With the ongoing craziness surrounding CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077, I could help but think of all the other times I’ve been disappointed by video games. In fact, it seems every console generation has its share of disappointments. Some are downright awful. Some are just bad, and some of aren’t necessarily bad at all. Rather, they just failed to live up to fan expectations and/or developer promises. One would argue that the former is always going to be worse than the latter, but I think you could make a strong case that overhyping an okay game is worse than simply releasing a bad game. Disappointment is disappointment though, and these are the games that disappointed me the most this generation.
Cyberpunk 2077 (2020) – CD Projekt Red
We might as well get this one out of the way first. Like many other people out there, I let myself buy into the hype surrounding Cyberpunk 2077. I thought it was going to be a game combining the best parts of Witcher 3 (story) and Prey (do everything your way). Well, that wasn’t the case, and it was a buggy mess to boot. I think there’s still potential for something good here since its story is decent and there are hints of a deep RPG, but it’s going to be awhile before it gets there. So for now, Cyberpunk 2077 is a big ol’ disappointment.
Yooka-Laylee (2017) – Playtonic Games
Ever since Rare got bought by Microsoft, fans like myself had been dreaming of the day that the company would one day make its grand return to the top of the industry. The potential seemed like it was still there; this was the studio that turned out everything from Donkey Kong Country to Perfect Dark after all. If anyone could come back, they could. Well, they didn’t. Instead, the old 90’s -era team formed Playtonic Games. Their first project: a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie! What’s not to love about that?
I was fully on board with the new game, Yooka-Laylee, from day one. I even went so far as to pledge a couple hundred dollars to the Kickstarter, so sure was I that this would be the game to revive the 3D platformer. Yooka-Laylee isn’t a bad game or anything, it’s just nowhere near what Banjo-Kazooie was. Its worlds are pretty, but overly huge and empty; its minigames are annoying to play (usually due to poor controls and/or inconsistent hit detection), and the titular characters just don’t have the tight controls one would expect from the stars of a 3D platforming game. Playtonic has since done better with Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, but this one was a big-time disappointment.
Destiny 1 & 2 (2014, 2017) – Bungie
Again, this is more a case of extremely inflated expectations than anything else. Before it launched in 2014, Bungie and Activision were making Destiny out to be an evolution of Halo. It would have the same excellent shooting, but place it within a shared world that could be freely explored with friends. In the demos, betas and trailers. That world looked like something akin to that of Skyrim: something bursting with places to find and secrets to discover. That’s not what we got.
What we got was something more like World of Warcraft, but in the framework of an FPS. It also didn’t help that both Destiny 1 and 2 were content bare at launch. Destiny 1 eventually became good for what it was, but it took a year. As for Destiny 2, it’s never really gotten there. It’s had expansions that’ve made me think that it’s finally turning the corner, but then Bungie does something to make the whole thing unappealing again. So all in all, this one was disappointing too.
Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017) – BioWare
This one was just plain bad. There’s no way around it. The warning signs were there before launch, but I really wanted to believe that Mass Effect was back. What did I get? Bugs upon bugs; a boring story; a cast of dumb, unlikable characters, bad combat, a tacked-on crafting system, broken multiplayer and all-hints of meaningful character building stripped away. What more do I need to say about it? Mass Effect: Andromeda killed the series in my eyes, and it doesn’t get much worse than that. (Actually, it kind of does. I didn’t want to accept the reality of what I’d bought, so I told myself all sorts of things to justify it. “Best combat in the series” Uh-uh. No way.)
Fallout 4 (2015) – Bethesda
Fallout 4 is here because it just wasn’t what I wanted in a Fallout game. It was competent enough; the shooting worked well, and the bugs didn’t affect me so much. I actually put a few dozen hours into Fallout 4 once all was said and done. Even so, I left the game feeling like I never got the experience I was hoping for. None of the smart writing or interesting storytelling seen in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas (especially New Vegas) was present in Fallout 4. The RPG elements felt hollow. The locations weren’t all that interesting, and the factions were just dumb people with dumb motivations. That base-building thing really felt tacked-on too. There was no reason to engage with it at all. It’s a perfectly decent game, and I even liked it. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for in the end.
As much as it sucks to be let down by your favorite developer, I actually kind of feel like it’s a good thing to be disappointed every so often. Don’t get me wrong, game makers definitely shouldn’t create unreasonable expectations for their games, and fans shouldn’t let themselves get sucked too far into the hype.
All that said, I think an occasional disappointment is a good thing. It’s a reminder to all of us to keep our expectations in check, for both individual games and gaming as a hobby. It can also remind us of what we actually like (and don’t like) in games. Tastes can change over time after all, and sometimes you don’t realize it until you’re confronted by it. I still think it stinks that the games listed here weren’t better, but, hey, that’s gaming for ya. Right?
What were some games that disappointed you in recent years? How did they affect you as a gamer?
Lede image is an official promotional screenshot from CD Projekt Red’s site