2017 saw the release of many great games. The Nintendo Switch absolutely killed it with Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and ARMS; fantastic indie games such as Cuphead, Night in the Woods, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice outshined many AAA games, and Capcom breathed new life into the survival horror genre with Resident Evil VII. However, not everything was sunshine and rainbows this year, as gamers saw more than their fair share of disappointing games. What’s a disappointing game? Any game that fails to deliver on expectations and promises in spectacular fashion and is not as good as it could have/should have been. Therefore, a game doesn’t have to be bad to be disappointing. So, here’s my list of the most disappointing games of 2017. As with my previous list, I will only include new games, so don’t expect me to mention the Super Nintendo Classic just because it doesn’t come with an emulation of Chrono Trigger.
From a technical standpoint, Cliff Bleszinski’s Lawbreakers is a decent game. A little rough around the edges, but nothing’s wrong with the game a few patches can’t fix. Lawbreakers looks gorgeous; the gameplay is fast and frantic; the classes are all unique, and the game’s gravity mechanic is well-implemented. Most importantly, Lawbreakers has a personality and does not aim for the “grey-brown military shooter” aesthetic other FPS games adopt, so why is it disappointing? One word: playerbase. Right now, the number of gamers who actively play Lawbreakers is in the low double-digits. Even Battleborn retains more gamers than Lawbreakers, and that game is the textbook definition of a disappointment.
9. NieR: Automata
By all accounts, NieR: Automata is a fantastic game. It’s not PlatinumGames’ best, but it’s certainly up there alongside Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Transformers: Devastation. The action is pure hack and slash bliss; the music is a thing of beauty, and the story, well, it’s what we’ve come to expect from Yoko Taro: as gripping, emotional, and philosophical as it is weird and zany. NieR: Automata is a must-buy for all gamers, but sadly, its PC version suffers. NieR: Automata‘s PC port is not as bad as the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight (at release, anyway), but it’s still a mess. Even worse, Square Enix hasn’t tried to patch NieR: Automata; you have to download a fan-made patch/mod to get the game running at a respectable framerate/resolution. While I cannot recommend NieR: Automata enough, buy it on the PlayStation 4, because the PC version is just a huge disappointment and will remain so possibly forever.
The devs at Playtonic promised Yooka-Laylee would be as much of a throwback to classic 90s collectathon platformers as it would be an evolution of the genre, and they almost succeeded. Yooka-Laylee has all the charm of 90s collectathons and plays just like them, but the genre has seen several improvements since the 90s, improvements that were absent in Yooka-Laylee at launch. Granted, Playtonic patched these issues quickly, but the game still isn’t as good as it could be. It’s still a good game, but not the great game everyone expected, let alone as great as A Hat in Time. Plus there’s the backlash Playtonic faced when it removed JonTron’s voice lines from Yooka-Laylee, but that’s less of a matter of game-related disappointment and more a matter of studio-related hypocrisy.
7. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
Marvel vs. Capcom is one of Capcom’s most popular franchises, thanks to a gigantic selection of popular (and obscure) Marvel and Capcom characters and almost perfect combat. However, Capcom completely dropped the ball with Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Not only is the roster tiny compared to other games, but the game lacks many fan-favorite characters from the previous game, such as Deadpool and Amaterasu, as well as franchise staples, including Wolverine and Felicia. Furthermore, the iconic 3v3 fighter system is replaced with a less impressive 2v2 (plus one Infinity Stone) system. And, the game’s just downright ugly. Many of these problems can be attributed to the game’s budget, which was less than half the budget for Street Fighter V‘s DLC. Still, on its own, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is a decent fighting game, but that’s a backhanded complement given the stellar quality of the previous entries. We can only hope Capcom fixes its mistakes in the inevitable Ultra Super Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite Deluxe Edition.
6. Sonic Forces
Sonic Forces should have been a great game. Sonic Team has demonstrated it’s capable of making standout titles with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, but almost everything about Sonic Forces is a letdown. The story is bland, and the game is poorly designed. YouTubers have demonstrated numerous levels can be completed by holding down one button, which is just an abject failure in terms of level design. Even the much-touted ability to create your own original character (do not steal) is a disappointment, since the game is too short for gamers to get much use out of these characters. The only worthwhile aspect of the character creator system is to either turn OCs into horrific, thousand-yard stare, meme-worthy abominations or to dress them in equally-meme-worthy impractical outfits. Sonic Forces is one of the few cases where being a disappointing game is just as damning as being a bad game, even if though it is not the worst Sonic game ever created.
