The most disappointing games of 2017

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Calling a game disappointing arguably has more to do with me than the game itself. Disappointment isn’t an inherent quality. It can’t exist without some sort of expectation in the first place. In many cases, these games are sequels, or the creations of developers with proven track records, or entries in established genres, or games with promising beginnings. But for various reasons, a central fact about these games is that I had personally hoped they would be better.

After the jump, the ten most disappointing games of 2017.


10. Pyre

Utterly spectacular artwork and writing, but with a soccer game glommed onto it.


9. Tooth and Tail

The RTS gameplay in Tooth and Tail packs a smart wallop in a remarkably short period of time. I adore it! I just wish it wasn’t almost solely in the service of an online multiplayer game. With barebones skirmish options and a disappointing linear campaign, Tooth and Tail is half the game it could have been. That half is certainly awesome, but it’s the half of RTSs I don’t generally play.


8. Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite

Capcom’s Street Fighter is for the hardcore competitive players, but isn’t Marvel vs Capcom supposed to be for the rest of us? For the disappointing lack of ways and reasons to play in a year that gave us a fighting game with so many interesting ways and reasons to play, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite is a real — heh — injustice.


7. Secret World: Legends

It’s one thing to adapt Secret World to a free-to-play model. I’m okay with that because it’s a vividly built world worth exploring. But it’s something else entirely to strip out the character development so there’s only a long, linear, and tedious grind. I’m not sure it’s that worth exploring.


6. Ghost Recon: Wildlands

So beautiful, so vast, so lovingly detailed, so pointless.

Read the review here.


5. Star Wars: Battlefront II

The controversial loot crates don’t bother me so much in theory, since loot crates are as old as games themselves. What bothers me are the glacial pact of advancement, the dopey dull campaign, the scaled-back single-player options, the missing AT-AT modes with their bot support, and getting all the prequel junk tangled up with the original Star Wars. This is a perfectly fine game that Electronic Arts flubbed hard.

Read Nick Diamon’s review here.


4. Space Pirates and Zombies 2

The detailed combat, intricate ship building, and cleverly built apocalypse of the first game are nowhere in sight in this sequel, which opts for splashy action combat, messy obtuse ship building, and a bland blank canvas for a strategy game.


3. Prey

What a promising set up! But by the time it’s over…

…everything is a discrete bag of hit points easily solved by your damage dealing ability/item of choice. I kept waiting for some sort of twist, like becoming a Big Daddy in Bioshock, playing as the Little Sister in Bioshock 2, or going to the infected Rickenbacker in System Shock 2. Prey has no such surprises in store. There are no narrative twists, no gameplay gimmicks, nothing but a drawn-out continuation of the middle until it’s suddenly over.

Read the review here.


2. Nier

The question that moves Nier along is “what’s going to happen next?” It’s a great question with intriguing answers. But then suddenly it’s all over and I’m supposed to replay as a character I didn’t like (imagine having to replay Arkham Knight as Robin). “What’s going to happen next” is now “the same stuff that already happened once”. Repetition can be a great storytelling device, but not in a game like Nier where the thrill is based on everything being unexpected.


1. Torment: Tides of Numenera

Most RPGs start you out with a taste of the action, and then you arrive at the first hub, where you walk around a town and talk to tons of NPCs. It’s exposition to prep you for the game proper. The entirety of Torment: Tides of Numenera is this exposition, with the game proper forgetting to show up. The world-building is mysterious and imaginative (courtesy, I presume, of the Numenera tabletop RPG), but that makes it all the more irksome that you’re only ever going to be talking to NPCs. If you want a collection of fantasy vignettes, Torment: Tides of Numenera is worth reading. Just don’t expect a lot of playing.

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Last year’s lists