The last couple of years have blessed us gamers with some wonderful experiences that will go down as some of the best games of all time, but it would be foolish to ignore the equal share of disappointments as well. With this feature, we will be looking at 15 games that showcased a lot of potential but clearly weren’t able to fulfill those promises.
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Arkane’s recent release Redfall was anything short of utterly disappointing. The game’s concept combined with the developer’s signature gameplay felt like a formula ripe for success, but the end result was a hotchpotch of ideas that never quite hit the mark. There are a few moments of greatness hidden somewhere deep beneath the pile of technical problems and frustrating game design, but those aren’t nearly enough to redeem Redfall’s fall from grace.
Forspoken was one of the earliest games to be showcased for the PS5, so naturally fan expectations were high. And to be honest, Forspoken did deliver with its smooth movement system that is an absolute joy to interact with. But everything surrounding that central mechanic such as the story, the gameplay, and the open-world designs left something to be desired – which ultimately made the end result an extremely underwhelming experience.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
The Mass Effect series still stands tall as one of the most prestigious RPGs of all time, and Mass Effect: Andromeda was set to be the next evolution of the franchise. Bioware tried some interesting things with the game, but the product heavily suffered due to development issues ranging from an unwieldy Frostbite Engine and external pressure from publishers. The final product was a technical mess, and while post-launch updates have fixed those surface-level issues – the design issues continue to make Andromeda a promising but failed experiment.
Gotham Knights felt like an interesting spin on the established formula of the Arkham games at first glance. The trailers and pre-release gameplay looked promising, but the final product was a bog standard co-op shooter where players would take on repetitive mission types and keep grinding towards arbitrary higher numbers. Add to that a weak story and poor graphics, and Gotham Knights becomes one of the worst games of recent memory.
Duke Nukem Forever
Duke Nukem Forever spent more than a decade in development, so when the game was finally set to release in 2011 – franchise fans rejoiced at the prospect of a modern sequel. Upon release, Duke Nukem Forever was harshly criticized on account of its tasteless humour, uninteresting gameplay, and poorly written story – which put a final nail in the coffin of this once prestigious franchise.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (2023)
It’s fair to say that none of the Call of Duty games have been okay experiences but the recent release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has to go down as one of the most disappointing releases in the genre. And a lot of that criticism can be chalked up to the game’s blatant use of mindless missions, and its switch to an open-zone structure for select missions also feels extremely rushed and half-baked.
Rainbow Six: Extraction
The developer really knocked it out of the park with Rainbow Six: Siege, a game that continues to be one of the most popular multiplayer shooters on the market after such a long time. The developer tried to take those foundations and placate a wider audience with a zombie shooter in the form of Rainbow Six: Extraction, but those mechanics never really fit well with one another, to begin with. It’s not a horrible game, but it is a very mediocre release that never really reaches its true potential.
A live-service game where you play as powerful superheroes from the Marvel universe was a formula ripe for success. Marvel’s Avengers was one of the most highly anticipated games of its time, and it quickly morphed into one of the most disappointing games following its troubled release. The game’s story wasn’t really interesting or engaging, the mission designs were extremely repetitive with you having to hold down choke points from enemies, and the progression loop was entirely based on chasing high numbers. The developer tried to turn the game’s fates around with post-launch updates and DLCs, but none of that really worked in the end.
The Callisto Protocol
The Callisto Protocol was hyped as the next big thing for survival horror, so there were more than a few people waiting to see what’s in store. We wouldn’t say that The Callisto Protocol is a terrible game; it has some really pretty visuals and the combat is pretty smooth too. But the game just couldn’t nail the ominous atmosphere that we loved in Dead Space and the jumpscares also fell flat in comparison to its inspirations. It wasn’t able to live up to its promise, and fans weren’t happy at all.
Thief: The Dark Project was a game that was well ahead of its time, and it’s a game that arguably laid the blueprint for modern stealth games to follow. So when the developer announced that Thief would be making a return with a reboot, many were understandably excited at the very prospect. The game was released in 2014, and failed to meet expectations by a significant margin. The gameplay felt watered down in comparison to the original, the story felt like a hotchpotch of ideas, and the game lacked any sort of personality – ultimately making it a bland experience.
After a disappointing run with Andromeda, millions of Bioware fans had their eyes set on Anthem – the latest live-service RPG from the team behind Mass Effect. The game looked really promising in trailers and footage, but the final release was a faint shadow of what could have been. A weak story, half-baked mechanics, and blatant issues with the progression are just some of the problems that Anthem suffered from – which culminated in the game being yet another disappointing release. The developer wished to solve those issues with Anthem 2.0, but the developer pulled the plug before that update could see the light of day.
Need For Speed: Payback
Need For Speed: Payback released at a time when publisher EA went all out on microtransactions, and Payback also had all the markings of an unethically designed game. The progression was created to drive players into buying real currency with money, and that didn’t go unnoticed by players. In addition to this, Payback wasn’t really able to impress with its open-world or customization options or even the driving mechanics – which ultimately made it one of the biggest disappointments of its time.
The Mafia series is known for its quality writing and interesting mission design, but the open world has always been somewhat bland with little in the name of interesting side activities. Mafia 3 tried to right those wrongs with an overhaul of its open-world designs, but those changes ended up biting back in the foot. The mission design was pretty redundant, culminating in a frustrating moment-to-moment gameplay experience. The story tackled some interesting themes, but it also felt flat compared to what came before.
Crackdown 3 was yet another game that suffered delay after delay, and when it was finally released in 2019 – there was a general consensus that it should have spent even more time in the oven. Crackdown 3 is an extremely dull game with a frustrating and repetitive gameplay loop, and it’s all presented without much attention to detail. Everything from the story to the gameplay and progression falls flat on its knees – making it a big disappointment for the patient fans.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint
The Ghost Recon series has been on a downward spiral as of late, and Breakpoint might just be the series at its absolute lowest. The game tried to refine the ideas introduced in Wildlands, but the execution left a lot to be desired. The systems and mechanics never quite meshed well with each other, and the many technical inefficiencies also don’t make things much better. It flopped on a critical and a commercial level, and that failure is what has resulted in the series being put on an indefinite hold.