Co-founder and lead writer of We Bleed Pixels. Loves fantasy, RPGs and talking about games. Hates horror, multiplayer and not talking about games.
2018 is coming to a rapid end. And that means GOTY and top X-lists are being made left, right and center. So I did the same for New Era Gaming. Starting off with the 5 most disappointing games I played this year.
Note that not all of these released this year. I made a list of ALL games I played for the first time in 2018, and picked the 5 I enjoyed the least for this feature.
5. Red Dead Redemption 2
The first one on the list is probably also the most surprising one. It is also the reason I decided to name this feature my ‘top 5 disappointing games’, instead of ‘top 5 worst games’. Because the latter wouldn’t have done Rockstar’s Western epic justice. Red Dead Redemption 2 is not a bad game. Not at all. It just wasn’t for me.
Earlier this month, I already wrote an extensive feature on why I felt Red Dead Redemption 2 wasn’t fully worth my time and money (warning; contains major spoilers). For this one, allow me to summarize my reasons:
– gameplay was too slow for me to enjoy
– as incredible and lively as the world was designed, I didn’t feel compelled in any way to explore it
– the story had too many disappointing moments and twists for my liking
I was genuinely hyped for Red Dead Redemption 2 for months. I had it preordered so I could play it on the release day. Unfortunately, the game turned out not to suit me. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have preordered it, or even bought it.
Now before I move on to the next game on the list, I want to stress again RDR2 is not on this list because it’s a bad game, because it’s not. Rockstar has taken a massive step in open-world gaming with RDR2, which I can only applaud. And I can understand why so many consider this game a masterpiece. But for me, this game was a big disappointment.
4. Okami HD
Number 4 is a game that originally released on the Playstation 2. Okami first saw the light in 2006, in Japan and North America. It launched in Europe and Australia a year later. A remaster was released in 2012 for the Playstation 3, and another remaster made its way to the Xbox One and PS4 in 2017. Perhaps needless to say: I played the latter on the Xbox One.
Okami HD was on my radar for quite some time, ever since I heard word of its Xbox One re-release in 2017. Apparently, the original had been quite a masterpiece back in the Playstation 2-era. Besides, the gameplay and art style looked very interesting, so I thought ‘let’s pick this game up sometime’. For months, I didn’t, because its retail price was just a touch too high for my liking. I ended up asking the game for my birthday this year.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have.
Okami HD is not a terrible game, it just failed at the same goal as RDR2; I never really wanted to play it. I just kept launching it because I’d heard it was supposed to be so good, and apparently the first few hours were just a bit slow. But in the end, I played the game for just under 8 hours before I quit and decided to not touch it again.
The gameplay itself didn’t do it for me to start. In Okami HD, you play as Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, in the form of a white wolf. You wield a tool called the Celestial Brush, which you use to defeat enemies or draw objects into the world to progress further. This is done by ‘pausing’ the game, bringing up a canvas over the game world, in which you draw specific shapes over objects or enemies depending on what you want to do.
For the first hour or two, this is still fairly enjoyable, with new powers being introduced at a moderate pace. Soon, however, using the Celestial Brush became a drag and an occasional hindrance for me. In part because I felt the game didn’t properly register the shapes I drew too often. In other words: the game’s core gameplay mechanic, which you use all the time, felt very inconsistent to me.
Another major issue I had with Okami HD was Issun; your ‘sidekick’ in the game. Or rather, an inch-tall bug who can easily compete with Ocarina of Time’s Navi for most annoying video game companion ever. Ever.
Remember how you literally play as a goddess in this game, wielding a Brush with divine powers? Issun doesn’t care, and just calls you ‘furball’ the majority of the time. Oh, and apart from making the most obvious statements in video game history, he doesn’t add anything of value to actual gameplay. Combined with his regular, and in my opinion totally unnecessary sexually suggestive remarks, I wanted to flatten him against a tree within the first hour of the game. Apparently he’s supposed to be a comic relief, but he’s just plain annoying in my eyes. Issun made the decision to quit Okami HD a LOT easier.
