There’s nothing worse than witnessing a triple-A developer boast and brag about their upcoming games, only for them to finally fall flat on day one. Nobody likes a big talker — just the same as nobody benefits from a clam without the pearl. It’s things like these that can honestly take a major swing at a studio for tardiness and false advertisement. And, to be honest, I don’t think anybody wants to be branded as either in this industry.
That said, we can’t help but recall these five disaster launches that immediately faceplanted the starting line from the moment the gun popped. These just go to show that, more often than not — bragging doesn’t disguise the truth. It merely delays the inevitable and nothing more. Because come launch day, no amount of pre-built pep talk will ever be enough to protect a video game from an army of players hungry for authenticity. With that in mind, here are five of the most underwhelming releases we’ve seen in years.
5. No Man’s Sky
Hello Games definitely aimed high with No Man’s Sky (no pun intended), though the final result didn’t quite match the same level of praise as it was given over its three-year development. Although the concept was bold, inviting and packed full of opportunity, the minds behind the overly ambitious project just couldn’t represent the game to its fullest post-launch. And that’s a shame, considering the promise of nonlinear gameplay with an endless cycle of playable planets was at the forefront of the premise. Though sadly, the game just wasn’t as good as we were led to believe it would be.
As of 2021, Hello Games have since ramped up their game and escalated No Man’s Sky to redeeming altitudes. With the addition of more extensive content, weapons and quality world-mapping, the sandbox explorer has finally branched out to respectable heights. World hopping has never been more enticing, and journeying through each unique planet has never felt more unpredictable. And so, for that, we can only applaud Hello Games for reigniting a dying flame.
4. Watch Dogs
It’s fair to say that when Ubisoft teased Watch Dogs, we were immediately hooked on the idea of it being a revolutionary turn for open-world gaming. With its fascinating core mechanics and advanced gameplay that allowed players to shape Chicago to their own making, it was clear that the developer was onto something truly phenomenal. And, in some respect — it was. Sure, the gameplay was a little ropey when it came to the driving physics and overall combat system, but nested within those flaws idled a genuinely captivating nugget of fun.
Unfortunately, being Ubisoft, the storyline failed. Big time. But it wasn’t only the incredibly mundane plotline that drove Watch Dogs to the dirt — but also the empty shells that were the majority of the ensemble, too. Aiden Pierce, for one. I don’t think any player can recall a single moment where the protagonist shared a genuine emotion that evolved into an actual human connection with another character. If anything, everything that poured out of his mouth was pure gibberish. Sadly, it was that, as well as the dull campaign that drove Chicago to the dogs.
3. Duke Nukem: Forever
Any OG PlayStation fan will fondly remember the golden age of Duke Nukem and his crude exploits through the dystopian districts. Though, when it comes to the 2011 revival chapter of the frat icon — it immediately makes us want to forget the series entirely. Thanks to the horrendous planning and rocky development schedule that spanned over fifteen years, Duke Nukem: Forever turned out to be a complete and utter shambles with no nostalgic merit whatsoever. And boy, don’t even get us started on the gameplay itself.
It’s fair to say that when we think of Duke Nukem — we don’t automatically associate the games with story-rich content and deep character development. Instead, what we picture is oversized weaponry, half-naked escorts, and anything powered by testosterone. Anything outside of that probably wouldn’t make sense for a platform as ludicrous as Duke Nukem, to be fair. But having said that, even with the shallow humour and sexist compass, the earlier games did bode well with the players. Forever, on the other hand, struggled to reignite a flame that should’ve been left way back in the nineties.
2. Assassin’s Creed: Unity
After striking the gold mine with Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, Ubisoft held the keys to the future of open-world gaming as next-gen hardware came tumbling in. With the turn of a new chapter and the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 being introduced, the French developer knew that they had to escalate the franchise if they were going to stay relevant to the community. And so, with a whole new engine in place and a brand new time period to pinpoint, Ubisoft got to work and, in turn — Unity was established.
But with all of the impressive footwork aside, Assassin’s Creed: Unity really didn’t live up to the franchise name. Of course, Paris as a whole was visually stunning and captured beautifully. However, with the slew of bugs and glitches that made the game unplayable from day one, fans of the series were quick to brand the entry as the worst to date. And even though Ubisoft patched up most of the wonky material over the following months — nothing quite resurrected the broken game from the ashes. Even still, Ubisoft sure knows how to make a trailer, alright. If only the gameplay actually matched the cinematics, eh?
1. Cyberpunk 2077
Of course, it’s Cyberpunk 2077. Although not a bad game by a long shot — it is, frustratingly, a game that let millions of us down post-launch. And yes, I am talking about Xbox One and PS4 owners. We can’t technically speak for the PC domain, as reviews speak only positive volumes around that area. Only, no platform should’ve been made a priority at all — especially for the most anticipated game of 2020. Sadly, that’s where CD Projekt Red seriously dropped the ball.
It’s fair to say that with all of the explosive interviews and boasting, players were stoked to finally sink their teeth into Night City. Visually, the game looked striking and oddly picturesque. And as for the actual gameplay, well, how could we not enjoy a first-person shooter with Keanu Reeves (ahem — Johnny Silverhand) in the passenger seat? At face value, Cyberpunk 2077 should’ve been everything we wanted and more. And yet, despite the glossy tin, the contents within were about as compelling as a paper mache mohawk. Tut tut, CD Projekt. Tut tut.