As 2018 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on another year in gaming. Wonderful AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and God of War enthralled millions across the world, and yes, Fortnite became even more popular.
Publishers are also now starting to change content models when it comes to paid expansions in the age where games as a service is king. And the battle royale genre has exploded even more thanks to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s excellent Blackout mode.
But not everything can delight. This year, gaming surely wasn’t immune to a few colossal disappointments and blunders. These are the biggest gaming fails of 2018.
When Bethesda announced Fallout 76, the multiplayer-oriented entry in its revered post-apocalyptic franchise, fan reaction was mixed. The Fallout series has always been known as a single-player experience. And a very good one at that. Upon launch, Fallout 76 became this year’s Mass Effect: Andromeda, a stunning failure that wasn’t ready for primetime in the slightest. Fallout 76 currently holds a 52 on Metacritic for PS4 and 49 on Xbox One, shockingly low averages for a AAA game from a well-known studio.
Fallout 76 plays like an early access game, with far more bugs than a typical Bethesda game. Even worse, there’s just not much of worth to do in this massive depiction of West Virginia. With very little story to speak of and derivative quest design, it’s easy to get bored. And for a game that has a multiplayer focus, Fallout 76 is decidedly lonely due to the fact that the server cap is 24. You can walk for hours upon hours without seeing another player.
To make matters even worse, the canvas bag that was supposed to come with the expensive Power Armor edition was missing. Bethesda’s initial response was to give players 500 Atom (a $5 value) to purchase items in-game. Of course, that gesture made a lot of people angry. Bethesda changed its tune and will deliver the canvas bags early next year, but will anyone be playing Fallout 76 in early 2019?
CD Projekt Red’s very disappointing tweets
CD Projekt Red makes some very good games and runs a pretty cool storefront. Unfortunately, its Twitter presence was anything but great in 2018. On three separate occasions, CD Projekt Red’s tweets were subject to immense controversy.
First, GOG tweeted out an image of a tombstone to mark the arrival of a Postal 2 expansion. The tombstone had the inscription “Games Journalism: Committed Suicide Aug 28, 2014.” The date referenced is commonly known as the beginning of the infamous harassment movement known as Gamergate. GOG later apologized for the tweet, saying it meant no harm by it.
Not long after the Postal 2 tweet, the Cyberpunk 2077 account responded to a fan question with: “Did you just assume their gender?” This is a phrase frequently used to mock transgender people. Met with backlash once again, CD Projekt Red issued another apology, promising that it meant no harm.
Finally, in October, GOG tweeted, “Classic PC games #WontBeErased on our watch. Yeah, how’s that for some use of hashtags.” GOG had co-opted the transgender rights hashtag to talk about PC games. Once again, it was a terrible look.
Hopefully, CD Projekt Red starts taking its big platform more seriously in 2019.
GameStop makes light of domestic violence
During E3 2018, the largest video game retailer in the world tried to make a joke about Madden 19, and it was an absolute disaster. In response to a fan question that joked about the game having a battle royale mode, the official GameStop account wrote: “If it does — we got dibs on Ray Rice.”
Former NFL running back Ray Rice assaulted his then girlfriend in an elevator in 2014. The gruesome and disgusting video of the incident released later that year and Rice was effectively banished from the NFL.
GameStop’s “joke” was not just in poor taste, it was incredibly offensive to the many women who have been victims of domestic violence. The retailer quickly apologized.
‘The Quiet Man’
There’s bad and then there’s The Quiet Man, the latest game from Square Enix starring a deaf protagonist that punches and kicks his way through a gang for… reasons. The Quiet Man featured combat that was clunkier than a bad PS2 game, horrid animations, and a convoluted story that made absolutely no sense due to its lack of sound.
In a patch called “Answered”, the game can be replayed with sound and subtitles but even that didn’t make the game any better. Frankly, The Quiet Man takes home the award for worst game of the year.
The ‘Diablo Immortal’ saga
BlizzCon 2018 featured a surprise Diablo announcement, just not the one fans were hoping for. To close out the opening ceremony, Blizzard announced Diablo Immortal, a mobile game. Fans wanted a Diablo 4 announcement, so Diablo Immortal was viewed by many as a slight against the core audience of the action RPG franchise.
While fan outcry was probably a bit dramatic — ahem, the guy who asked if it was a joke during a Q&A — Blizzard seriously underestimated how fans would react to the news. For that, Blizzard earns a spot on this list. Diablo Immortal, though, looks pretty fun, and Diablo 4 is in development.
Battle Royale doesn’t always win
The runaway success of Fortnite, PUBG, and most recently Call of Duty: Black Ops 4‘s Blackout mode has led numerous developers to test the waters of battle royale. This year we learned that battle royale can also flop — hard.
In April, Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions released Radical Heights in early access. Radical Heights was a 1980s-infused battle royale game with cartoonish visuals. It wasn’t even ready for early access, though. The servers became a ghost town almost immediately and Boss Key Productions closed a month after Radical Heights launched.
Remarkably, Radical Heights wasn’t the biggest battle royale flop of 2018. Independent developer Xaviant surprise-released The Culling 2, a sequel to its melee-focused battle royale experience. Sadly, Xaviant turned The Culling 2 into a very bad rehash of PUBG. Less than a week after a launch that featured desolate servers and terrible gameplay, Xaviant removed the game from storefronts and refunded those who purchased it.