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Games of the Year 2018: The Bad

In 2017 there were four games that disappointed me. These games were not bad per se, they just squandered what they could have been based on the pedigree of the developers and the franchises they are a part of. If one of those games was someone's favourite of 2017 I would not be shocked. I saw gleams of greatness in all of them.

In 2018 there are only two games that make my "bad list". Both of these games are utter shit and should not be played by anyone. If it was physically possible we should round up all copies of these games, their source code and assets and launch them into the sun so they cannot harm anyone else.

1. Far Cry 5

I honestly don't know why, but I am one of those people who tries to finish every game he plays. Maybe it has something to do with me not having a lot of games when I was growing up so I played everything I had to death. My point is that a game really has to go out of its way and do something particularly egregious for me to stop playing it.

Far Cry 5 is one of the shittiest games I have ever played in my entire life. I put a little over a dozen hours into it before I realized that Ubisoft has absolutely no respect for my time and so I am not going to waste it by playing their shit game.

Let's start with some basic things that you think a major company like Ubisoft wouldn't fuck up. First, Ubisoft's first-person shooter controls are still absolute garbage. You would think after 10+ years and 6+ games they would understand how to make good controls or at the very least they would have played Call of Duty or Halo and stolen theirs but you'd be wrong. Second, because this is a console game you have a field of view of like 65 degrees. You are essentially playing with horse blinders on and are constantly spinning in circles trying to figure out who is shooting at you using the aforementioned shitty first-person controls. Third, traversing the open world is tedious. Vehicles control poorly (shocking I know) and seem to get destroyed or become undrivable frequently so you will find yourself on foot more than you would like. You can unlock the wingsuit from the skill tree to make traversal easier but that is an example of another cardinal sin of game development, locking critical equipment or abilities behind optional upgrades.

But there was one thing that pushed me over the edge and made me throw down my controller and rage quit. Once you cause enough chaos in a region the enemy sends a hunting party to track you down. When they catch you, and it is impossible for them not to, you are knocked unconscious and forced to sit through a cutscene with the horribly written antagonists. Ubisoft takes control away from the player, stops them from doing whatever it was they were doing (which hopefully was fun because that is the point of games right?), makes them sit through a horribly written cutscene and then drops them off miles from where they last were. I bet some of you are thinking "But Reid, they need to advance the story somehow". What if I told you this happens 8 more times?!?! For every zone you need to be captured and escape every bad guy three fucking times!!!

And the cherry on top of all of this is that the villains are so comically evil they aren't interesting. There is absolutely no nuance to them. They are just batshit loco because who the fuck knows or cares. Apparently not Ubisoft because they never try to tell you. I am going to spoil the endings of Far Cry 5 and I recommend you have them spoiled for you so you don't subject yourself to this garbage. In the bad ending the bad guy brainwashes you (from all those kidnappings you escaped remember?) and now you are one of his minions. In the "good" ending the bad guy was right all along and the world gets nuked. So he captures you and takes you to a bunker to live out your lives as BFFs because you killed all of his other friends. Doesn't that sound great?

God damn I spent way too much time writing about this. Far Cry 5 doesn't deserve this much retrospection. I hope I never think of it again.

2. The Banner Saga 3

After playing The Banner Saga 3 for two hours I was really into it. I was back with all of my favorite characters from the first two games. The art continued to be stellar. The tactical combat had me engaged. The story was building to an obvious inflection point that I could not wait to see. I was really psyched to see the end of the trilogy. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the peak of the game.

The combat completely atrophied and did not grow at all. The same tactics were used on the same enemies for the entire game. Things were made more "difficult" simply by having less time between battles so your soldiers were weaker when one started. The unforgiving leveling mechanics carried over from the previous games and continued to punish you if you chose bad abilities for your characters. With no way to reset their skills you could easily make a character severely underpowered. I still find it hard to believe that the combat has barely changed over the entire trilogy.

But I did not come to The Banner Saga for the combat. I am here for the story and that fell off an even bigger cliff. Nothing I had done seemed to matter in the end. All of the plotlines from previous games mostly dead ended or weren't even mentioned. It felt like the game was just going through the motions because a trilogy had been promised. The ending was the Mass Effect 3 "choose your color" style where it didn't really matter what you had done up until that point and in my opinion all of the choices resulted in very poor endings.

It is really painful to see The Banner Saga 3 limp across the finish line but maybe this is the fate of franchises that give the player so much choice. All of those difficult, impactful choices build up and it is just impossible to satisfy every permutation of the story. It doesn't matter what you did in The Banner Saga 1 & 2, in The Banner Saga 3 you just sit around waiting for the world to end because there is apparently no other way this story can end.

#GamesOfTheYear

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