2014 is coming to an end, and as I was reflecting on it, I realised that’s it’s just been an absolutely awful year for gaming.
The awkward console transitional phase brought with it a fair share of problems, and industry greed hit new heights.
Read my list of reasons this year sucked, and then tell me your own in the comments (or, alternatively, you can be that guy and tell me why it was a great year).
A lot of the big, highly anticipated releases this year were, frankly, pretty disappointing. Where to even begin?
Watch Dogs promised innovation and unique gameplay, but ended up being a somewhat entertaining but ultimately forgettable GTA clone that didn’t really bring anything new to the table.
It painted a picture of what seemed to be an exciting world, and then delivered a drab, by-the-numbers story that felt like it was put together by one of James Patterson’s ghost writers.
Which might have been fine if the missions themselves were exciting, but they just weren’t. After the initial novelty wore off it was mostly just repetition, with a few truly awful minigames thrown into the mix. Ultimately it was a major letdown considering the massive hype and multiple delays.
That simply set the stage for a year of disappointments, however.
This year also ushered in the most expensive game of all time, a record which I have a feeling may not be broken for a few years to come.
That game, Destiny, was disappointing as well. It wasn’t necessarily bad, it wasn’t even not fun, it was just… empty. Promises were made, and those promises were not delivered on. The story was piecemeal at best and incoherent at worst, the world was there to explore but without much worth seeing – like a showhouse with all the furniture removed.
It seemed like half a billion dollars should go further.
I’m not just pummelling my favourite punching bags either – what might be my favourite game of the year was also a disappointment.
I’m talking, you may have guessed, about Titanfall. Like Destiny, Titanfall did a lot of things right – it’s fun, the gameplay is addictive and it offers the player a rewarding experience.
Also like Destiny, however, it didn’t deliver what it should. Titanfall has, arguably, the absolute worst excuse for campaign experience in recent memory.
Whether they were trying something new (and failed) or whether it was just pure laziness is hard to say, but dumping people in Multiplayer games with a few poorly put together voiceovers and a story nobody can quite follow is ludicrous, and simply not worth the full retail asking price.
There are others too – the Elder Scrolls Online and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 come to mind – but these three form the holy trinity of overhyped, disappointing titles of 2014.
The Straight-up Broken
Wowzers, was this a bad year for broken, buggy messes.
LittleBigPlanet 3 dropped just a couple of days ago and yup, you guessed it, it was riddled with bugs.
Developers’ latest trick is the “review embargo”, where they force popular sites to hold back their reviews for a certain period of time. Would you do that if you thought the reviews were going to be positive? No, you wouldn’t.
They do it because it gives them enough time to release day one patches to try and clear out some of the bugs, and gives gullible customers enough time to collect their pre-orders or make their day-one purchases.
The list of big releases that were slated this year for being broken at launch is actually somewhat unbelievable: Driveclub, The Evil Within, AC: Unity, LBP3, Master Chief Collection, Watch Dogs, Warlords of Draenor, and probably about five others I’ve forgotten right now.
2014 was the year that annualised releases and rushed-to-market games reached critical mass, and I sincerely hope that the backlash is harsh enough that we do a lot better in 2015.
This essentially ties in with broken piles of crap discussed previously, but 2014 was the year when publishers really pushed us in terms of what we’re willing to accept in terms of “microtransactions”.
I use that term loosely, since Assassin’s Creed Unity had a $99 “microtransaction”. It does seem rather absurd to pay 100 dollars into a 60 dollar game in order to open a few item chests or whatever it may be.
Season passes that cost as much as the game itself have become the norm, while in other titles players willing to spend a little extra on their games have a leg up over the competition.
DLC can be really great, but once again it feels like it’s being pushed to the limits of what consumers feel comfortable with. Having chests in your game that can only be opened with real money is obnoxious, as is paying near full retail price for a series of maps.
With FPS titles like Call of Duty things get even more hairy, as you’re forced into a situation where different players are playing with different map pools, which divides the playerbase and generally degrades the experience for everyone.
Microtransactions make sense in free-to-play titles (of course, they’re necessary), but shoving them down our throats in full retail titles feels shady.
Yep, I’m doing it.
Half-Life 2 celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, and by “celebrated” I mean nobody said a damned thing about it – not even Valve.
At this point, it would just be nice to know they’re actually working on it.