2016 saw some of the biggest video game releases in modern memory, but they weren't all successes - here's our list of some that fell short of expectation.
It can be hard to view 2016 as anything except a success for the video game industry when massive releases like Uncharted 4 and Final Fantasy 15 delivered on the hype. In a year that had an extensive list of most anticipated games, many of them exceeded expectation, and fans of nearly every genre had at least one title that was considered a must-have. Heading into a 2017 that will see the release of at least one brand new console and the continued evolution of virtual reality technology, things are looking up for video game fans in a noticeable way.
That doesn't mean that the games lineup in 2016 was flawless, however. For every game that blew minds and dominated sales, there were those that could have been just as successful but fell flat instead. To that end, Game Rant has compiled an extensive list of games that really should have been great but ultimately disappointed once they were finally released. They aren't necessarily all bad, but they all left gamers wanting more, and they failed to follow through on their promise.
Battleborn had a lot going for it in development. It looked like a refreshing take on a multiplayer experience that was being made by a studio in Gearbox that was fresh off an incredibly successful title in Borderlands 2. While the decision to take a risk and go with a new IP rather than produce the obvious Borderlands 3 could have paid off in spades, all of what made Battleborn look unique during its development wasn't executed upon its release. Critics cited a lack of content and more than a passing similarity with the MOBA genre the game was supposed to challenge, but the death knell for the game was its incredibly shaky servers at launch - something that crippled any momentum it might have generated and quickly led to it being forgotten.
9 Homefront: The Revolution
A sequel to 2011's Homefront, Homefront: The Revolution was meant to be an improvement on all of the things that Homefront did wrong while maintaining the sense of identity that had made the first game popular. Unfortunately, a new studio, new publisher, and sloppy execution led to the production of a shooter that lacked any sort of identity at all, delivering a generic trudge through bland enemies rather than the exciting look at alternate history that made Homefront: The Revolution's predecessor so interesting.
ReCore was always meant to be a cheeky nod to the platforming and adventure titles that came before it, and fans were initially excited by what they saw as a modern take on a classic gaming genre. The problem with ReCore is that it relived that era too realistically, showing flashes of brilliance but ultimately ending up as a frustrating game that incorporated egregious length-padding to its narrative while being slowed down by inexcusable load times.
7 Star Fox Zero
Star Fox Zero is a perfectly serviceable game, and many gamers will likely find its inclusion on this list disagreeable. The problem lies in the fact that Star Fox Zero had so much promise during hands-on preview sessions and trailers - Star Fox Zero was supposed to be much more than just a solid release on a fading console. Instead, Star Fox Zero featured a steep learning curve and a playstyle that never fully gelled with the control scheme of the Wii U, and it was a far cry from the Star Fox 64 game that was meant to serve as a source of inspiration for the title.
6 Mirror's Edge: Catalyst
Mirror's Edge: Catalyst is another case of a sequel that couldn't escape the long shadow of its predecessor. The original Mirror's Edge was a quirky freerunner that made a name for itself with a unique aesthetic and rewarding action, and while Mirror's Edge: Catalyst refined those free-running mechanics, it also faltered due to a lack of content and scarce variety in its gameplay modes.
5 Mafia 3
In a bit of a twist on the expectations of other games on this list, Mafia 3 actually comes from a series of mediocre games that were often viewed as budget versions of Grand Theft Auto. The fact that there was any hype at all related to the game stems from Mafia 3's incredible E3 teaser trailer, which seemed to promise a sequel that would tell a bold and exciting story. While Mafia 3 certainly didn't disappoint from a narrative perspective, the game's shallow mission system and clunky gameplay made enjoying its epic tale a lot more difficult.
4 The Division
The Division was supposed to be the next evolution in the genre that Destiny had innovated, blending an evolving game world with online multiplayer shooting that featured a MMORPG-like skill system to let gamers customize how they play. While that seemed to be the case when the game first released, fans who hit The Division's end-game quickly found out that it was devoid of any meaningful content, a revelation that saw The Division's player numbers drop in droves once it became common knowledge. While The Division was a disappointment in 2016, however, 2017 looks a bit brighter - the recent addition of The Division's Survival mode has seen an influx of returning players, and things are looking up for Ubisoft's shooter in the new year.
3 Pokemon GO
It seems absurd to call the most profitable mobile game ever a disappointment, but Pokemon GO is a strange title that seems to prove that the power of nostalgia can make even the most vanilla games successful. Pokemon GO finally fulfilled the dream of a Pokemon ARG, but its lack of content, including no Pokemon trading between users and the inability to challenge other trainers to battles, quickly saw the game fall out of favour with its core audience. Instead, Pokemon GO has found a following in more casual circles, adeptly filling the role of a timewaster rather than the mobile killer app it could have been.
2 Mighty No. 9
Everything about Mighty No. 9 after the initial promise of its crowdfunding has been an unmitigated disaster. Constant delays and lazy, uninspired design combined to create one of the most disappointing games of 2016. Mighty No. 9's gameplay isn't even in the same league as classic Megaman games, and the long wait for Mighty No. 9 now serves as a warning for those who expect all crowdfunded projects to go well instead of a beacon of how the platform can create great games.
1 No Man's Sky
While every other game on this list was likely a surprise to someone reading it, it has been a near-unanimous consensus from the gaming community that No Man's Sky is the most disappointing game release this year. There's been a lot of speculation about what was and wasn't promised by the developers of No Man's Sky, and it is still a massive success for what is essentially an indie game, but No Man's Sky is simply lacking something profound. For a universe that is gigantic and full of promise, the worlds of No Man's Sky feel empty and devoid of anything meaningful, and whether or not that's bleak insight from developer Hello Games, it makes for a poor gaming experience.
That's our list of 2016's most disappointing games. They aren't all bad, and some of them are likely worth a look from gamers who enjoy the genre they're in, but they have all fallen short of the lofty promises they made during development. Did we miss any? Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below.