Game of the Year 2022 – Biggest Disappointment

GOTY 2022 Biggest Disappointment Header

We’ve been rattling our way through the Game of the Year awards to round out 2022, but as we have done for the past half decade, it’s now time to take a little pause before we unveil our overall Game of the Year winner on the final day of the year.

Biggest Disappointment is something of a strange concept to keep returning to, but it’s something that has value beyond simply pointing at or punching down on games that were critically or commercially panned. Instead, it’s where we want to encourage companies to do better, to shift the culture that led to the troubled game releases. Game developers work hard, they want and try to ship the best games they possibly can, but there’s sometimes circumstances and decisions made that lead to ignominious game launches like the abysmally optimised Cyberpunk 2077 or GTA: The Trilogy, or the predatory money-making practices that weaselled their way into a Star Wars Battlefront II.

So on the one hand, we could include Xbox’s entire 2022 on this list, and that could be fair from a management level that led to Halo Infinite’s awkward live service stutters, but making the difficult decision to delay games so that they can be released in as good a condition possible should be accepted even if, yes, it is disappointing.

Let’s focus on the games instead and what we’d like to see done to better them.

GOTY 2022 Biggest Disappointment IL

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is a good, fun game that takes several major leaps forward for the monster collecting and battling RPG series, but it was also clearly pushed out the door before it was ready. While some of the worst issues have been improved with the first post-launch update, this is still a game with deep technical deficiencies, from poor visual quality to the sub-par frame rate, and it’s just not acceptable for a franchise that’s as large and as profitable as this.

It’s naturally true that the Nintendo Switch is nowhere near the graphical powerhouse of the major home consoles, but we’ve seen far better looking games on Switch than this, and games with a similar scale and scope, from Breath of the Wild to Xenoblade Chronicles 3 don’t suffer to anywhere near the same degree. Even within the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon Legends Arceus is a better looking, better performing game.

And that’s the problem. Whoever set out to release Pokémon Legends Arceus and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet within the same calendar year got greedy. Arceus could have carried the torch for 2022 – selling over 13 million copies despite its January release date shows as much – with the team on Scarlet and Violet given the time to refine and polish their game further.

We expect better from Pokémon going forward.

Babylon’s Fall – Runner Up

Babylon’s Fall was a critical and commercial flop on an impressive scale. Despite having the creative action game talents of PlatinumGames behind it, it was widely lambasted during reviews for its dull combat and thoroughly dated art direction. However, worse were the business decisions that led the game’s design down the garden path to such a failure.

Square Enix has sought to latch onto each and every money-making trend of the last decade, and Babylon’s Fall tried to mix together a full priced game with a bustling in-game store for microtransaction cosmetics, and a paid battle pass to go alongside. It’s an unholy concoction that has worked in some video games in the past, but is now much more rarely seen.

In the end, there were barely any people to complain about Babylon’s Fall’s monetisation, the game failing to capture any kind of audience on day one and with the servers set to be shut down after less than a year.

Gotham Knights – Runner Up

Truth be told, Gotham Knights’s biggest crime is just that it’s not a Batman: Arkham game. It’s a crime of disassociation, if you will, as WB Games Montreal looked to craft a new Batman-less story in Gotham, centred around his four young proteges. There’s a decent game to be found here, with some entertaining baddie battling, solid co-op multiplayer, and a mystery to unfold. Put it side by side with Gotham: Arkham Knight, though, and it’s strikingly different in the overall aesthetic, world design, and feel of the combat.

However, while many of those changes will be more or less acceptable down to personal preference, Gotham Knights stutters on the technical front were more disappointing. Originally announced as a cross-gen release, WB Games canned the PS4 and Xbox One versions, but the end product doesn’t make the most of the opportunity this presented. Yes, the game has ray tracing on PS5 and Xbox Series X, but that comes at the cost of an unstable 30fps, and there’s no option to switch to a performance mode and shoot for 60fps. Even if there was, it seems unlikely Gotham Knights could manage this, given the struggles the game had on PC at launch. A handful of patches for Gotham Knights have improved the frame rate since launch, but first impressions do matter quite a bit.

Right, now that’s out of our system, let’s look ahead to announcing the GOTY 2022 winner tomorrow!

Written by
I'm probably wearing toe shoes, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!