2016 has, by now, a well-deserved reputation for being kind of a jerk. The last twelve months have taken beloved artists from us, presented a nightmare vision for the political future and tried its very best to defeat and demoralise us all. Amongst the gloom, we still had our lights — games we could look forward to, games we felt like we could still get a little hype about.
And then there were those that betrayed us. These are the five games that broke our hearts in 2016.
5. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (PS4, XBOX ONE, WINDOWS PC)
When you release a sequel to a popular game, there are certain things that are expected of that game, chief among them an evolution in some respect, be it in mechanics, visuals or controls. That part is fairly open-ended — as long as the lessons learned from the original game improve some facet of the sequel, you are more or less doing your job. You’re also kind of required to tell a different story. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 doesn’t really do either of these things. In fact, we’re hard pressed to think of the last time we came across a sequel this lazy. With only one or two incredibly minor alterations, it is almost indistinguishable from it’s year-old predecessor.
4. Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS)
From the moment this game debuted at E3 2015, there was doubt that this could be anything more than a grab for cash using the beloved Metroid and Metroid Prime IP that bore little resemblance to either game. In a display of healthy skepticism working as intended, it turns out the fans were right to think that. We think the idea behind Federation Force was to create something not necessarily like, but in the vein of Unreal Tournament — a wholly different take on revered material. The thing about UT was that at least Unreal was a shooter in the first place. It’s rare and deeply unusual to see Nintendo shoot so far wide of the goal, but it wasn’t the last time this year that it happened.
3. The Last Guardian (PS4)
There’s going to be plenty of you that get cranky at us for this one but hear us out: While The Last Guardian was a long time coming, spending a lot more time in the oven than the average project does not a great game make. Its mechanics are dated, its controls are unintuitive and it undercuts its own emotional moments by frustrating the life out of the player. While we wished we could have been more emotionally attached to Trico and our nameless boy hero, by the end of the campaign we were mostly just relieved it was over. Proof that even the best developers can work on something for too long. Better luck on the next one, GenDesign/Team ICO.
2. Star Fox Zero (WII U)
We’re still super mad about this one if we’re being perfectly honest. How do you mess up a Star Fox game this badly? It’s a Star Fox game. It should be a slam dunk. What we got instead was a game that was determined to justify the Wii U gamepad come hell or high water. The result was clunky, fragmented between multiple screens and the opposite of fun. We get it, the TV offers the broad strokes aiming and spacial awareness while the GamePad screen allows for more precise aiming. It sounds great when you write it down like that, but it sucks in practice Nintendo, and you should have known it sucked.
1. No Man’s Sky (PS4, WINDOWS PC)
You all knew this was coming. After years of hype and promises that failed to materialise in the finished product, No Man’s Sky single-handedly sparked an industry-wide conversation about the ethical marketing of video game and a gigantic wave of backlash that continues to this day. While many have already written lead designer Sean Murray off as a liar and a charlatan, we’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt — the reality is we don’t know what happened behind the scenes at Hello Games. Maybe he really did expect those features to be implemented by the time the game shipped and simply ran out of time. Maybe Sony tired of waiting for the game to be completed and pushed it out the door well before it was ready. We live in hope that what happened with No Man’s Sky will be made clear some day. Even with the Foundation Update that released earlier this month, it feels like the the game still has a long way to go.
So there we are, our top five biggest gaming disappointments of the year. Do you agree? Are you incensed? Let us know on social media! In truth, there was far more to like in gaming throughout 2016 than dislike, and we’ll be back tomorrow with our Top 15 Honourable Mentions. See you then.