5. Middle Earth: Shadow of War
I found Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor to be a disappointing game. Sure, it was fun at first, but then I started to see the cracks in the touted Nemesis System, and the game just floundered from there; the quick time event at the end of the game (don’t you dare call it a boss fight) didn’t help matters. In many ways, Shadow of War is an improvement over Shadow of Mordor and not just because the graphics are prettier. But, for all of Shadow of War‘s improvements, the devs put one foot in the grave as soon as they announced the loot boxes. Why bother actually playing the game and looking for a strong Uruk captain to “recruit” when you can just pay money for the chance at obtaining one? Then players discovered that the true ending of the game is hidden behind a wall that forces gamers to either grind for strong captains or pay exorbitant amounts of money for loot boxes. And that’s what’s so disappointing about Middle Earth: Shadow of War: it’s a freemium mobile game wearing the skin of a AAA $60 game that doesn’t need microtransactions or loot boxes. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor was just fine without these microtransactions, and Shadow of War should be as well.
4. Destiny 2
Ah, Destiny 2. You were supposed to be an improvement over the original Destiny. And, credit where credit is due, the developers at Bungie managed to give the game an actual story, the characters personalities, and PC gamers the port they wanted. But, that’s where all the positives end, because when you get right down to it, Destiny 2 is just a rehash of Destiny. The story is laughable, and the game was clearly cut up into tiny chunks so Activision could sell overpriced season passes. And, don’t even get me started on the unnecessary loot boxes that house one-use consumable shaders — or when players were temporarily locked out of in-game activities they could play at launch because Activision wanted to force them to buy expansions to unlock the activities. As with many entries in this list, Destiny 2, on its own, is an ok game, but all the empty promises and baffling design choices that stink of corporate greed turn Destiny 2 into one great, big, steaming pile of disappointment.
3. Call of Duty: WWII
Even when Call of Duty changes, the game basically stays the same. Admittedly, it’s nice to see the franchise return to its World War II roots and bring back a non-regenerating health system, but that doesn’t save the game from being the same old, drab, grey-brown shooter it’s been for the past decade. Even worse, Activision pushes microtransactions hard in the game by essentially forcing gamers to watch other players open loot boxes and obtain rifle butts of +1 mundaneness and historically inaccurate black female Nazi soldier skins. Even the previously-enjoyable zombie mode just feels as if it’s going through the motions, and not even the voice talents of Ving Rhames, Elodie Yung, Katheryn Winnick, and David Tennant can save it.
2. Mass Effect: Andromeda
Nothing makes a game more disappointing than hype, and few companies hype up their games quite like EA. Mass Effect is a compelling space opera RPG, and gamers were really looking forward to this years’ Mass Effect: Andromeda. The game was hyped up to spectacular levels, but when it released, the game turned out to be a buggy, glitchy mess that paled in comparison to the original Mass Effect trilogy. The game received numerous patches that fixed a wide variety issues, from broken quests to ugly shaders and animations, but the damage had already been done. EA shut down the game’s development studio, BioWare Montreal, cancelled all future patches and DLC, and stated it would not make any new Mass Effect games in the near future. While Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s current version is a far cry from its horrific release, it plays more like a game made by a newly-formed indie studio whose talent can’t match its ambition, not the next entry in an epic, long-running, critically acclaimed, AAA sci-fi RPG franchise.
1. Star Wars Battlefront II
Star Wars Battlefront II was supposed to be EA’s apology for the lackluster Star Wars Battlefront, but instead the game turned into credibility suicide. The single player campaign is paltry at best (and it isn’t even original; it’s a rehash of the plot of the Star Wars: Shattered Empire miniseries comic), but the multiplayer, to use the British colloquialism, is absolute pants, because it is completely ruined by the microtransactions and loot boxes. To unlock different characters, classes, and vehicles, specifically the popular and iconic ones everyone wants to play, gamers need to either grind out impossibly long gameplay sessions or outright buy them with real cash. Also, each character, class, and vehicle can be upgraded with star cards that are only obtainable in loot boxes, and the rarer cards that only appear in the more expensive boxes are downright broken. The backlash against these scummy microtransactions was so great that EA’s stock dropped and the Disney Company told EA to get rid of them. Star Wars Battlefront II was a bad game before it was ruined by microtransactions, which is why it is the most disappointing game of 2017.