While there’s no denying that 2018 has overall been one of the best years for gaming in recent memory — God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Red Dead Redemption 2 to name but a few — there’s always some releases that don’t quite hit the mark. Sometimes they didn’t quite deliver as promised and other times they just played it safe, but there have been a couple of disappointing games in 2018 that have taken the biscuit and then fled to safety in an underground bunker.
Below you will find a selection of the year’s most underwhelming games from developers and publishers who should know better. While they aren’t all technically bad games as such (some of them could be argued as actually being good), they all disappoint in their own ways, whether that’s because of missing content or having terrible launches.
For context, check out which games disappointed us at the halfway mark of the year — a couple have certainly redeemed themselves.
11. Sea of Thieves
Developer: Rare Publisher: Microsoft Studios Platform(s): XB1, PC
Even if it’s done well to turn the ship around (pun intentional) with some content updates since launch, there’s still a pervading sense that Sea of Thieves is a work-in-progress, highlighting a serious flaw with “live service games” in general. Those who purchase a game on day one are bound to get the short end of the stick.
While there’s no denying that it’s fun with friends, the same could be said of virtually any game ever made. There’s some good fun to be here in the hours while it still feels fresh, but beyond the initial wow factor of sailing the seven seas, the paper-thin gameplay loop makes it hard to invest dozens of hours — unless you really like pirates.
10. Dynasty Warriors 9
Developer: Omega Force Publisher: Koei Tecmo Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
Some of the best open world games are those that have adopted the genre from starting off in more linear roots, but it’s not always a success for every series. Franchises like Metal Gear Solid, The Witcher, and The Legend of Zelda have embraced the open world to great effect. On the other side of the coin, Dynasty Warriors completely wasted its potential with a more freedom-oriented approach that somehow made the simplest joy in gaming feel like a chore.
Packed with bugs and essentially nothing to do, Dynasty Warriors 9 is a fine example of the grass not always being greener on the open world side, its map a destitute and utterly bland exercise in monotony. Series fans had even more cause to be concerned when it was revealed that iconic weapons were being sold as DLC. Say nein to Dynasty Warriors 9.
“Newcomers to the series will no doubt enjoy the newest addition to the Dynasty Warriors franchise, while veterans will struggle to try and adapt to the new style of gameplay. Throw in the poor graphics and really awkward dialogue sections and you have a game that really falls far from where it should be.”
An egregious bastardisation of Metal Gear Solid V packed with microtransactions and a beyond infuriating survival system, Metal Gear Survive is a flat-out terrible game that doesn’t appreciate the history of the series and is an all-round creatively bankrupt effort. So why isn’t it higher up on this list? Well, nobody had hopes (high or otherwise) for this one at all.
Metal Gear without Kojima shouldn’t even come into consideration, so the fact that Konami greenlit this after his controversial firing and jeopardised the reputation of the only franchise that’s kept them in the limelight for years for a quick buck shows where their priorities lie. This isn’t Metal Gear and it certainly isn’t worth your time.
“Metal Gear Survive suffers the curse of being wholly unremarkable in pretty much every way. Bland survival gameplay, unoriginal ideas and unresponsive melee combat make for a tedious experience. Metal Gear Survive is certainly a functional game, but someone forgot to add the “fun”.”
Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s disappointing nature lies not in how it’s a bad game, because it really isn’t. In fact, it even shows glimpses of greatness during its mind-blowing setpieces, particularly an early one featuring a flood. No, Shadow of the Tomb Raider falls down as it’s a safe and largely unremarkable time that feels nothing close to being the closing chapter in a trilogy.
Feeling largely unchanged from Rise sans a few camouflage mechanics, Shadow doesn’t feel alive enough or have the story to keep the player properly invested. Visiting a hidden city shouldn’t cause the bottom to fall out of a game and completley derail momentum, but it sadly does here. I bought this game with the intention of reviewing it, but I felt no compulsion to write about it despite having reached the end credits. It just kind of exists.
7. Underworld Ascendant
Developer: OtherSide Entertainment Publisher: 505 Games/OtherSide Entertainment Platform(s): PC
Probably the smallest game on this list, the many misdeeds of Underworld Ascendant stick out just as much as the failings of many AAA games, especially when it’s been crowdfunded by those eager for a return to the world of Underworld. To say that it doesn’t live up to its predecessors would be to undersell just how much Ascendant fails in almost every regard.
Performing more like a bare bones Early Access game than a full-fledged release, Ascendant is packed with bugs and a general lack of polish. The production quality is also left wanting, it coming across like it’s been taken out of the oven far too early. Perhaps with some more time to cook Underworld Ascendant could have been a charming throwback, but in its current state it’s impossible to recommend.
“Underworld Ascendant is plagued by a smattering of bugs, physics that makes no sense and gameplay that is an affront to the game it aims to be a sequel of. Ascendant can go back into the abyss and stay there.”
6. Overkill’s The Walking Dead
Developer: Starbreeze Publisher: Overkill Platform(s): PC
The most fun you will probably get out of Overkill’s The Walking Dead is its pre-release trailers that introduces the game’s characters. Those four snippets were afforded more quality and care than the game itself, though perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise for a game that seems to have had quite the troubled development period.
