Here it is, an explanation of why I skipped some of the biggest titles this year.
I’ve written these top lists for a couple of years now. A main complaint of the Top Worst/Disappointing list is that it had some games featured that I hadn’t actually played. But I really wanted to talk about why I hadn’t played those this year. Why I have no plans on covering them in the near future. Last year, I had a great suggestion from Google+ (Thanks John Clark) to cover the complaints. Thus, the creation of this list. All of the opinions I’ve formed about the games below are based on looking from the outside in. They are explanations why I won’t be playing them now or in the near future. If there is a game that isn’t on this list or the other two lists, it’s probably because I haven’t bought/played it yet. Ok, with that explanation out of the way, enjoy.
Anything by Electronic Arts or Ubisoft. (Banned)
My three year ongoing ban of any games from Origin or Uplay is still in effect. And really, there hasn’t been any game since Mass Effect 2 or Assassin’s Creed 2 that has even piqued my interest. Their focus on pre-order bonuses, fee-to-play business models and not advancing gameplay just don’t excite me. Both companies have been running in place, investing money in what I would consider the wrong technology or gameplay ideas. Still, I won’t say I’ll never play their games because who knows what’ll happen down the road. Maybe EA will wake up and realize their potential as a publisher. Maybe Ubisoft will get off this samey open-world kick that they’ve been on for the past couple of years. Anything’s possible. Until that point and until Origin and Uplay quit being requirements to play either publisher’s games, I will continue to ignore them.
Any game that is in Early Access. (Mostly Ignored)
If you’re wondering why there aren’t any early access reviews or any of those games on these lists, there’s a reason for it. With a few exceptions here and there (hi Distance and Darkest Dungeon), I decided to skip early access titles and wait for them to be “completed”. I simply do not have the time or resources to play or discuss these titles. And really, my review format doesn’t accommodate ea titles either. I learned this lesson the hard way when I did my review on A Valley Without Wind (1) originally. A review I have since gone back to and fixed up. Furthermore, far too many developers are promising too many things and not delivering on them and I don’t want to be police that. I don’t have the time to monitor it or come down on them in the reviews. What I want to do is review games in their “best” state. Early Access simply doesn’t accommodate that. I would much rather invest that time into actually playing and enjoying the finished products. I have enough of those as-is. And really, given the choice between playing something like Transistor or Ark, I’m going to choose Transistor. Finally, finishing a game while they’re in BETA has rarely ever made me desire to play them in a completed state. And for some games, that’s not good. To do that with an incomplete product just seems…wrong to me. I will be continuing this policy of avoiding early access properties into 2016 unless I come up with a better format for them. I wouldn’t hold my breathe though.
Any of the Open World Survival Games aka: DayZ “Clones” (Skipped)
It’s not for lack of interest in the genre. These should be right up my alley. But it’s really a combination of the above explanation on Early Access titles and the absolute glut of them that we’ve had this year alone. If I’m going to play a game in this genre, I want to do it with friends and I’m not interested in playing the flavor of the month. I’m not interested in what the game might become. I want a game that’s good now. Some titles like ARK: Survival Evolved seem to be most of the way there and that’s great to see. But it’s still not finished and where it’ll eventually end up is anyone’s guess. This genre is currently undergoing some massive changes and I’m excited to see what comes of it. However, I’m not willing to be a guinea pig for it either. I wish luck to all of these developers.
Grand Theft Auto 5 (Ignored)
I don’t have a lot of interest in the series and I won’t mess around with the Rockstar Social Club DRM either. That’s why I skipped GTAV this year. I’m glad to hear that it made a very reasonable port over to the PC and that Rockstar has been supporting it. Though some of the pricing nonsense they’ve been doing is irritating. There have been a lot of open world games and GTAV is certainly one of the most popular but I just don’t have any interest it. Not in the story or dealing with any kind of DRM when there are other options.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Banned)
If you haven’t heard the meme that’s sweeping the gaming nation, well, #FucKonami. I want nothing to do with the company and the game itself doesn’t give me a lot of reasons to play it. Sure, it sounds like the gameplay is a lot better than previous entries to the series. But the insistence on microtransactions and the cut-down story gives me two big reasons to stay far away it. To say nothing about the questionable character decisions that were made. (Hi Quiet, Hi Big Boss’s voice actor who sounds nothing like the previous VA). I’ve enjoyed the MGS series in the past. (I’ve played all of the major entries up to MGSIV). But, the above mentioned problems just don’t get me all that excited to play it. Especially when there’s microtransactions galore. This fee-to-play nonsense is just ridiculous.
Pillars of Eternity (and other cRPGs) (Considering)
I’m considering entering the cRPG genre, especially with its explosive growth and renaissance it’s been experiencing the past couple of years. I’ve played titles such as Planescape Torment and briefly Fallout (1) in the past and they hold a lot of intrigue to me. What’s keeping me from them is the sheer of amount of content each title contains and I’m already overloaded with RPGs as is. I may ultimately not dive in as there are other genres that hold my interest as well that I want to get into 2016. Grand Strategy, more 4X titles and Sports Management. I mean really, this is a glorious time for PC Gaming. There’s all sorts of options, games and things to do. It can be overwhelming at times. Anyway, enough rambling. Moving on.
