What an absolute dumpster fire this year was for gaming. I can barely do a regular feature of worst and best games, as there were so few games of interest to me.
Granted there are still a few games that I have not played yet that came out in 2021, but I doubt any of those will carry the year on its shoulders. If I look back through my posts since January I've uploaded more articles about movies and TV shows than games.
Let's make the best we can of what little material was there to work with. I'm going to start by listing the games that are of interest to me, but haven't gotten around to playing yet, because I didn't expect much from them in the first place, so I'm not so excited to start playing them, or even to buy them until they get a deep discount.
First game on this list is Days Gone, which I already purchased, but didn't work up the courage yet to start even once. What I expect from this, is an OK game at best, with some annoying features and quirks, that is padded to be much longer than necessary.
Second one on the shortlist is Aliens Fireteam Elite. This looks like it could be either an enjoyable shooter, or a total disaster. And I'm not willing to bet my money on it until it goes bellow $10. And that's that.
Third and final game, is Deathloop, which I quite frankly expect to hate, so it's also on my wait for a sale list. But I can be totally wrong about this one, if it's great I'll gladly admit that, I'm just not putting my money on it.
So with these out the way let's see the games I actually played.
The pleasant surprise of the year
I got a games pass subscription for a month earlier to play Forza Horizon 5, but I ended up spending most of my time with other games as FH5 was a total wash. One of the games I've tried was Comanche. And it was the one game that I actually enjoyed my time with.
This game reminded me of many old shootemup games from the nineties. It's like Cyberia meets Descent, with a hint of Rogue Squadron and maybe Terminal Velocity. I found myself enjoying the simplicity of it, albeit the controls are a bit quirky and takes a lot of getting used to. I don't know if it's more praise to this game or the absolute state of games pass that this was the best game I could find that was included in the subscription. Either way if you are looking for a bit of nostalgia I recommend this game. But keep in mind that it has nothing in common with the old Comanche series by Novalogic apart from the name, which is now owned by THQ Nordic.
The not so pleasant surprise of the year
I often say that when your expectations are not met then you had unrealistic expectations, which is a true statement in this case as well. But there is not much point in expecting a bad game, is there? If I expect something to be bad I won't bother with it, as with Deathloop which I mentioned above.
I did not go for a Games Pass subscription because I expected this game to be terrible, I did so, because I expected to finish it in a few days or a week maximum, just as I did in the case of Forza Horizon 4, which was a decent game, the best arcade racing game on PC since forever. Unfortunately, with FH5 Microsoft decided to lean on the aspects of FH4 that I liked the least. The cringey hipster racergirl/boy act, but I'd have let that slide if the actual gameplay was good. But it's not. The AI is so bad in this game that it kills me from inside just to think of it.
The difficulty slider of the AI does not alter their skill, it simply alters their car's performance. Which is asinine. This means even on medium difficulty the AI will be much faster than you in a straight line when driving the exact same car as you. And there is no middle road, lowering the difficulty makes the game too easy, raising it makes it bad.
I also took issue with the lack of FOV in the game. It made me literally nauseous. The FOV slider goes up to some ridiculously low values.
The game was further hindered by technical issues, like loosing connection to the servers ever ten minutes, and I also had audio issues with it that were causing me a headache. My experience was so bad that my patience ran out before my games pass subscription, hence why I started trying other games on offer.
So that is why Forza Horizon 5 wins my disappointment of the year award.
The controversy of the year
Of course it is this category that has the most contenders, like the Blizzard debacle, and Ubisoft is not far behind. I don't want to go too deep into either as there is just not enough concrete information to pass any judgement. Of course that doesn't stop youtube channels like jimsterling and yongyea to dish out rock solid judgements left and right as if any accusation = fact. I don't remember Randy Pitchford getting a tenth of hate when in his case there was actual evidence of being an abusive jerk, and a thief among other things.
It seems to me that in both Blizzard's and Ubisoft's case there were actual victims of workplace mistreatment, but the campaign for justice for those people was hijacked by activists trying to piggyback their politics on the case. Which can only hurt the chances of dishing out actual justice for those involved, instead of social justice.
There was other smaller cases, like Raven firing a bunch of people recently, but those are all small fries compared to Blizzard, who didn't just manage to be terrible, but make things worse by their knee jerk reactions. Like removing even mild references to flirting from WOW, yeah that's going to make everything alright, won't it? See, blizzard is a good boy now, they are removing naughty stuff from their games, see?
Blizzard clearly wins biggest controversy of the year.
The worst game of the year
What does no imagination, no talent, and chasing trends give you? Oh yeah, it gives you Outriders. The shittiest game I've ever seen that dared to identify as triple A. Zero innovation, plagiarized story, generic gameplay, unimaginative maps, joke of a graphics. That is Outriders for you. If you think that's not enough words wasted on this abomination, go here.
And finally, the only thing that is left is choosing the
Game of the year
Frankly I'm of a mind to forego that choice this year, as there was no game worthy of the title, any game I really enjoyed playing was not released this year, so they are disqualified. So instead of chosing the game of the year I'll do honorable mentions. Or rather mention, as there is only one game that was relatively enjoyable and came out this year, and this is...
Of course the game is not without its problems, and I already did a review of it, so if you want the details look for it there.
That an almost average game with terrible story and writing was the best we got this year makes me disillusioned.
Hope for 2022
There is no way 2022 can't top 2021, but it remains to be seen if it will just be a slightly better year, or an actual good year. There are such titles to look forward to as Elden Ring, Starfield, Gran Turismo 7, Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown, Horizon Forbidden West.