Festivus came at a pretty good time this year as the video game industry seemingly sees a new controversy each and every week. So with that said and considering it’s December, let’s air those grievances with the annual tradition: Festivus for the rest of us.
For those you who may be scratching your heads right now, this is a little tradition I started last year in honor of the older TV sitcom Seinfeld. In an episode called The Strike, the father of one of the main characters creates his own holiday called Festivus as a response to the pressures and commercialism of the season. It’s a pretty hilarious episode in its own right, so go check it out.
While the show focuses the holiday on things like Feats of Strength, an unadorned Festivus pole, and labeling easily explainable events as Festivus miracles, I’m re-purposing this fake holiday and focusing it back at the some of the video games released in the past few months. Want to know what bothered me in 2016? I have you covered.
With the amount of negativity and controversies we’ve seen already, I’m thinking this should be pretty fun.
Before we kick things off, let me just clarify that I’m in no way, shape, or form calling any of the games below terrible or awful. I’m simply just pointing out some flaws or things that I wish could have been handled better. Whether the game is good or bad, well, I’ll leave that entirely up to you to decide.
So as the great Frank Costanza once said: “I got a lotta problems with you people, and you’re going to hear about it!”
Star Wars Battlefront 2 – Predatory Practices
Considering that Battlefront 2 is the poster child for controversy this year, there are a lot of places I could have gone with this one. But let’s be honest here, the core issue with the game is with its loot box system.
The base game was built around this idea of using loot boxes to progress and build your characters. At first, EA added in a pay to win system where players could actually spend money to purchase new loot boxes. This meant that people willing to shell out real cash could gain better characters much faster, and giving them an unfair advantage over others who wanted to only spend in-game currency.
Though the company deactivated the system, the game was designed around this idea so players were essentially left with an extremely slow and restrictive reward system (since the ultimate goal was to push people into buying loot boxes) as well as a confusing and unsatisfying progression system. Fans have clearly been enraged at EA over this, which has started to spill over into their other games like Need for Speed Payback. EA is making changes for the better, but considering the game would have to essentially be redesigned to fully change the star card progression system, Battlefront 2 appears to be some trouble going forward.
Destiny 2 – Forgetting Your Past
While I initially enjoyed Destiny 2, the sheen quickly came off once I finished the campaign. I’ve written about this game at length and if you read my past articles in order, you can kind of see my dissatisfaction rising through each post.
While Bungie did a lot of good things with this sequel, it surprisingly did a lot of not so great things as well. A lot of the content that players enjoyed and basically took 2 years to make it into the first game, were outright removed for the sequel. Instead of building on top of an already successful foundation, Bungie seemingly decided to rework a lot of things that didn’t need it. A stronger reliance on Eververse microtransactions and a lack of endgame content really put the community in a squeeze as well.
The community has been in an uproar lately, which has forced a lot of positive changes in numerous recent updates, and a company in Bungie that is trying to be more open and transparent. I think the outlook on Destiny 2 is a good one, though it’s unfortunate that it couldn’t have started off on a better foot out of the gate.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – 2017 Collateral Damage
It seems like every year there’s a game or two that becomes a sales casualty due to an awful release date. This year’s winner comes from Bethesda as Wolfenstein II managed to launch on October 27, the same day as Assassin’s Creed Origins and a week before Call of Duty: WW2.
Everything I’ve heard about the game is that it’s great. I really enjoyed the first and this one looks even better. I don’t know, this seems like a situation that’s fairly easy to avoid, except that publishers go wild in the back half of the year with game releases. The problem that they seem to forget is that people have limited time and money, so they can’t buy everything that comes out. This time around, people seemed to be excited about the new direction of two powerful franchises in Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, meaning that Wolfenstein was, unfortunately, the one that got the short end of the stick.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite – Design Distractions
Infinite is an interesting case because it’s a game that has fantastic gameplay, but it gets overlooked due to a number of other glaring design considerations.
The first design issue is with the roster, which leans very heavily into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On paper it makes sense considering the appeal that Marvel’s movies have at the moment. From a gameplay perspective, it leaves a lot to be desired as longtime fan favorites like the X-Men, Doctor Doom, and more are completely left out in the cold. Not only that, a good majority of the launch roster was pulled from Marvel vs Capcom 3, which left fans a little disappointed at the relative lack of surprise. Things have improved a bit through DLC with additions like Venom, but the problem there is the additional cost to get these new toys on top of the base price as well.
The other major hurdle for this game is with the art design, which is one that basically strips away many signature looks from previous games, such as the comic book style of MvC3. What Infinite is left with was a very sterile look where the characters were semi-realistic. Basically, the game didn’t have any sort of unique visual look to it. Some of its core characters like Dante and Chun-Li also suffered through some hideous looking character faces. While those have been fixed since launch, some other character models could use a touch up as well.
Like some of the other games on this list, Capcom continues to tweak and improve the experience, so there is hope that things will get better in 2018.
Rainbow Six Siege Year 2 – Now You See Me, Now You Don’t
Full disclosure, I’m still having a blast playing this game. The thing that really annoys me to no end is how the season passes for Rainbow Six Siege are handled. Players basically have a year to buy them, as Ubisoft removes them from not only the in-game store, but other online stores as well. So if you miss your chance to buy it, then the only solution is to fork over more money for the gold or complete edition. At that point, it’s a waste because you already own the base game. Ubisoft, I love you, but this practice is just lousy. (UPDATE: I recently discovered the ability to purchase old operator bundles, but it’s buried under a number of screens and isn’t found within the in-game store like it is when it’s active. While it’s nice you can still buy a bundle, it’s not easy to find at all so my point is still valid. )
I mean, Capcom gets a gold star from me for the way it handles its DLC for Street Fighter V. As the game now heads into Year 3, both character passes for the first two years are not only still available for those that want them, they actually go on sale at times as well.
Well, that’s my list for this year, but what’s yours? Anything you want to get off your chest?