As I discussed in my "Best Of" list a few weeks ago, it's been an awesome year for gamers. It's also had its fair share of unholy dumpster fires of bullshit.
No, I'm not talking about celebrity deaths, the US Election Cycle, Brexit, or the shitty goings-on in your personal life. I'm talking about games that just didn't live up to the hype, or straight up killed the mood with idiotic bullcrap.
Without further ado, here's our Biggest Disappointments in Gaming 2016:
8. The Last Guardian
The only game to be on both the Best Of and Most Disappointing lists.
Expectations for the game have been incredibly high for a good number of years. And each delay made the hype that much more intolerable. And the tumultuous development cycle made matters worse.
The sad thing is that there's a great many things to like about the game.
On the plus side, the game is utterly gorgeous. The story is beautiful and heartfelt. The characters are darling. The world and lore are fanastic.
The Last Guardian is also a buggy, occasionally unplayable mess.
The camera is almost insurmountably intrusive. The nameless protagonist's controls are annoyingly cumbersome. Seriously, it should NOT be this hard to dismount Trico.
It's incredibly disappointing that a game this good, this amazingly beautiful is so worryingly flawed.
7. Salt and Sanctuary
Billed as "2D Dark Souls," Salt And Sanctuary promised the same depth of combat, interesting, subtle storytelling, a world filled with secrets and dangers, and grandiose bossfights.
Instead, we get a complicated maze of 2D browns and more browns, uninspired enemies, and the incomprehensible decision to not include an in-game map.
Look, the game plays kind of like Castlevania, with tons of backtracking. Because of this, YOU NEED AN IN-GAME MAP, GODDAMN IT. Each area is brown and black with brown and black enemies. It's not that they're indistinguishable, it's that navigation is a massive goddamned problem.
The way the camera is laid out makes this worse, too. It's zoomed in just enough that you can't see the whole of each area as you're playing. Meaning, enemies offscreen will snipe you with missile weapons. Since healing is scarce and every hit counts, this feels fucking cheap as hell.
I mean, the mechanics are great, and the one-on-one combat is fluid, and overall, the game is relatively fun. But "challenge" doesn't mean having bastard-coated game design with bastard filling.
6. Dead Rising 4
Did you like the first Dead Rising game? Do you wanna do that all over again but without the timer, the difficulty, the charm, and with a character that makes you want to punch children?
Well that's what you get here. Frank West is back to take on more zombies... in the exact same town, with the exact same objectives, and the exact same plot.
They've stripped the series of all of the things that made it interesting and made it a mediocre bloodbath of bullshit collectables, unlikable characters, easy Psychopath "bosses," and a selfie mode.
The zombies are basically an annoyance instead of terrifying. And they give you stupidly overpowered weapons right at the beginning of the game.
Sure, you can dress up in goofy costumes, but the end result isn't nearly the same when they've turned Frank West into an unlikable asshole. Also, the plot is almost the exact same as the first game.
Here's a hint: it's the government's fault... again (and no that's not a spoiler).
5. CryTek's Woes
The company behind the first Far Cry, the Crysis series, and most recently, "Ryse, Son of Rome" is in a bit of a pickle.
According to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the company's financial troubles this year culminated in the closure of several offices around the world.
Several reports indicate employees of the company worldwide have been taking to the internet to complain about being paid months late... and sometimes not at all.
The company released a rather strangely worded press release, calling the move to shut down the studios “a series of changes to its future business plans that will see the company refocus on its core strengths…" and "We believe that going through this challenging process will make us a more agile, viable, and attractive studio, primed for future success."
This means, in focus group approved corporate lingo, a lot of people will lose their jobs.
And it sucks, because the CryEngine is actually pretty solid, though not particularly good at scaling. And their games are pretty damned good. Unfortunately, it almost looks like CryTek may be on the brink of a collapse, if not a mass exodus from their workers.
We'll have to see, come mid 2017, if they're able to stay afloat much longer.
Also, and most importantly: PAY YOUR FUCKING WORKERS YOU CHUMPS.