3. Quantum Break
Another game that was on my wish list for quite some time. I never bought this one either, but rather played it through Xbox Game Pass when Microsoft offered 3 months for a tenner. Or I should say, I played through the game’s first chapter before I quit.
Quantum Break is a *inhales* science fiction action-adventure third-person shooter video game in which you have time manipulation powers *exhales*. The story is told over 5 Acts, which are split in roughly 2 hours of playtime… and a TV-show episode of roughly 22 minutes. I’m pretty sure I heard about those episodes before I played the game, but I had totally forgotten. So they came as a surprise. A very unwelcome surprise.
Let me make one thing clear first: I never watch series. Ever. Okay, I’ve watched a whole bunch of loose episodes from various sitcoms on TV over the years, but I’ve never actively followed a series. Neither do I want do, because I love playing games too much. Why watch a series if I can play a game?
So, it won’t be a surprise that I didn’t like it in the slightest when my play session was interrupted after Act 1 by a 22-minute episode of the TV-show they made for the game. I mean, it’s cool that Remedy went with a totally unique way of telling their story. And the cast is pretty good as well; Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings) and Lance Reddick (John Wick) to name a few. But I don’t want to have my game session interrupted after 2 hours to watch a series’ episode for 22 minutes. In fact, I didn’t even pay attention to the one episode I watched. I spent half the time doing random stuff on my computer, waiting for the episode to end.
But besides my annoyance with how Remedy tells the story of Quantum Break, the gameplay didn’t do it for me either. The combination of gunplay and time manipulation was applauded in a lot of reviews I read of Quantum Break. But to me, it just felt strange and weird. I never felt the game played smoothly, in terms of gameplay. Any time I entered a combat encounter, I just ran around from cover to cover slightly panicky, firing any gun or time power at my disposal at the enemies.
Maybe that’s just because I needed to play longer to get used to it and properly enjoy it. Because to be honest; I played Quantum Break for 2,5 hours before I quit. I wasn’t enjoying the gameplay, and I sure wasn’t looking forward to more TV-show episodes I just didn’t want to watch. And knowing that would likely cause me to not understand the story anymore at some point, I just left Quantum Break for what it is.
Glad I never bought it.
2. Darksiders 2
Like Quantum Break, I played Darksiders 2 through Xbox Game Pass. I hadn’t ever paid attention to the title since it released in 2012, but I noticed the Deathinitive Edition in the Game Pass library. And since I quite enjoyed the first Darksiders in 2011, I thought I’d give its successor a try.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well. Darksiders 2 completely lost me within 2 hours.
100 minutes, to be exact. That’s how long I played Darksiders 2, before quitting of boredom and frustration. The combat was either repetitive or frustrating: regular enemies required little more than button-mashing, whilst the first mini-boss I encountered almost killed me. The gameplay didn’t make things any better for me. The platforming and puzzling was kind of fun for the first 10 minutes, but I didn’t even make it through the first dungeon (I count ‘Fire of the Mountain’ to be the first dungeon) without sighing of boredom several times. On top of that, I felt like ’why am I doing this’ halfway through the dungeon, which is usually not a good sign.
Now I wish I could provide more examples than the above, but I can’t. Because the second I left the first dungeon, I shut down the game and deleted it from my Xbox’s hard drive. The thought of the same gameplay for another roughly 20 hours was so dreadful, I didn’t want to waste my scarce free time on this game. There were plenty of other games much more deserving of my attention.
Though I must admit, I was slightly surprised I disliked Darksiders 2 so much. Even though I never finished it, the first Darksiders had been quite a joy to play. Darksiders 2 sure didn’t seem to differ much in terms of gameplay to its predecessor. My guess is I’ve changed as a gamer in the past 7 years, causing me to no longer enjoy such gameplay. Either way, Darksiders 2 was quite a disappointment for me. With the memories of the first game in mind, I looked quite forward to it as it downloaded, but all my expectations were shattered within 100 minutes.
