sonic game. In fact, it’s the highest rated Sonic game in 15 years. Like other games in the series, Sonic Forces attempts to blend 2D and 3D gameplay. While some of the 2D stages are enjoyable, the 3D stages generally fall flat.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a great game, arguably even the best game of 2014. It introduced the impressive and dynamic Nemesis System, a hierarchy of orc captains that is influenced by player manipulation. Its sequel, Shadow of War, is by no means a bad game, but it’s hamstrung by a handful of questionable design decisions. The story, which wasn’t especially compelling in the first game, is somehow even less interesting in the sequel and this game really overstays its welcome. The final act is series of repetitive fortress defense missions, requiring a lot of grinding and /or loot box purchasing.
A mediocre minigame collection that should have been a free pack-in with the Switch. It’s not offensively bad and a few of the minigames are actually kind of fun. $60 is an extremely steep price for such a shallow minigame collection though, especially considering the breadth and quality of content currently available on the Switch.
Ubisoft’s knight-samurai-viking fighting game mashup looked initially very promising. It has a unique stance-based combat system, a diverse cast of playable characters, and tons of customization options. Despite the initial promise For Honor showed, it is suffering from a host of issues. It’s loaded with greedy microstransactions, the player base is steadily declining, and as of the time of this writing For Honor does not have dedicated servers, although they are planned for release.
Yooka-Laylee is an extremely faithful, spiritual successor to games like Banjo Kazooie created by some of the talent that worked on those original games. The major problem with Yooka-Laylee is that it is a little too faithful to the games it was inspired by. Things like wonky camera controls and obtuse level design are resurrected in Yooka-Laylee. Standards change and the conventions of early 3D-era platformers just don’t quite work anymore.