Even though it didn’t quite live up to the ridiculous first half of 2017 and its avalanche of great games, 2018 has gotten off to an impressive start nonetheless. Truth be told, we could have just gotten God of War and still been satisfied with how the year has progressed but there have been other standouts as well, including must-have titles such as Celeste, Hollow Knight, and Far Cry 5, as well as some surprises like Dragonball FighterZ and Mario Tennis Aces.
However, the first half of the year has also been marked by some pretty big disappointments, with a number of games we had high hopes for failing to live up to expectations. They weren’t all bad, mind you — in fact, a few of the games we’ve included on this list are actually pretty good — but even small issues can hold otherwise great games back in a big way. With that said, here are our biggest gaming disappointments of 2018 (so far).
12. Monster Hunter World
It took far too long but Capcom finally released its popular Monster Hunter series on current-gen consoles earlier this year, delivering one of 2018’s earliest hits in the process. Taken as a whole, Monster Hunter World is an incredibly absorbing action-RPG experience, offering a beautiful fictional world teeming with monsters to hunt, deep and varied gameplay, and an emphasis on teamwork between players. So how does the game come up short? Well, it all has to do with some seriously questionable design decisions that hinder the game’s main selling point.
For a game built around cooperative play, the actual act of teaming up with friends in Monster Hunter World is needlessly convoluted, with the game not allowing players to group up during story missions until each player has advanced to specific cutscenes (which is ironic given that what story is there is mindless drivel for the most part). That being said, when everything clicks Monster Hunter World is a blast and one of the best cooperative multiplayer experiences of the year but there’s a very good chance that the game’s archaic networking features will derail your experience before you get deep enough to become truly invested.
11. Devil May Cry HD Collection
When it comes to remastering its classic games, no publisher shamelessly double dips as much as Capcom but even they should be ashamed of the shoddy port job on the Devil May Cry HD Collection. Essentially the same version that was already released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012, there are barely any discernible improvements to be had here outside of a boost in resolution and smoother frame-rates. What’s worse is that Capcom made no effort to clean up the parts of these classic games that actually needed attention.
While the games have technically never looked better during gameplay, the FMV sequences and menus still appear in their original 4:3 aspect ratios. This was somewhat forgivable during the previous console generation but in 2018, it’s inexcusable and demonstrates how little care was put into this collection. In a year that’s put the Devil May Cry series back on track with the announcement of Devil May Cry V at E3, it’s a shame to see some of the best action games ever made (well, not including Devil May Cry 2) treated so poorly.
10. Bravo Team
Supermassive Games has not had a great year so far, as the studio is now 0-2 with its PlayStation VR releases. The first title, the horror-themed Inpatient, suffers from not being all that scary but does have some impressive sound design and visuals. However, it’s Supermassive’s second 2018 release, the squad-based shooter Bravo Team, that fares even worse. Whereas Inpatient at least has the looks of a AAA game, Bravo Team has budget rush job written all over it.
As it turns out, there’s a very good reason for this, as Bravo Team was handed to a skeleton dev team and put together in just a matter of months, which helps explain the ugly graphics, unresponsive shooting, and bevy of glitches. Supermassive have proven they can be a top-tier developer in the past thanks to the excellent 2015 PS4 exclusive Until Dawn, so it’s a shame to see the the studio wasting its talents on shovelware VR games.
9. Metal Gear Survive
On the one hand, no one who’s been paying attention to what’s been happening at Konami the past few years would have reasonably expected Metal Gear Survive to be any good. After all, it’s the first Metal Gear game to be produced after the departure of series creator Hideo Kojima, and had all the look of a rush-job meant to cash-in on the survival game fad from a few years ago. However, it’s also a game sporting the Metal Gear name, which is generally associated with high quality games, so there was always a chance that Konami could have proven everyone wrong and delivered a great experience.
