2016 has been an absolute delight in terms of video games.
We’ve been graced with phenomenal titles like Uncharted 4, Titanfall 2, and The Witness. Despite the accolades, we thought it’d be fun to [overly] critique some of the year’s biggest and most praised games to prove that not everything is as perfect as people make it out to be.
These games are absolutely deserving of their high regard, but calling a game “perfect” is a disservice. It’s not bad to say a game isn’t perfect. Quite the opposite – because perfection is boring. Character flaws can add depth to not only people – but to games as well.
So let’s take a look at the not-so perfect games of 2016.
The big kahuna of the 2016 releases. Uncharted 4 wrapped up the tale of everyone’s favorite treasure hunter, Nathan Drake. In typical Naughty Dog fashion, the game gave us a tight narrative filled with the explosive moments that have defined the series.
Despite its seamless gunplay and traversal mechanics, Uncharted 4 has a few flaws that need to be pointed out. The game forces players to encounter the story in the way Naughty Dog sees fit. Players are required to either watch non-interactive cutscenes or drag Nate through an environment where you can only walk. Sure, the environment and artistry is detailed and gorgeous, but I want to get through this story in a way I see fit. Instead, Naughty Dog had us chasing around spider monkeys and using dialogue trees that ultimately carried no real weight in the narrative. A similar game that encountered this problem was The Order: 1886. It was beautiful and jaw dropping but received heavy backlash for restraining the player in a similar fashion.
Uncharted 4’s climax is another problem. Many players may have felt satisfied with the ending, but it wasn’t really earned. The game’s main antagonist, Rafe, never felt like a truly fleshed out villain, and Sam’s motivations were frustratingly hasty just to move the plot forward (don’t even get us started on how he was never mentioned in ANY of the previous games). By the time we reach the epilogue, it never felt like any true sacrifice was made on Nate’s part. Despite all the lies, brashness, and death around him, the wise-cracking hero mostly escaped unscathed.
I get it. Overwatch is fun to play. The colorful cast of characters and different classes can fill hundreds of hours of gameplay. But let’s get down to brass tacks here: Overwatch is a multiplayer-only game lacking a single player campaign.
The world Blizzard created with its cast of heroes and villains is something I want to explore. A developer with a track record like Blizzard creating an original IP in a market dominated by sequels and remakes is something that needs to be fleshed out. The game’s beautiful aesthetic is reminiscent of a Pixar film, and its varied personalities would make for a perfect story. It’s disappointing to not see a campaign in the game.
Overwatch’s multiplayer is certainly a highlight, but are we really getting anything much different than Team Fortress 2? Team-based FPS multiplayer isn’t a novel idea – and Overwatch launched with 12 maps across 4 game modes, which is something critics would cry foul over like they did with other multiplayer-only games like Star Wars Battlefront or Rainbow Six Siege.
Also, Bastion. Screw that guy.
Dark Souls III
We get it From Software – you like to make hard games.
Dark Souls III is the latest entry in the highly regarded franchise. Technically the fifth in this illustrious series (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls I, Dark Souls II, Bloodborne), Dark Souls III doesn’t really change the formula of the series. Battle arts and a luck stat were attempts at making Dark Souls III fresh, but players mostly resorted to the basic tenets of past games: use your shield, land visceral attacks, run to a bonfire, and die repeatedly until you learn the boss’ moves.
Dark Souls III’s other frustration lies in its lack of narrative. I’m sure Redditors have broken down EVERY complex plot point, but the game’s presentation is vague at best – and I simply don’t care about the plot.
Also, for the love of all that is the sun – can we please fix the damn camera during boss fights?!?!
Titanfall 2 does an amazing job of adding onto what made the original so great. But as much as there is to love about this game, it has plenty of shortcomings.
Multiplayer is as frenetic as ever thanks to the variety of Titan classes that are at your disposal. However, the Titans are walking piles of scrap. Every time you call down your Titan, you become an easy target. All it takes is one pilot rodeo, and a few anti-Titan rockets, and you’re toast. In a game where the Titans are supposed to be powerful, intelligent entities, I feel like the exact opposite on a multiplayer battlefield.
While I commend Respawn for including a single player campaign, it falls a bit short in terms of narrative quality. The universe isn’t established well, so factions and antagonists are named without explanation. This gloss-over is instead made up by the game’s focus on the main protagonist’s relationship with his new Titan, BT-7274. The relationship is the strongest aspect of Titanfall 2’s campaign, but by the time you reach the climax, it’s difficult to understand exactly who you saved the universe from.
The Witness is capable of giving players their gaming confidence back, but the game commits a few flaws. First, while there is a semblance of a story, The Witness leaves it up to your puzzle-solving abilities to unlock the mysteries of the island. The more puzzles you solve, the more clues you can uncover about what exactly is going on in this game. However, with more than 650 panels to solve, finding the full meaning of The Witness is left only to the elite completionists. I don’t consider myself a casual gamer, but I am not hardcore either. I only have so much time in my adult life (not a criticism, just an inconvenient truth for me) to dedicate to games, so I feel like I’m intentionally being left out of the true meaning of The Witness because of this.
Speaking of the puzzles, some of The Witness’ puzzles are more about dexterity than intelligence. A few light panels rotate as you try to solve them while others require your brain to flip images for solutions. It begs the question: is this a puzzle? Or simply a task that gives people with slow reaction times problems?
The selfish gamer in me wants to be rewarded with something more tangible for every puzzle I solve. Instead of being rewarded with additional puzzles – The Witness should be delivering fulfilling rewards like concrete answers to the island.