For the most part, 2018 was a great year for video games. Not only did fans get gems such as God of War and Marvel’s Spider-man, but Rockstar Games was finally able to release its highly anticipated title, Red Dead Redemption 2. Nintendo also just launched its incredibly content heavy fighter Super Smash Bros Ultimate and the indie scene continued to pump out impressive games for genres that have seemingly been abandoned by AAA studios.
For all of the good this year, 2018 also brought gamers plenty of titles that just didn’t measure up. Many of the following games were ones that a large majority were eager to put time into, but for one reason or another, the end result fell well short of expectations. Here are the 10 most disappointing games of 2018.
One of the biggest offenders on this list, trouble began after the game’s announcement when it was revealed that, for the first time in the franchise, players would be going online in Fallout 76. Ditching the solitary, single player element fundamentally changed how the game experience would be for players, as NPC characters were dropped completely and replaced with audio tapes, journal entries, and robots. For many, this change left the world feeling empty and less interesting as a result. Unfortunately, things didn’t get much better from there, as players found that once the game launched, it was hampered by technical and server issues compounded by the lack of communication for the first month from Bethesda.
Controversy continues to follow the game to this day from a security leak that revealed data to other players; PC players reporting difficulty getting refunds, which has prompted a law firm to investigate; and other technical problems such as players using cheats in order to quickly unlock nukes. For many, the biggest issue came from the lack of a Canvas Bag in the Power Armor edition of the game, an item which was promoted prior to release. Bethesda has since promised to replace the bags, but for a game that Bethesda promised to support forever, Fallout 76 appears to have quickly become a lost cause for many.
A Rare-developed game has been long overdue, which is one of the reasons why Sea of Thieves got the attention it did prior to release. An open world that allows players to create their own pirate and join a crew to sail the open seas was very enticing to many Xbox players looking for that next big exclusive. However, fans quickly found that while the foundation was strong, Sea of Thieves didn’t offer much to do for those looking for something other than sailing, hunting for treasure, or attacking other players.
Combat is fairly simplistic as well. Players have access to a sword and a gun, while cannons can be fired from ships. There are no attack combos, different types of melee moves, or any abilities to spice things up. With a lack of communication from the game on what to do or where to go, the lack of objectives facing the player, and the repetitive gameplay grind, it was easy to put down the controller and not come back. While things have improved over time thanks in large part to continued developer support and new content updates, there’s no question that the seas were very rough at launch.
While many fans had left the Metal Gear franchise for dead once Hideo Kojima was forced out at Konami, some were cautiously optimistic about Metal Gear Survive. Adding to the skepticism was the game’s design, which strips away the tactical and stealth action elements in favor of base building and survival mechanics. After spending some time with the title, many fans realized that beyond the sounds and art style, Metal Gear Survive is barely a Metal Gear game.
Part of the issues stems from the survival mechanics themselves, like a hunger system that doesn’t always give the player animals to hunt or food to harvest quickly enough. The gameplay won’t make up for things either, as most of the time players simply run through open stretches looking for an item that they then have to defend from waves of zombies or activating a teleporter. With poor AI enemies, a lack of compelling gameplay content, questionable microtransaction practices, and unsatisfying survival mechanics, Metal Gear Survive didn’t appeal to longtime fans of the franchise and even struggled to convince survival fans as well.
State of Decay quickly became an indie hit when it launched back in 2013, gaining a loyal fan base even though the game had its fair share of issues. With added time and the might of Microsoft backing the team at Undead Labs, expectations were naturally running high for this sequel. Oddly enough, State of Decay 2 feels more like an extension of the first game, lacking new and fresh ideas outside of co-op while also stumbling over many of the same issues that plagued its predecessor.
The gameplay loop of killing zombies, collecting loot, and returning to base remains intact, although the game hasn’t improved elsewhere, as the graphics aren’t very appealing and animations appear to be very stiff and wooden. Worse yet, even after a 20GB patch, the game launched with a host of technical problems, bugs, and frustrating glitches such as vehicles getting stuck on objects in the world and AI companions completely vanishing. Just like Sea of Thieves, the game’s saving grace is likely the fact that Microsoft chose to add it to the Game Pass promotion at launch.
Following the collapse of THQ and Vigil Games, many believed that this action-adventure franchise was done as well. But those fans were pleasantly surprised to learn that THQ Nordic not only revived the series but gave the third game over to Gunfire Games, a Texas-based studio that featured a lot of former developers that worked on the first two games in the franchise. Everything seemed to line up for another stellar entry, but in fact, it seems the game hasn’t lived up to expectations for many people.
