Whether expectations have been set too high or developers have failed to live up to their promises, 2016 was a year in which it feels like every high point was matched by a crushing low. Overwatch’s brilliance was balanced by the mediocrity of Battleborn, Doom’s return to old school shooting and Battlefield 1’s WWI setting were matched by the campaign against Call of Duty’s futuristic setting and the way that Modern Warfare Remastered was handled.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was not the sequel that I yearned for, Mighty No. 9 was not the spiritual successor to Mega Man that it promised to be, and then there was No Man’s Sky…
No Man’s Sky
Put simply, No Man’s Sky didn’t live up to the impossible expectations that were heaped upon it by the feverish fan following and the years long hype train that led up to its release. This was meant to be the science fiction universe of so many children’s dreams, filled with rival empires, a grand sweeping narrative that you could uncover as you explored an endlessly
Sadly, that’s not what we got, but here’s the thing: No Man’s Sky at its launch was not a bad game – the first eight to twelve hours we fantastic – it just wasn’t what people thought it would be, missing many of the features that seemed to have been promised, and with many of the planets turning out to be similar looking barren rocks filled with bizarre procedurally generated monstrosities.
The backlash that Hello Games felt was difficult to watch unfold, especially as Sony seemed to stand back and wash their hands of a game that they had held up as a poster child for indies on PlayStation 4. Thankfully, Hello coming out the other side of it now, and fulfilling their promise to keep developing the game. Things like base building, which were notably missing from launch, are now in the game, and there’s bound to be more on the way.
Mighty No. 9
Making their backers “cry like an anime fan on prom night“, Mighty No.9 was a game that should have been decent. Instead it took all the good faith generated by the fans who backed it and put it into a game with half baked mechanics and a soulless mess of a game that did little to meaningfully evolve the tried and tested Mega Man formula.
As such, it was widely seen as a knockoff more than a spiritual sequel. What’s more disappointing though is just how the game’s controversy was handled. A suspect mistranslation from Kenji Inafune’s translator which essentially said “it’s better than nothing” didn’t help, but the constant delays, further campaigns for other projects, and much more make this certainly a contender for one of the worst handled Kickstarter games that actually launched.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
On paper, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was the perfect
sequel reimagining of the 2008 original. Where Mirror’s Edge was excessively linear, this would be a grand open world of rooftops, where the original let you pick up guns, this one would eschew armed combat. Sadly, Catalyst wasn’t the sequel that fans desired.
On some levels, the shift to an open world worked quite well, and simply learning your way around the city of Glass was actually quite enjoyable, as were taking on and perfecting routes for the game’s many time trials. Yet where Catalyst truly stumbled was in having unarmed combat as core pillar of the game, with far too many missions devolving into tedious fights.
It came to a head at the end of the story’s poorly designed final level, as you work your way up a crumbling tower, only to encounter two of the game’s toughest melee enemies at once. Cue Yakety Sax as you run away for the next ten minutes and occasionally turn and try to hit them.
Sadly, our award for 2016’s Biggest Disappointment quite inevitably goes to:
Other disappointments in alphabetical order:
- Mighty No. 9
- Tom Clancy’s The Division
- Mirror’s Edge Catalyst
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided