2017 was a bad year for pretty much everything. Except video games! Which featured a fantastic selection of new titles. But even then, there were still plenty of obscure clunkers, shovelware, and bad ideas flooding digital storefront. But why pick on them when there are much bigger targets?
That’s right, today we’re going to be taking a look at some of the stupidest, lamest, and most disappointing video game moments of 2017. Sometimes the video games themselves, sometimes the events that surrounded the video games, but always the worst. At least according to me. So if you have something to get off your chest and out of your craw, sound off in the comments below. Just remember to stay positive, well, as positive as you can be.
So without further ado and no honorable mentions, here are the most disappointing video game moments of 2017.
10. Halo Wars 2
Show of hands, who even remembers this happened? When the first Halo Wars was launched in 2009, it became a surprise cult hit. Even today it stands as one of the few successful attempts at a console real time strategy game. So when it was announced that Creative Assembly, the highly respected RTS developer, would handle the sequel, it felt like a slam dunk.
But it wasn’t. Instead Halo Wars 2 was a slow, plodding, clunky bore that failed to live up to its predecessor, let alone the franchise it was based on. Pitched as an all out war for survival between shipwrecked humans and a disgraced covenant battalion, the end result was a overly simple, painfully easy, button masher. And no, this isn’t just restricted to the single player campaign, but the mindless multiplayer as well. And considering this is a genre with strategy in the title, that’s a pretty big problem.
Worse yet, Halo Wars 2 was one of the few Xbox One exclusives release in 2017. Xbox fans deserve better. Halo fans deserve better. In fact, you know what? Maybe it’s better this game remains forgotten.
9. Lawbreakers Sales Disaster
Lawbreakers was a good game. In some respects, it was a great game. And its inclusion on this list has nothing to do with its quality. If you’re a fan a classic multiplayer first person shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament, you’ll find a lot to like about Lawbreakers' twitch based action.
But sadly, you won't find many players online. Less than six months after it’s launch, the game’s active base has dwindled to a three digit and even two digit count. And while the head of Boss Key Productions, Cliff Blizinski, insists the PS4 version is doing much better, he has yet to provide any proof.
Perhaps this is due to the offputting art style and grandiose promises made by Cliffy B, but that’s a shame, because it’s highly balanced characters, original zero gravity mechanics, and thoughtfully designed maps make it one of the better multiplayer games of the year. And the future isn’t looking too bright, as BossKey Co-Founder Arjan Brussee announced he leaving the company to rejoin Epic Games. Yeesh.
8. Mass Effect Andromeda
It’s fair to say the original Mass Effect trilogy might be the most significant new franchise from last generation. Even with the conversary surrounding the 3rd game’s conclusion, the vast majority of the series was celebrated by critics and fans alike. Unfortunately, Bioware just couldn't leave well enough alone.
Mass Effect Andromeda was intended to be a game about exploration, which is ironic considering how aimless the entire plot feels. For the first time in history, the inhabitants of the milky way have traveled to another galaxy. And what do they find when they get there? Ehhh nothing much. More of the same. For some reason, none of the aliens seem particularly surprised, impressed, or in any way affected by the news of humanity’s arrival. Thematically, making the whole plot kind of pointless.
Now truth be told, the graphics and art are do a good job of selling the feel of an alien world. And the combat has been slightly improved. But with an unremarkable cast of characters and a story that starts slow and stays slow, Mass Effect Andromeda is far too boring, dry, and disengaging.
7. Outlast 2
Between Resident Evil 7 and The Evil Within 2, it was a surprisingly good year for horror sequels. Thanks in large part to the creative risks and departures made from the previous game. And in that respect, Outlast 2 deserves some credit. Dropping the clesh spooky insane asylum for a clesh rural backwoods cult.
And that’s the real problem, this first person adventure has absolutely no idea how to be scary. So instead it relies unoriginal ideas and the brutalization of women and children to inspire shallow disgust. But this too goes from bad taste to tasteless, as the early over the top violence makes it impossible to escalate tension.
Not to mention idiotic stealth mechanics and inaccurate level design. The open environments give the impression of multiple routes, when in reality there one strict path which must be adhered to. Forcing players to watch the walking patterns of the slogging enemies. No really, that’s the entire game.
And just as it feels the campaign is mercifully coming to the close, it makes yet another embarrassing botched attempt at relevance. Referencing the all too real problem of child abuse as yet another cheap jump scare. And much like everything else, it has nothing to say about the issue.
Outlast 2 is dependent of the tropes of better works because at its core it is clueless.
6. Bethesda E3 2017 Presentation
In retrospect, Bethesda’s E3 live stream wasn’t all that bad. Sure, they basically announced paid mods again, but the combination of WolfenStein 2, The Evil Within 2, and a Dishonored spinoff was a newsworthy event.
No, I’m here to talk about the often overlooked aspect of the show, the live audience. Go back and you’ll see an ocean of people in attendance for maybe...a minute combined. Which means the in person crowd sat down and watched around 30 minutes of trailers uninterrupted.
If you’re willing to travel all the way to E3 and wait for hours and hours in line, just to cheer and clap at a major announcement...well too bad. As the on stage moments were simply a hello and goodbye. You could have had the exact same experience sitting outside, watching it on your phone. Ouch.
Bethesda, go take a look back at the best moments of E3’s past. Sometimes all it take is a person, a microphone, and an audience. Your fans deserve better.
5. Call of Duty WW2
In case you don’t know, I still like Call of Duty. It’s basically online paintball. Even if it’s slipped from must play status to just good, I think the series has been generally strong. But for the first time since Call of Duty Ghost, I found myself struggling to get through the single player, and quickly bored of team deathmatch.
