Video games are to be enjoyed and can be a lot of fun, but sometimes you pick up a game on its release day and you’re gutted. It’s not what it claimed to be, or it just isn’t very good. Sometimes games stay this way, other times games rebuild themselves into something better. Today, let’s check out some games that were really not particularly good on release for various reasons – Bear in mind, these haven’t all been fixed. Some are still bad to this day…
10) Mass Effect 3
Dumped to the bottom of the list for being a generally quite good game, but the endings caused some genuine uproar from the fans who had loved this game for so many years. Investment in characters built up over an incredibly well written story outshine an “adequate” game, in which the decisions made by the player making dramatically influencing the future, not just of the game your playing, but of the sequels, culminating here, in the finale.
And ultimately all of those decision trees and the wildly veering branches and the experiences that you helped to shape from behind a keyboard or controller… made a difference in what colour explosion to expect.
Now this has been changed since, more content added to make the conclusion more satisfying in the Extended Cut, but it’s not made for an entirely happy ending.
9) Duke Nukem Forever
The problem when you’re resurrecting a beloved shooter series with a title that has been promised and cancelled on a loop for over a decade, is that expectation becomes too high to ever reach, but the real tragedy is how the world has left Duke behind.
The game is dated and bland, but no moreso than Nukem himself, who’s catchphrases and super-manly-man demeanour now seem like tragic clichés rather than laughable satire or even self parody. We didn’t come here for a great story, groundbreaking gameplay, hell, we’re not even after anything particularly innovative, but a bit of clever commentary comedy? No, the comedy is as outdated as the graphics, with only a few decent jokes like the health bar instead referring to Duke’s hurt feelings.
Us too DNF, us too.
8) Final Fantasy XIV (Original Release)
You know, I gave Final Fantasy XIV a good try not too long ago and it was fun. So when I was starting to write this list, I was originally going to reserve this spot for Elder Scrolls Online, which didn’t do well on release… But apparently, not as bad as Final Fantasy XIV did. I will add a very quick note here, both Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV worked hard to become fantastic games today.
On release, Final Fantasy XIV was panned – Although the graphics and music were considered to be good. However the gameplay and interface alone was enough to receive negative feedback from fans and critics alike. This meant the developers actually shut down the MMORPG and ended up having to completely replace the game with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which totally revitalised the game and won back the trust of their fans.
7) Dungeon Keeper (Mobile)
EA Games had one of the greatest old school franchises in their hands, with a dedicated fanbase. Dungeon Keeper, one of the games of its kind, where you play as an evil keeper of a dungeon. You design your dungeon as you’d like to, then you send your minions (who are attracted to your dungeon), to fight the forces of good. Remember, the slogan is “It’s good to be bad”.
So what happened here? Microtransactions.
You see, Dungeon Keeper Mobile is one of those titles where you have to question if the game was made to be a good game, or just to live off microtransactions. The original games had no microtransactions, so for them to suddenly go in, I think that was enough to break peoples trust. Further than that, the game had the opportunity to have Peter Molyneux help on the project, but he wasn’t interested – In fact, he called it “ridiculous”.
Oh but don’t think we’re done yet; the game was a disaster due to the microtransactions, especially here in the UK. Newspapers such as The Independent caught wind of the issues and helped highlight the problems of the game.
6) Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
Warning: Crude language – It’s the Angry Video Game Nerd after all.
Notice the brackets there? That’s important.
Sonic the Hedgehog released in 2006 was an attempt to bring the blue blazer up to a modern audience. With the success of many Final Fantasy titles, it’s fair to say that the Sonic Team kind of wanted that look for their next game… But with Sonic and crew as well. This wouldn’t have been so bad, if it wasn’t for the gameplay being buggy, the open world being pretty lacklustre and a cavalcade of other issues.
What’s frustrating is it was clear the Sonic Team really wanted to do something different, but either lacked skill, resource, time or a combination of it all. Sonic ‘06, as gamers collectively call it, is one of those baffling moments in video game history, as some of the problems didn’t need to exist. There were excessively long loading times between screens, as well as a story that was just completely unnecessary. I’m sorry, but I don’t think Sonic should be chasing after very human (potential) love interests.
5) Fallout 76
The much beloved Fallout Games may not have a flawless record, but here’s a game that promised so much, and delivered so little. Bethesda are infamous for building buggy games, and often just leaving the bugs where they are because they’re at least entertaining! But t-posing ghouls, helicopters spawning into mountains, laughable lighting issues, vanishing land, jerky and horrible character interactions.
More quality is being added as we speak, a desperate scramble to save face, bug fixes as a must, but actual quality of game improvements. Multiplayer implementation was flawed but it’s the only way you’ll see human interaction because there’s certainly no human NPCs, and now 76 includes a BATTLE ROYALE feature because the kids love them some Fortnite.
All of this bodes very… very ill for the new Elder Scrolls, this catalogue of production errors is a deep brown stain on Bethesda’s record, and we want ESVI to be good, like we still want a good Duke Nukem title.
4) No Man’s Sky
Let me start off with a precursor to this; on release, I actually enjoyed No Man’s Sky. However, we can’t ignore the overwhelming wave of disappointment from a sea of frustrated gamers. No Man’s Sky had the promise to be so much, but what they delivered was only a fraction of what they had intended to. One part that frustrated most people was the lack of online interaction, although people had legitimately managed to find one another in the vastness of space fairly quickly.
