Though some might disagree, I found 2015 to be an excellent year for gaming, as it managed to impress me upon every passing glance; you’d be hard pressed to find a better year that excellently adhered to tried and true formulas while occasionally implementing innovative risks with selective new IP’s. However every rose is not without its thorn, as each and every year will have its own fair share of disappointments and 2015 was no exception. Understand that disappointing doesn’t necessarily equate to mediocrity, in fact some of these games are great, but they were just unable to live up to expectations and/or bit off more than they could chew. I made a conscious effort to avoid certain titles as their reception was nothing short of abysmal, and I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t find enjoyment in playing mediocre titles. So with that being said, titles such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and Devil’s Third will not be included in this list. These are simply five games that had the potential to be amazing, but to due obtuse design choices, ended up being a lowlight of 2015.
5. Halo 5: Guardians
343 Studios’ second effort into the Halo franchise was disappointing for a copious amount of reasons; I’m simply perplexed as to how 343 could retain that core Halo essence in Halo 4 and fundamentally botch their next instalment tenfold. Don’t get me wrong, Halo 5 is not a bad game, it’s actually a great game that is overshadowed by the pristine foundation which was impeccably molded back in 2001. Halo 5 is simply one of the worst entries in the series, but manages to stand on its own, exuding a decent embodiment of the modern first-person shooter. Halo 5 tried to tweak the franchise’s aging formula and although 343’s intentions are respectable, they’re innovative renditions end up doing more damage than good. The robust online component is by far 343’s most innovative addition, with the objective-based, MOBA inspired Warzone being a particular highlight; however, Halo 5’s heavy emphasis on online play has seemingly pushed Halo’s traditional local multiplayer off the edge of existence. If you are a fan of nostalgic split-screen cooperative and/or competitive action, then I’m sorry to inform you that Halo 5 has left you in the dust, with Microsoft exclaiming that local multiplayer isn’t a worthy investment as people predominantly use Xbox Live for multiplayer. On top of its disappointing local multiplayer omission, the narrative is arguably the weakest of any Halo title. The inclusion of new protagonist, Spartan Locke, proves monotonous since gamers have no emotional connection to him whatsoever, and Locke admittedly having no accessible connection to the overarching dilemma that surrounds Chief, as Spartan Locke is nothing more than a solider following orders. I simply don’t understand how 343 can go from creating one of the most poignant stories in the Halo franchise to this banal, derivative excuse of a narrative. It simply doesn’t compute. But hey, at least Halo 5: Guardians is arguably the most fun Halo title to date.
4. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
I have never been fond of the term “walking simulator “as it’s absurdly juvenile in certain circumstances and detracts from the immersive narratives these experiences provide. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is the exception to the rule. Is the game gorgeous? Absolutely. Does the game have an intriguing story? Yes it does. So what does Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture do poorly in comparison to other first-person immersive titles? Simply put, the game is downright boring. The narrative is incoherently disjointed as it is told through the perspective of five different characters and solely through audio dialogue. While the dialogue centric narrative is a competent form of exposition, this effective form was efficiently used in Gone Home, the fact that it’s told through multiple perspectives renders it to a disjointed nature and while it’s definitely comprehensible, certain elements feel out of place. Gone Home solely relied on one character, focusing on her trials and tribulations alone; it was exceedingly more personal and easier to follow. Not only is the pace of the narrative tiresome beyond belief, but literal movement takes monotony to a whole new level. Your character moves at a ridiculously slow speed, and running, a feature that the game forgets to tell you about, is not much of an improvement. Atmospherically, the game is a marvel. The fictional town of Yaughton is exceptionally gorgeous and beautifully detailed, it’s extremely unfortunate that all you can do in this beautiful world is walk at a monotonous pace. And while the story eventually reaches its full potential, by the time the mystery successfully enraptures you, the credits will begin to roll.
