Not every video game to see release in 2019 lived up to expectations. Although games such as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and The Outer Worlds earned accolades from fans and critics alike, other high profile releases struggled to get off the ground this year. In their wake, they left a lot of disappointed players.
The reasons for failure are varied, but all equally important. Some struggled because of an inability to live up to pre-release promises, while others fell at the hurdle of release thanks to game-breaking bugs and glitches. Worst of all, yet again publishers have anchored the potential of games through microtransactions and predatory business practices, proving that some still need to learn lessons from previous loot box controversies.
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Whatever the reason, some games have been met with a shrug of the shoulders from players this year. While not necessarily awful games, these are the most disappointing games of 2019.
Far Cry: New Dawn
Far Cry 5 was a particularly divisive entry in Ubisoft’s open shooter franchise. The combat was seen as perhaps the best in the series overall, but story and character choices rubbed some players up the wrong way. A mini sequel followup called Far Cry: New Dawn looked set to move this setting into a colorful post-apocalypse, which had interest piqued in many.
Even though Far Cry: New Dawn is not a bad game, the promise of its lush setting and mutated animals never really came through. Its story was solid enough, but the title suffered with mainly drab environments, bullet-sponge enemies, and gameplay-lengthening mechanics that tied suspiciously into awful microtransactions. Hope County needed more than just hope, and no one wants to see combat skill replaced with grinding against health bars. Some bad ideas were tested in New Dawn, and microtransactions in this series are putting it further along a dark path.
Far Cry: New Dawn wasn’t the only spinoff sequel of a first person shooter to struggle in 2019. The Wolfenstein series made a triumphant return through its last two core entries, yet Wolfenstein: Youngblood is unlikely to gain the same reputation as the other MachineGames titles. This is a shame, given that Youngblood had a lot of potential ahead of release.
Built around the opportunity to play in co-op multiplayer, Wolfenstein: Youngblood had a mixed reception, with performance issues and gameplay tweaks alike proving issues for some. Unfortunately, the game’s launch was topped off with a harassment campaign that led to a level designer quitting social media.
Jump Force should have been like shooting fish in a barrel. A manga crossover event to end all others, Jump Force takes characters from Weekly Shonen Jump and pits them against one another in 1v1 fighting. Considering that Shonen Jump contains such iconic stories as Dragon Ball, One Piece, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, that’s a mighty fine roster to all upon.
Bandai Namco could not convert this into a strong end product. Although the launch release had a decent enough selection of characters, there were wider structural issues with the game. When it came down to it, Jump Force felt far too shallow for players to really enjoy it.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Tom Clancy’s name has been put to many good games over the years. Ghost Recon Breakpoint wasn’t one of them, however. Whereas previous Ghost Recon games had managed to forge their own, strong identities, Breakpoint instead felt a little too close to other Ubisoft sandboxes, but worse in every way.
It wasn’t only players that were disappointed in Breakpoint, either. Ubisoft also felt that the game struggled, as fans stood vocal in their criticism over its balance-ruining microtransactions, poor looting/progression systems, etc. Whether this will play a part in the money-making decisions for the next release remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Breakpoint could never overcome its many problems.
Although Fallout 76 first released at the tail end of 2018, Bethesda made a lot of noise about righting the leaking ship that is this multiplayer RPG. Unfortunately for the company, the continued development of Fallout 76 has done little to improve the game, with many fixes instead making life much harder for those who have persevered with the title.
All in all it looks unlikely that Fallout 76 will ever become the game players want. This year, its issues include numerous bugs, the delay of the announced Wastelanders expansion, and the head-scratching introduction of a subscription service that quickly led to a two tier in-game hierarchy, and a misleading of players. These failures need to be pointed out as Bethesda again struggles to make this multiplayer Fallout game work.
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
Not every returning classic is a success. The original two Marvel Ultimate Alliance games were major fan favorites when released in 2006 and 2009, respectively, bringing together a wealth of different character arcs into a cohesive action RPG package (much like the X-Men Legends games before them). A third entry, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, brought into existence thanks to Nintendo, attempted to continue the trend.
This new sequel didn’t gain much love from returning players. New developer Team Ninja at times managed to recreate the feel of the first games, but The Black Order never truly became a suitable progression on what had come before. With little to show for a decade between releases, The Black Order is unlikely to be as well-regarded in the years to come.
