It is that time of year, time to pick those titles that deserve special mention. It is time to highlight those games that grabbed us, disappointed us and surprised us. Welcome to the Player 2 End of Year Awards. This article deals with those disappointments that stayed with us from 2019.
2019’s Biggest Disappointments
Dylan Burns – The Division 2
I went into The Division 2 knowing that it wouldn’t stray far from the original, but something was just missing on launch – the magic was gone and it felt like an incomplete release. Cue several post-release trips by Ubisoft, not quite sure which direction to take with expansions and paid vs unpaid content, and you have a game that feels constantly in limbo. I haven’t returned to it in months, not even after they decreased the cooldowns for special skills. I think mostly because as a solo player it just didn’t feel engaging enough and whenever I did put out a request for assistance it never came. Perhaps things are different now, but for a release that came in hot, it sure did crash land – and thus it is my biggest disappointment.
Nick Getley – Shenmue 3
Shenmue 3 is here, and that’s all I can really say about it. It’s…here. It isn’t anywhere near as ambitious as when the series debuted, because it feels so much like when the series debuted. Games have advanced so much in the past 20 years, but Yu Suzuki hasn’t seemed to pay attention to any of it. Imagine how much better Shenmue 3 would have been if it made an impact comparable to the original game, or even the same amount of determination.
Ryo is back, still walking around as stiff and robotic as the previous entry in the series (which was all the way back on the Dreamcast and original Xbox). He still wanders about almost aimlessly, asking people for information and then responding to them with the classic “I see…” line.
Some games fall victim to the expectations of fans. Ubisoft stated recently that they don’t even know where to begin when it comes to bringing back Splinter Cell for that reason. Yu Suzuki and his team didn’t fail to meet the fan’s expectations of Shenmue 3 because they didn’t even try. This might as well have released in 4:3 aspect ratio with a CRT TV filter on it just to match the crummy graphics and dated gameplay. It’s actually insulting considering how it raised over $6 million on Kickstarter, was partially funded by Sony and the game found itself as an Epic Store exclusive.
Adam Rorke – Anthem
I feel like this doesn’t’ really need an explanation here. The game technically sold well, but its player numbers were short-lived and the game is considered a flop by all imaginable standards. The team behind it have pretty much all abandoned ship, and at the time of writing, there are a mere 35 viewers watching this on Twitch. It’s a shame because it felt like the game had a lot of potential. The marketing hype behind it was promising big things and quite simply it couldn’t live up to its promises. The final release was a buggy mess. The trailers looked good but that’s about it. Quite simply, we expected more. The developers, to their credit, are still working at it and there are rumours of a complete re-work in development… we’ll see I suppose.
Matt Hewson – WWE 2K19
It says it all when a game that I had super low expectations for still actually managed to disappoint me and that is exactly what WWE 2K19 did. This is a game that should have been cancelled, there are no two ways about it. The developers left in the middle of the dev cycle and another team was left to stitch up the pieces resulting in a mess that has no redeeming features whatsoever. The only reason this game saw the light of day is the need from the WWE to have a game released every year, regardless of the damage it would do to the brand. I am praying God, Jesus and Stone Cold Steve Austin that this is the final nail in the coffin for the yearly release schedule and the WWE realise that 12 months is just not enough dev time for a quality product.
Hope Corrigan – The Outer Worlds
The Outer Worlds felt like Obsidian polled their fans on what game they’d like to see and made exactly that and nothing more. Sadly, I was kinda hoping for more so it felt really empty and lacklustre to me. If The Outer Worlds came out ten years ago, or maybe even more, other than a graphical drop I don’t think it’d be any different.
This isn’t to say it’s bad as such, just lifeless and completely devoid of surprise. I never felt delighted, I never was on my way to one quest to suddenly get caught up in something new. It’s all very by the numbers, go here, do this, follow the waypoint, collect the reward. I wanted a big deep immersive RPG and instead, I found something that felt very surface level and ok. Never did I wake up and feel the drive to load it up and continue my story, instead I had to kinda force myself to give it another go – not in that I hated doing it just that I felt nothing and maybe that’s kinda worse? I did really like those sweet skyboxes though, so that’s one thing.
Shaun Nicholls – Ghost Recon: Breakpoint
This was a game that I was looking forward to playing and was excited to get the opportunity to review it here for Player 2. What I got though was a mixed bag of video game mechanics that were not necessary to play the game and a trudge through a story-line that just didn’t draw me in the way that I wanted it to. Ubisoft is working on fixing elements of the game, including the reintroduction of AI squad members, so one day it may not be the disappointment it originally was.
Paul James – Rage 2
I didn’t expect this. The original Rage didn’t hit the mark, and I’d expected that a revitalised id Software, partnered with Avalanche might be the perfect pairing to make Rage 2 worth our time. So much was promised, and so little was delivered. As good as the game looked, and as fantastic as the shooting was, all the promised style and personality was absent, as was anything to do in the world. Rage 2s failure sucks, and I’d wager it kills the potential for any further entries.
Stephen del Prado – Level 5 Studios
Were the 2019 Holiday Season bringing me everything I could ever want, I would be sipping on spiked Paul’s Egg Nog whilst being caressed by a cool summer breeze, trying to decide if I should spend the remainder of the evening playing Yo-kai Watch 4 or Dark Cloud 3 on my Switch. Instead, Australia is literally on fire, Coles has sold out of bloody Egg Nog and Level 5 have once again stuffed a big load of ScoMo approved coal into my Santa Sack in lieu of what I actually want. The only way this could get any worse is for Akihiro Hino to show up to my house in some kind of bizarre publicity stunt to announce an HD remaster of White Knight Chronicles II which is somehow even worse than the original game.