The frequency with which massive new releases have failed to live up to expectations has grown at an alarming rate in recent years. More than a few times, we’ve had games that have been built up to extreme degrees in the lead-up to their launch, but for some reason or the other, have ended up falling well below expectations- and each of them has been something of a lesson to maybe be a little bit more cautious with our hype levels going forward. Here, we’re going to talk about a few such games from recent years.

ANTHEM

anthem

It’s hard to think of many games in recent years where the gulf is as wide between the product that was promised and the one that was delivered as it was for Anthem. BioWare set out to deliver something unique and fresh, but failed on nearly every level imaginable. Anthem didn’t deliver in any of the ways you’d expect a BioWare game to, from its story to its world to choice and consequence mechanics, but it didn’t even deliver as a looter shooter- in fact, on that front, it was downright broken. Add to that a bevy of technical issues that made it downright unplayable, and it’s not hard to see why BioWare and EA ended up quickly dumping the IP and moving on from it.

MARVEL’S AVENGERS

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If ever you need a prominent example of a game being let down by loot and live service mechanics being shoehorned in where they’re not even close to being needed, this is it. Marvel’s Avengers took one of the world’s most popular media properties, boasting some of the best and most iconic characters in all fiction, and instead of building an engaging single player action-adventure experience around them, it decided instead to be a live service looter. For obvious reasons, expectations from Marvel’s Avengers were high before it came out, but it failed spectacularly to deliver on most of them.

GHOST RECON BREAKPOINT

ghost recon breakpoint

2017’s Ghost Recon Wildlands was a solid reinvention for the franchise, taking its tactical shooter formula and applying it to an open world setting with a focus on co-op gameplay. All Ubisoft really needed to do with its sequel was deliver a more refined, more polished experience with maybe a more engaging story. Why it instead decided to turn Ghost Recon Breakpoint into a cheap Division knockoff remains one of life’s biggest mysteries. Once again, this was a game with needless and boring looter shooter mechanics shoved in, but it failed on many, many other fronts as well, from boring mission design to terrible AI, from a bland story to an uninteresting open world. We can only hope that the Ghost Recon franchise comes back stronger from this rather disappointing dip.

GOTHAM KNIGHTS

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Coming from the makers of Batman: Arkham Origins, Gotham Knights had a certain pedigree attached to it, while the many, many years that led up to its launch (or hell, even its official announcement) only added to the restlessness fans felt prior to its release. To say that all that wasn’t really worth the wait would be a bit of an understatement. Gotham Knights is certainly not without its merits, but there’s just so much here that simply isn’t up to the mark- the RPG mechanics are poorly implemented, the combat lacks any real weight, the open world is full of generic cookie-cutter activities, and yes, there’s a serious lack of Batman, a major issue built into the game’s core premise, and one that it didn’t really make up for in other areas either.

MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA

mass effect andromeda

If you’re following up on a trilogy as successful and beloved as the original Mass Effect games, you’ve got to be dead certain that the game you’re delivering is going to knock the ball out of the park. Andromeda didn’t ever even come close to doing that. There’s definitely plenty to like here, from the game’s much-improved combat to a genuinely intriguing story that set up some exciting things (which, sadly, may not ever get resolved), but that magic was missing. The characters weren’t as engaging, there was a disappointing lack of new alien races, and of course, at launch, the game was a technical mess. Thankfully, BioWare is at work on another new Mass Effect game, so here’s hoping that one ends up living up to the series’ pedigree.

RESIDENT EVIL 3

resident evil 3

Unlike many other games mentioned in this list, Resident Evil 3 is a good game. Viewed on its own terms, it’s a well-made, very enjoyable, and highly replayable survival horror game. The problem is, if you went into the game with certain expectations – which many people did – you most likely came away disappointed. The Resident Evil 3 remake stumbled in some pretty significant ways, whether that be its brief length, the significant portions of the original that it decided to leave on the cutting floor, or how neutered Nemesis’ implementation as a pursuer enemy felt. There’s still a lot of fun to be had here, but in comparison to what many were hoping the RE3 remake would be, the end product was something of a letdown.

THE CALLISTO PROTOCOL

the callisto protocol

The Callisto Protocol was billed as a spiritual successor to Dead Space, with many developers from the team that made the excellent 2008 horror game also working on Striking Distance Studios’ title (including the director), while the developers also emphasized multiple times that it was going to be one of the scariest games you were ever going to play. In hindsight, it’s clear that most of that was way, way off the mark. The Callisto Protocol can be plenty of fun, it has an interesting setting, and it looks absolutely amazing- but it disappoints in some key ways, from its lack of real scares to its excessively linear design to the many technical issues players have had with the game in the early days after its launch. If this does get a sequel, there’s a lot of potential to tap into here- but there will also need to be some major improvements in several areas.

CYBERPUNK 2077

Well, this one was kind of obvious, and at this point, there’s not much left to be said about the ways in which Cyberpunk 2077 turned out to be a disappointment. CD Projekt RED has itself admitted to the fact that it handled the game’s pre-release marketing (and even its development) poorly, after all. Even now, with the developer having worked for two years to bring the game up to an acceptable level of quality, it doesn’t come anywhere near delivering on the many lofty promises it made for Cyberpunk 2077 for years on end before it came out. Hopefully the upcoming expansion will be able to kick things up several notches.

BIOMUTANT

Biomutant

Biomutant is not, of course, a major AAA game built on a massive budget- it falls more in the so-called AA category. Even so, expectations were high from the game. It had some serious talent attached to it behind the scenes, and its premise had quite a few people excited. And though Biomutant does deserve to be lauded for how gorgeous its post-apocalyptic world looks, there are way too many issues with the game in other areas. It doesn’t tell a good story, it’s combat is to clunky for the most part, ancillary mechanics like the morality system are poorly implemented, and by and large, it just feels too derivative.

CRACKDOWN 3

crackdown 3

If Xbox execs could go back in time and stop themselves from saying that could easily see Crackdown being on the same level of prominence as other Microsoft franchises like Halo and Gears of War, they’d surely do it in a heartbeat. Crackdown 3 was delayed countless times and was shifted from studio to studio to studio in that period, so it’s no surprise that the game turned out to be an absolute mess. Its drab and ridiculously dated open world has absolutely nothing going on, combat is a mindless snoozefest, and visually, it felt like it was lagging behind its peers by years. On the multiplayer front, meanwhile- well, the less said the better, because after promising the world with its so-called cloud-powered destruction technology, it actually ended up being one of the most bland and forgettable multiplayer experiences in recent memory.