For the most part, 2016 was a pretty good year for gaming, but it certainly wasn’t perfect. Disappointments are almost inevitable.
Every cloud has a silver lining, but we often forget that the inverse is also true. That’s probably not the most salient of metaphors, but it at least illustrates my point that, as great as 2016 was for gaming (and almost nothing else, it seems), there were plenty of disappointing titles that were released this year too.
Apologies in advance if I somehow manage to make this year sound even worse than it already does, but a healthy dose of pessimism is like a detox for the soul. Here are some of our biggest gaming disappointments from the year that was 2016.
The Sky’s the Limit
This time a year ago, No Man’s Sky was on a lot of people’s radars, and the title even took home the “Most Anticipated Game” trophy at The Game Awards in December of 2015. Twelve months later, and No Man’s Sky now remains as the biggest ink stain on the canvas of video game releases this year.
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Many detailed postmortems have already been delivered on what went wrong with No Man’s Sky and Hello Games’ approach to marketing their product, but it’s important to recognize that No Man’s Sky is not a bad game, and it certainly wasn’t a mistake. It’s instead a relaxing, resource management sim, but the problem was that wasn’t what we were expecting.
Murray had led us to believe that No Man’s Sky was an immersive, epic, multiplayer sci-fi saga with opportunities for role-playing and meaningful interaction. Like a politician with no filter, Hello Games promised the world (or 18 quintillions of worlds) and suffered the consequences of jumping on their own hype train without any brakes.
Mighty Nine Problems
Mighty No. 9 shouldn’t even be on this list. Ideally, it would be considered as one the best games of 2015. Sadly, that scenario t’was never to be. After several delays and poorly communicated announcements, Keiji Inafune’s crowdfunded spiritual successor to Megaman arrived with about as much class as a clown at a funeral.
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Despite boasting a few interesting mechanics, Mighty No. 9’s rigid controls, unappealing tone, and straight up ugly visuals left a bad taste in the mouths of many. The game represented a particularly painful train-wreck for those who had originally coughed up their money to crowdfund the game back in 2013, as they had to watch a wonderfully pitched concept slowly turn into a gormless monster over a period of three years.
As soon as Sonic the Hedgehog had publicly mocked Mighty No. 9 on Twitter, the game cemented itself as nothing but a mega disappointment.
Escape from New York
Remember playing Tom Clancy’s The Division? For many, Ubisoft’s not-so-subtle attempts to replicate the lasting success of Destiny now seems like a distant memory, even if roaming the streets of a dilapidated New York was fun while it lasted.
To be fair, The Division did launch with a lot of interest and fairly positive reviews, despite a rocky launch replete with glitches and server downtime. Instead, it was Ubisoft’s post-launch support that did kill the beast, with “expansions” which added little more than cannon fodder for hardcore fans, and a general lack of options for max level players other than endless grinding.
Ubisoft’s recent updates to the game represent something of an improvement, but The Division’s lack of staying power, compared to the immense levels of anticipation it generated before launch, ultimately renders it as one of 2016’s biggest disappointments.
A Crisis of Faith
I genuinely wonder whether DICE ever wanted to or enjoyed making Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. After refusing to succumb to years of fan requests for a sequel to its beloved first-person parkour title of 2008, the studio finally released Catalyst in June, with all the impact of a damp squib.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst feels clinical, soulless, and lacking in any of the energy or spirit of the original game. The cacophony of bugs and unintentional gameplay quirks were enough to leave many players alienated and unimpressed, despite the few merits that this sequel did exhibit in parts.
Ultimately, Catalyst represents something of a disservice to the Mirror’s Edge universe and its central character, marking it down as a genuine disappointment of the year.
If you needed any more confirmation about the dire state of the Wii U and it’s lack of console-selling titles, you found it in the form of Star Fox Zero. An awkwardly designed, backward-thinking mess of a game that failed to satisfy even the most passionate of Star Fox fans, Zero can be added to the list of yet another Wii U exclusive game which fails to live up to Nintendo’s standards of yore.
In fact, it may have been specifically because of the Wii U, and that console’s dogged focus on gimmicky motion controls over more precise forms of interaction, that Star Fox Zero was so deficient in entertainment value.
Either way, with the release of the Nintendo Switch early next year, Star Fox Zero was the final nail in the coffin for the one console it was released on, certifying it as one of 2016’s major gaming flops.
Ryu Do This?
It’s first worth noting that a ton of people really like and enjoy Street Fighter V, and the game is still being heavily played by fighting game enthusiasts to this day; the PlayStation Experience Capcom Cup was just last weekend.
But that doesn’t detract from the reality that, upon launch, Street Fighter V was a game sorely lacking in both content and polish. Capcom shipped Street Fighter V with little to show for itself aside from its online multiplayer mode, which itself would barely work for the first few weeks of launch. As a fully priced $60 title, this was hardly a great introduction to either newcomers or returning fans.
Though Capcom has somewhat made amends through updates and content additions since then, a lot of damage was done with Street Fighter V’s shaky initial release, firmly justifying its place here as a big letdown of the year.
The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, App Trigger or FanSided as an organization.