If it’s one thing gamers love more than playing good games, it’s slandering bad ones. But disappointment is a little different to simply donning your keyboard warrior armour and letting the Internet know how you feel about a terrible game. Disappointment is that kid whose dad went out for a pack of cigarettes but came back a whole decade later, and didn’t even bring enough cigarettes for everyone. In the spirit of having a bit of a whinge, we asked the WellPlayed team what made them sad in their jorts this year.
Disappointment of the Year: The Industry Isn’t Unionised Yet
Seriously, why isn’t this a thing yet?
Disappointment of the Year: Layers of Fear 2
Look, I know that the original Layers of Fear had its fair share of haters, and while I really enjoyed it I do agree that it has flaws. Still, based on Bloober Team’s positively excellent next release, Observer, I fully expected Layers of Fear 2 to build on that success and make something truly special out of the original game’s potential. How they fucked it up quite so terribly is beyond me. The claustrophobic setting of an eerie ocean liner, the unsettling ‘dark side of Hollywood’ plot tinged with homages to classic film, these are things that sounded great on paper and should have come together to make a uniquely unnerving experience. Instead, Layers of Fear 2 serves up a bland, uninspired and wholly predictable jaunt that brings almost nothing new to the table and recycles its only good ideas so much and so quickly that they’re old before the first chapter ends. You should play Observer though, it’s fantastic.
Disappointment of the Year: Mortal Kombat 11
I guess it is odd that just this last week I explained how enamoured I am with Mortal Kombat 11, yet here we are in the disappointment column. The truth is, prior to release (and even for a short while post-release) Mortal Kombat 11 was definitely not a consumer-friendly product. All manner of unfriendly mechanics were present, with time hungry grinds aplenty. Sure, they fixed it quickly, but the initial shock was hard to process.
Disappointment of the Year: Jump Force
I was sitting in a theater last year watching the Xbox E3 briefing when the announcement trailer for Jump Force was shown for the first time. I could barely hold in my excitement in seeing the big three from Shonen Jump teaming up together in fighting that looks to be grounded in a realism that we hadn’t seen before….and then the game came out. The story mode and its presentation, from voice acting to the cutscene animations, left a lot to be desired and even the flashy finishing moves of your favourite anime characters weren’t enough to save this licensed train wreck from crashing and burning.
Disappointment of the Year: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The 2019 instalment of Call of Duty had a stellar campaign, but the multiplayer offering was judged and found wanting. Despite some revamped visuals and a well-realised gun customisation system, convoluted level design fed into a paranoia-inducing camp fest at a level not seen since Friday the 13th at Crystal Lake. Larger scale maps suffered from being unrecognisable as Call of Duty experiences, and little things like not being able to see your deaths in Team Deathmatch or large things like not knowing your ping/connection quality made braving the online portion a chore. I normally play and enjoy Call of Duty every year for the generally excellent multiplayer, but Modern Warfare was a huge swing and a miss.
Disappointment of the Year: Wolfenstein Youngblood
What? No Anthem? Are you high, Jordan? While Anthem did disappoint and frustrate me to no end, I admittedly never had incredibly high hopes for the game due to my indifference to BioWare and EA so there would have to have been no other disappointing games for that train wreck. Sadly, there was another game which took the title of Disappointment of the Year. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is just depressing. It had all the right ingredients to be excellent yet an increasingly avaricious industry took its toll on the Wolfenstein franchise, with Youngblood being the epitome of a poorly designed live-service game.
Disappointment of the Year: Anthem
If I’m going to be honest, Anthem always felt off from the moment it was shown. I wasn’t sure if it was uninspiring design taking familiar artistic, story and gameplay elements from recent titles like Titanfall or Destiny, but aside from the excellent flying mechanics, the game was just uninteresting. Nothing about the world, gameplay or story was engaging nor memorable which would be fine, but the bizarre design choices to boot put it in a league of its own. It is especially disappointing given the developers behind this mess is one of the most beloved developers of all time. Unfortunately, Anthem is unremarkable in every way and I’m not sure what anyone else was expecting.
Disappointment of the Year: Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey
Ever since Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey was announced I had been keen to see how it turned out. The premise was unique and interesting, and director Patrice Désilets had made some good stuff previously. However when I finally got my hands on the game, it was super convoluted, full of complex systems and just not overly that fun. Patrice reckons I didn’t play the game because I gave it an average review. Sorry to tell you mate, but your game just wasn’t that good. Hopefully when Désilets finally ships 1666: Amsterdam it’ll be better.
Disappointment of the Year: YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
Upon watching the reveal trailer for YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a game that was going to completely captivate me. Oozing absurdity with its surreal art style and intriguing narrative, YIIK looked to be the sort of wacky and creative indie title that my gaming appetite seems to constantly yearn for. After my review of the game, I had come to the bitter realisation that it wasn’t that at all. While aspects of the story are interesting, it falls victim to poor pacing, repetitive and boring battles, and performance hiccups. All of these shortcomings quickly sap the desire to progress through YIIK, and I can’t help but feel like this game was a huge wasted opportunity. I hope lessons can be learned from YIIK and be incorporated into a sequel, but for now I’m forced to stew in my own disappointment.
Disappointment of the Year: Blair Witch
Going into Blair Witch I wanted a single thing and that was atmosphere. The original film was so unsettling and scary not because of overdone gore or horror, but because of the atmosphere and tension. And don’t get me wrong, Blair Witch could have some incredible tension, but it is bogged down by technical issues, predictability and lack of polish. The game does have potential, with great audio and an interesting handy-cam mechanic, but that is exactly the problem, its potential just isn’t realised. If the game was out-and-out crap I could move passed it, but the fact that it teases the thought of being great before falling so short in the long run hurts more than being a complete mess.
Disappointment of the Year: Growtopia
Growtopia was for me a grindy, pay-to-win slogfest that had me dying to play any other game. While some may find it enjoyable and despite the base game being free, the heavily pay-to-win nature of the game overall was the ultimate turn off. I highly recommend shelling out for one of many other games that came out this year.