In many ways, 2016 was a triumphant year for the gaming industry. In the triple-A space, the likes of Overwatch and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End became the most celebrated titles in their respective genres for a number of years, while Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian both received successful releases after years spent in development hell. The independent scene also provided its fair share of memorable moments, with games such as Inside and Firewatch capturing the hearts of players around the world.
That being said, as with every other year, not all games managed to deliver on their initial promise. Some were doomed from the start, some never rivalled their high expectations, and others were downright unplayable. From the smallest of indies to the big-budget action shooters, there were a number of titles that presented us with one question above all others: “Why?!”
With that in mind, the staff here at Power Up Gaming have put together a selection of some of 2016’s most disappointing releases.
Announced in mid-2013, Remedy Entertainment’s latest game was meant to be released in November 2015. Instead, it was delayed until April 2016, to avoid competition with other Xbox One exclusives like Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider. It had a turbulent production, to say the least.
While those production values impressively showed in-built segments reflecting television episodes, as well as slick graphics and facial recognition technology, Quantum Break fell apart – in some form or another – in just about every technical aspect. For your average civilian, Jack Joyce, played by Shawn Ashmore, has no problem with picking up a gun right off the bat and eliminating hordes of Monarch Solution goons, all the while sporting a terrible robotic running action that Tom Cruise would eat up and spit out.
Also on the list of Remedy faux pas was the number of readable documents as well as the sheer volume of words in each one. Five minutes is bearable but 10 minutes? 15 minutes!? At least paraphrase some of it for us with some aloud character comment; it really was ridiculous. The familiar and uninspired gunplay was bad enough, but the final straw for me was Quantum Break’s pathetic platforming – every level had a very specific path of completion with no variation whatsoever. I get that continuity’s important, but not to the extent that a player labels it “the perfect example of restrictive, bad game design.”
I feel like an extremely disappointed parent whose child failed their best subject: Remedy did all the hard work crafting the bells and whistles, but stuffed up with the basics beyond belief.
– Hayden Waugh
No Man’s Sky
For all of its promise, No Man’s Sky is the prime example of the disappointment brought upon by a combination of hype, creativity, desire, and heavily limiting time constraints. The Hello Games-developed space exploration title looked to be a massive, beautiful game that could bring players together in a seemingly infinite universe, creating a revolutionary MMO experience like no other.
Early teasers revealed massive planets with lush forests, vast deserts, deep oceans, and exotic wildlife, all to be explored by you and your friends. Well, one thing Hello Games delivered on was the size of the planets. They are actually remarkably expansive and allow for a lot of exploration – though unfortunately not a lot to discover. The lands seem barren no matter how far you travel in the universe, and the fauna is just sad and malformed, with various stock body parts thrown haphazardly together.
Not only that, but the promised interstellar factions and mysterious end-game failed to materialise in a meaningful way at all. No Man’s Sky fell well short on almost all of the promises made by Sean Murray’s team. It was infuriating to see this massive potential go to waste in such a spectacularly catastrophic manner.
– Paul Conningham
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Many players had long-awaited The Division’s release since its debut at E3 in 2013. The game looked great, and promised a new take on the MMORPG element in the form of a console release. Ubisoft did their best, sure, but for me and many others, it wasn’t enough.
For starters, the game still, even after three-plus years of development, suffered a visual downgrade from its E3 trailers. Graphics aren’t everything, but much like No Man’s Sky, the promise was almost too different to the actual release-day game. The campaign was solid, comprised of about 16 hours of good, old-fashioned loot-and-grind gameplay in an interesting setting, but after that, the title failed to capture my attention any further.
Multiplayer was a drag, especially in The Dark Zone, and the risks and rewards for almost everything quickly became ridiculous for me and many other players I met in my time online. The Division’s gunplay was mostly solid but also felt unbalanced at times, due to enemies becoming sponges to many bullets. All in all the game was fun, but that feeling left as quickly as it came.
Also of note was the way in which the game’s eventual PC release was executed, with players’ data prone to significant failures and exploits – leading to the prevalence of cheaters, which diminished the community even more. For a game that was to be so much, it delivered minimal returns across the board.
– Caleb Mina
Niantic’s Pokémon Go is a game that will go down in history as one of the most successful mobile releases of all time. Despite a troubled launch, it managed to break numerous records; dominating the top of the most-downloaded and highest-grossing charts following its release in the summer, and playing a huge role in helping Nintendo’s share prices to skyrocket.
Although the title released with a somewhat barebones feature-set, it did deliver on its most exciting and ingenious promise: using a combination of GPS data and augmented reality, players were able to catch Pokémon in the real world. With the guarantee of continuous free updates that would flesh out Pokémon Go in the weeks following its launch, both hardcore and casual players greeted the title with excitement and optimism, and began playing it in their droves.
With all of that in mind, you might question why the title made our list as one of the most disappointing games of the year.
Well, instead of improving the game in each iteration, developer Niantic managed to set an example in how not to handle post-launch support of a popular title. Not only did the studio choose to remove, rather than fix, Pokémon Go’s creature-tracking feature, which had been broken almost since launch, it subsequently came down hard on third-party sites that had stepped in to fill the void; effectively making catching Pokémon a crap-shoot from that point on.
From there, things went from bad to worse. After losing the vast majority of good faith players had in the company to deliver on their initial promises, frequent server issues, the lack of multiplayer trading, balancing problems with gym battles, ‘GPS spoofing’ and hacking continued to plague the title, all the while Niantic failed to publicly respond.
By the time the company started to finally flesh out Pokémon Go several months later, it was too little, too late: players had already left the title in their millions.
– Chris Mawson
What were your most disappointing games of 2016? What did you think of our picks? Let us know in the comments below.