Recently, my captain, mentor and lover Dane Remendes put out an article on the best games of 2015. Being the unoriginal cynic that I am, I decided to write up my own reflection of the games of 2015, but this time focusing on those I thought were the most overrated. I even adopted Dane’s baffling abuse of capital letters in the title, for that extra punch of clickbait-ness. Are any of the authors’ favourite games in here? Are your favourite games in here? There’s only one way to find out, and it isn’t by NOT clicking Read More.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
I’ll start here to get the blood flowing because this one kind of pissed me off the most. Now anyone who knows me will know I’m not a fan of Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft or annualised titles, so admittedly there’s a bit of bias going in.
But none of that changes the fact that this is a mediocre game riding the coattails of a worn-out franchise. Ubisoft’s insistence on trying to force out an AC entry every year (with mobile garbage strewn in between) has allowed for little room for innovation, creativity or excitement.
I think the real reason this was overrated was because it followed Unity. The gamer collective was so pleased to get something that wasn’t riddled with bugs and barely playable that they praised Ubisoft for “listening to their fans”.
A game that’s well-coded and without bugs isn’t something to be praised, it’s the norm. I don’t go to a restaurant and compliment the chef on not taking a dump on my steak. It seems everyone was so happy that their meal wasn’t covered in faeces they didn’t notice it was bland and tasteless.
With these absurdly short development cycles, it seems you get a mediocre title that runs well or an ambitious one that’s unplayable – there just isn’t time for both. So instead of actual innovation you get ham-fisted attempts at change like throwing in a grappling hook and trying to rework the combat on an engine that’s at the end of its lifespan. Ugh.
Where Syndicate had no originality, Splatoon had it in spades. Nintendo managed to make a shooter that felt very Nintendo – one where nobody dies, and you spend all your time shooting at the floor.
It was fun, it was different and it was pretty unlike anything anyone had seen so far. And to desperate Wii U owners, it was a bit of new IP in a period of serious game famine. Unfortunately, while it was fun, it also didn’t really know quite what it wanted to be.
Nintendo did a great job of including some interesting tactics to the game, and it quickly became clear that smart teamwork would be rewarded – there was more to it than just running around spraying the floor. Unfortunately, Nintendo despises competitive play, and their insistence on every game simply being “fun”, without realising that playing a game as best they can is what constitutes “fun” for a large group of gamers ultimately sank this one.
The biggest issue was the lack of integrated voice communications. The game relies heavily on teamwork, but did not facilitate that at all, in fear of angry adolescents insulting each other’s mothers.
Of course, this creates more problems than it fixes. Teams of friends who did have planned strategies or means of communicating could utterly stomp on the group wanting to have “fun”. Even from playing this at rAge I can tell you that those who knew what they were doing wiped the floor (literally) with those who didn’t.
So what you end up with is gameplay that rewards strategy and tactics, and a developer who is actively working against that. People quickly got over the novelty, and got frustrated with the online environment. This game could have had a much bigger and longer following, but Nintendo once again refused to play ball when it comes to supporting their games competitively.
This one hurts. I actually feel kind of dirty for putting this in here, since I really actually liked this game and wanted it to succeed.
I got my first taste of this at rAge, and it was great. Delano was a cowardly monster who didn’t face me and Wes and Matt Fick like a man, but we still had a blast incompetently chasing him around the map.
Unfortunately, chasing a monster around the map became a large part of the gameplay. In a world of military shooters and a stale FPS scene. Evolve was a breath of fresh air. It introduced this asymmetrical multiplayer that seems to be catching on, and everybody (including myself) was excited for a totally new kind of gameplay.
Where it fell apart, really, was the execution. The gameplay got a little too stale a little too quickly, and while the idea of big sandbox maps to hunt and be hunted in was solid, running around the forest got a little dreary after a while. It wasn’t quite scary enough to keep you on your toes, and the action was just a little too sparse.
The different player roles were a neat idea, but fairly simple to execute in practice. I am the gun guy, I’ll shoot at the giant thing. I’m the big cage guy, I’ll trap him. I’m the healer, I’ll shoot my medic gun at whoever is getting attacked. While tactics were valuable, they were also a little shallow.
For a full-priced game, it just needed more. There wasn’t a whole lot there to keep you coming back, and since it relied on Multiplayer as the players dwindled, the queue times became unbearable. This of course begins a self-defeating cycle where the playerbase vanishes entirely.
If you liked the idea of this game but want something cheaper (and frankly, more fun), check out Depth on Steam. It’s a diver vs shark strategic deathmatch that has a lot more action and plays on that fear element really well – those sharks are quick. You’ll also never have trouble finding a game.
The worst part of all of this is that it once again discourages publishers to back something new and original. Why take a chance on a game like Evolve when you can get an easy payday on an established franchise like Call of Duty. It’s sad, because we need more games like Evolve. We just need them to work a little better.
Kerbal Space Program
I’m insanely over the wordcount already so I’ll try not ramble too much about this one.
There’s this strange subset of gamers who like to come back from a hard day of work/university/school/yoga class and instead of playing a real game, decide they’d like to do more work instead. Unfortunately, the office closes at night, so they’re forced to load up a work simulator instead. I’m looking at you, EVE Online players.
KSP fits into that mould for me. Just check this out, taken from the game’s Wikipedia description of “Career mode”. “In order to build and launch new rockets, the players must complete contracts to earn funds to pay for the new parts.” Hey you know what that sounds like? A job. This sounds literally like what I’d be doing if I was an engineer at NASA, or Elon Musk. Even Elon himself has to come home and play a bit of Super Mario Maker or something.
There is only one correct way to “play” KSP, and it looks like this:
Hey, remember this piece of crap? This one maybe wasn’t quite “overrated”, but it got way more press than it ever deserved to and certainly sold more copies than it should have as well.
Some of you may have played it, but most of you will remember the trailer – a monochrome shitshow of someone wandering around murdering people for no particular reason whatsoever. It was full of unoriginal, nihilistic nonsense that I suppose was supposed to be edgy.
Of course, it got all the press coverage it was aiming for with its “controversial” trailer, and I’m sad to include myself in that group of people that ran the story.
You realise how pathetic it is when the blowhard CEO of the developer claims that the game “rebels against the way we are told and taught to think”, which would make a great macro image on some emo adolescent’s Tumblr page.
Violence for the sake of “shock value” is cheap and lazy. I have no issue with violence in games or with shocking content, but that content should be reflected in a way that actually creates an emotional or visceral response. This game was no different from mowing down pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto, and nobody has ever felt a thing doing that.
Worst of all perhaps, it failed at being a game – Hatred is ridiculously boring.
Right, I’ve overstayed my welcome here. Tell me NAG readers, what are your most overrated games of 2015? Which ones on this list did you disagree with?
P.S. Yes, The Witcher 3 picture was shameless clickbait. I’m sorry (not sorry).