4. Street Fighter 5
What do you want out of a good fighting game? Varied characters, smooth visuals, complex combat, and great community.
In practice, Street Fighter V delivers. The game feels excellent and plays better. Yet it still has drawn the ire of our own Captain Dick Sledge and scores of other disappointed gamers who feel gipped out of a full experience.
On release, the game lacked Arcade Mode. The menus were a complicated mess. Server issues, broken promises, and other issues still dog the game. Nearly a full year after release, and the content is STILL seriously lacking.
Also, it highlights the inexcusable gap between critic and user reviews. Guys, if we keep buying broken, unfinished games, THE INDUSTRY WILL STILL HADOUKEN US IN THE GODDAMNED FACE WITH CRAP LIKE THIS.
3. Mighty No. 9
A "return-to-form" Mega Man-inspired action platformer. Its Kickstarter campaign was fully funded in damned near record time. It was supposed to be the successor of classics like Mega Man X.
Instead, stretch goals were abandoned, the game was delayed, and the developer, Comcept, decided to work on another project.
And then they bungled the release. Backers received broken codes. Rewards were not what was promised. It was buggy and boring, and felt completely uninspired.
Mega Man was brilliant because it was gorgeous, it was fun, it challenged you to take risks and punished bad decisions. Mighty No. 9 was derivative and lackluster. A skid-mark in the trousers of faithful Kickstarter backers.
2. No Man's Sky
The biggest, most impressive empty exploration game ever.
No Man's Sky was supposed to capture the limitless feeling of exploration inherent in positive science fiction. They even got a popular band to create the music. Boasting trillions of different planets to discover, crafting, survival, combat, PVP, and the vast expanses of open Space, we all expected No Man's Sky to be an open-universe Firefly game.
And in practice? A giant letdown.
I mean, sure, there's an incomprehensible number of planets to discover, but they're all procedurally generated, and thus look... kind of samey. The ridiculous number of Spore-like creatures inhabiting the world sounds great on paper, but there was limited interactivity.
No story, but that was to be expected. You could share the worlds you discovered with your friends, but you can't play with them. You harvest materials to better your ship and weapons so you can go to another planet and harvest materials to better your ships and weapons.
There are no real enemies, no conflict, and no reason to keep playing beyond the first hour. This game already existed in a better form, and it's called Universe Sandbox (and that one is awesome, because it appeals to Astronomy nuts).
Without the ability to play with your friends like an MMO, and do anything to affect the universe outside of shooting creatures and mining resources, the game quickly turns into a wet fart noise.
1. Pokemon Go
It promised Pokemon for the real world. There would be trading, there would be PVP battles. There would be real-world Pokemon Gyms and raids, Legendaries, Events, and you could track and catch your favorite Pokemon.
And almost none of that appeared in the actual game.
I'll admit, I was drawn into the game's buzz when it came out. I even gave the game a damned near perfect score based solely on the high I got from that first weekend. And to be perfectly frank, it WAS an awesome experience...
For all of 3 weeks. But it was buggy, it was bare-bones, and the servers couldn't take the load. Outside of person-to-person interaction in the real world, there was almost literally nothing to do.
Flash forward 6 months: The game is still a mess. Gyms are still godawfully pointless and unrewarding, no Legendaries, no trading or friendly PVP, no more tracking (and, to add insult to injury, whenever anyone attempted to rectify this, Niantic and Nintendo brought out the cease-and-desist hammers), and very little dialogue between Niantic and consumers.
And that little $30 dongle folks bought? It's damned near useless now that they've added Apple Watch support, which is even more bare-bones and obnoxious than the actual game.
POKEMON GO COULD HAVE BEEN GREAT. If that first weekend alone was any indication, Pokemon is a goldmine IP for Augmented Reality. It could have surpassed Ingress as the go-to AR game of choice.
Instead, it's losing users in droves. And that's a goddamned shame.
What was your biggest gaming disappointment for 2016? Leave your comment below!