At launch, Darksiders III was hampered by a considerable amount of technical issues and bugs, with more than a few requiring a complete restart of the game. Adding to the already considerable issues is a hostile checkpoint system that frequently makes players retread ground just to get back to where they were after dying, especially to a boss character. The biggest surprise, however, is the shift away from the series’ classic God of War meets Legend of Zelda style in favor of something that resembles Dark Souls. Puzzles and exploration are downplayed more than they’ve ever been and combat has seemingly been reduced to simply dodging at the right time and hammering the attack button. While it’s good to see the franchise return, this probably wasn’t the debut many fans were hoping for.
Coming from Dontnod Entertainment, a studio that is likely best known for its episodic franchise Life is Strange, Vampyr sounded like an interesting departure for the team. Taking place in early 20th century London, Vampyr puts players in the shoes of Dr. Jonathan Reid, who is transformed into a vampire during the height of the Spanish Flu. For all of the great storytelling and world-building, the game was held back by technical issues like long and frequent load times, choppy performance, stuttering, and a general feeling of being unpolished.
Worse yet, the combat never really came together as many hoped. Even with vampire abilities available for use, the combat sequences still felt uninspired, simplistic, and dull. The camera also had a nasty habit of becoming a little too unwieldy during these sections and using the lock-on feature was not always reliable. These things added up over time to derail the experience for many and leaving them frustrated.
Agony began life on Kickstarter, promising backers a mature survival horror game wherein they explore the depths of Hell in order to try and escape. While the game pushed past its funding goal, things began to come apart once the ESRB gave it an Adults Only rating due to its extreme levels of violence. The developers toned things down to get back to a Mature rating and promised disappointed fans that an optional patch would be made available for those that wanted the unrated version. That plan had to be scrapped, however, as legal issues soon arose surrounding the content.
Agony had more issues than losing some of its imagery, however. After launch, many critics and fans alike couldn’t get past the repetitive and tedious game mechanics, which typically involved finding various items to progress to the next area or hiding from demons. The game is constantly trying to shock the player with graphic and sexual violence that after a while, the player ultimately becomes desensitized to it and all that’s left is an overly red and black looking world. A lack of communication with what to do in the world, poor voice acting, and a frustrating checkpoint system put the final nails in the coffin of this one.
The long-running series returned this year as a PS4 exclusive and while many fans like to joke that if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all, the developers at Koei Tecmo and Omega Force attempted to modernize the franchise with Dynasty Warriors 9. Like previous Warriors games, combat remains simplistic and repetitive, as simply mashing the attack button will get most players pretty far. Dynasty Warriors 9 attempts to take things a step further by introducing Flow, Trigger, and Musou Attack, but ultimately, combat never deviates from button mashing.
The biggest fault of Dynasty Warriors 9 comes with its new ideas and its attempt to appeal to a wider range of players. The worlds are open now and while there are things to do within them, the spaces are underutilized and empty, NPCs typically deliver cookie-cutter style missions, and there is side content that feels more like padding than absolutely necessary. Even with 90 characters to play as at launch, many feel like reskins and the repetitive nature may diminish the need to see how the campaign changes from the perspective of a different character. Ultimately, Dynasty Warriors 9 attempts to reinvent the franchise, though, with so many underwhelming or undercooked features, it feels like a game that set out to check a number of boxes rather than hone in on really making a few of them work well.
Following the release of LawBreakers, an arena shooter that was reviewed positively from critics but ultimately failed commercially, the team at Boss Key Productions moved on to a new title that attempted to break into the crowded but popular Battle Royale genre. Known as Radical Heights, the third person shooter relied on bright colors and plenty of 80s references to keep players coming back. It was released in early access, though playing the title seemed to reveal that it was likely put together for release very quickly. Art assets, world items, animations, and other gameplay elements appeared to be half finished or untested prior to going live.
For many, Radical Heights was seen as a cash grab meant to capitalize on the popularity of other Battle Royale style games like Fortnite and PUBG. Radical Heights was unable to catch on and when combined with the underperformance of LawBreakers, all 65 employees at Boss Key Productions were laid off and the studio shut down a month later.
On paper, fighting towering orcs with fast and fluid combat focused on dismemberment sounded like a blast. Unfortunately, the end result left critics and fans both underwhelmed due to Extinction‘s underdeveloped story and lack of quality for a AAA price tag.
Gameplay-wise, the thrill of battling giants also wanes quickly due to the repetitive nature of the missions. The majority of the time, players are tasked with saving citizens by cutting off vulnerable sections of the orc’s body. Although the game was clearly inspired by Attack on Titan, the lack of variety in the orc combat leaves a lot to be desired and gets stale quickly.