Right before the end of the year, let’s take a moment to remember those video game companies that tried to sucker you out of your hard-earned money.
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As with most of these “worst games” lists, there is a focus on what the AAA industry has graced us with. Yes, there are undoubtedly hordes of smaller budget titles that were made in half a day, use stolen assets, or are outright scams.
While games like that don’t even deserve to be called “indie,” when AAA commits a sin with all their financial backing, it hurts more. Especially with the ever-mounting price tag, and promises of having something for everyone.
So without any further ado, here are the ten worst video games of 2022.
10. Gotham Knights
Unlike some, I wasn’t against Gotham Knights purely because it focused on the rest of the “Bat Family” while the Dark Knight himself is dead.
Though the concept itself been done in comics more than once, the idea of playing as four different characters — all trying to wrestle back control of the city in their own ways — did indeed have potential. Unfortunately, that potential was never realized.
The game launched with little fanfare, as critics found it middling and players hated it. The main gripe came with grinding.
Players needed to excessively level up just to progress the main story, and the combat felt monotonous when compared to the Arkham series. Coupled with poor performance — not to mention Denuvo on PC slowing it down even further — and the wanna-be bats went splat.
9. Sonic Origins
To start on a brief tangent, Sonic Frontiers was merely disappointing. It made some basic mistakes, though ultimately could still be fun despite the lost potential. Sonic Origins was much the same, but overshadowed by what it ruined. Designed as a compilation of classic Sonic titles with extra bells and whistles, it couldn’t go wrong. Right?
In actuality, its multiple special editions clouded which version had everything, the music in Sonic 3 & Knuckles was switched out for inferior tracks due to licensing, and it was yet another Sega PC title with Denuvo. Most damning of all, its technical faults made it inferior to the originals.
One developer even took to Twitter ranting that — as with many prior Sonic games — they were under crunch with an abrupt deadline. That developer was part of Headcannon, those partly behind Sonic Mania. As such, Sega may have lost a lot of good will with some of the guys behind the best-rated new Sonic game in 20 years.
To top it all off, the original retro titles were delisted from digital stores, forcing players to buy the inferior Origins version. PC modders even struggled to fix the game, as it became “way clearer that this game is absolute s—t” as one frustrated modder reportedly put it. Driving fans to emulate the originals made Sonic Origins yet another victim to the “Sonic Cycle.”
8. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet
While Sonic Origins trampled on its legacy’s coattails, Pokémon has been riding theirs and general franchise power all the way to the bank. Sonic struggles to impress, but the yellow rodent knows it’s gonna sell gangbusters no matter what. Enter Pokémon Scarlet & Violet.
While debate can rage over how many steps forward or back it took, there was still a sense it had to compete with Pokémon Legends: Arceus. The latter seemed to find new ways to improve upon the original formula, and while a few cues were taken into the newest mainline title, fans hoped more had been lifted and improved upon. This was far from the elephant in the room however.
It was blatant to all and sundry that the games were rushed for a Holiday release, and to keep in lockstep with other products. Pokémon Scarlet & Violet had atrocious performance and graphics issues.
Characters vanished, fell through the floor, or had their bodies twisted. Light would flicker when entering menus. Framerate would crumble below 30FPS despite the Switch being able to handle far more taxing games. While the series had been mocked for poor animations and textures in recent years, fans had never seen it this bad.
Even after a patch and insistence from Nintendo that the developers were working on improvements, franchise fatigue has grown to the point fans don’t expect the new games to be good. It’s small comfort that even titans like Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney have also started to eat humble pie.
Maybe The Pokémon Company can enjoy some as well, after eating a sandwich that randomly explodes thanks to over-active physics.
7. Overwatch 2
Game Director Jeff Kaplan promised Overwatch 2 would challenge the industry by confronting why a sequel has to leave behind players of the original. That “challenge” would seem to have been a major patch to the original Overwatch with a marketing campaign behind it.
Don’t get me wrong, Hearthstone does the same thing. But rather than market it as a new game, they usually just show a new trailer with catchy music. So, did Overwatch 2 improve upon the original that you can no longer play? Not by a long shot.
While loot boxes are gone, they were replaced with the battle pass business model. Playing to earn rewards is better than outright gambling, but players have to pay for a premium pass in order to get anything worthwhile in a reasonable timeframe. It’s like arguing if you prefer to be shot by a bullet or a cannon ball — none at all is better.
Even if you bought skins directly, buying up only all of the old skins from the original Overwatch could set you back over $10,000. Players even found it faster to earn skins by playing World of Warcraft, and then sending in-game currency to Battle.net to be spent in Overwatch 2. This was far from Blizzard’s biggest sin of the year, though.
6. God of War: Ragnarök
To the contradiction of many reviewers and players, God of War: Ragnarök still feels like it’s wearing the skin of a franchise that deserved better. Like The Last of Us and other PlayStation “cinematic” titles, the new series has struck a winning formula for the worst. 2018’s God of War stripped away the series’ iconic tone and combat for something far more simplistic.
This was propped up by admittedly fantastic voice acting, and a story that — along with arguably trying too hard to draw player investment through forced pathos — dug up what Kratos had long come to terms with. The mass appeal was a success while spitting on the original series’ grave, and the sequel followed suit.
Among the criticisms of some feeling the gameplay was lackluster, one of the major issues was how God of War: Ragnarök held the players’ hand. If NPCs weren’t already giving answers to already braindead puzzles before the player could even finish them, they were barking out obvious advise in the middle of a boss fight.
It shows a total lack of respect for the players’ intelligence, casts doubt over why accessibility options were included, and exposes the truth of the PlayStation cinematic game.
PlayStation wants to make movies and TV shows, but making them video games is more profitable, and generates more positive reviews from players who are new to gaming- oblivious what they’re playing is sub-par to the past.
5. Postal 4: No Regerts
None of us are strangers to series that didn’t need another sequel, no matter the medium. Before there seemed to be a drive to make sequels betray what fans liked about the originals, the big fear was that they’d be too much like the original, with nothing new or improved upon. Postal 4 broke hearts by doing the latter, and worse.
I’m certainly not against crude humor, but along with what’s deemed “crude” changing over time, so does mockery. Postal 4 felt like a retreading, with many of the same gross-out and “shocking” gags being nothing new compared to the first game in 1997.
The issue many found with Postal 4 was just how busted of a game it was. Many user reviews on Metacritic called it unfinished and broken even after launching fully from Early Access, and accused positive reviews being from the developers themselves. It should be noted the Steam reviews are shockingly positive.
Rather than just poor performance, the game flat out didn’t work. Even when it did, it wasn’t just the game’s humor that was dated, as the open world gameplay was very similar to the older Postal titles, learning nothing from modern titles in the same genre. It says something when some user reviews begged fans to play spin-off Postal: Brain Damaged instead, with entirely different gameplay and themes.
Some of the rankings here were quite difficult. Is it worse to make a lazy cash-grab, or a well-made money hole? Is it worse to be poorly made, or boring? CrossfireX manages to do all this and nothing else.
Crossfire was a 2007 free-to-play multiplayer shooter, reportedly being the most played and highest grossing game of various years thanks to the huge Asian playerbase. So a 2022 Xbox One and Xbox Series X port must be a shoe in! Instead, players put their shoes in something quite unpleasant.
Reviewers and players alike hated CrossfireX. Terrible controls, ancient gameplay not updated from 2007, poor performance, a laughably easy but otherwise dull campaign, and — much like the PC version — monetization throughout. Free-to-play never felt so expensive.
Smilegate Entertainment acted as though their franchise would instantly have the same success in the west as they did in Asia, without putting in any effort to oust Battlefield and Call of Duty. I imagine Smilegate’s future efforts will include selling ice to eskimos.