You see, No Man’s Sky was a game that was built around a lot of hype. The game received such a backlash, that people were claiming it was false advertisement. Naturally, this led to the developers explaining what happened, including a much earlier release than they intended. This is what happens when you build a lot of hype for your game; the fan support gets ropey.
One point that keeps this out of our Top 10 Worst Games on Release, the game had a lot of people defending it on release. Some saw it as a wasted opportunity; others saw the potential the game still had. I’m proud of Hello Games, as they have worked hard to release huge updates.
Whenever Daikatana comes up in a list, it’s not normally for what makes it good. The game is kind of playable, especially if you take the Steam version released not too long ago, but that’s as far as I can go. This is one of those games where you just can’t believe it was released by a big name from the industry, especially as John Romero literally put his face to the game, following the success of Quake.
The reception to Daikatana was pretty poor. In fact, Daikatana is one of the leading contributors for the closure of the video game studio, Ion Storm. A lot of factors led to the dismal performance, including delays (oh, hey there Duke Nukem Forever), poor graphics and a poor source engine. The icing of the cake was the infamous advert, in which John Romero simply says “John Romero’s about to make you his bitch”. Yes, I figured although we’re a PG-13 website, we’d keep the integrity of the message.
I said integrity about Daikatana, what is wrong with me?
2) E.T. vs Superman 64
Not a lot to say here, these are two of the most infamous bad games in the world:
E.T. is a legend for having been hidden in a landfill because of how badly it was received by the public. Indecipherable pixel art, the vaguest resemblance to the creature himself, you collect dots, avoid agents who do next to nothing to you, and… just wander around? And let’s not forget the near-death of the industry E.T. brought about.
Superman 64 A tough contender for the title of worst game ever, released 17 years after E.T., buggy flight, endless ring mazes, buggy object interactions, unimaginative levels, laughable combat that is superseded by the buggy flight, and a story that’s accessible only by menu.
Which leaves us with two questions: Which is worse?
And who could possibly have beaten them to the top spot?
1) Aliens Colonial Marines
How did this out-do a game that became a landfill and the worst DC adaption ever made? Well, we considered most of these from the perspective of reception upon release, and while Colonial Marines was regarded with a little scepticism from those of us who’d much rather be playing the Xenomorph, the marketing that helped drive this game showed graphics and AI behaviours and entire levels that simply were not present on release.
The result is that two players attempted to sue Gearbox and Sega for misale of products and false advertising. The lawsuit lost its Class Action status two years after it was filed, and dropped soon after. As it turns out Gearbox was funneling Sega money into other projects like Borderlands (shady as hell but… sorry I still love that game) and Duke Nukem Forever (see above). In 2017, a modder dug into the game files and fixed the AI… by correcting a typo of all things. Colonial Marines drew some serious ire before and after release, and it’s most notable commendation is now being the top of one our Top 10’s. Well done guys.
We wanted to do something a little bit different. These next two mentions are games that are considered to be bad, but they’re games that Joel and I really dislike as well. Unlike the main list, where games like No Man’s Sky and Final Fantasy XIV became something better, these titles have our disdain forever.
Joel – Genesis Rising
A valuable lesson in not judging a book by its cover, how do you screw up a strategy game with biological ships that devour each other and use the DNA strands to upgrade and improve? Well that’s easy, make travel time painfully slow and combat situations incredibly fast, you should have a nice long introductory tutorial with weak and flavourless cutscenes, and it should be suitably buggy that an otherwise merely dull game should be intolerable.
Ship designs are beautiful, modifications look cool, and the concept is solid. From there on it’s a waste of cash, and I did my best to get my money’s worth out of Genesis Rising but the sad fact is that I was not having fun. Beauty sometimes really is skin deep, in this case a deceptively enticing blurb and an enticing concept goaded me into wasting a few hours and £15.
Timlah – Hatred
One of the most controversial titles released, Hatred was always going to split the popular opinion. It wanted to be dark, violent and bloody, but what we actually got out of the game, with the exception of an unlikable “protagonist” was mediocre gameplay. Oh sure, I’m sure some people ended up enjoying Hatred… I guess. It went on to be fairly successful in sales.
The game doesn’t deserve a lot of breath wasted on it, so I’m keeping this short. You can’t promote a game to be dark and violent, then give us an underwhelming experience, with repetitive gameplay in the process. That’s just poor game design.
But hey, congratulations on being controversial… I guess.
Enough with these bad games, we submit to their incompetence. I’ve heard too much hype behind these games now, or in some of these cases, too many bad reviews. I’m going to go back to my really good games, you know, like Superman 64– wait I meant Sonic ‘06– Oh no. The games have gotten to me. Quick, help me change my perception of video games by distracting us with next week’s Top 10 list.
If I could, I would go back in time to the studios behind each of these games, stop them and get them to get some help. Nevertheless, what’s done is done and with that said, so is our list. What did you think of our list? Did we get the right ones on the list, or did we forget some terrible titles on release? Did we get the order right, or should the classic of E.T and Superman 64 have won? As ever, share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter.