Our Biggest Gaming Disappointments of 2020
2020 has been a year full of bad news and disappointments. From Australia burning in January through the COVID-19 pandemic and the sloppy responses to it, we’re going to need an encyclopedia sized series just to cover it all.
Many of us, our team among them, retreated to gaming as the emotional reprieve from the international garbage fire (not to be confused with Australia). Of course, the gaming industry is just as prone to failures and mishaps as anyone else. But this year, the disappointments felt that much more impactful. With everyone trapped at home, hopes always felt higher for the next big gaming experience making the fall that much worse when we’re let down.
That one is pretty obvious. Nothing irritated me more than Microids’ abysmal take on the 2003 cult classic, XIII. As previously mentioned in my review, this is the rare (and catastrophic) case of a remake that looks, sounds, performs, and plays worse than a seventeen year old game that, truth be told, wasn’t even that hardware demanding back in the day to begin with. It feels rushed as all hell, even though it got delayed multiple times. It feels disrespectful to the original, as it ditched its staple comic book looks for a bland and uninspired Fortnite-ish coat of paint. Nothing else this year comes close to how infuriating XIII‘s remake ended up being.
I had two big gaming disappointments this year. The first was was a simple mistake that got my hopes high real quick, only to have them crash down. One of the earlier Demon’s Souls trailers showed in the fine print that it would also be released on November 12th for the PC. Given that I’d just dropped a butt-ton on upgrading my PC setup, I was psyched that I’d be able to put it through the paces with one of my favorite games. Sadly, Sony issued a correction stating that was an error. Given that all three Dark Souls games and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice were released on PC, I’m hoping that eventually Demon’s Souls makes it over as well. But until there’s any official news, I’m just going to have to wait patiently.
My other big disappointment was in myself. I love everything that Awaken Realms has published. They’ve consistently proven they can create fantastic experiences. Hell, Nemesis and Tainted Grail are among my favorite board games. But when they Awaken Realms ran the Kickstarter for Etherfields, I was skeptical. I foolishly skipped out on the opportunity thinking that Awaken Realms had managed to excel so well at dark horror in the sci-fi and fantasy genres that they couldn’t possibly pull off the same magic with a whimsical dream world.
Well, I was wrong. The reviews are coming in and everyone the consensus is that this might be their best game yet. As I’m a stupidly impatient person when it comes to my games, I’m now stuck trying to find a copy on the second hand market or to jump on the re-opened pledge manager and wait for the second wave of content. One day I’ll get the chance to enjoy the newest from AR, but just like with Demon’s Souls, I might be waiting for awhile.
Todd – PS5 Launch Debacle and Xbox Series X Launch Lineup
My biggest gaming disappointment of 2020 was probably that which a vast majority of you can at least, if not agree with, relate to: the mad dash to beat bots to PlayStation 5 units. Like so many of you, I believed Sony when they said pre-orders would go up the following day, so I walked away from my computer for a couple hours. And man, what a couple of hours those were. Suddenly, playing from behind, I am feverishly clicking link after link of possible stock and failing. I, our site’s biggest PS guy, wasn’t picked for Sony’s lottery and every retailer was now showing 0 stock. Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on one so the disappointment was not long lasting, but it was real and it hit like a brick.
However, that answer seems disingenuous to the poll. But I have to warn you, my follow-up may be just as disingenuous. Now my Xbox Series X, I got no problem. I ordered it when it first went up for pre-order and I received it at 12:30PM, Nov. 10th. But unlike PlayStation, my Xbox is only for Game Pass titles. When a title I want is on Xbox, I up my subscription. With Halo Infinite getting delayed, it hit hard when The Medium also got delayed, because now I was left with The Falconeer as the one and only “new” exclusive launch game, and that isn’t even on Game Pass. Please note, I highlighted the word new, not exclusive, because it doesn’t matter to me if a launch game is also on past gen, but I do want my experience to be a new experience. Thankfully Destiny 2 launched its DLC because otherwise, I was playing Marvel’s Avengers and Tell Me Why as my next gen intro titles.
After thirteen years and two mediocre releases, Paper Mario and the Origami King was supposed to be the return to form for the series everyone was waiting for. A return to a proper RPG style in the Paper Mario universe. Leading up to release, very little was said about the actual character progression and this wasn’t simply to hide what you could do. This was because there was nothing to say. No levels or experience for your characters, most battles able to be finished in a single turn, and the entire game is linear. The only reason to go off course is to find collectibles that don’t exactly even add much to the all around style. At least we got Bug Fables this year.
The other big disappointment was a game I was really hoping to like. Heralded as a melee focused version of Overwatch, or Paladins, Bleeding Edge had a lot of hype behind it when it was shown off originally by Microsoft. Playing Bleeding Edge for the first time shortly after release, it was hard to tell if people just really didn’t like it, or if the servers were just terrible. Twenty to thirty minutes at a time to search for matches, only to be stuck on a team of randoms against an actual team and to get completely dominated. On top of that, Bleeding Edge simply felt like a watered down version of Overwatch. This was a game that not only didn’t do anything new, but took what was already done right in other games and completely screwed it up.
I can most certainly echo everyone else’s sentiments regarding the lack of supply with the latest consoles and the delay of so many anticipated titles, thanks to COVID-19. However, these are issues that the result of this tumultuous time in in our world’s history. For that reason I am directing my biggest disappointment of 2020 to something that the gaming industry actually does have control over: terrible ports of beloved games.
While I am grateful for publishers finding ways to bring some of our most treasured classics back to current gen consoles, many of the them nothing more than a straight port of the original game. No graphical upgrades, no performance enhancements, just the same outdated base game formatted in the same way you could experience it with an emulator on your phone.
My two most notable disappointments are Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition and Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning. With Crystal Chronicles, the biggest letdown was the ridiculously convoluted way they went about allowing players to play with friends or online players. They took what was the biggest draw of the game and made it nearly impossible to experience. Kingdoms of Amalur on the other hand, did have mild visual improvements over the original, but they left the myriad of performance issues, bugs, and glitches intact. As someone who loves both of these games a great deal, seeing them re-released in such a half-baked manner was extremely disheartening.
Throughout 2020 I was deciding when would be the best time to upgrade my PC. After all, my old one was starting to struggle to keep consistent performance in a lot of newer titles that were releasing. I knew the RTX 30 series was coming and was incredibly excited. Then the announcement came and blew those expectations away. The RTX 3070 promised 2080ti levels of performance for literally just a third of the price. Ray Tracing is finally becoming a very affordable option, especially with the just announced RTX 3060ti proving to be insane value.
Then the launch came and nobody could get any stock. The demand was just too high for this new wave of graphics card and the state of the world due to COVID-19 definitely hasn’t helped production. After all this is the biggest generational GPU leap to date timed perfectly with the next-gen consoles. To make matters even worse, we have scalpers buying every single one they can find. Hiking the prices up to insane levels of up to two or three times the retail pricing. Even the equally exciting AMD GPUs and CPUs are practically impossible to get hold of. In the end, I’m just settling with an RTX 2060 until stock normalizes and I can get the card that I wanted.
Feel free to chime in with your biggest gaming disappoints of the year below in the comments!