And a lot of that has to due with the franchise return to World War 2. While previous campaigns successfully showed different aspects of the conflict, this felt like a new IP trying to rip off the Call of Duty style. Even with some top notch voice acting, I just didn’t care about any of these characters. And NO shoehorning an insulting holocaust sequence didn’t help in the slightest. How this got approved is anyone’s guess.
And the multiplayer simply couldn’t make up for it was major server issues that completely disabled the game’s heavily promoted hub world sections. The matches themselves were...well...I guess fine at best. Problem is, so many of the weapons felt nearly identical to the futuristic guns seen in the most recent entries.
For the first time arguably ever in the series, the backdrop to the combat felt like window dressing rather than informing gameplay. So without a real sense of identity, direction, or meaningful evolution, this year’s Call of Duty might have dominated the sales charts, but appears to have very little mindshare.
4. “Fuck you” from The Game Awards
A lot of people don’t realize this but Academy Awards were a fairly important step towards legitimizing motion pictures as art. Previously they were seen as merger of entertainment and technology, and were largely represented by the actors rather than the people behind the camera. And sure, today’s Oscars are essentially a bunch of backslapping but those early days helped forever cement the importance of film in culture.
And then this happened at The Game Awards.
Josef Fares, one of the men behind Brother’s A Tale of Two Sons and the upcoming A Way Out, went on a profanity riddled tirade, first saying fucking the oscars before flipping off the camera and presumably saying “fuck you” to the viewer. Some people celebrated this declaration and viewed presenter Geoff Keighley wincing as a sign of being too self serious.
But consider for a moment Keighleys now decade long journey to create a legitimate award show for video games. Working with the television industry that didn’t believe in the concept until finally establishing a prestigious looking even the past three years. It’s a colossal amount of work, and Keighley’s was forced to watch his months of work go off the rails to benefit no one.
And so when Josef Fares took the microphone, he didn’t celebrate the craft of video games. He didn’t reference the industry veterans that pave the way for his creations to be recognized. He didn’t use his excitement or represent his love of the art form to encourage other developers. He said fuck you to the movie industry. Before Geoff Keighley reminded the audience that Josef himself started in film.
Let’s all hope Josef Fares stays far, far, far away from next year’s event.
3. Yooka Laylee
Three years after it’s massively successful kickstarter campaign, Playtonic Games finally launched their debut title, Yooka Laylee. And for a moment it appeared all that hard work had paid off. After All, this was a group of former rare developers making a spiritual successor to Banjio Kazooie. If anyone could make this work, it would be Playtonic.
Unfortunately, it didn’t shake out. Yooka Laylee’s general design is taken straight from the N64 except bigger. Larger stages, more collectables, more transformation. But the moment to moment gameplay is just plain boring. I mean, sure you could make a huge environment, but when it takes minutes to approach the next objective, especially when the later collectables are deep hidden, the majority of the game is tedious.
And this isn’t even addressing the slippy controls and awkward camera. Or bizarre in-universe quiz show progression, as if any of the generic world building is memorable.
Now some have claimed this is an intentional choice from the developers to recapture the feel of those classic collectathons. But speaking as someone who doesn’t have much nostalgia for the genre, I can confidently say Banjo Kazooie in 2017 makes for a much better experience than Yooka Laylee.
Taken on its own, Yooka Laylee is not a good game. Taken an homage, it’s not a good game. There are not enough excuse and caveats to salvage this disappointing mess.
2. Fake Cuphead Controversy
Cuphead, is fantastic. In fact, I called it one of the best games of 2017. But everything else surrounding Cuphead took a stranger, darker turn. And highlighted a troubling sentiment that still remain in video game culture.
In September, veteran journalist Dean Takahashi posted a video of himself playing the Cuphead tutorial during the gamescom expo. He was, without a doubt, struggling to complete the easiest part of the game. And even admitted to his own inability in a quick write up.
But for some video bloggers and fansites, Takahashi became an easy target. Evidence that video game journalism was a sham run by liars and phonies, who hate games because they’re bad at them. Of course, there’s no evidence for this. In fact Cuphead is one of the best reviewed games of the year.
And then write Yussef Cole published his highly researched piece regarding Cuphead’s animation influences. Namely the racial stereotypes that progressively transformed into cartoon characters without reconciling their problematic origins. One again, some “consumer defending” vlogs took this to mean journalists were calling Cuphead racists because they were bad it. Which again, is one of the best reviewed games of the year by professional outlets.
There’s actually a great video chronicling all of this called Cuphead: The Fake Outrage. This controversy highlights a shrinking but still vocal, angry group that values video games over people. And views the discussions of their themes as an existential threat to the medium. Please stop giving these people attention.
Okay, I know I’m the outlier. But far an away the worst game I played this year was Bethesda’s Prey. And I recognize that there are other fans and critics that would strongly disagree with this. But from my perspective, Prey is a sloppy collection of ideas without any cohesive vision. And without spoiling the ending, the game’s final twist even says as much. Perhaps that would be excusable in another campaign, but being told the past 23 hours didn’t matter is a slap in the face.
But putting that aside, Prey’s pointless adventure is a monotonous, cruel, soulless experience. With a handful of unremarkable characters that has no indefinable personality attribute unless they’re “crazy” A combat system that recommends enemy weaknesses, but they’re still overpowered bullet sponges. And an artistic direction that blurs together after the second hour.
I don’t like looking at Prey, I don't like the story of Prey, and I definitely don’t enjoy playing Prey. It is the worst game I played in 2017, and given the amount of talent on hand, it’s one of the most disappointing games of all time.
So, did you agree with the list? Probably not. But that’s what comments sections are for. So why don’t you exercise your demons, confess your annual annoyances, and then enter 2018 feeling fresh and renewed. Anyway, that’s gonna do it for this list. So I’ll see ya next time and have a happy new year.