Games create expectations, whether it’s due to the massive marketing campaigns behind them or rabid fan bases. While some games can be given the benefit of the doubt upon falling short, others simply overwhelmed us with their final deliveries. How does one fail to realize a vision that should have been a slam dunk hit? Let’s take a look at the nominees for Most Disappointing Game of 2017.
In a way, you have to feel bad for Lawbreakers. This was Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski’s return to the games industry after a long sabbatical. It was supposed to be the perfect union of hero shooter and arena shooter. Sadly, Lawbreakers was handicapped out of the gate with a market dominated by Overwatch. The actual game had a paucity of content with poor matchmaking and weird balance issues. Of course, the high skill ceiling, lack of personality to its heroes and outright lameness didn’t help either.
Star Wars Battlefront 2
On the surface, it seemed like Electronic Arts had learned its lesson with the first Star Wars Battlefront. People don’t like expansion passes? They’re gone! People want a campaign? They get it and you get to play as the Empire! More maps, proper class loadouts, space battles – it almost seemed like a dream come true. Of course, in true EA fashion, it turned into a nightmare. The campaign was barely worth experiencing. The game’s loot boxes completely ruined progression, leaving the min-maxing of loadouts to random luck of the draw.
Friday The 13th: The Video Game
Friday The 13th: The Video Game suffered from many of the same expectations as Star Wars Battlefront but on a smaller scale. It was the first time we’d get to properly play as Jason Voorhees. With an asymmetrical multiplayer approach, everything seemed like it was on track even with some delays. Sadly, the actual game was riddled with bugs and server issues that made it nigh unplayable at launch. Though such issues were resolved later, Friday The 13th: The Video Game was still just a fairly okay game and not the murder-a-thon we expected.
Mass Effect Andromeda
Mass Effect Andromeda was doomed from the EA Access trial with horrible facial animations, poorly written dialogue, glitches, an odd set-up and strange design choices. The full game was worse with severe performance issues, game breaking bugs and glitches, a total waste of a new setting, the squandering of any potential that the premise could have had and don’t even get us started on the co-op multiplayer mode. Mass Effect Andromeda’s combat was up to snuff but everything else makes us think that the series died just so we could have an amazing year of games. Was it worth it? Hmm.
Marvel vs Capcom Infinite
A hilariously bad story mode, low-rent roster, lack of additional features, idiotic new mechanics and terrible graphics – at this rate, you’d wonder why we had any expectations from Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Well, this was the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and to a series that we thought was generally dead and gone. To think that we went from “Take you for a ride!” to this nonsense is just sad.
Need for Speed: Payback
Electronic Arts just couldn’t catch a break in 2017. It’s not like we had too much to hope for Need for Speed Payback until its reveal. Over the months, we thought its open world approach, introduction of Heists and three playable characters might finally offer something cool. Expectations were tempered to say the least. Unfortunately, as with Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA ruined it with Speed Cards that could be earned either in-game or with microtransactions. Again, it’s not like the game is suddenly better without microtransactions – customizing your vehicle this way is simply asinine and completely up to RNG. The story was horrendous, the open world didn’t offer much by way of fulfilling gameplay and for an industry that needs microtransactions to fund triple A development, Payback didn’t look particularly good either.
When Sonic Forces was first announced, there was cautious optimism. A sequel to Sonic Generations with some kind of war setting? Hurray-ish. Then it was revealed that Sonic would be working alongside all his critter friends. Then all his past enemies appeared as well. And for some reason, Sega thought to throw a customizable avatar. All these bells and whistles aside, Sonic Forces takes everything Generations did right with its gameplay and messes it up. Present Sonic is meh and the Avatar levels are boring. The experience is underwhelming at best and disappointingly idiotic at worst.
NBA 2K titles used to walk a fine line between love and hate. Virtual Currency has been an epidemic for a while but the games were generally well built on the basis of their gameplay and campaign. NBA 2K18 looked like it would be even better with its Playgrounds and Career mode and whatnot. Then, like most everything else this year, it was ruined with microtransactions. Customization options are severely gated by Virtual Currency and the game would reward very little of it, pushing you towards microtransactions even more. What could have been a great game is ultimately a decent one that demands way too much money from you past the initial $60.
Visual Concepts and Yuke’s haven’t really given us much in terms of quality wrestling for the past few years but past WWE 2K games were at least somewhat decent. WWE 2K18 beats that streak, mixing in a number of amazingly stupid glitches along with a nonsensical MyCareer mode. Though the loot boxes included aren’t purchased with real money, they still severely limit customization and lean towards RNG luck than any kind of actual freedom. This year’s iteration is the best-looking yet but that can only get you so far when everything else is so fundamentally bad.
Styx: Shards of Darkness
Styx: Master of Shadows wasn’t exactly the next Assassin’s Creed (which doesn’t mean much since the current Assassin’s Creed is so different). However, it offered a nice little offbeat fantasy stealth adventure that players could sink their teeth into. Styx: Shards of Darkness sadly failed to build on that. Level design was better this time around but instead of paying homage to the old-school while streamlining gameplay elements, the game stubbornly stuck to it. Stealth is very easy to cheese, which makes you wonder what the point even is and the humour just doesn’t click.
Winner: Star Wars Battlefront 2
It started with the realization that Star Cards could upset the balance of gameplay in multiplayer. Fans were irate that a $60 release introduced pay to win elements. Naturally, DICE responded and promised changes. However, once Star Wars Battlefront 2 hit the early trial stage, the costs of various heroes proved to be the tipping point. The “sense of pride and accomplishment” comment by EA’s community management team became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. It eventually snowballed into microtransactions being removed and EA experiencing severe falls in its stock prices.
But that’s not what made Star Wars Battlefront 2 a disappointment. It’s the fact that the campaign is a few hours long and fails to deliver on its promise of an Empire state of view. It’s the fact that the multiplayer would suffer severe rubber banding and latency issues, making matches unplayable. It’s the fact that progression makes no sense and is so heavily gated by randomness that you’ll probably never get rewards for the classes you enjoy the most.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 is the most disappointing game of 2017 because EA took what should have been a winner with its graphics, presentation and sound design and utterly ruined it out of pure greed. That it accomplished this even after Star Wars Battlefront (2015) was so heavily panned is remarkably sad.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.