Worst of 2015 Revisited

In the lead up to my Game of the Year content last year, I stumbled upon the idea of looking at my 2014 list to see how it compared and decided to share my thoughts on that list a year removed. So in that tradition, let’s take a look back on my Worst Games of 2015 list and see how my thoughts on those titles has changed with 2016 now in the rear-view mirror.

5. Fallout 4(‘s bugs)

What I said then: No I'm not talking about Bloatflies, Radscorpions, and Stingwings (though seriously, fuck those last two). But rather the litany of technical bugs and glitches that keep Fallout 4 from being a better experience. Spoiler: Fallout 4 will be featured on tomorrow's top 5 list but these bugs represent the very worst of the game.

I was fortunate and didn't come across too many bugs in my 100+ hours with the game but I did have a string of game crashes at one put when I was trying to get the Alien Blaster. Three times in a row, after shooting a Super Mutant Suicider and running away from his buddies outside a hospital, the game crashed out to the PlayStation menu and I had to reload a save. Not until I just avoided the whole thing by fast traveling across the map was I able to proceed. Other times I was unable to trigger the next objective in a quest. And there was of course the usual frame rate slow down and character pop-in.

Ultimately, though, I view glitches in the same way I view the length of a game. These are both scapegoats that people tend to complain about when in actuality, they're just not having fun with the games other elements. I believe that's why I saw a lot of people who complained about Assassin's Creed glitches giving Fallout glitches a pass. An image of a glitch (or "how long a game is") is far easier to point to than detailing out specific grievances like lackluster combat mechanics or an empty world.

So yes, Fallout 4's glitches, especially the game breaking ones, were terrible, but they didn't destroy the overall experience I had with the game.

What I think now: Fallout 4 certainly got away from me this year. I restarted it for a good 20 hours or so in the hopes of returning to it for the Platinum trophy or visiting the Far Harbor and Nuka World DLC expansions this year but a lot of bugs and glitches were still very annoyingly there and I didn’t end up staying with the game too long as the ever growing list of new titles overwhelmed me. And the new packs that came out were just as riddled with the bugs if not moreso. All of the controversy and will they/won’t they nature of mods for the game (which still aren’t on the PlayStation 4 version as a reminder) just added the headaches surrounding this game’s flaws.

4. Saints Row IV: Re-Elected

What I said then: Case in point: the glitches I encountered in Saints Row IV: Re-Elected are the moments that stuck with me the most because the rest of the game was a pretty bland experience. Having the game crash as frequently as it did was particularly atrocious when you consider this was a remaster of a last-gen game. As someone who hadn't played any of the other Saints Row games, I didn't have any connection to the cast of characters so that may be why I barely remember the game's plot. But when you also factor in a very bland open world (even if it was a digital simulation) and a progression system that made you too powerful too soon to be rewarding, this game earned a spot on my list and I doubt I'll ever be returning to the franchise.

What I think now: I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve thought about Saints Row this year. And they were probably all the week Volition announced their new game Agents of Mayhem.

3. The Order 1886

What I said then: Back to my argument that glitches and how long a game is are just scapegoats blamed for larger problems, we have The Order: 1886. In the days before the game's launch, everyone seemed to be obsessed with how quickly you could finish the game. I played through it with a collectibles guide in about a day for the Platinum trophy and wrote up a pre-Trevor Trove review of it. More disappointing and wasted potential than downright bad, I found the game to be a somewhat bland third-person shooter that seemed to have prioritized a cinematic experience and setting up a franchise over making this initial installment a particularly good one. I think the characters, gunplay, story, and overall pacing, left a lot to be desired but it's a lot easier to say "I could beat the game in 6 hours."

What I think now: Serving as an admin for the Kinda Funny Facebook group, I’ve seen a lot of posts this year of people coming into The Order 1886 with tempered expectation and really enjoying the game. I’m glad they had fun with it but I stand by the idea that it was a bland third-person shooter even more than ever now that I’ve played some of the Gears of War games. I wouldn’t be opposed to a sequel because I enjoyed the potential of the series more than the game itself but it would need to learn a lot of lessons from its predecessor’s shortcomings to win me back over.

2. Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff

What I said then: Is it easy to pick on mobile games? Absolutely. And Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff basically tackles everything that bothers me about the trends in mobile gaming.

  • Almost a note for note clone of The Simpsons: Tapped Out.
  • The freemium model that gives you enough of the premium currency (in this case, golden clams) to get an item or two but if you want to collect all the premium characters and items, you'll be spending thousands of dollars. Or you can collect the clams at a rate of one every couple of days.
  • Prioritizing luck and random number generators over any kind of skill (having to perform a 24-hour task for a 25% chance of getting the item you need is crap. So let's make it so you need ten of that item to unlock your favorite character).
  • Frequent crashes that finally led to me uninstalling the piece of garbage that I knew I was pouring way too much time into as I was doing it.

As...with Lara Croft Go, not all mobile games are trash, but this one was one of the worst.

What I think now: Yeah, fuck this game. I didn’t go back to it or anything but just re-reading this brought back all of the anger I had with it in the first place.

I was much more selective in my mobile gaming this year. I continue to play Final Fantasy Record Keeper a little bit every day because they’ve supported it without bashing me over the head with a toxic gameplay loop. Deus Ex GO was great (though after they added in a level editor and changed the daily challenges into more of a micro-transaction money-grab where you have a limited number of turns and have to pay for more, I’ve walked away from it). Pokemon GO had a ton of problems and has been too slow to roll out substantive changes and content but it was harmless enough fun for a time. And Final Fantasy Brave Exvius built on the ideas of Final Fantasy Record Keeper but lost me because I can’t stand trying to walk around the maps in the game without actual buttons.

Guess that ended up being more of a reflection on my mobile gaming in 2016 as a whole. Anyway, every single one of those games blew the Family Guy game out of the water.

1. Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae

What I said then: For the second year in a row, Final Fantasy makes my "worst of" list. I considered not including the Final Fantasy XV demo but if SquareEnix is going to spend time and money patching it, then I'll take a few minutes to type curmudgeonly about why that's a waste of resources.

Final Fantasy XV was announced almost 10-years ago as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. I am of the belief that it's been in development so long because SquareEnix has long prioritized beautiful CG cinematics over mechanics and gameplay and the technology has been advancing faster than SquareEnix can develop the game so they scrap the work they've done and spend time chasing the new graphics.

The high-stakes planet-threatening stories I loved in games like Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII, and IX have been replaced in this instance with a broken down car and the need to track down a Ramuh summon to kill a Behemoth. I'm sure the full game will be somewhat more grandiose but this demo felt like it confirmed what I have suspected, that more time was put into the beauty of the Ramuh summon than the rest of the combat. And considering that combat was one of the things patched, I don't think I'm alone in having found it wanting.

The real test of will, should Final Fantasy XV actually come out in 2016, will be whether I buy it and play through an experience that - based on this demo - is no longer the Final Fantasy experience I'm looking for or will I skip my first non-MMO entry it what was once my absolute favorite gaming franchise?

Only time will tell.

What I think now: Well...I beat and even Platinumed Final Fantasy XV. And if all goes according to plan, I’ll have gotten my review of the game out for some Christmas-time reading. So you can check that out for my full thoughts. But the short version that relates specifically to this critique: they weirdly did a great job fixing my issues with the combat. But they also almost entirely abandoned story and CGI cutscenes (or decided to turn it into the Kingsglaive movie instead).

As for the Episode Duscae demo itself, it shows up largely intact in the full game (with a bit of narrative elements tweaked), suggesting it was basically a vertical slice of the game put in the hands of audiences to give Square Enix a sense of what to prioritize in order to get the game out this year.

So that was the worst of 2015. Tomorrow, I’ll revisit my Best of 2015 games. And if you just enjoy reading about the games I like to crap all over, come back on New Year’s Eve for my look at the worst games I played in 2016.