While 2015 gave us some truly incredible video games like Bloodborne, Super Mario Maker, Tales From the Borderlands and Rise of the Tomb Raider, it was also a year that featured a number of stinkers. Along with every great title that had a compelling story, suitably addictive gampeplay and wonderfully vivid worlds to explore, there was always a game that managed to disappoint in some way. This list reflects the titles that I managed to play from 2015, and includes games that I believe were not as good as they could have been.
Also, check out my previous article, “Fifteen Video Games From 2015 That You Need to Play,” to get the lowdown on some of last year’s best titles.
Developed by Turtle Rock Studios (Left 4 Dead), Evolve was one of most heavily marketed games of 2014 and 2015. The critical darling of video game expos everywhere, the asymmetrical competitive multiplayer title that pits four players against a player-controlled monster was constantly being hyped by publisher 2K Games and countless critics as the next big online-multiplayer IP. Having achieved great success with the first Left 4 Dead and with the critic community praising the game left-and-right, Evolve looked liked it was going to be one of the first must-own games of 2015. However, it was announced that Evolve would also feature over 40 paid-DLC packs upon release, many of which were not included in the title’s already pricey Season Pass. Quickly earning the ire of players, disappointment in the game continued to grow when it was finally released last February.
Though the game’s 4 v 1 multiplayer is certainly unique among most competitive and cooperative multiplayer-centric titles, Evolve is an extremely shallow experience that offers little replay value. Players will find themselves performing the exact same actions no matter what their role may be. Whether playing as one of the four character classes or playing as the monster, a match within the game will end is one of two ways. Either players will hunt and kill the player-controlled monster, or the player-controlled monster will evolve, hunt and kill the other players. While there are some modes that offer minor variations to this gameplay-formula, the goal still remains the same.
After so much negative press and with the online community dwindling, it will be interesting to see if 2K and Turtle Rock are still adamant about turning Evolve into a long-running franchise.
Star Wars: Battlefront
Arguably one of the most anticipated games of 2015, Star Wars: Battlefront is the first Star Wars title published by Electronic Arts in their decade long licensing deal with Lucasfilm and Disney. Developed by DICE (Battlefield: Hardline), Star Wars: Battlefront was met with intense skepticism from certain people within the gaming community long before it was finally released several months ago. Technically the fourth installment in the beloved series, EA and DICE were harshly criticized when it was confirmed that the game would not feature a single-player campaign and would instead be exclusively multiplayer-focused.
Despite the promise of a robust multiplayer experience, Battlefront, like many other multiplayer-centric titles from 2015, released with very little content. Though the game features beautiful graphics and impressive sound design, Battlefront’s greatest failure is its lack of variety. With only a handful of modes like ‘Walker Assault,’ ‘Heroes vs. Villains’ and ‘Fighter Squadron’ worth playing repeatedly and its dull co-op training/horde missions, the game falls into the trap of being an overly familiar and repetitive gameplay experience. Battlefront’s lack of map variety doesn’t help either, and with just 12 maps available in the base game (all of which are divided among the game’s various gameplay modes), Battlefront’s repetitiveness is only amplified.
With the rest of Star Wars: Battelefront’s prime-future content locked behind a hefty $50 Season Pass paywall, fans might do better to wait for Visceral’s upcoming Star Wars title instead.
Telltale’s Game of Thrones
Almost everyone was excited by the announcement that TellTale Games (The Walking Dead), the studio behind some of the best episodic-adventure games of the last few years, would be working on a game set in the world of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Though the world of Westeros feels like a natural fit for TellTale and their writers, Game of Thrones has proven to be the developer’s most underwhelming narrative experience in recent memory.
Taking place right at the tail-end of the show’s murder-filled third season, players follow the trials and tribulations of the Forresters, a noble Northern family loyal to the Starks. With the aftermath of the Red Wedding in full effect, players must guide not one, but four characters throughout the game’s six episodes. It’s with the game’s large player-controlled cast that Game of Thrones really stumbles. With the narrative divided into four separate storylines, no individual character’s narrative is particularly compelling on it’s own, and oftentimes it’s jarring being dropped from one story to another. Game of Thrones also serves as another glaring example that TellTale is in dire need of a new graphics engine. Along with the janky and awkward animation, the game’s oil-paint color palette makes every environment and background appear blurry and out of focus.
For anyone seeking a more enjoyable episodic gaming experience from 2015 would do well to check out TellTale’s Tales From the Borderlands or Dontnod Entertinament’s flawed, but unique episodic series, Life is Strange.
The Order: 1886
Marketed as Sony’s big exclusive title of 2015, The Order: 1886 initially impressed many critics and gamers alike with its incredible graphics and gorgeous environments. Developed by Ready at Dawn (God of War: Chains of Olympus), The Order: 1886 is set in a futuristic-alternate 1886 London and follows King Arthur’s legendary Knights of the Round Table and their never-ending battle to protect the world from monstrous werewolves, vampires and various rogue organizations.
While The Order: 1886 features unparalleled production value and a suitably cool aesthetic, the game suffers in almost every other possible way. With its surprisingly short single-player campaign, bland characters, repetitive combat encounters and god-awful stealth sections, the game comes across as more of a glorified tech-demo or proof-of-concept than a fully-fledged AAA title. Even the heavily advertised werewolf encounters are a disappointment, and require QTE (quick-time-event) button mashing to complete.
To put it simply, The Order: 1886 is a poorly designed Gears of War clone, and while it’s certainly enjoyable to look at, it’s an absolute bore to play.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 is certainly the lowest of the low hanging virtual-fruit in terms of bad games from 2015, but this title deserves every bit of disdain that comes its way, especially from those last few poor souls who are still fans of this tired franchise. Published by Activision and developed by Robomodo and Disruptive Games, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5, the latest (and most likely last) entry in the skateboarding series, was released with a laundry list of game breaking bugs.
Along with Pro Skater 5’s countless technical and physics issues, many of which render the skateboarding title completely unplayable, the game also features a litany of unmemorable game modes and some of the most uninspired environments seen in the series to date. When not clipping through walls or randomly flailing in the air, players will be spending a significant amount of time downloading patches that attempt to fix the various bugs still plaguing the game.
It’s sad to see a once beloved series reduced to a broken mess, and with Activision’s licensing deal with Tony Hawk at an end, it’s unlikely they’ll be another entry in the series for a long time.
What about you reader? What were your most notable disappointments in gaming last year? Let us know in the comments below!