1. Dragon Age 2
Warning! Spoilers for Dragon Age 2 ahead.
And here we are. The most disappointing game I played in 2018 is Dragon Age 2. It is also the worst game I’ve played this year. Having said this, it’ll probably be a surprise that I beat the game twice.
Dragon Age 2 originally launched on March 8th 2011 on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. I played the demo at the time, but was so unimpressed I forgot about the game completely. 7 years later however, I really wanted to play Dragon Age 2. I had completely fallen in love with Dragon Age again after playing Inquisition to death in the summer of 2016. Besides, my completionist self wanted to earn all achievements in the entire trilogy. So, I was very happy when Dragon Age 2 was finally confirmed to become backwards compatible. How quickly did that mood change once I started playing.
But before I explain why Dragon Age 2 is, in my opinion, a steaming pile of garbage not worthy of the name Dragon Age in the slightest, let me first list what I did like about the game. Both because it’s a mere three things, and as an extra indicator of how little the game actually did right.
- Isabela. Not only is this dual-wielding pirate rogue companion hilarious at times (sexual innuendo’s galore), she’s also the only romance option even remotely interesting in my eyes. I found her to be similar to Morrigan from Origins in that regard: more interested in the physical aspects of a relationship, than actually falling in love (though Isabela does fall in love with you at the end). In fact, I lost interest in the main story so quick, that my first playthrough was mainly focused on completing Isabela’s romance.
- Sarcastic Hawke. Hawke is the player-controlled character, who can reply in conversations based on three distinct personalities: Diplomatic/Helpful, Sarcastic/Charming and Aggressive/Direct. Sarcastic Hawke is simply hilarious. Especially in combination with Isabela.
- Party banter. The only thing Dragon Age 2 did better than both Origins and Inquisition at times. Though that’s probably because my party was always set up with the same 3 women: Isabela (deadly dual-wielding rogue), Merrill (healer/mage) and Aveline (tank). With Isabela throwing sexual innuendos left, right and center, Merrill being as innocent and oblivious to these innuendos as one could possibly be, and Aveline hating every bit of Isabela’s sexually liberated personality (for the lack of a better term). In fact, I’ve lost count of how many times I heard Aveline call Isabela a whore, or how often Merrill took one of Isabela’s sexual innuendos super serious. It was hilarious.
So, that concludes everything I liked about Dragon Age 2. Now, let’s move on the 95% of the game that is so bad, it doesn’t even deserve the name Dragon Age. I genuinely have no idea how the team behind the brilliant Dragon Age: Origins could mess up its sequel so terribly, but they did.
For starters, the combat. For some reason I still don’t understand, BioWare decided to replace holding a button for continuous standard attacks, with having to press a button. For every. Single. Attack. Literally. The system makes complete sense for skills with a cooldown, but for standard attacks? Anytime I entered combat, I was literally button-mashing to ensure Hawke would keep attacking. Which became a sorely fatiguing chore really fast. And the fact that new groups of enemies were being conjured up out of thin air didn’t make things any better.
Now I would’ve found the combat system only a minor annoyance if the story had been good. Unfortunately, the complete opposite is true. Dragon Age 2’s story is so horrendously lackluster compared to its predecessor, it’s actually laughable. Origins featured an epic save the world type of plot, which genuinely made you feel like a hero trying to prevail against all odds. You and one of your companions are the only ones who can save the land from certain death and destruction. You are literally being tasked with uniting a war-torn land as evil rages through it. It remains an epic journey to this day, one I played from start to finish at least 6 times.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at Dragon Age 2’s story; you’re a refugee from the war-torn land mentioned above. You arrive in a large city, Kirkwall, to build a new life. There’s tension between the mages and templars in Kirkwall. That’s it. That is actually it.