The first Rage was a solid FPS, although perhaps one that didn’t live up to the standards some expected from shooter granddaddy id Software. It was more a tech demo than a great game. Even so, there was still a fair amount of hype around Rage 2, with players hoping to step into some post-apocalyptic carnage when the game released in May. With Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios developing it, it seemed a recipe for success.
When Rage 2 arrived players were instead underwhelmed. The game was hit and miss, with general praise for the gunplay but with criticism over its boring open world, side quests, and story. Microtransactions and locked content once again caused debate, with Doom‘s BFG hidden behind a paywall, leaving Rage as a franchise that continually flatters to deceive.
Everything To Do With Google Stadia
There was a fair level of skepticism surrounding the Stadia when first announced, but Google pushed forwards with promises of what the platform could do. The tech monolith stated that multiplayer would be better on Stadia than on console, and that concerns over latency would be fixed by input prediction. As of yet, nothing has been shown that suggest Stadia is a suitable gaming option.
In the end, Stadia launched to poor reviews, and the overall feeling is that the platform is not ready for public use. With Stadia causing overheating in devices and guzzling up data at the rate of 100MB a minute, it’s clear that Google needed more time to adjust what Stadia could do. And it needs games. It’s still early days for the project, but as it stands it’s hard to see how this can be turned around.
Mario Kart Tour
Nintendo has had mixed results when it comes to its mobile spinoffs. Pokemon GO may have become a worldwide craze when it released back in 2016, but not every game has become as important a touchstone. A lot was hoped for Mario Kart Tour, but the title fell very short of expectations when it launched this year.
Once again, it comes down to the business model. Mario Kart Tour‘s microtransactions proved to be a case study in everything wrong with mobile gaming, squandering what potential it had through a monthly subscription service that hamstrings everything from game modes through to items. Mario Kart Tour has seen plenty of downloads, but it’s unlikely that all players will stick around until its multiplayer beta testing is rolled out to all users.
Crackdown 3 was a long time coming, and the title finally released nine years after the last entry in the series. The game was first announced way back in 2014, but numerous delays hampered development with many release date pushbacks. Nonetheless, with Xbox users still hoping for more exclusive games to showcase the power of the Xbox One, at the very least Crackdown 3 was expected to be a rambunctious good time.
Sumo Digital was unfortunately unable to recapture the magic of Crackdown 1. Although this third game maintained the same open world gameplay as the previous releases, outdated game design meant that Crackdown 3 was little more than perfunctory. The gaming world has changed a lot in the last decade, and Crackdown 3 simply hadn’t moved with the times. With Crackdown 2 also failing, this series may be dead.
WWE 2K20 may be one of the biggest video gaming disasters of the year. While previous games in the series had sometimes been uninspiring but competent, WWE 2K20 became an instant point of ridicule within the gaming community, due to awful graphical glitches and a bizarre career mode story. Other problems such as mislabeled music tracks and broken button prompts meant that WWE 2K20 felt rushed and sloppy all over.
The game was the first in the series that hadn’t been under the eye of Yuke’s development, with Visual Concepts taking the reins solo. It was hardly the start that the studio would have wanted, with WWE Games even issuing a statement about the problems with the game and promising fixes. With so many problems to be found within all aspects of the game, WWE 2K20 may be unsalvageable.
Anthem should have been a revolution for BioWare, with the developer’s well-deserved reputation for fantastic storytelling shifting into a new era and genre. Even though Anthem‘s multiplayer action focus was outside of the company’s comfort zone, there was still hope that BioWare would deliver some of the quality that had propelled the likes of Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Unfortunately, the game stands as one of the biggest disappointments of the year.
At launch, Anthem proved to be so unfinished that it was breaking consoles, alongside a multitude of other issues that slowly killed its momentum with a million cuts. The reaction from those who could get the game working was not much better, with Anthem feeling soulless, severely lacking in content, and without the deep quality storytelling that BioWare was so well known for. When an in-depth report of behind-the-scenes turmoil was released it hardly came as a surprise, and although BioWare has promised to give the game a complete overhaul it is surely too late to salvage anything from the title.
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