Thanks to insipid combat, a wasteful storyline, and a loot grind that feels utterly pointless, Overkill’s The Walking Dead is bland chore to play that just doesn’t seem ready for primetime. While there’s some enjoyment to be had from hitting walkers over and over with a stick or lopping their heads off, the rest of it as suitably disappointing as the series on which it’s based in its recent seasons.
“Overkill’s The Walking Dead is a fundamentally turgid time with vague glimpses of fun that are snuffed out by repetitive gameplay, awful firefights, and constant technical downfalls.”
5. Battlefield V
Developer: DICE Publisher: EA Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
A prime example of why you should always approach live service games with caution, Battlefield V launched into what felt like unofficial Early Access in November with the game not due to be “complete” until early December. It’s completely off-putting and gives the game the feeling of being rushed out the door, not helped by it generally lacking polish and balance.
Battlefield V is also guilty of not doing enough to remind people of what has made the franchise so beloved. It mostly plays it safe as a more fast-paced version of Battlefield 1 with some welcome tweaks to the core gameplay, but there simply isn’t enough meat on the bones of Battlefield V. Tides of War may turn the tide, but you should only judge something based on the product it is rather than the concept it could become.
“While the gunplay and spectacle is as excellent as you would expect from a Battlefield game, the underwhelming maps, lack of content available at launch, disappointing single-player, and poor optimisation make Battlefield V a difficult day one recommendation.”
Developer: Iron Galaxy Publisher: Maximum Games Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
It takes a lot of missteps to make a game about fighting giants one of the most boring experiences of 2018, but Extinction somehow manages it thanks to paperweight combat that can’t come close to its most obvious inspirations and an utterly flat world to clumsily manoeuvre around in. Despite appearances, Attack On Titan it ain’t.
Extinction also makes the questionable decision to base a lot of itself around RNG: the player can be completely derailed by the game’s sudden decision to overwhelm with giants or to create challenges that are completely unreachable or infeasible. While the first few times you slay a Ravenii (the game’s big bads) are undoubtedly entertaining, Extinction’s lack of variety means that even these epic encounters feel as routine as going to the toilet before long.
“Extinction wants to be a variety of different games, and messes up with every single one. A haphazard gathering of multiple genres, Extinction fails to develop the multiple aspects of itself, leaving behind a game that’s underwhelming at best and frustrating at worst.”
One of the most outright baffling games in recent memory, The Quiet Man is an FMV game with little bits of truly awful combat spliced in-between. Initially released without proper audio to simulate the experience of a deaf person, The Quiet Man was the butt of many jokes and has become a cult hit already, not too dissimilar to the terribad appeal of something like The Room.
A patch was later released to add dialogue to the game, but it somehow made everything even worse. With frankly shocking acting and a storyline that is beyond convoluted as well as the fact that it features some of the worst “action” ever seen in a game of its size, The Quiet Man is the only game on this list I’d actually recommend you play just for the wild experience.
“Crap gameplay, worse story and a terrible gimmick, The Quiet Man just barely manages to be ironically enjoyable, but you should probably leave well enough alone.”
Developer: Madmind Studio Publisher: Playway Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
A horror game so long in the making that it was a mainstay in almost every “best upcoming horror games” list and YouTube video conceivable, Agony as a finished product couldn’t have been further away from Agony as an idea if it tried. Not only did it launch in a particularly sorry state, but it quickly became clear that its edgy nature was just about the only thing it had going for it.
Featuring maddening trial and error gameplay, some hideous visuals (and not in the way the game intended), and mechanics seemingly designed purely to test the patience of the player, Agony was aptly named and the butt of many lazy headlines, particularly for its poorly optimised console versions. While Agony Unrated on Steam may fix some of the issues and improve the experience, it’s still a deeply flawed time with added nastiness.
Where to even begin with Fallout 76, a game that has divided opinion from the moment it was announced? As good as an online Fallout game sounds on paper, the execution has to be just right for the experiment to come off. So far, Fallout 76 has failed in almost every regard, even the basics of making a AAA game that just works.
The failings of Fallout 76 are so numerous that it’s hard to list them all at once, but let’s try anyway:
– An open world with no human NPCs, very few chances to encounter other players. – All of the lore being tied to holotapes and computers. – Constant server disconnects, so much so that Heavy wrote an article on it for SEO. – Your framerate being tied to your movement speed. – A bug makes some players immortal. – An endgame so bland that players are gaming the game. – Bugs from Fallout 4 also being found in Fallout 76. Bethesda never addressed this in the previous game and have allowed it to carry over into 76. – Other code and scripts from Fallout 4 and also Skyrim that have been copy pasted. – Adding microtransactions from day one in a full-price game. – Swerving Steam to avoid refunds, Bethesda getting a class-action lawsuit against them because of it. – Dropping the price by up to $20 just a week after it launched. – Muddying Fallout lore to jam in factions and beings that don’t belong in the timeline. – Nuclear codes being usable by anyone who has the sequence, regardless of collecting the right items. – Ridiculously large patches that are the size of the game itself. – Swapping out the bag in a collector’s edition for cheaper materials and not telling anyone, then offering in-game money that barely gets you anything.
While Bethesda may redeem Fallout 76 down the line, it’s worth repeating that you cannot and should not base your verdict on a game, especially one this flawed, for a potential redemption that’s way later than when many put their money down. You’re buying a product that is being sold as a complete product, not a concept or idea.