The Biggest Letdowns of 2017

Sad dog is sad.
Sad dog is sad.

As you already read in our list of the best games that came out in 2017, the year was excellent when it comes to both quality and quantity of published games. We had superb action titles, deeply enjoyable RPGs, a couple of excellent racing games, and a solid number of highly enjoyable shooters.

Now, let us talk a bit about worst of the year, not in terms of overall quality (if you want to see worst games of the year check out Steam and games that are published via Steam Direct, there’s tons of crap there), but in terms of what the masses expected and what they ended up getting. Among those letdowns, there’s also one unfortunate event showing the dark side of the modern corporate game publishing business. Let’s start.

Mass Effect Andromeda

Mass Effect Andromeda.
Mass Effect Andromeda.

Aside from the Witcher trilogy, Mass Effect is my favorite video game trilogy of all times. The first game was amazing; it had all an RPG lover needed. Superb story, characters you care about, excellent side quests, and solid combat.

The second and third were more of a third person action games than full-fledged RPGs, but they also had excellent stories (except for the ending, but oh well), superbly written characters, lots of interesting dialogues, a ton of choices to make and best graphics of their generation.

And then, Bioware announced the sequel, a new beginning for the series set in Andromeda, our nearest galaxy that’s 2.5 million light years from ours. I was excited, and with each new developer video, my expectations were higher and higher, even though the studio was a new one, with Mass Effect Andromeda being its first project.

I pre-ordered the game and waited for the release date. And then reviews come, and all hell broke loose. I decided to wait a bit until they patch the most noticeable animation problems (like that would help this disappointment of a game). Sure, after a patch or two animations went from unacceptable to okay, but the core problems remained.

The game features bland and uninteresting characters, and exactly characters were one of the main strong points of the first three games. Writing is immature and pathetic beyond limits, with silly choices, conversations that sound like they take place in a middle school, and seriously weak story.

And then we have quests that are of the same “single-player MMO” type as ones seen in Dragon Age Inquisition. Tedious, boring, uninteresting, and forgettable, they make you become more and more disappointed with the game with each passing minute. Sure, the main quest has its cool moments (with the coolest character, Alec Ryder, dying at the start of the game), but most of it is just recycling the previous three titles. All you do is opening Remnant structures, setting up giant AC units (they really look like giant air conditioners), and then fighting the Kett, over and over. I can’t believe I’ve spent almost forty hours playing the game.

As for the good stuff the combat can be excellent at times and is one of the main reason why I kept playing, there are some interesting choices to make, the jetpack is awesome, and a couple of maps are interesting to explore. Also, graphics are superb, especially when traversing huge open areas. Everything else is subpar making Mass Effect Andromeda the biggest letdown of 2017.

NBA 2K18

NBA 2K18.
NBA 2K18.

The second letdown is NBA 2K18, with its greedy microtransactions. I loved playing career in the past couple of titles. Last year I spent hundreds of hours making my character a proper NBA star, but this year you can’t do anything if not ready to shell out real money. And that’s on top of the full $60 price the game comes with.

Sure, I love the game and love playing against friends in classic modes. Online can be fun, especially once you start playing against skilled opponents in higher leagues, but I like career the most, and this is where Take-Two started fulfilling their vision of all their games coming with microtransactions. Sure, the last one also had them, but at least you could make a superstar without spending any money. If I remember correctly my character had a rating of 86 after the first season (I played all games during my rookie season, not once I used simulation), and after a couple of years, he became a beast.

But this time you must pay for every single thing. And that is unacceptable for a $60 game. I hope developers will come to their senses but doubt it because NBA 2K isn’t a title for hardcore gamers. NBA 2K’s audience won’t show developers they won’t be cheated with pay-to-win mechanics as they did with Battlefront II. But, let us wait a year and see what will NBA 2K19 bring. As for the 18, it is the second biggest disappointment of 2017.

Syberia 3

Syberia 3.
Syberia 3.

The first Syberia managed to achieve something no other adventure game did before. The game was played by everyone, and even if you weren’t a gamer who liked to solve puzzles and to play adventure games, you probably followed Kate Walker and her adventures.