3. Star Wars Battlefront
Let’s get the “good” out of the way first, shall we? Star Wars Battlefront is drop dead gorgeous, you can literally see the copious amount of the love that went into replicating this iconic world as the attention to detail is impeccable to say the least. Alongside the excellent sound design – which is equally as impressive to its visual counterpart – playing Star Wars Battlefront truly immerses you into the Star Wars universe, so in that regard, I’d say job well done DICE! But NO! Not everything is all peaches and cream DICE! You released a game that is painstakingly simple, has a considerably shallow amount of content, and partnered it with a downright insulting excuse of a season pass and deluxe/premium edition. So there’s no single-player campaign this time around, that’s okay. As long as the multiplayer component is robust enough to compensate for the omission, and that’s where the trouble lies. The multiplayer component is fairly shallow in comparison to other multiplayer-centric titles with single-player campaigns. Heck, even the original Battlefront on PS2 had more engaging multiplayer content, and a single-player component in the form of Galactic Conquest. Only a few, larger scale game modes such as Supremacy and Walker Assault are worth your attention, while everything else equates to derivative filler. And while these selective modes are enjoyable, they won’t be able to hold your attention for very long, as they adhere to a simplistic nature which is intended for a more casual method of play. But most deplorable of all, is Battlefront’s season pass and deluxe/premium edition. Upon release, paying a substantial amount of extra money will nab you Battlefront’s expensive season pass, which only included exclusive emotes for your character and early access to weapons which can be unlocked by simply playing the game. It’s downright insulting that EA thought this pathetic amount of “extra” content could warrant their season pass and I feel sorry for those who fell for it.
2. Batman: Arkham Knight
Arkham Knight’s inclusion in this list may surprise most of you as it is not only the best game on this list, but it’s a great game in general. Rocksteady’s Arkham games are nothing short of excellent, with Arkham City undeniably taking the cake, but Rocksteady’s very own pedigree became an unbearable weight that Rocksteady themselves couldn’t overcome. The freeflowing combat is extremely responsive and satisfying as ever, character performances are excellent as always, and driving the Batmobile is simply a delight. However Akrham Knight feels surprisingly uninspired in comparison to its predecessors; the infamous Batmobile combat is completely oversaturated, the mission structure is extremely repetitive and uninspired, and the story is fairly unoriginal and disappointing to say the least. Rocksteady desperately tries to justify the Batmobile’s existence but no matter how hard they try, it just comes off as a forced gameplay element that is ultimately not fun. Mission structure is surprisingly repetitive as missions will constantly implore you to activate or deactivate ‘x’ number of things to advance the narrative; this archaic example of game design is done so frequently that the shallow mission design sticks out like a sore thumb. Lastly, both Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight are arguably the weakest villains in the entire Arkham series. Scarecrow is a rather boring character that’s not properly fleshed out and for some reason you rarely actually see him as you two communicate primarily through technological mediums. While the Akrham Knight is a typical, one-dimensional character and his so called “mysterious identity” is painfully obvious and truly hinders what could’ve been an incredible reveal; his story is not as original as Rocksteady may want you to think. Batman: Arkham Knight ranks high on this list, not because it’s a bad game, but because it’s a disappointment in comparison to Rocksteady’s impeccable repertoire.
1. The Order 1886
The Order 1886 is the very definition of disappointment. A game simply too ambitious for its own good, The Order 1886 is the literal embodiment of good ideas not executed properly. Despite its many flaws, its short length is by no means the prominent negativity; its horrendous pacing, QTE-ridden gameplay, abrupt narrative, and insultingly restrictive nature hold the Order 1886 back from being the amazing exclusive it easily could have been. 19th Century London has honestly never looked so good, but unfortunately Ready at Dawn present their photo-realistic representation in a “look but don’t touch”, museum-like manner. The Order’s pacing is questionable to say the least, as around 50 percent of the game is spent mindlessly watching cutscenes or meticulously walking down corridors. Shootouts sporadically last anywhere from five to forty minutes, and while the gunplay is indeed enjoyable, saying that it’s uninspired and derivative would be a severe understatement. However the biggest gameplay problem of all is the Order’s excessive use of quick time events. QTE’s are redundantly oversaturated as they replace any conventional form of a boss fight and are questionably placed in bizarre gameplay circumstances. The Order 1886 is a mixed package in an identity crisis; when it wants to be a compelling cinematic experience, it fails to do so and when it wants to be a competent third person shooter, it’s hindered by boring walking segments and gratuitous QTE’s. The Order has a basket full of great ideas but unfortunately is unable to successfully achieve a satisfactory amount of them.
So here’s to the New Year and hopefully 2016 will be able to rectify many of 2015’s unfortunate disappointments. Do you agree with my list? What were the most disappointing games of 2015 for you? Be sure to tell me in the comments below!