The Most Disappointing Game 2016

by on December 27, 2016

               The
year 2016 was in itself one hell of a fight to reach the pinnacle of
disappointment. Many of the titles that were supposed to rock the gaming
foundations of this year turned out to be mediocre or riddled with problems
that took away their best features. The most controversial game of the year was
no doubt No Man’s Sky which promised a huge universe and delivered, but turned
out to be a generic grinding game with many of its cool features being falsely
advertised. This was the peak point of excitement and unrest when the internet
drama went as far as death threats and DDOS attacks. But what I feel to the
subject matter isn’t disappointment but rather disgust towards another attempt
of taking advantage of a consumer’s society and of gamers’ dreams for
interesting gaming concepts. The games that truly disappointed are those that,
realistically speaking, had a much easier time to deliver on promises,
following on a strong background and coming from studios that prompt higher
expectations.
Foreshadowing the year’s problems,
Rise of the Tomb Raider finally came to PC in February as a poorly optimized
game with a weak narrative which doesn’t serve well its new and far more
cinematic style.
Total War Warhammer lost much of the mechanics that define a
Total War game in favor of more engaging battles, which was in tone with the
universe. Instead it offered a bunch of streamlined campaigns that lacked the
narrative elements of the universe and at the same time it was designed as
another cow to milk by SEGA being fragmented in a bunch of unjustifiably expensive
DLCs.
Dishonored 2 told a better story through world design rather
than conventional narrative and failed its PC fanbase with a poorly optimized
port that has issues even after several updates.
Yet, the state of these games wasn’t so upsetting, maybe
because their overall package is an enjoyable if not a great gameplay
experience. But there are two games that go to such great lengths to disappoint
that they don’t have enough redeemable qualities despite not being terrible.
I’ve never been a Mafia fan, mostly
because I don’t enjoy the mob setting, but over the years the series has raised
some pretty high standards creating a legacy of well-paced narrative games with
great gameplay undiminished in quality by an open world environment. So Mafia’s
decline this year didn’t make me happy as it went to destroy this great legacy
without challenging the other open world titles in a constructive way seeing
that the industry desperately needs this right now to regulate an overrated
trend. In all fairness, Mafia III is really good at the things it does right.
The game has an impressive soundtrack composed of the 60s hits, an excellent
voice work and great sound design. Everything is topped by a captivating
narrative that gets diluted in a sea of repetitive mandatory missions that have
the mindless grind feeling of an MMO. It didn’t help the game that it was
released in a poor technical state, locked at 30fps, with irreparable bugs and
severe performance problems despite being visually dated. In Mafia III the bad
features severely outbalance the good ones leading to a disappointment feeling
that’s hard to digest knowing it’s the continuation of an of excellent series.
Mafia III is flawed, but I had to
leave it behind when thinking about the great potential that the latest game from
Ubisoft Massive has shown. A little bit of survival combined with a marvelous
looking post-apocalyptic setting and a cover shooter, The Division felt nothing
like a Tom Clancy’s game, but it sure did look impressive. After two years of
postpones the release unveiled a game in a severe crisis of identity. Playing
it felt like the developers weren’t sure if they wanted to make a singleplayer
game with coop, a survival game or a fully-fledged MMO, ending up as an unholy
mix of all. It’s hard to defend a game that wants to be an MMO but doesn’t
provide the proper support for its self-advertised genre. Launching without
proper chat, trading or clan systems to bring people together while having a
restrictive instancing and an ineffective anti-cheat system, the game fell
behind at its own design. But even if these aspects are ignored, The Division
doesn’t come off as a better game. The setting is a work of twisted art and the
story is surprisingly good, but the gameplay is so shallow and uninspired that
not even the pretty graphics can make up for its flaws. There isn’t a sense of character
progression throughout the game, crippling the so called RPG elements, as the
base restoration is nothing more than a poorly designed system to unlock
abilities in the most uninspired way, leaving everything else to the grinding.
The Division’s primary focus is to
cover shoot your way through bullet spongy enemies that ask for a great
suspension of disbelief from the players as they grind gear with randomly
generated stats for little to no purpose. In all fairness, in the months after
release, The Division has seen the addition of new free content in the form of Incursions, daily missions and weapons, but there
is still no end game to work for. The repeatable story missions with increased
difficulty get old fast and the Incursions are not interesting enough to keep
the PvE players entertained. So either if you like PvE or PvP what’s left to do
is going to the Dark Zone. The zone that was described as a social experiment
in gaming, doesn’t come to the toes of what DayZ had to offer before being
stuck in the endless development loop. The meat of activities is still coming
from the Season Pass with Undergound’s randomized dungeons and Survival’s
combination of Battle Royale with PvP and survival elements.
               The
Division is a bag of mixed features. Entertainment is a subjective matter, but
for a game that’s supposed to offer dozens of hours of online gaming, The
Division has little to offer when compared with most MMOs on the market. And
while suffering from such crippling content problems it didn’t shy away from
having a Season Pass with additional content. It’s not like I haven’t enjoyed
the story, the world design and atmosphere a great deal. But looking at the big
picture, The Division turned out to be a disappointment filling me with regret
for the great gameplay opportunities that were partially if at all exploited.