Much like each year’s ability to deliver some corkers, it’s also just as prone to throw up some major disappointments and some stinkers. While it may be a perception that I have a penchant for the lesser titles (to which there is some degree of truth), I prefer to call it having hope where others do not, and as such my scope for disappointment is greater than the average gamer. Here are my two most disappointing titles of 2016:
2 – Layers of Fear: I am a self-confessed survival horror aficionado. There are very few horror games that fly beneath my radar. When I saw Layers of Fear for the first time I thought to myself that this could be the SOMA (my 2015 GOTY) of 2016. A game set inside a dilapidated mansion tracing the steps of a crazy painter sounded pretty darn cool. Sadly apart from the game’s excellent atmosphere the premise is the best thing about it, as the game and its DLC have very few redeeming features. It’s your typical run-of-the-mill jump scare experience, but instead of creating a sense of trepidation the jump scares are all predictable and the accompanying voice-acting is amateurish. Avoid unless you’re an ardent horror fan. DYEGB rating: 5.5 – DLC: 3
1 – Homefront: The Revolution: Homefront: The Revolution has been on my most anticipated list since it was first revealed. The original, despite being short and somewhat flawed, sucked me in with its interesting premise of America being invaded by a superpower Korean army. The sequel looked to build on this premise with an open-world Philadelphia playing home to the revamped Korean army’s operation and with it the Resistance’s opposition to such regime. The game had a tumultuous development cycle with several reboots and IP ownership changes. The first danger signs came with the game’s closed beta, which depicted a game far, far away from being ready for release with its sluggish framerate and dated visuals. However, instead of playing the pessimist I played the optimist, believing on release that Dambuster Studios could release a quality experience. How wrong I was. Homefront: The Revolution released in the AAA-heavy month of May (Doom, Uncharted and Overwatch) and was massacred by the gaming press upon launch. I can’t hand on my heart say I didn’t see it coming, but to see the game receive a litany of 1s and 2s was crazy (I still disagree with these scores). I played the game on launch and it was in bad shape, it was practically the beta experience all over again, except this was the ‘final product’. Credit must go to Dambuster Studios for working hard to fix the game’s issues, but safe to say the damage had been done. Releasing it in the state they did was never going to end well, a decision that publisher Deep Silver recognise was wrong. I waited months for Dambuster to address all the issues before fully reviewing it, and although the experience improved on a performance level it couldn’t save the title from being a missed opportunity to capatilise on a truly interesting premise. DYEGB rating: 6
It’s quite hard for me to say I was disappointed by a game as I generally try to see the best in games (unless it’s made by EA, then my hatred is as blind as a freshly flashbanged fruit bat at high noon), but there is no denying that this year has seen some lacklustre releases. Though there may be a name here that a lot of people will get upset from.
2 – No Man’s Sky: This is an entry that surprises no one, but it’s an entry nonetheless. While I didn’t buy into the hype that Hello Games’ head honcho Sean Murray had laid out for the masses, I was still underwhelmed with what I received. The game was shallow at best. The procedural generation of all the planets was cool, but it wasn’t executed very well as every planet I visited was red. No real vegetation and lack of variety in general just made for a drab experience. The idea for the game was ambitious, but the execution wasn’t great. Though I have heard good things about the foundation update that launched recently, it’ll take nothing short of a Christmas miracle to repair the damage done to Hello Games’ reputation. DYEGB rating: 7
1 – Battlefield 1: Let the masses come, it’s time for me to be crucified for severely disliking a game that everyone loves. I was a late adopter of Battlefield 1 and I was so disappointed with what I played. I’m all for the World War 1 setting, but the game truly was drab. The campaign just was uninteresting to me. The only part I could justify playing through was the part with the ANZACs because I’m Australian and even then I didn’t really enjoy it. Everything else just felt uninspired. It honestly felt like a generic skin over the lacklustre Battlefront which was released just 11 months before Battlefield 1. Maybe next time, DICE. DYEGB rating: 8
Considering all I really played was Overwatch during the second half of the year I actually didn’t get too disappointed with much this year. That being said, I certainly boarded the hype train on a few occasions only to be quickly derailed (not always because the game was bad, as you will read).
