Here at Dork Shelf, we know that a bad game gets even worse when it catches you off guard. These aren’t the worst games of 2015, but they are the most disappointing, the ones that let us down when we were really hoping for something better.
We’re sure we missed a few, so be sure to let us know which games failed to meet your expectations!
Fallout 4 –Bethesda
Fallout 4 is so disappointing that it makes me wonder if I even liked its predecessors. Like many players that were introduced to the 3D wasteland of secret vaults and super mutants in Fallout 3, I have been eagerly awaiting a next-gen update to the western RPG franchise for people who don’t care for swords and sorcery. Fallout 3 was the first game in which I felt like I could really choose how to solve a problem, and as a big fan of non-violence, that was a major plus.
Now, after playing Fallout 4 for dozens of hours, I’m starting to suspect that I didn’t have as much freedom in the older games as I remember. Booting up Fallout 4, I built my usual charismatic character, with the stats to talk my way out of gunfights and become the non-violent, smooth-talking paragon that the Massachusetts wasteland so direly needed. But after my in-game spouse was literally fridged and I was forced into battle after battle with nary an opportunity to talk my way out of combat, I realized that Fallout 4 is a game that gives you the freedom to lose during character creation. I built the character I’d like to play and got punished for it. Throw in the strange user interface and the weird lack of the franchise’s signature humour, and what I ended up with was a very long tutorial on why I shouldn’t like Fallout anymore. – Peter Counter
Fallout Shelter – Bethesda
Maybe things would have been different had I played Fallout Shelter when it was first released, but having an Android phone meant that I was grumpily waiting to join the fun while everyone else was talking about their vaults and giggling at one-liners. After the dust settled and an Android version was finally released, I was ecstatic! Goofy pick up lines and a semi-decent strategy system were all I really needed – and wanted – from a game.
I started Fallout Shelter on a train in Japan, and it was a perfect way to pass the time while stuck in transit so jammed packed with people I couldn’t see out the windows even if I had wanted to. Fallout Shelter was great. I made babies. I assigned people jobs. I improved my shelter. I felt good about what I was doing. Then I got to the city, put away my phone, and went about my day. That night, on the same train ride back to Osaka, I picked Fallout Shelter up again. Everyone had died. I sighed, thought about restarting, and then just hopped on Instagram instead. After learning the tics of the system and the way the world functioned, I had no desire to go back and start again. Instead of being tantalizing, it felt tedious. Maybe I was just too tired, but Fallout Shelter didn’t last. Meh. – Kaitlin Tremblay
Star Wars: Battlefront – EA DICE
Star Wars: Battlefront has the building blocks of something truly fantastic. The graphics are beautiful. The sound effects – from the garbled Stormtrooper dialogue to the screams of TIE Fighters – are 100 percent accurate. The gameplay has the rock-solid foundation of the Battlefield games, and casual Star Wars fans can jump in with relative ease because the opening hours are less daunting compared to other first-person shooters.
Sadly, all the things Battlefront does right make me feel worse about what it lacks. The lightsabers don’t mesh with the shooting. There isn’t enough variety with the weapons. Locations, as gorgeous as they are, start to feel dry after a few hours. The handful of ten-second vignettes suggest that a fully realized story mode would be amazing, but instead we have to pay $50 for more maps and multiplayer-focused features. EA isn’t even planning to add any material from The Force Awakens, at least not until the sequel they can sell at full price. DICE created an incredible Star Wars game environment that could be used for so much more than a rote online competitive shooter, but Battlefront feels like millions of dollars spent on wasted potential. – Jon Ore
Dragon Age: Inquisition – Bioware
I enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins when it came out. It was fun to play and it sucked up a lot of my time. When the Dragon Age II trailer hit the web, I was ready to play the hell out of the sequel. But after a few hours, I felt like I was robbed. There were things missing from the sequel that dampened the joy that I felt with the first game, leaving me to hope that Dragon Age: Inquisition would be better. Unfortunately, that proved not to be the case.
Now don’t get me wrong. Inquisition is a fun game, and it’s pretty good, with good graphics, good story, and good gameplay. But that’s the trend. Inquisition is just good, never great. I suspect that Skyrim ruined Dragon Age for me. Dragon Age: Inquisition may have come out in 2014, but if I had to pick a game that disappointed me in 2015, this is the one. – Jorge Figueiredo
Apotheon – Alientrap
Apotheon was extremely well received when it debuted in February and I had high expectations when I finally sat down to play it. Sadly, the game I played doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the game I’d read about in reviews.
Try as I might, I just don’t get the appeal of Apotheon. While the art style is unique and has an admirable period-appropriate authenticity, pretty much everything else about the game is frustrating or tedious. The environments are cluttered, the inventory is undecipherable, the controls are maddeningly imprecise, and the shortcomings become even more apparent when combined. Something about Apotheon just feels off, to the point that I’m still wondering if there’s a different game that everyone else has been playing.
I found Apotheon to be unremarkable, so it wouldn’t be on the list had it not been so highly praised. As it stands, I could never get into it. A lower-budget version of God of War still sounds like a great idea, but I usually want my revenge plots to feel a lot more satisfying. – Eric Weiss
Bonus Disappointment: Pixels – Happy Madison Productions
What’s that? Pixels isn’t a video game? Well, tough. It’s game-adjacent and I’m making the rules so I’m going to allow it.
In any case, 2015 was a good year for games and I just didn’t play many that were outright disappointing. Sure, I played a few that were bad – I’m looking at you, Battlefield: Hardline – but for the most part they were games I expected to be bad so it’s not as if that was really a surprise.
Pixels is remarkable because it somehow managed to be even worse than I imagined. Adam Sandler’s shameless cash-grab is a mean, hateful, misogynistic film in which women are props and the audience is supposed to laugh at people rather than with people. It panders to the worst stereotypes of gamer culture without any of the moral lessons that usually redeem a feel-good comedy, the rare Hollywood blockbuster that treats film worse than it treats video games. Pixels was a disaster, and that’s why it remains my most disappointing game experience of 2015. – Eric Weiss