Your character, Hawke, is ‘followed’ during a ten year time window, told over 3 Acts. You see Hawke work up his/her way up the social ladder in Kirkwall, mostly as a mercenary, whilst mages and templars are at each other’s throats. The templars want to control mages in every way possible, given the dangers that come with using magic. The mages, naturally, just want to be free from the templars. Both parties attempt to gain your loyalty over the course of the ‘main story’. That’s it. We go from saving the world, to attempting to defuse tension between mages and templars. Spoiler alert: you can’t. You literally end up fighting the leader of both parties at the game’s finale. I actually can’t think of a superlative to sufficiently express how lackluster this is compared to Origins.
The only positive thing about Dragon Age 2’s main story, is that it’s relatively short. Why is that good? So I could at least make my way through the garbage heap called the story quite quick. According to HowLongToBeat.com, a website tracking average times to beat games, the main story takes 26,5 hours to finish. I’d say this is still an ample estimate, as I myself managed to collect all the game’s achievements in exactly one week. A school week, I should add. I literally beat a BioWare RPG twice, and finished all DLCs in a single week, whilst spending most my time at school.
Now at one hand, I’m glad, as every additional minute I would’ve had to spent playing it would’ve been torture. But honestly BioWare, what even is that time? Both Origins and Inquisition take over 40 hours to finish, why the hell is this so short?
As I already stated earlier, I lost interest in the main story very early on. So neither of my playthroughs were actually focused on the story. My first playthrough was fully focused on completing Isabela’s romance, whilst my second one was focused on unlocking any achievement I had missed during my first. Because that’s the only reason I kept playing: I wanted to have all achievements in the trilogy.
Up next, something that literally made me facepalm and/or drop my jaw in disbelief several times: the level design. Not only are the few areas BioWare actually designed incredibly boring and bland, they’re also being shamelessly reused time and time again. Anyone with a half-decent memory will immediately recognize a dungeon featured in Act III… because you’ve walked through the exact same one in Act I. Literally the exact same one. Sure, the enemy spawn points have been altered here and there (though some of them are also exactly the same), but the design is a literal copy of one you’ve already seen.
Now that wouldn’t necessarily be such a problem if the game simply sent you back to the same place for story purposes (even though you might argue that’d be lazy). But the thing is, it doesn’t. You’re being told you’re going to a new area, only to see the exact same one you’ve seen before. And I’m mentioning just one example now, but it happened time and time again, with both main quests and side quests.
But beside some shameless copy-pasting, BioWare apparently also didn’t feel like properly working out the game’s main stage either; Kirkwall itself. The city is shockingly bland and empty; pretty much the opposite of the lively city BioWare tries to tell you it is. It’s really nothing more than a large hub with merchants and quest givers, that takes an annoying amount of time to traverse at times. I mean, I think I saw civilians on the streets every now and then, but for a city that closed its gates at the start of the game because it was being flooded with refugees, it’s astonishingly empty.
Okay, this Dragon Age 2 rant is nearly becoming an article of it’s own, so let me criticize one more aspect: the companions. In Origins, all your companions were given an appropriate amount of time to introduce and flesh out. As a result, I genuinely cared about them. You could actually build friendships with them over time.
Dragon Age 2? Just throws extra companions in there for seemingly no other reason but just having extra companions. Their ‘introductions’ are so out of the blue, and lacking any form of proper pacing. I didn’t feel any form of connection with most of them. The companion quests, meant to flesh them out more, were just tossed in there at regular intervals without any proper build-up beforehand. As a result, completing them felt like ticking off checkboxes rather than experiencing actual growth.
In the end, I’m both happy to have unlocked all achievements in the Dragon Age trilogy so far, and annoyed that my idiot completionist self made me play this disaster for a week. Dragon Age 2 is an atrocious attempt at a Dragon Age game, and I was so incredibly happy when I could finally delete the game from my Xbox’s hard drive.
Dragon Age 2 was without question my worst gaming experience this year.