Let's face it: You probably already know what this year's biggest disappointment is. Is it fair? Probably not. But it's worth discussing anyway.
We will continue publishing a different category each day through the end of the year, leading up to our final vote for best game of 2016. Join us as we count down to our Game of the Year! And remember, you can follow the rest of our 2016 coverage in our handy hub.
The Biggest Disappointment: The Nominees
Sometimes games simply don't live up to their initial promise. Maybe it starts strong but ultimately falls apart, or maybe it's too ambitious for its own good. Whatever the case, these are the games that most people would call disappointments. And there were a fair number of of them in 2016...
I didn't expect as much out of No Man's Sky as the others, so my disappointment wasn't as huge. On other hand, ReCore was a game that was growing on me mightily while I was reviewing it, only for the game to throw away everything in the name of padding. Finishing a floor of the final tower only to run into a door that required me to grind for more collectibles just sucked all the air out of ReCore. It's a shame, because I feel the core of it is rather strong. Maybe next time, Comcept won't shoot itself in the foot at the finish line.
Jaz: No Man's Sky
I admit it. I got caught up in No Man's Sky's pre-release hype, and had huge expectations for the game when it was released this summer. Initially, I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration aspect of the game. Flying from planet to planet was highly engrossing, and I loved never knowing what kind of environment and creatures I might find next. However, the novelty of discovery soon wore off in the face of the endless farming of resources, the frustratingly tricky inventory management, and the sheer grind required to facilitate your journey to the center of the universe. It ended up feeling less like a game, and more like hard work where the risk just wasn't worth the reward.
Kat: No Man's Sky
Nadia: No Man’s Sky
I waffled between No Man's Sky and Mighty No. 9 for this category (YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE THE CHOSEN ONE, BECK), but ultimately I'm giving it to No Man's Sky. Sad as it is to say, Mighty No. 9's development was a messy affair from start to finish, and I doubt few of us were surprised at how "meh" the final product turned out to be. No Man's Sky, however, is hobbled by misplaced potential. I want to explore planets. I want to name animals. I just don't want to bother naming planets nobody has a chance of ever visiting, nor do I want to name unappealing animals that are cobbled together by algorhythms and rarely react to their surroundings. No Man's Sky, I feel like if you'd been a smaller, tighter game populated by fewer planets packed with features worth taking note of, we could've been good friends. And, hey -- who knows what the future will bring?
Jeremy: Final Fantasy Explorers
I love the idea of Final Fantasy meets Monster Hunter. Roaming through an open world with friends, taking down classic summoned beasts and legendary monsters together, all tied together with familiar melodies and Job System roles. Should be a home run, right? Sadly, no. I loved Final Fantasy Explorers when I imported it and played through the first dozen or so missions... but once the English version of the game arrived, I soon came to realize that Explorers never manages to build on those opening hours. What you see at the outset is basically what you get. And, worse, Explorers violates a fundamental Final Fantasy tenet: It never makes an effort to explain the workings and mechanics of the world to create a sense of a cohesive fantasy. A real letdown.
The "Winner:" No Man's Sky
There you have it: One of the most hyped games of the year was its biggest disappointment. Are we surprised? Actually, not really. No Man's Sky's lofty promises were always a little far-fetched, and the press and the fans were just a little too eager to believe them. Everyone calls it a failure of messaging; but really, No Man's Sky was the product of a small group of developers allowing their ambitions to spin out of control. On PC, it would be in Early Access right now, and no one would be talking about it. On console, it's the biggest disappointment of the year. But there may be hope yet...
Runner-up (Weighted Average): Final Fantasy Explorers (1.8)
- Best Single-Player Campaign
- Best Multiplayer
- Best Visual Style
- Loveliest Soundtrack
- The Game Universe We'd Like to Live In
Tomorrow: 2016's Best Surprise