2016 was a good year for video games, but it also offered some of the worst titles to grace the medium. From quick and dirty cash grabs to games with unmerited hype, these disgraceful titles were a complete waste of consumers’ time and money.
When Battleborn was being promoted, its developers at Gearbox taunted Overwatch, a title that would be one of the best games of 2016. “Come at me bro,” they wrote on Twitter. And much like Ronnie from Jersey Shore, who coined the now infamous meme, Battleborn turned out to be more lip than strength, unable to muster anything more than an empty threat. It was a cheap knockoff of Gearbox’s Borderlands games without any of the charm.
This poor excuse of a multiplayer shooter was poorly balanced, complicated by having too many different modes, and it had a complicated microtransaction system that proved unsurprisingly unpopular to anyone who even played it.
“Zombies are popular” and “multiplayer first-person shooters are popular” may have been the only thoughts to spur the development of Umbrella Corps, a team-based multiplayer game set in the Resident Evil universe. Capcom’s attempt to bring the series into the shooter genre resulted in a lifeless game that should have been scrapped at the drawing board and never released.
This poor excuse of an FPS is a smudge on an otherwise decent franchise. Resident Evil has had its duds, but none of them are as bad as Umbrella Corps.
Initially lauded as a breakthrough in mobile games, Pokemon Go managed to do what most games could not: get people to go outside. When all the excitement of catching pokemon died down, players who spent dozens of hours in the game eventually realized how little it had to offer, and how poor it was in comparison to the actual Pokemon titles for the Nintendo 3DS. It was Niantic’s Ingress wearing the skin of a Pikachu.
Pokemon battles consist entirely of tapping the screen as fast as you can, offering no strategy or any of the other trappings that defined real Pokemon games. As Niantic failed to deliver regular updates, players who expected more fell away from the community, leaving the game a shadow of its former self.
Much like the mediocre movie reboot, nobody bought the video game adaptation of Ghostbusters—and for good reason. The literal definition of a cashgrab, Ghostbusters is one of the dullest, most boring games released this year. Like those who watched the movie, critics who watched the preview trailers wanted to like it, but it was impossible to overlook its flaws.
It’s completely lacking in character, putting players in control of four generic Ghostbusters who remain nameless throughout. Beyond its lack of personality, players must simply travel through six locations, busting the same ghosts over and over. That’s all there is to it. Much like the movie, it’s an experience we’d prefer to forget.
No Man’s Sky
It would be incorrect to call No Man’s Sky the victim of player expectations. The game was not only exaggerated by the enthusiast press, who tend to do that, but by the developers themselves. Sean Murray, its lead developer, brought his hype to the media—promising features that would never be implemented in the game, including Star Wars-inspired space battles, warring alien factions, and multiplayer.
Expectations aside, the game itself was a disastrous mess, performing poorly on the PC and offering little to nothing in the way of actual gameplay. Players hop from planet to planet, mining resources and upgrading their equipment in piecemeal fashion. There’s not much else.
Mighty No. 9
What promised to be the spiritual successor to the classic Mega Man games turned out to be the spiritual successor to a raw sewage tank. It’s a terrible platformer, and it plays worse than a 20-year-old’s college project. After an overhyped and highly successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, the developers at Comcept took a lot longer than they promised to release the game—and what little they showed of it to the public was ugly.
The game’s development was mired in social justice drama as its community manager worked behind the scenes to inject identity politics into the game, all the while attacking its supporters on social media.
Even now as it’s finally released, many of its backers say they are being swindled out of the goods they were promised. What a disgrace.
It’s possible to make walking simulators enjoyable, but Virginia is anything but. More interested in promoting a message of social justice than an actual story or gameplay, the progressive games media lauded Virginia as one of the medium’s finest offerings because of its politics.
Is it a video game? No, it is anything but. Players walk from point A to point B across the room and press a button to advance the story, which is delivered in uninteractive cutscenes that only serve to confuse and not clarify. To top it off, the game delivers no dialog, leaving everything up to the player’s interpretation. Not that it’s hard to interpret what it’s trying to say, because its progressive politics are easy enough to decipher. But not much else about it makes any sense.