The sequel was even better, putting the series on the throne of adventure games, with the two titles becoming cult classic loved by almost any gamer. And once we found out that the third part of the saga is in the works, we were so happy and so impatient to finally see the final chapter of Kate Walker’s story.

And instead of getting a meaningful and enjoyable closure, we got a half-finished product riddled with technical problems and poor production. The game looks below average and plays horribly, not to talk about disastrous optimization. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Because, if only problems were tied to the game’s technical shortcomings, they could’ve been swallowed in favor of superb story and interesting puzzles. But, the story is horrendous, and gameplay is weak and dissatisfactory. Add poor voice, sound, and music to the list, and you got yourself one of the biggest disappointments in recent years.

Star Wars Battlefront II

Star Wars Battlefront II.
Star Wars Battlefront II.

After the first game, which was a game with great technical prowess, solid gameplay and extremely thin content for an AAA multiplayer title, DICE and EA promised that the sequel would bring everything fans asked for.

And we believed and were happy to hear that the sequel will come without any Season Pass, enabling all to enjoy in new maps without watering down player base by limiting new content with DLC packs and Season Passes.

And then open beta came, and all hell broke loose. The game turned out to be a pay-to-win title in which all progress is found inside loot boxes that can be bought with real money. Which wouldn’t be a problem if Star Wars Battlefront II was a free-to-play title and not a full-fledged $60 AAA game.

Sure, we got a solid (but short) single player campaign, more game mods and lots of maps, but the fact that the game introduced pay-to-win mechanics taken from the worst practices found in the world of mobile gaming was a shock for many.

This lead to very weak sales numbers along with unified dissatisfaction with loot box mechanics. DICE tried to explain and justify why the game features loot boxes, star cards, stupendously expensive unlockable heroes, and limits on how much in-game credits players can earn in some modes, and the Reddit post in which developers tried explaining their decisions became the most downvoted post in Reddit history.

Things aren’t much better now, with the game still selling poorly and with it having a rather low player count. It seems that Star Wars Battlefront II will become the most prominent victim of the battle between high-profile publishers who want to earn as much money as they can from their titles, and gamers from around the world who don’t want to pay $60 for a game with pay-to-win mechanics and loot boxes that contain more than new skins and other, entirely cosmetics, items.

EA closing down Visceral Games, changing direction of the studio’s Star Wars game

RIP Visceral Games.
RIP Visceral Games.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was the last good single player video game set in the Star Wars universe. Its sequel was an average game at best, meaning that for almost a decade we didn’t get a quality Star Wars single player game (we don’t count simple mobile titles, and Lego Star Wars games). This is very sad because the universe is filled with amazing stories that are still untold. Just look at how good Rogue One ended up to be, and imagine if someone decided to tell a similar story, but in video game form.

Back in 2012, LucasArts presented a new Star Wars game. Star Wars 1313 looked gorgeous and had a lot of potential, but with Disney buying Star Wars franchise LucasArts, the studio behind the game, was shut down with 1313 being canceled. Fans all over the world were deeply disappointed, but once Disney sold the rights to Star Wars video games to EA, it was announced that Visceral Games, best known for their Dead Space series (the first two games are the best survival horror games from the past generation of consoles), will develop a new, single-player focused Star Wars game. The excitement was fired up again.

The game should’ve brought a tight story and excellent gameplay with Amy Henning, the creative director of Uncharted games, brought from Naughty Dog to oversee the development of the game. It should have been a clear winner with Star Wars finally getting an excellent single player video game title after almost a decade.

And then, in the middle of October, EA announced that they will shut Visceral Games down](http://www.pcgamer.com/visceral-games-closes-ea-changes-direction-of-studios-star-wars-game/), and that they are “shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”

In other words, we will either get another open-world title, or something similar to Destiny, but not a “story-based, linear adventure game” developed by Visceral and Amy Henning. So, yes, it seems EA killed another studio, and it seems that we won’t get a quality single-player oriented Star Wars game anytime soon. With this, we end our list of the biggest gaming letdowns that took place during 2017.

A psychologist turned freelance writer and reviewer, Goran is a hardcore gamer with more than twenty years of experience, and interested in all kinds of technology. He also likes Sci Fi novels and basketball.
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