Of course, that isn’t what happened at all, as Metal Gear Survive proved to be the soulless, poorly conceived zombie game we all expected it to be. The fact that Metal Gear Survive had to follow in the footsteps of the excellent open-world game The Phantom Pain makes its faults all the more glaring but even though we knew it was going to be bad, it’s still disappointing to see Konami do exactly what we expected them to do instead of trying to do right by the Metal Gear name.
8. Lost Sphear
Whereas Tokyo RPG Factory’s I Am Setsuna was warmly received as a love letter of sorts to old-school JRPGs, the studio’s follow-up, the spiritual successor Lost Sphear, relies too heavily on nostalgia to repeat the same trick twice. Simply put, Lost Sphear is a mess, as it borrows liberally from genre classics like Chrono Trigger and Grandia without ever cohering into a unified whole.
The combat system, which uses Active Time Battle, is too slow-moving and lacks flow, while the game itself is overloaded with hard-to-decipher jargon, dumping all sorts of ill-defined terms on you that it can be difficult to make sense of what’s going on. While Lost Sphear is pretty and generally well-made, with so many better JRPG experiences out there, it’s hard to justify sinking time into it, even with it being possible to reach the credits in about 20 hours of playtime.
7. Dynasty Warriors 9
Some may rightfully wonder how a new Dynasty Warriors game could be considered a disappointment. After all, the series has a reputation for rehashing many of the same ideas between its many, many games and is generally written off as a repetitive hack-and-slash experience with niche appeal at best. This is all true but it ignores the passion that Dynasty Warriors fans have for the series, as well as that even though it may look like nothing has really changed since the PlayStation 2 era, the franchise has iterated and expanded upon its core concepts quite a bit over the years. With that in mind, perhaps it’s a little easier for the unconverted to understand why Dynasty Warriors 9 represents such a slap in the face for longtime fans of the series.
Dynasty Warriors 9 blows up the structure of previous games and goes fully open world, only the whole thing is rendered totally pointless by the fact that’s nothing to do in the game’s huge environment outside of mission objectives, making the whole thing much more tedious than it needs to be. Oh and the entire heart and soul of the series was ripped out as well, with little difference between how characters play now. It all results in easily the most boring Dynasty Warriors game ever made and a game so bad that even devoted fans will find little in it worth defending.
6. Kirby Star Allies
Taken as a whole, Kirby Star Allies is a competent, if unremarkable entry in the ever-expanding Kirby franchise. Truth be told, Kirby games are typically not very challenging affairs, as they are aimed at a younger demographic, but previous Kirby games (Kirby’s Epic Yarn comes to mind) have been easy too, and still brought a lot of fun new ideas to the table for this to not be much of a concern. Kirby Star Allies, on the other hand, just treads water and if Nintendo revealed that they released it just to fulfill some “one Kirby game a year” quota, it wouldn’t come as a surprise.
Kirby Star Allies isn’t without its charms and even if it does feel like it was developed by a studio on auto-pilot, it’s a polished experience that is sure to please fans of the franchise. However, with how strong the Switch’s first-party lineup has been so far, there are simply better options available right now and honestly, there’s probably going to be another, better Kirby game in another year or so anyway.
5. Secret of Mana
The original Secret of Mana is a beloved role-playing game released in the early 90s for the Super Nintendo. Praised for its brightly-colored graphics, interesting plot, and innovative cooperative play for up to three players, the prospect of a full-fledged remake on modern hardware was a tantalizing prospect. Sadly, Square Enix seemingly overlooked that remakes are generally meant to improve upon the original, as Secret of Mana has to be one of the most disappointing classic game re-dos ever made.
The remake represents a step back in nearly every way, as everything from the soundtrack to the artwork and even gameplay was somehow made worse. You’d think that it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a game released in 1993 prettier, but Secret of Mana’s ugly polygonal models look significantly worse than the sprites found in the original. And even though there are now animated cutscenes and voice acting, they’re so poorly done that they really don’t add anything to the experience. Overall, Secret of Mana is the kind of shameless remake designed to mine fan nostalgia for dollars and Square Enix should really be ashamed to have even released it.
4. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is one of the most beloved RPGs of the previous generation, sporting beautiful animated sequences produced by the legendary Studio Ghibli, a wonderfully charming story, and a deep battle system combining the best elements of Pokemon and the Tales JRPG series. Five years later, Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom overhauls the combat and introduces a neat kingdom building feature, but is severely lacking in the story department compared to its predecessor.
The new cast of characters simply aren’t as memorable and the overall presentation has taken a serious step back, with a significant lack of voice work in favor of on-screen text. The result is a sequel that is very much one step forward, two steps back and though it has enough going for it to be a worthwhile investment for fans of the Wrath of the White Witch, a five-year gap and jump to new hardware should have led to more advancements than what we get here.
3. State of Decay 2
Microsoft’s lineup of Xbox One exclusives looked positively dreadful heading into 2018, but the software giant had an ace up its sleeve in the form of Xbox Game Pass. In January, the company announced that all future first-party games published by Microsoft Studios would be available on Game Pass on the same day as their global release. In hindsight, giving away major first-party games as part of a monthly subscription fee wasn’t quite the value proposition many had hoped because if Microsoft’s future exclusive offerings all resemble something like State of Decay 2, it’s hard to imagine many people wanting to pay full price in the first place.
A sequel to the surprise hit zombie survival game from 2013, State of Decay 2 makes some noticeable improvements over the original, such as drop in co-op play with up to three friends and more satisfying scavenging mechanics, and is certainly the better game. However, the sequel is also plagued by many of the same issues as the first State of Decay, including numerous bugs and an overall lack of polish. While I understand that State of Decay 2 already has a pretty dedicated fanbase who enjoy what Undead Labs has managed to deliver, considering this is one of the very few Xbox One first-party titles out this year, it’s shocking that Microsoft let it ship in such rough shape.
2. Detroit: Become Human
Sony has absolutely spoiled us with its first-party software this generation, with games such as Uncharted 4, Horizon Zero Dawn and this year’s God of War being some of the best games available on the PS4. Of course, even the best publishers stumble from time to time and such is the case with Detroit: Become Human, the latest PlayStation exclusive from developer Quantic Dream. Continuing in the tradition of the studio’s previous games Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit is another narrative-focused adventure game powered by stunning technology. The performance capture and visuals in Detroit are top-tier, and the game is arguably worth experiencing just for its lavish production values alone.
Unfortunately, better tech hasn’t resulted in a more sophisticated narrative, as this is very much still a David Cage game, complete with a dopey script and poor controls. Detroit: Become Human’s futuristic setting and focus on themes such as the ethics of artificial intelligence are fascinating, but the game undercuts it all with its focus on melodrama and poorly written characters. Detroit gets closer than previous Quantic Dream games of delivering a Hollywood-caliber experience but considering quite a few games already offer more engaging and experimental narratives, the studio still has some things to figure out.
1. Sea of Thieves
In addition to State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves is the other major release to come from Microsoft Studios in the first half of 2018 and the one that had the most promise. Developed by Rare, this charming cooperative pirate adventure impressed in preview events thanks to its unique take on seafaring and teamwork. Unfortunately, once the full game was released, it quickly became clear that Rare had opted for “emergent gameplay” in place of compelling content, seemingly with the hope that players getting to partake in their own pirate adventures would fill in the gap.
The result is a game that makes a great first impression, but is utterly lacking in engaging narrative elements or cool quests, forcing players to mostly stick to the same dull gameplay loop. While Sea of Thieves has managed to attract a sizable audience since release (no doubt helped along by the fact it’s included with Xbox Game Pass) and could eventually become something special if Rare puts out some worthwhile post-release content, as things stand it’s not unreasonable to call the game this year’s No Man’s Sky.