2 – No Man’s Sky: Oh boy. You really have to feel sorry for the little team at Hello Games who were sitting on one of the most hyped games I can ever remember only to be utterly crushed upon release. NMS had a lot going for it, and to be fair – it still does. But this is what hype can do to a title, where the fires of expectation are furiously fanned to the point where the game will simply never live up to what fans are expecting. All the lies and misleading marketing aside, Hello Games probably never set out to throw gamers off – they simply tried selling a fancy pair of Reebok pumps speckled with real stardust but ended up delivering Dunlop Volleys covered in glitter from the $2 shop. Maybe Sean Murray just got excited that people were so interested in his long gestating project he forgot to put on the breaks whenever he opened his mouth. It isn’t a terrible game, it just wasn’t that fun and a perfect example of why we should never get overhyped about something before we at least get to play a beta or demo. DYEGB rating: 7
1 – Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End: Now before all you fanboys jump down my throat with a pitchfork screaming: “Heresy!” UC4 wasn’t a bad game by any means. It actually had some really big wow moments and a pretty neat story that felt like a fitting end for our smiling mass murderer. Naughty Dog were always going to be in a tricky spot with this game after the success of the Last of Us which cemented the studio as a much more mature developer focused on richly-detailed storytelling and wonderful characters. UC4 found itself sitting between the silliness of the previous Uncharted games’ violence and some brooding storytelling. While it worked most of the time, I simply couldn’t connect to the characters like I did during the first three games (I loved UC2) and by the time the credits rolled I just felt a bit… empty. Again, Uncharted 4 is still a very good game but for me on a personal level it was also a letdown. DYEGB rating: 8
I feel that my Neo-esque dodging skills reached a new echelon in 2016. I ducked and weaved through all manner of shitty releases, and managed to sniff out the bullshit long before it managed to splatter all over me. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that I personally felt a small tone shift in the industry thanks to the big guns that misfired this year, and I hope and dream that it sets a tone for 2017 as far as major developers and publishers go. I dream of a world where games are released because they are solidly good, but then again, I also dream of transforming robots and edible chairs.
2 – Dead Rising 4: Now I am not saying by any means that this game is a bad game – but it did have a hefty peak of disappointment that I had to scale before I could really find the enjoyable side to it. A part of me was genuinely sad to see a decent chunk of the Dead Rising formula wither and die in front my eyes, to give way to a fresh and re-imagined set of systems. I am forever thankful that the new flavour of the game is strong enough (in my opinion) to carry the series forward, but I know that I will have to return to DR2 and DR3 on occasion for that appropriate ‘fix’. DYEGB rating: 7.5
1 – No Man’s Sky: No, I didn’t play it. But c’mon, just because you aren’t surfing the wave doesn’t mean you can’t be wiped out by it. The sheer magnitude of people’s disappointment spilled out of from those actually playing it, and easily washed over those that were observing from a safe distance – it was a truly astounding experience to be part of. DYEGB rating: 7
2 – Soda Drinker Pro: The only reason I bought this game to have a look at is the fact it cost $10. The trailer looked mediocre and I figured there must’ve been some reasoning behind charging a ‘tenner for this game….there wasn’t.
1 – No Man’s Sky: Excuse my bluntness here but No Man’s Sky can shove it. I’ve never been more excited for a game in my entire life, especially because an obviously brilliant advertising team made it look like there wasn’t a time where you’d be bored or become tired of any repetitiveness… But hey, what do you know. DYEGB rating: 7
1 (and only): No Man’s Sky
Disclaimer: I’m not actually disappointed, but everybody else seems to be. I knew this was coming.
There’s one game where the drama surrounding it was completely baffling to me when I thought about it. Back in 2013, we got a trailer at the last ever VGA Awards (thank fucking God) for a game that sparked the interest of just about everybody. It looked cool! It looked original! It looked like pre-rendered footage! But that was okay, we could wait for some of that precious gameplay footage! Well, we waited. And we got more trailers. And we waited. With each new trailer that came out, people got way more excited for ‘the best game ever’. But there was a problem, as perfectly outlined by the dudes from Previously Recorded – these trailers showed us what the game was about…but not what we did in the game. That’s the point where the hype should have died down. But this is a world where Call of Duty continues to make money, so we got more fuel for the hype machine. So when the game came out and it was fucking boring, people were shocked and outraged.
This outrage was pretty dumb. For one, these schmucks should have read into what was being shown for three goddamn years. It was a book called “Where’s the gameplay?” It’s a popular choice for the neck-bearded skeptic who has nothing better to do, so I’ve read it about thirteen times. You wouldn’t have been so disappointed in the game you were hyping yourself up on the basis of a bunch of cutscenes if you didn’t hype yourself on the basis of a bunch of cutscenes. Now, you may be saying in your defence: “It was the developer’s fault!” You’re not wrong, but you’re also wrong. Sure, most of this would have been resolved if the devs hadn’t constantly promised things they couldn’t deliver and fed the hype with vague statements about numbers and procedural generation. But you’re forgetting that you got hyped for a game you never saw any real gameplay of, and that’s why No Man’s Sky is the biggest (and most avoidable) disappointment of the year.
Do you agree or disagree with our most disappointing games of 2016? Let us know in the comments below.