It’s not all sunshine and Bifrost.
The end of the year, for us, is (mostly) about recognizing the best and greatest achievements of video games over the course of the past twelve months. And though there have been plenty of games in 2018 that deserve such plaudits, like any other year, this year has also seen the releases of some games that haven’t been quite as successful. Either because of pervasive technical issues, or fundamental flaws in game design, or a combination of several seemingly minor issues that came together to create larger problems, or because of a combination of some – or maybe even all – of the above, there were some games in 2018 that failed on more levels than they succeeded.
Like anybody else, we prefer to talk about things that we care about and enjoy, but at the end of the year, when we look back at all that’s come before, we feel it’s also important to point out the bad stuff. Not because we want to mock it, or direct negativity toward it- quite the opposite. Because we want to identify where those games went wrong, and hope that such errors won’t be repeated as time goes on. And so, we’re going to take a look at fifteen games of 2018 that we here at GamingBolt felt just couldn’t successfully do what they had set out to do.
These are our least favourite games of the year.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
THE NOMINEES ARE…
AO INTERNATIONAL TENNIS
Fans of football, basketball, and motorsports have consistently been playing great games based on their favourite sports for years, but tennis fans have had no such luck in quite some time. Any hopes they had that AO International Tennis could finish the rut were, sadly enough, dashed quite thoroughly. Patches may have fixed some of the game’s issues, but even in spite of that, it was still, at best, a mediocre game with clunky movement, unimpressive visuals, and spotty AI- three things that are of paramount importance in all sport sims.
SUPER STREET: THE GAME
Super Street: The Game is the sort of inexcusably bad title that you can’t believe was allowed to be sent out into stores- it fails at the things that any half-decent racer absolutely needs to get right. Things such as handling and physics are the building blocks on which any racer is made, regardless of how arcade-y it is or isn’t, and yet those are the two areas where Super Street: The Game fails the most. Which ultimately means that the simple act of playing the game is the opposite of what it should be- it should be at least somewhat enjoyable. It isn’t.
HARRY POTTER: HOGWARTS MYSTERY
Harry Potter is a property that, up until now, has been criminally underutilized in the medium of video games. This year’s mobile exclusive Hogwarts Mystery didn’t come any closer to changing that. On top of being tailor made for mobile audiences, which inherently deflated the excitement of anyone who might have been looking for a proper, full-fledged game, Hogwarts Mystery also committed the cardinal sin of having one of the most frustratingly crippling models of microtransactions one could imagine. There’s an argument to be made here in it’s defence- it’s a free-to-play mobile title after all, while fans of the property would appreciate at least some of the ways it uses the license. But if ever a game makes you wait for inordinate amounts of time to get even the simplest of things done, in order to entice you to pay money to skip that downtime, it’s pretty much shooting itself in the foot.
VR is a burgeoning form of playing games, one that has slowly started to show its potential more and more with each passing year. This year, we got some at least a couple of truly excellent game that showed us what VR is capable of- but we also got plenty of the low-quality, underwhelming stuff we’ve been seeing over the last 2-3 years. Bravo Team was one such game, a thoroughly bland and forgettable shooter. It had bafflingly unresponsive and annoying controls, brain-dead AI, and completely unimaginative design that basically funnelled you from one boring shootout to the next, which all eventually started to blend into each other, thanks to a complete lack of a real identity.
THE QUIET MAN
There’s a very fine line between true innovation and cheap gimmicks, and The Quiet Man was very much on the wrong side of that line. If executed properly, this could have been a game with a very different personality, one that offered something no other game can. Sadly, it just took it too far- playing the entire game with a complete lack of audio and subtitles made for a bizarre, confusing mess. A post-launch patch made playing with audio enabled an option, but that only drove home the fact that even without its gimmicks, The Quiet Man was a fundamentally flawed game, with an uninteresting plot, barebones combat, and a level of technical proficiency that would have been outdated even ten years ago.
It’s not hard to see that Extinction was, at the very least, a concept with some potential, which could have been realized at least to some extent with a bit more originality and creativity. Other than its admittedly pretty visual design, though, when Extinction is looked at as a game rather than as a concept, it has very little going for it. Several games over the years have shown us that procedurally generated levels can be excellent, but Extinction is an example of the exact opposite, with very little variation in its level design to speak of. Its combat is cursory, and gets boring very quickly, and on the whole, there just isn’t a lot here that will make you care much about it.
FEAR EFFECT SEDNA
Fear Effect wasn’t ever the biggest property back when it was active, but it had its fair share of fans who would have been thrilled that it was being brought back to Fear Effect Sedna. And while the attempted revitalization of the franchise gets props for striking visuals and presentation and a good soundtrack, everything else in the experience falls way short of expectations. Because when you’re actually playing Fear Effect Sedna, it’s hard to enjoy yourself. Everything from the cover mechanics and the bland stages to the unimaginative puzzles and the broken AI actively make sure that you the least amount of fun possible.
