Today, BioWare's Anthem is officially out. It's been a long road for the looter shooter. (This is officially the genre's name, sorry haters!)
Already out of the gate from its Origin Access Premier period, Anthem's marred with negative-skewing reviews and disappointment from fans and critics alike. Problems often cited include its storytelling (once one of BioWare's strengths as a studio), its bland mission design, its tedious progression structure, its long load times, its dull environment, and... you get the point. The only favorable thing people seem to agree on are the graphics, which are truly beautiful.
The wake of Anthem has made us look back on the big disappointments over the years. So we kick this question to you: What's the most disappointing game you've ever played? Let us know in the comments!
Most sports games are a letdown in one way or another after all the hype, but I think the worst ever was NHL 15. Where all the rest of the sports sims made the jump to Xbox One and PS4 out of the gate, NHL waited a year. The assumption was that EA was taking the time to get it right and really make an awesome game. What we got was a total disaster. I wrote at the time, "NHL 15, as it turns out, is much more of a rebuilding year than I initially supposed. There are some interesting new presentation and gameplay elements in place for this year's version, but the overhaul isn't quite as extensive as I first imagined. Worse, it commits one of the cardinal sins of next-gen sports sims and cuts a large number of features, including one of the previous-gen version's most popular modes. In this case 'barebones' is an understatement."
NHL has been trying to right the ship ever since. It took at least three years to get back up to feature parity with NHL 14, and it's continued to lag behind other major sports sims in terms of graphics and gameplay features. I look back on it now as the game that basically killed the franchise in the current generation. If that's not disappointing, then I don't know what is.
I've got a long list of games that have disappointed me. Right off the bat I can name Fire Emblem Awakening, Halo 4, and L.A. Noire as games that failed to live up to my expectations of them. Of the three only L.A. Noire was a new IP, but I don't know if that made my disappointment hurt more or less. The problem with L.A. Noire is that ultimately none of your actions really mattered. I once failed a mission so hard that I got a cutscene where the police chief chewed me out and told me I'm going back to being a traffic cop. I genuinely believed I'd have to replay a beat cop mission to become a detective again.
Only that didn't happen, and in the next cutscene he was praising me as one of his best detectives. It was a strange chain of events that led me to understand that there wasn't much underneath the impressive facial animations and open-world. If L.A. Noire is ever miraculously revived, there better be some real consequences for my actions, or don't bother.
There's probably many, but for me the first one that comes to mind is a recent game: Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom. I've made it no secret over the years that I love the first Ni No Kuni, even in spite of its flaws. I loved the characters. I loved the world it built where every city felt equally big and exciting. I loved the Joe Hisaishi-scored soundtrack. I loved how at the core of it all, it wasn't just about saving the world and killing a god-like figure—par for the course in JRPGs—but about a young boy dealing with the death of his mother, and going through the stages of grief. It's a very earnest RPG, and if you can get over the so-so battle system, it's a real treat.
Its successor, which released last year, sucks. The overworld's ugly, the characters are dull (even with a bonkers set-up that ends up going pretty much nowhere) and the story even duller. The art direction, now without the Studio Ghibli input, generally feels off. Where I loved the first game for how it pulsed with life and careful detail, Ni No Kuni 2 repulsed me. It even had a "kingdom building" system that operated like a bad mobile management sim, with timers and all. Man, I really loathed my time with Ni No Kuni 2, which is a damn shame.