The year 2017 turned out to have quite a fierce competition for disappointment. I could make quite a list about games failing to deliver on expectations or failing even further than that. But I choose to focus on two games that turned out to be as messy and far away from their franchises as possible.
As a Ghost Recon player who got to enjoy the best and the worst moments of the franchise, I was rooting for Wildlands to be a good tactical shooter. I wasn’t expecting any miracles, not after the swap to a 3rd person camera and an open world environment, but the potential for some good tactical gameplay was still there. Wildlands turned out to be one of those games that has inherited its name part of a marketing scheme while having little to do with the original series. The roots of the series have been dug out, Wildlands focusing mostly on a co-op experience where players can enjoy wondering around the vast and varied lands of Bolivia. What Ubisoft has actually created is a hybrid taking inspiration from popular action games like GTA and Saints Row while using the company’s standard blueprint for open world games. This translates into a huge map filled with pointless activities and little to no quality content. The AI behavior is terrible further limiting the tactical options already held back by an arcady gameplay. Even on the technical part, Wildlands failed to deliver the visuals that were originally showcased following on Ubisoft’s path of downgrades with sloppy graphics meant to impress only through vistas. I wish Wildlands was something more than another mark of shame next to Tom Clancy’s name, a name that’s rapidly losing its meaning.
Mass Effect: Andromeda is probably 2017’s biggest disappointment and judging how abruptly the game support stopped, it’s probably one of the biggest financial flops as well. The game was so technically challenged that the Ryder brothers could easily become the face of memes over the internet. The red alert was triggered by the insane amount of bugs and glitches revealed prior to the release. A half-assed system of animations has transformed most NPCs into walking lunatics with soulless faces having the eyes of a dead fish forced into their skulls. The studio responsible for the game has addressed some of the technical related issues before it got dissolved. But the writing will linger forever like a stigma over once a bright series. Andromeda’s writing turned out to be a disastrous mix of cliché and all sorts of agendas that feel as mechanical and forced as the emotionless voice acting that plagues the new galaxy. The main story doesn’t do any better having an almost shounen thematic following a young Pathfinder on whose shoulders laid the hopes and lives of an entire intergalactic expedition. The narrative is nonsensical and the few moments of quality storytelling were buried under a pile of cringyness and meaningless content.
I think we all wanted a good space exploration RPG, one combining the qualities of the first two games of the series, in a vast and well designed environment. But after four years of active development, Mass Effect: Andromeda turned out more like an amateurish creation that had nothing on the original trilogy. Andromeda has probably marked a new low on the AAA list of failures and in this process has put the fate of the series and the future of Bioware’s main studio into question.