How did it come to this? Bethesda has been one of the most well-respected and beloved developers of the industry for years, and their games, for all their technical issues, have been regarded as leaders of their genres for over a decade. With Fallout 76, the studio tried something new- and it turned out to be a nearly unequivocal failure. “Multiplayer Fallout” is a pitch that, if you give it a little bit of thought, can actually present a lot of exciting possibilities, but Fallout 76 felt like a stripped down version of Fallout 4, with barely functioning multiplayer elements tacked on. Even beyond that, completely new issues arose due to baffling design decisions, which only served to throw more of a spotlight on issues that have always existed in Bethesda games more than ever before.
FARMING SIMULATOR 19
Farming Simulator isn’t the sort of annual franchise that comes out each year and sells like gangbusters, which makes sense, given its very premise. But it is a series that has an audience that enjoys each entry deeply, especially within its core niche. And while it’s very likely that Farming Simulator 19 still resonates with that audience the way its predecessors have, it’s also true that for a large number of players, it’s just a dull, monotonous experience. Something else that remains unchanged in Farming Simulator 19 is- well, almost everything else. There’s very little growth over what we saw from previous entries, while the continuance of technical issues and visual deficiencies also make for what is a pretty lacklustre experience.
NEW GUNDAM BREAKER
How do you mess up a Gundam game? This. This is how. New Gundam Breaker shows that not every franchise can be successfully revitalized- it fails in the most fundamental ways possible. It’s lacking in variety, which is exacerbated by the fact that the few things it does, it doesn’t do very well. The controls feel clunky and unresponsive, it has mind-numbingly boring mission desing, it is riddled with performance and visual issues, it has a dating sim mechanic that is unfathomably tacked on- to name just a few issues at the very core of the experience.
V-Rally 4 is not a game without qualities, and veteran fans of rally racing sims will likely find something to enjoy here- but they’ll have to dig very deep. Because while the game does have a few good qualities, all of those are buried beneath some painfully basic errors, such as bad controls, inconsistent difficulty, and a broken progression curve. While finding enjoyment in V-Rally 4 isn’t an impossible task, it is an exceedingly difficulty one, and one that you have to fight for.
Deracine isn’t the sort of game we’ve come to expect from Soulsborne masterminds FromSoftware after their exploits over the last decade, and though they should certainly be lauded for trying something new and different, the execution of their ideas, sadly, mostly deserves criticism. A fragmented story is all well and good, and is something that has worked for the studio for years now, but in Deracine, it felt more scattered and unfocused than fragmented, which meant that for the most part, it completely failed to retain the player’s interest. Problems such as the lack of locomotion movement, weird camera control, and mundane gameplay only served to exacerbate the game’s issues even further.
Third person shooters are not an uncommon breed, and given their large numbers, bad third person shooters are, sadly, unavoidable. Gene Rain falls into that category- it feels like a game that’s checking boxes for the things it feels any cover based shooter must have, and ends up feeling completely forgettable and unoriginal as a result. Worst of all, it doesn’t do any of that well- shooting feels floaty, cover mechanics are broken, the story is a mindless affair, and it’s not helped by its woefully bad writing and acting.
TENNIS WORLD TOUR
Tennis World Tour was a game that was sorely lacking in everything that is needed in a decent sports simulation title. Its roster of players was positively tiny and missing several big hitters, its visuals were dated and its production values bland dated, the most basic of its mechanics were awkward and clumsy. Worst of all, after promising players that the game would be launching with full online functionality right up until its release day, the game pulled a bait-and-switch and revealed that it had launched without any online multiplayer. Not only was it a barely serviceable game, it was also an egregious example of false advertising.
From a distance, at first glance, Past Cure looks like a game that should be at least somewhat interesting. It’s a clear homage to games like Max Payne, and seems to have a cinematic tilt that, if done right, can make for a great experience. Upon closer inspection, it turns out that those inspirations are all the game has- it’s creatively bankrupt and functionally broken. It’s story, writing, and acting are all irredeemably bad, it’s full of bugs and technical issues, and it funnels players through a sequence of uninteresting and, at times, actively frustrating gameplay scenarios. Rather than being a homage, it turns out to be a pale imitation of older giants.
GAMINGBOLT’S LEAST FAVOURITE GAME OF 2018 IS…
A few months ago, it would have been absolutely unimaginable to think that a game made by Bethesda Game Studios, the developers of such classics as Fallout 3 and Skyrim, would be counted as one of the worst games of its year, and that not much (if any) of it would be down to hyperbole. The state of Fallout 76 is absolutely shocking to see. Though Bethesda have released a few patches to address technical issues, and have promised that they will continue to do so, the state Fallout 76 launched in was beyond ridiculous, to the extent where the game felt like it could barely be in early access, much less on store shelves as a full priced game from a major publisher. Technical issues have always been very present in Bethesda games, but rarely have they ever felt so pervasive. But it wasn’t just about the technical issues. At its core, Fallout 76 makes decisions that actively harm the entire experience – such as having no human NPCs to get the player to invest in any of what’s going on – while it also seems to be at odds with itself more often than not. Does it want to be a single player game? Does it want to be online? It tries to straddle the line, but almost completely fails at both. So while there is hope for the game’s technical issues to be ironed out, at the very least, with consistent post-launch support, what’s worrying is that even in the absence of issues, Fallout 76’s very DNA is deeply flawed.