3. Chocobo GP
Hey look! Square Enix are doing a Final Fantasy kart racer. They did one back in 1999, and it seems like it’ll take a fun spin on the series. They could learn a lot from Mario Kart and improve upon it. You say they kept being able to hold onto items and collect more to power them up? Gee, I wonder what else they’ll do to make something really interesting, fresh, and…
Oh f—king s—t, it’s filled with microtransactions.
While a middling racer, what really got everyone mad was the surprise litany of monetization. Battle pass? Check. Limited time seasons to unlock fan-favorites like Cloud and Squall to really push FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? Check. Already having the nerve to charge for something that feels free-to-play, while the actual free-to-play version lacks basic modes like Time Attack and Story? Check.
Don’t worry, Square Enix did listen to feedback. They made it easier to acquire the items unlocked through leveling up, and gave everyone some free currency. Except, that free currency expired within five months. Then they announced Chocobo GP would no longer be supported after its fifth season, just nine months after launch. Tonberries have stabbed players in the back less than Square Enix…
2. Babylon’s Fall
Yet another title let down by microtransactions — and another Square Enix published title funnily enough — was Babylon’s Fall. It generated a lot of interest with PlatinumGames behind development, and early trailers showed their tried-and-true action gameplay in a painted art-style. Then the E3 2021 trailer and developer interview exploded with dislikes, as it was revealed the game would be a live-service title.
Almost overnight, any and all interest seemed to dry up. Promises of building a hack-and-slash character that could wield multiple weapons at once fell on deaf ears, and poor reviews from critics and players alike sealed its fate.
Those who did play Babylon’s Fall had their interest killed by uninspired and aimless gameplay, and the game begging for cash in an already priced title. Launching in March and falling to just a single player on Steam by May, it’s not surprising Babylon’s Fall is set to shut down in February 2023.
But, there is one title that surpasses all others. While microtransactions are a recurring theme on this list, they’re usually accompanied by poor gameplay and other issues. The worst game of 2022 tops the list purely for how evil its microtransactions are.
1. Diablo Immortal
There really was no contest this year. Other games on this list insult the players in various ways. Assuming they won’t care about the quality of what they buy, that they don’t want a challenge, or fail to understand the value of what they’re buying while being nickle and dimed. Diablo Immortal goes beyond the pale, preying on addictive personalities, and serving the richest.
The appeal of Diablo is building a character with fantastic stats to fend off hordes of monsters and other players in PVP. Blizzard decided to monetize nearly every step of it. Though shrouded by needing to acquire gems in lootboxes, and then strengthen those gem, players ultimately need to spend around $50,000 for the chance to have the best stats possible for a single piece of gear.
Once the bad PR came out, it’s no surprise Blizzard emphasized you won’t be able to pay for power in Diablo IV. Yet, they’ve done nothing of value to fix the utter depravity of Diablo Immortal.
All microtransactions in any game are built on the idea of creating an inconvenience, any form of bad game design, and then asking players to pay to get around it. Then, the only ones who benefit in PVP are the ones who put down the most cash. As streamer Quin69 stated “If you’re a free-to-play player, you’re literally there, by design, to be a source of entertainment, for whales!”
Free — or hell — any non-rich player becomes an unpaid Blizzard employee, entertaining those with more money than sense. Worst of all, it worked to the tune of $49 million in its first month. Former EA CEO John Riccitiello’s wet dream of having players pay each time they reload a gun in Battlefield has been surpassed.
Gaming won’t “die” from proselytizing or being dumbed down. It’ll die from becoming a playground for the rich kids and addicts. At least, within AAA. Thankfully, there are games — from small and sometimes large teams alike — that are far easier on the wallet, much better made, and more entertaining.
Yes, no matter how bad the worst of the worst may seem, there are some diamonds in the rough. In truth, gaming will never die. It just may not come from a name you know.
Here’s hoping in 2023 we continue to uphold what is great, and denounce what continues to commit the sins of the past.