Fallout 4 (Considering)
Main reason why: I haven’t decided if I want to get into the Fallout series. I’m currently poking around in Fallout: New Vegas to see what it’s all about. Yes, this is the first game from the series I’ve played. I own Fallout 1 & 2 on GOG but I haven’t gotten around to them. It should be right up my alley this post-apocalyptic FPS/RPG series. I mean, after all, it’s something I have enjoyed in the past. But, there’s been reviews that make me reconsider that. I dunno, I’m going to see what happens with New Vegas. If I like it well enough, maybe I’ll go all out. If not, then I’ll skip Fallout 4 by. At least Bethesda hasn’t done the stupid microtransactions like every other AAA publisher has been doing this year. The fact that I even have to say that sentence is depressing in its own right.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Unknown)
Honestly, I had hopes for this reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. I even had a review in the works for Tomb Raider (2013). But then, Rise’s developers decided to go make it a console exclusive for the Xbox One. Then they decided to make the utterly brilliant decision of releasing it right in the middle of several other major releases including Fallout 4, Halo 5, Star Wars Battlefront and so on. Considering how few games we’ve had released this in December, I have to wonder why they didn’t just push it till then. Anyway, the exclusivity deal has put a pause on the review because I’m debating whether I want to continue investing time into this series. There’s some problems I have with the direction and I’m not 100% convinced by the gameplay. I’m not even sure the review will ever get done at this point but I won’t say definitively. Though why did they have to go and add microtransactions into a bloody single player experience. C’mon Crystal Dynamics. Did you really have to follow in line with every other AAA game this year?!
Because hahahahahaha fuck DLC platforms. Evolve’s problems have been listed out at length. It was clearly designed to sell DLC first and the game second. There were massive balance problems, a supreme lack of variety and it was just a complete disappointment. The game’s popularity has fallen drastically since its release which is not surprising. It’s still got some people playing it even though I’m not really sure why. I was initially intrigued by a AAA take on asymmetrical multiplayer like this but the general consensus I’ve seen is that it’s a shallow experience. I won’t criticize them for trying something new but how about next time we don’t shove $229.64 worth of pointless and/or overpriced DLC on top of a $60 traditional game down our throats? Ok? Ok. (Base price is now $40).
Elite Dangerous (Skipped)
Because holy crap I don’t have the time. Well, ok, that’s not necessarily true. I do. But…I have other games I want to get around to. Though while I say that I’m accidentally playing another game in this genre (that I’ll talk about in the Top Favorite games list so shush, don’t ask). Of the current big titles in this genre, if I had to pick one I’d play in 2016 it would probably be Elite Dangerous first. Star Citizen seems like a project doomed to fail before it even reaches a playable state. Where on the other hand, Elite is out. It’s a game that knows what it wants to be and got it done. Granted, some of the shenanigans with the Season Pass content are making me raise my eyebrows a bit. But at least they didn’t promise billions of features that will take at least five years to implement. I’m glad to see this genre is starting up again. Though I really didn’t need another genre to take interest in. Will I ever tackle Elite or any other game in this genre? I don’t know. I’m waiting and watching from the sidelines for the time being.
Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands from TellTale Games (Skipped For Now)
Honestly, I’m a bit troubled by the reports of their games not meeting the usual quality standards with the exception of the Borderlands one. That they seem to offering the illusion of choice but sticking very strictly to their narrative. In my reviews of The Walking Dead S2 and The Wolf Among Us, I wrote that Telltale is taking on too many projects and their QA seems to be slipping. This seems to be confirmed with Game of Thrones and Minecraft Telltale stories. Certainly the push to make Game of Thrones a second season without wrapping up the events of the first was, in my opinion, a giant mistake. And they just announced a Batman version of their series coming soon. I’m not saying I’ll never play another game of theirs but I’ve moved them down my priority list. I think it’s clear that Telltale is running into a conflict between what they want and what players desire too. What that will ultimately mean for the company remains to be seen but I wouldn’t be surprised if their games continue to change in ways that their fans may not like.
Batman: Arkham Knight (Banned)
I don’t think I really need to explain why I haven’t nor ever will play this game. The PC port was a nightmarish mess of performance problems, bugs, crashing and more. That’s even before we talk about the gameplay itself. Warner Bros and Rocksteady Studios really dropped the ball on this game. They sorta did the right thing by taking it down for a couple months off of Steam (it shouldn’t have been there in the first place) but then they return it to sale in basically the same awful state. Simply shrugging their shoulders going ‘oh well, we can’t do anything about it’ and moving on. This isn’t the first time WB has pulled this either. Previous entries to the Batman series have been getting more and more buggy with WB’s attention purely on releasing DLC. The announcement that it will become available on Linux and MacOSX “soon” makes me raise my eyebrow. I have to wonder if those versions will function at all given how poorly they worked on Windows. Selling Batman: Arkham Knight shouldn’t be allowed in my opinion. It’s selling a broken product knowingly. Sure, you can get a refund now (thankfully) but that doesn’t excuse trying to con people. Frankly, I’ve been finding WB’s development of PC games to be very questionable the past couple of years. The shady business of Shadow of Mordor’s PR firm trying to secure only positive reviews with their press keys or the complete disregard of fixing game breaking bugs in Batman Origins. For such a promising publisher, Warner Bros seems to be going down the same path that has plagued EA, Activision and other big AAA companies. I can only hope that Arkham Knight woke them up but I suspect it won’t have.
I think that covers everything significant that was released this year. Looking back over this list, I do notice that there’s a common theme of microtransactions being the reason I won’t play games. And I’ve gone into detail on why I have trouble with games that use this business model in single player experiences. Right now, I’m spoiled for choice so I can choose to not tackle games that use the pay-to-play model. As the industry continues to change and evolve, it’s probable, even likely that I’ll play and review at least one of these games that use this model. But for now? No. I’ll skip it.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions on why I didn’t play/review/mention a certain game, you can ask below in the comments.